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13 July 2011

Comments

Russ Steele

We have been tracking gold and silver. The high was $1586 today the low was $1577, which is in the all time high territory. Silver has been higher in the past at $48, but now around $36 moving sideways. Not sure when silver will take off again.

Paul Emery

Back when compromise was part of the operating system of elected officials situations like this would usually be resolved with a face saving for all sides resolution. However this is turning into blood sport with the real sword bearers being the economic markets that have predeclared that they will have a spasm if the debt limit isn't raised. Your voluminous details of impending economic doom will be accelerated if this happens. Right now the Dems seem more cuddly to the economic players so the Repubs may be losing out on both public and business support if they don't reposition and soon. That's why O'Reilly's testing the waters for the need for revenue increases is so significant.
http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/07/12/266514/oreilly-we-need-revenue/
Most ironic is McClintocks call for a tax increase for the solar industry by eliminating their subsidy. That's a tax increase right? At least that's what it's called when it's proposed to cut subsidies for the oil industry.

http://mcclintock.house.gov/

George Rebane

PaulE, "... economic markets ... have predeclared that they will have a spasm if the debt limit isn't raised."?? I don't think so. The markets behave as if there's a good chance the 2aug11 'deadline' will be missed. The traders are much smarter than the propaganda swilling sheeple. They know that the US will service its debt. What you see the markets doing is preparing for the inevitable destruction of the dollar.

If the markets were to "spasm" because we again delay some interest payments, then you would not see the kind of uptrend that is going on. These are just bets that short term profits are going to keep increasing. The commodity markets are the longer term real plays.

Re cutting subsidies. Yes, I would call that a tribute increase (tribute comprises of all payments to government that includes taxes, fees, penalties, assessments, ...). The only difference between subsidies for oil companies and 'solar industry' is that for oil the government is attempting to elicit certain behaviors from an already profit making industry. The 'solar industry' is a political pipe dream for progressives that has no economic justification (even some of the brighter Dems acknowledge this); since its cesarean birth the industry landed on its ass, and there it sits no matter how much money is poured into it. As an example, check out the industry's flagship First Solar that was ballyhooed by no less than Obama.

Not Paul Emery

"That's a tax increase right? At least that's what it's called when it's proposed to cut subsidies for the oil industry."

Just as a data point:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=xom&annual
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=WMT+Income+Statement&annual
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=AAPL+Income+Statement&annual

The first is one of those subsidized oil companies, which tend to follow the tax rules for mining I think, a great big retailer, plus the favorite company of all moral people. I can't say that I see a horrible difference in tax treatment.

RL Crabb

One of the things that irks us po' folks is the reluctance of the uber rich, who caused the problems by gaming the system and then reaped the rewards of the Bush/Obama bailouts, to accept any responsibility for the continuing recession. "We caused it, you pay for it," seems to be the mantra. And if you are good little serfs, we will trickle a few dollars down to you.

The percentage of the nation's dollars that go upstairs is a fact that no one disputes. While I continue to disparage the efforts to expand the government to King Kong proportions, it would be heartening to see some these clowns follow Warren Buffet's lead and say "Yes, we could help more."

And let me dispel the myth that the poor pay no taxes. What we don't pay in actual income tax is more than offset by the nickel and diming we are forced to endure on a daily basis. I believe percentage wise in relation to our income, we probably pay more.

Paul Emery

So is it OK to cut subsidy support for ventures that you define as unworthy? Do we then do a subsidy by subsidy evaluation of all programs and how is that different from what the Dems propose as a culling of government giveaways? I'm confused as to your position here. You can't cherry pick certain subsidies without looking at them all. What vetting procedure do you recommend we use as a tool to do this?

Paul Emery

Who is "not Paul Emery" I'm flattered my name is so appealing. This blog is turning into Emeryville.

Mikey McD

Crabb, without the Federal government (congress, Fannie/Freddie, HUD, SEC, The Federal Reserve) their would not have been a financial crisis. But, keep focusing your hate on the uber rich... every hero needs a villain.

Mikey McD

Not Paul Emery, one should highlight that the bulk of revenue (income) earned by the corporations you cite is earned outside the USA.

George Rebane

BobRLC - Do you have any specific people (the "uber rich") whom you can finger as being the direct cause of this fiscal fiasco. I can finger some pretty specific people in government and the specific methods used that caused what we now call the Great Recession (soon to be renamed Depression2). And then whom would you mark for punishment with that terrible broad brush of yours?

PaulE - You're right, the comment streams hereabouts are getting to be random walks down the streets of Emeryville. ... Back to business. Yes, it is OK to cut subsidies for ventures I define as unworthy. And yes, we should do a subsidy by subsidy evaluation of all programs. And it's different because the Dems lied and never did it. And yes I can cherry pick certain subsidies without looking at them all; the dirtbags in Washington have been doing it (badly) for generations - I promise to do better. But the easiest and correct solution is to get the federal government out of the subsidy business as part and parcel of a total rewrite of our tax code.

RL Crabb

Hey Mikey, I think there's plenty of blame to go around, be it Dem or Repub. The Dems wrote the rules that enabled the gamer Repubs on Wall St. to wreak havoc on us all.

The farther we sink into the quagmire, the harder it is for me to see any heroes. I don't trust the predatory economics of bust/boom any more than those who would regulate us into oblivion.

The Dems had a golden opportunity to right many of these wrongs with complete control of the govt. pursestrings and squandered it by dithering for a year on the flawed healthcare bill. If the Repubs and their Tea Party allies manage to avoid self-destruction and actually win next year, they'll no doubt suffer the same fate by forcing their social agenda down our throats and gutting the safety net that so many have come to rely on.

No balance. Just gridlock and fear-mongering politics.

Paul Emery

The crash landing of the Republican Party is apparent even from the true and faithful . This time from Conservative writer David Brooks. After applauding the strategy for meaningful changes he describes what is the inevitable downfall of an undisciplined and self destructive path.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/opinion/05brooks.html?_r=1

".......If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases.

A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative........

George Rebane

David Brooks ceased being a "conservative writer" before he left The Weekly Standard and settled comfortably into the belly of the beast NYT. You can tell that by his argument of equating the increase of several hundred billion dollars of tax increases (on top of Obamacare's $1T tax increase) to "trillions of dollars of spending cuts". First, because he doesn't see the added taxes causing a loss of govt revenues (progressive lenses), and second, there is no definite proposal or guarantee of the advertised trillions in savings - they're all for future Congresses to implement that are not bound by what this Congress does. It's all smoke and mirrors.

Greg Goodknight

Future cuts bundled with immediate tax increases are an old Washington shell game.

RL Crabb

More smoke than mirrors. The Dems, like vampires, cast no reflection. However, Brooks isn't the only one to note how conservatives are muddying the waters with a radical social agenda. Also, I wonder if agreement could be found even if the Dems had a real offer on the budget. Kind of hard to do when you've signed your future onto a promise of absolutely, positively no revenue increases.

Todd Juvinall

During the years of the great depression the democrats had a total lock on the Prez and the Congress. FDR even tried to stack the Supreme Court. The depression kept going and if anyone cares to look they will see the socialist programs and their tax rates did not work in the real world. We have the back and forth now, at least no party is in total control. I personally like gridlock because neither party can tax me more. The whiners about the current impasse can't see the beauty of our form of government as many of us do. Sort of like the view of diplomacy. War without bloodshed.

Account Deleted

Mr Crabb - Could you provide, as asked already, who these folks are that "caused" our current financial mess? The fact is that most of the Wall Street money went to Obama in the last pres election, and he has put many of the very Wall Streeters that he publicly decries into his admin. As far as "conservatives are muddying the waters with a radical social agenda" - what would that be? Enforcing the laws? Balancing the budget? Not handing out billions to the folks you think caused all of this? The deficits in DC have been caused by excessive spending and borrowing, not lack of revenues. We solve the problem by eliminating the cause. Duh! This notion of "balance" is a smoke screen put up by the left to once again, grow govt and increase taxes. The "cuts" are all BS, and will never come about. The ultra left had total control of the Fed govt for the last 2 years (and a left wing Congress before that). Obama promised the moon and delivered a turd. He promised to balance the budget, but ran debt up like nothing before. You can be as partisan as you like, but it's time to admit to facts. Go back and look at all of the promises made by the Dems. They've broken all of them, except that we would "redistribute" wealth. Hows that wealth redistributing going for you, R. Crabb? The well connected to Obama are rolling in pay raises and free money from the govt. Limousine sales to the Feds has doubled under Obama. And you blame the Republicans?
Funniest line of the day from Iowahawk: Question for the president - When you create jobs, why do you always create them in Texas?

RL Crabb

Gee whiz, Scott, I don't have a list of names or links to back up my wild accusations. I'm assuming that a lot of these guys are like the ones that laughed their asses off while they were screwing us Californians during the blackouts ten years ago. And yeah, it was because Democrats put together a crummy deregulation deal that blew up in their faces and now I'm paying lots more for electricity because of it. Maybe all the hedge fund managers and financial wizards aren't registered Republicans and maybe they're gaming the Democrats anyway, because it's easy and they can always count on the GOP to slap their wrists and give them another tax break.

I only point out that the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. Let's see if they can get out of the room without leaving a mess.

Todd Juvinall

Scott, the talking points of the complainers just don't cut it any more. To many sources to check their claims ut. I would say RL is using his cartoon humor to make a point. That is OK because it is humor. The people that actually take a position and then work hard to implement them are the real workhorses of the country. The carpers on the sidelines whining about partisanship are simply noisy.

Douglas Keachie

"Mr Crabb - Could you provide, as asked already, who these folks are that "caused" our current financial mess?"

Try the CEO's who did the overseas placement of America's manufacturing capability, and those wonderful folks who invented derivatives, who certainly weren't living under the overpasses.

As for poor paying taxes, isn't it the rich who always claim that any new taxes (or regulations that cost them money) on them will always be transferred onwards to the consumers (usually as an argument against new taxes, before new taxes are passed. I suppose that once they are passed the rich generously dip into their own pockets and pay the taxes, and don't do a "pass along" to the poor people consumers, after all?)

I would suggest that ANY taxes paid by the rich are ALWAYS passed on to the consumers, who are in fact the "real payers of taxes."

Douglas Keachie

"The fact is that most of the Wall Street money went to Obama in the last pres election," and indeed, these people are smart, and didn't want to risk betting on losers, who would have ZERO power over these four years.

Texas didn't create the jobs. BP, did, temporary cleanup jobs, and the damage goes on.

Larry Wirth

Doug, the so-called rich cannot "pass along" their personal taxes to the poor than you or I can. What gets "passed along" are corporate taxes and, if you think about a bit, that is necessarily the case or the business in question would cease to exist. For owners, that amounts to a double tax on their incomes, so most avoid it.

Most small business file as "sub-S" corporations. In that situation, all profits are consumed as compensation by the bosses and the hired help and all pay personal income tax at the rate dictated by their wages scale.

My partner and I would give ourselves and occasional Cola and use the rest to increase the salaries and benefits of our three employees. We ended up with a situation of two bosses getting 100k per year and three employees earning 80k. Seemed fair enough to all of us.

Mikey McD

What about allowing folks who already paid into SS and medicare the option of opting out in all future years, forfeiting 100% of what they paid in... I have contributed approx $200k that I am willing to forfeit if I never have to pay into the SS or medicare system again.

Mikey McD

http://www.aaronklein.com/2011/07/debt-limit-and-default-are-two-different-things/

Greg Goodknight

RLC, while Democrats liked to call their scheme for reorganizing the electrical power industry a "deregulation", there were more pages of more onerous regulations after the "deregulation" than before.

They forced companies like SoCalEdison to divest themselves of generating capacity, not enter into long term agreements with generators, and buy their power from the brand spanking new market the legislature dreamed up, much like Dr. Frankenstein dreamed up his brand spanking new creature. This Democratic fantasy imitation open Market was easily gamed with artificial shortages which drove the spot price sky high, and the spineless Pete Wilson signed the legislation reforming the system (authored by Democrats) while being public with his pronouncement that it was going to need fixing by the next governor, but it didn't get fixed by Davis, who had the whole system implode under his watch.

RL Crabb

By the way, even Bill O'Reilly in his opening segment tonight agrees with my position on the debt debate. (Get two trillion IN WRITING and close loopholes to raise revenue. Reform the tax code.)

How partisan is that?

Greg Goodknight

Is the mortgage deduction a loophole?

Account Deleted

Let's see - I ask the other side to back up their position with facts and they start acting as if that's rude. Mr Crabb, if you can't name the folks you are talking about, don't you think it's time to re-think your position? And D. Keachie chimes in with another load of "well, no we can't back up our assertions, but hey, look over there." The Enron mess was brought about by a criminal enterprise abetted by the Dems in California denying the power companies the basic right to buy long term power contracts. This was called "deregulation" as a sick joke. When the Bush admin closed in, Enron sent their little boy to beg him to call off the dogs. That would be Rubin, sect of the treasury under Clinton. Those would be Democrats, I believe. But it's still all the Republicans fault. Even though you can't name a single one. The Dems have borrowed and spent us into the poor house and all you lefties can do is scream for more money from the folks that already provide most of the revenue already. The Republican party isn't backed into a corner, it's we, the taxpayers and citizens.

Michael Anderson

Scott, I agree with you, this Kleptocracy is non-partisan.

So, what to do?

We have to do something...

RL Crabb

Yeah...You're right, Scott. Republicans are as pure as the driven snow.

RL Crabb

Okay, it's morning now and I have a little "free" time to expand a little and clear up a few misconceptions...

First of all, where did I say that this was just a Republican problem? My bashing of progressocrats hasn't won me a lot of fans over in Leftieville.com. I've been saying for two decades that they have driven California to the edge of the cliff, and now we're dangling over the edge. They are so blind that they actually thought that they could peel off four Repubs to pass Jerry's budget. I guess they don't read the right wing blogs or watch how, over the years, Republicans have weeded out reps that don't follow the golden rule.

Now on the federal side, Bush and Congress (which was mostly under Repub control) took a surplus in 2001 and turned it into a whopping deficit/debt in eight years. Are the Dems equally responsible? Of course they are.

And taxes on the rich? Warren Buffet says he pays less tax than his secretary. If true, there's something hideously wrong with the tax code. A handful of other billionaires also say they would not be opposed to paying more. If there's a problem, it's that Dems want to tax those who make $250K as if they are rich. They are not and they are the ones who will create jobs given the chance. But even one of my relatives who falls into the "rich" catagory has changed his mind about taxes. Why? Because he has two grandchildren who were born with birth defects. Without some leveling of health care costs, their future is in jeopardy and their parents could end up in bankruptcy.

I could go on, but I know there's a time limit on making comments. More later, maybe.

RL Crabb

Back again...Before you go off on Obamacare, let me say I think it's deeply flawed and that its survival still depends on which side of the bed Anthony Kennedy gets up on when this goes to the Supremes. But the fact remains that the healthcare industry needs some serious reforms that will take more than a purely free market approach.

Back to the budget, you've heard me say that there is no balance in either the Repub or Dem approach. Call me naive, but I still believe that it's time to stop all the chest-beating and find a real solution that involves revenue AND cuts. A solution that will make everyone unhappy but must be done to survive.

Wealth redistribution hasn't worked too well, and neither has the trickle down effect. I don't think we'll ever be like Denmark, our culture is too much different, but a 100% free market society isn't very realistic either. The public isn't ready to can SSI and Medicare, so the trick is to find a way to make them solvent for the future. Do I have the answers? No, but it's not an impossible task.

In the meantime, Republicans are wasting a lot of capital fighting the culture wars and ditto Dems on propping up unions. It's time to get pragmatic and start to find some common ground before the ship sinks. That's my hopelessly optimistic opinion.

Todd Juvinall

218, 60,1, these are the goals for change.

Account Deleted

Look - the only folks that "screw you" would be the govt and the unions. They can do that because they operate monopolies. You want to stick it to big oil? They just collect taxes for the govt. It's the govt that nickels and dimes you - either directly or through what they mandate the companies to do. It's the govt that continues to grow and do less. American companies hire overseas due to greedy unions and outrageous govt regs that would put them out of business if they stayed in the US. We need to be productive and create wealth, not just redistribute it. Mr Crabb is still mad at Bush but he was a piker compared to the current clown. We need to elect fiscal conservatives that will follow the Constitution. If they are R's or D's it doesn't matter.

Paul Emery

What we are soon going to see is the fracturing of the Republican Party. Obama is defiantly winning the battle for public opinion with an overwhelming 75% favoring tax increases on the wealthy and corporations as well as budget cuts. (Quinnipiac University Poll. July 5-11) Heir apparent nominee Romney has largely kept his mouth shut. He knows.

Quinnipiac University Poll. July 5-11,

David Brooks sums up the opnion of the mainstream Republicans that are poised to take over the party again.

"The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.

If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right."


Mikey McD

"However you slice the numbers, America’s fiscal policy problem is too much spending. The solution... is to limit the growth of the federal budget."

Only for those interested in facts. http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/mr-president-heres-that-balanced-approach-you-keep-demanding/#comment-12314

Mikey McD

Thank God for the Tea Party. The debt ceiling would have been raised to 20 trillion if not for the grass roots everyday Americans joining together to fight for freedom.

It is damn hard to tell a difference between a repub and a dem over the past 3 decades.

George Rebane

Great find on your 1039AM comment Mikey. Another corroboration of the progressive prevarications on the nation's fisc. Would love to see some rebuttals on that.

George Rebane

Absent from this discussion is the remarkable fact that Reid and the Democratic Senate have not passed a budget resolution on a $1T tax increase that President Obama has endorsed; or a $2T tax hike proposed by Senate Budget Chairman Ken Conrad. They only need 51 votes to do it, and no Republican vote is required for that strong statement to go forth.

The double dealing during the debt limit debate is very apparent, because Reid simply can't raise the 51 Democratic votes needed. Appaerently the only bi-partisan agreement that there exists in Congress is on no new taxes. I wonder why no one in the lamestream is pointing that out.

Douglas Keachie

On your exit question, have you been keeping track of new ways designed by lawyers to get rich off of nothing?

The porn companies are seeing a decline, and some of their stuff is being circulated illegally, so they're going after endusers. I suspect the actual cause of decline is the incredible amount of stuff available for free on Flickr and other sites. Do a search for truckers and ladies, if you have any doubts.

Anyways, the lawyers are suing unsuspecting grannies who set up their wifi's without encryption, and the neighborhood male population goes nuts.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/15/BUG51KA26R.DTL&tsp=1

God is punishing the USA economically for all this immoral behavior...

RL Crabb

Scott, I'm not just mad at GW Bush. How can I make that any clearer to you? I hold both parties responsible, and if you don't think Republicans will "choose winners and losers" then I might as well quit trying to convince you. Just remember that when some corporate pseudopharmical company sells you a poison pill (that they knew was poison but invested too much money into it) and when you try to sue you'll get ignored by the courts because it's bad for business.

And the two parties can dither over lightbulbs and whether Sans Circumcisco can remove your foreskin until hell freezes over, which according to Russ is any day now.

George is right. These threads just go endlessly in circles leading nowhere. Partisans can never change their spots. Maybe you'll win an election cycle or two, but people will get fed up with being manipulated and herded into whichever ruling elite's ideology happens to be popular that year.

Meanwhile, the Chinese will be watching from their base on the moon and saying, "Vely Intelesting!" (Oh, God! Another racist slur from the cartoonist!)

Paul Emery

We're going through some strange new territory where there is no party discipline in either camp so whatever Obama or Boehner propose will not necessarily have the support of their party. This is leading to new levels of backroom dealing the likes of which we have never seen before. Since the TP factions of the Republican party reprrtesent perhaps 30% of the electorate at best the Repubs know caving to that faction will be sure death in the 2012 elections with many Reps likely being deprived of experiencing a Sophomore statue. The left wing of the Democratic Party is more malleable and will require little arm twisting once Obama chooses a path. It looks like McConnell's plan will work well for the Dems who are happy to go to the 12 elections with a "tax the rich and eliminate loopholes" agenda that is favored by a majority of voters as evidenced by overwhelming poll numbers.

Also polls show convincing numbers that blame the financial collapse on the Bush admin and they do not trust the Republicans to get us out because historically they have been the party of runaway spending without the responsibility of added income as demonstrated by the trippling of debt under Reagan Bush 1 and the irresponsible tax cuts under Bush 2. History will not be kind to those administrations.

Mikey McD

The only route out of the financial mess our collectivism (entitlements, The FED, Bailouts, Stimulus, progressive tax system, etc) has bestowed upon us is economic growth and spending cuts/caps on every government level.

George Rebane

History will be kind to the ideological kindred of the historian. As Governor Moonbeam is making clear with the latest version of California's history books that he has commissioned, PaulE is right on the mark.

Can you imagine a country like ours today where more than half the parents don't want their kids taught in government schools because they know their kids will be taught mostly crap that will debilitate them for life.

"The left wing of the Democratic Party is more malleable and will require little arm twisting once Obama chooses a path." - a constant theme of these pages. The conservatives are more than likely to fall on their respective self-righteous swords than capitulate. As a conservetarian, I share that feeling and believe strongly that poll-driven politicians will indeed take us down.

ANY policy from here on that continues to increase the national debt to GDP ratio is insane, and any policy that continues to increase the debt service to GDP ratio cannot be correctly described in the English language - the words have yet to be added to the lexicon.

Paul Emery

George
My dislike for government sponsored education is well documented on these pages.

Of course politicians are poll driven, especially if they want to get reelected. Repeatedly I have noted that political control is awarded to those who capture the middle of the spectrum and the Dems are licking their chops on this one. The poll numbers are so overwhelmingly opposed to a cut only budget path that it's political suicide to run with that as part of your voting record. Your slant is only supported by barely 30 and fading percent of the voters. This is before the specific repercussions of budget cuts are even discussed. 30% of US corporations pay no taxes after subsidies are factored. That's right 0 taxes. And still they aren't creating jobs. It's kind of difficult to say jobs are not being created because if high taxes with those kind of numbers. Here are examples from
http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/ad-lib/2011/apr/10/tax-evaders-wall-shame/


WALL OF SHAME

The Outrageous Top Ten in Alphabetical Order

1. Bank of America took $336 billion in bailouts in 2009, but in 2010, flush with $4.4 billion in profits, it paid no taxes. Even Forbes magazine asked, how is that possible? Probably thanks to their 115 offshore tax havens.

2. Boeing just received $35 billion from our government to build 179 airborne tankers, but despite nearly $10 billion in profits from 2008 to 2010, it too paid no taxes, again thanks to foreign tax havens.

3. Citicorp took $476 billion from the bailout and then made monster profits in 2010, yet it paid no taxes, thanks to 427 subsidiaries in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong.

4. Exxon/Mobil, received huge oil subsidies from the government and earned $45 billion in 2009 but paid no taxes, again thanks to stashing profits in places like the Bahamas and Singapore.

5. GE – see last week’s column for the stats and facts on this corporation’s tax dodge.

6. Google utilizes a technique that moves most of its income through Ireland and Netherlands to Bermuda, making its tax rate 2.3 percent.

7. Mega Pharmaceuticals Merck earned $9 billion in profits and paid no taxes in 2010, while Pfizer (largest drug maker) owed $10 billion in taxes but found the necessary loopholes to pay no taxes, thanks to its offshore subsidiaries in places like Luxembourg and the Isle of Jersey.

8. News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media monolith that owns Fox News avoids paying American taxes through its 152 subsidiaries in tax havens from the British Virgin Islands to Hong Kong.

9. Verizon, despite making $24.2 billion in pre-tax US income, paid no taxes and actually claimed a federal refund of $1.3 billion for the last two years, again all thanks to those offshore subsidiaries.

10. Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock.

George Rebane

PaulE, all you are doing is underlining my point. Your conclusion about creating jobs under the current labyrinth of tax law and subsidies is beyond argument - a million lawyers, accountants, and economists will not make sense of it, it is beyond the pale.

One of the many Rebane's Rules expounded here is that 'The good part of capitalism is that it games the system, and the bad part of capitalism is that it games the system.'

When the 'system' is so perverse as to allow its gaming to max profits without providing for the social good, then it is the system that needs to change, because the above rule is nothing more than a recasting of human nature. Basting our system with more layers of socialism will not help, but only create more opportunities for the smart guys to end run the government dummies. But then, maybe that after all is what's intended here.

Paul Emery

But George doesn't the fact that the above Corps pay no taxes and are creating no jobs gut the assumption that high taxes are a major reason for little job creation? Just like the fact that there is no correlation between Bush's tax cuts and job creation, which under his administration which was pathetic even before the economy crashed and the Dems took the house.

By the way, I'm all for a Balanced Budget Amendment as long as tax increases when necessary are a factor in the balance. With the current climate that seems impossible so it's not likely to pass. I anticipate a Dem bounce back next year. The recalls in Wisconsin next month will be the canary in the mine.

George Rebane

PaulE, so why are Reid and the Senate Dems silent on raising taxes? Pull the subsidies, and let 'em have it with another round of tax increases since that seems to be the way to revive the economy. Obama's re-election problems would be solved. The Repubs in the House would have no choice but to come along or be painted as you describe. Happy days would be here again - the Dems have two out of the three big levers of power. Why the hesitation, especially now???

Greg Goodknight

Robert, congratulations. "Sans Circumcisco" has one and only one hit according to Google. Brilliant *and* original.

Paul Emery

I don't want to be distracted by being an apologist for Democratic strategies. They are my second least favorite political party.

We're talking about everyone paying their fair share. If the above mentioned corps and who knows how many others paid their fair share and the Bush tax cuts were allowed to die a graceful death and we ended our illegal wars in the middle east and made the military just as responsible for the waste of taxpayer money as everyone else and any new military engagements would include a sufficient war tax to subsidize the extra costs then the deficit just might be manageable.

Tax increases to pay for the excesses of the past are no different than a family or individual working extra to pay off existing debt.

George Rebane

PaulE, "fair" has many faces and looks different depending on your vantage. Nevertheless, given all the improvements you cite, we will continue increasing our debt with taxes at the historical 20% of GDP level. In fact, according to Obama's past budget proposals we will continue increasing our debt at 25% (current) of GDP spending levels. And at this rate our economic growth will be anemic, which further exacerbates the problem.

We are past the tipping point. No one (Repubs or Dems) has a plan to get us out of the debt/deficit crisis. The only visible oasis in the distance is GDP growth at levels that make all reasonable people identify it as a mirage.

Paul Emery

Fair share is at least some share which the Republicans would like to keep at 0 since they don't advocate any elimination of subsidies or loopholes . And nowhere do the Repubs look at the sacred cow of military spending and the huge waste in our foreign policy which under the Bush admin allowed truckloads of cash literally to be dumped into the tents of tribal chiefs as bribery for their support of our illegal war. In fact they call for an increase in the military budget.

So I've given this my best shot. What is your best idea abut how to precede ?

Todd Juvinall

If a man works 80 hours a wek to get ahead and his neighbor works 10, should we take from the 80 hour fellow via government and give to the 20?

Paul Emery

Todd
I'm afraid your question has nothing to do with the current topic. I'd love to get into that conversation but not at this time.

What is your opinion on whether the above listed corporations should pay taxes?

Todd Juvinall

Paul I am surprised that you don't understand my relevant question to this thread and punt.

Paul Emery

Okay Todd I'll give it a go

First of all, the number of hours someone works has nothing to do with the income they earn. Someone working at minimum wage for 80 hors a week may make only $500 a week before taxes. Someone with a substantial trust fund may make $5000 a week without working at all so income has little to do with the willingness to work.

I believe in a graduated income tax with a rate similar to 1999 before the Bush 2 debacle that led us to where we are. I believe it is Constitutional because in the nearly 100 years it has never been declared otherwise despite many legal challenges. I believe it is moral because it provides for the greater good and promotes a civil society and the general well being of all citizens. There is not a modern government in the world that does not have a progressive income tax. So yes I believe a reasonable graduated income tax to be fair and moral.

Now your turn. Is it OK for the above Corps, to pay no taxes?

(from 15 July 2011 at 03:47 PM)

Todd Juvinall

Well let me clearer since you obfuscated m question.

Let us say a musician works eighty hours a week and hits it big. Lets say he gets a record contract and a tour gig and is paid $100 per hour. After a while of those 80 hour weeks he has earned $64,000 buckos. His neighbor, a crummy guitar player is kind of lazy and works 10 hours a week at $25 bucks an hour. Should the successful guitarist have the government take part of his money and transfer it to the lazy guitarist because the lazy guy said he needs it and it is only fair.

There.

Paul Emery

You have created a colorful scenario to characterize the progressive income tax. I know crappy guitar players that never learned to play that make millions because of the way they look and how they've been marketed and brilliant players that practice all the time that make chump change so what's the point? So if hard work is the basis for economic value should the lousy rich guitarist who didn't work hard to achieve his wealth subsidize the hard working brilliant player who failed to achieve commercial success? I support a progressive income tax. What more do I need to say

Please, it's your turn. What about the tax free Corps?

Todd Juvinall

If a person or a company follows the law and owes no tax then they pay no tax. If that is not acceptable change the law.

Paul Emery

Then should we change the tax code to insure they pay taxes?

George Rebane

Instead of picking someone to punish for following a tax code that is perhaps perverse, why don't we redo the tax code into something that is not made up of patch upon patch without knowing how one patch affects the others.

But then again, that's only the reasonable way, and not the populist way through which politicians can demagogue the voters.

Account Deleted

"I know crappy guitar players that never learned to play that make millions because of the way they look and how they've been marketed" - Really Paul? Who are they? Oh - I know - you and Bob have all of these realities and they are in your files back at the office. You can't name any, but they are real. At least in what you call a brain. Once again, I ask for facts. How rude - how uncivil. There are all of these rich, filthy rich people and they devour small children and plot to keep the poor hard working union members in chains.
The nation is going broke and the useful idiots squabble over who can sit in which deck chair. Have fun, fools. Capital and productivity will slip away to fairer climes whilst the louts and knaves sport amongst themselves smashing things and declaring themselves kings over the wreckage. That crown made of the detritus of what was here earlier looks quite fetching on you.

RL Crabb

Okay, Scott...I'm an idiot. It says so on the masthead of my comic strip. I can't back up my assertions with a long list of links that you would dismiss anyway because they are no doubt biased. I used to get the same criticism from the progressives on our local left-leaning blog. I know I can't win even if I agree with you.

George Rebane

I wonder if there is at least general agreement that continuing to increase the debt-to-GDP ratio will rapidly cause a decline of America along ALL dimensions of our sovereignty and quality of life.

Account Deleted

Bob - You haven't backed up your claims with anything. For example - Where have I ever said or implied that the R's are blameless? I don't mind having some back and forth with those I disagree with, but I would expect that folks would challenge me with examples or explanations and I always try to give some. The postings I see here from the left seem to be filled with hyperbole and extremely distorted views of how the business and banking worlds work. Wall Street (that is: the large banking, financial services and insurance companies) are composed of folks just like you and I. They are, by actual fact, pretty much divided politically from top to bottom the same as the rest of the country. They work just as hard or more as you and are just as law abiding. The left loves to mis-characterize them as the source of all evil and greed in this country based on a very few and highly publicized scandals. You have a right to your opinions, but as I stated above, just keep railing at your boogey men and ghosts while the rest of the world goes to work and surpasses this country. I am not so naive to trust any party or person with the answer, but neither am I so cynical or prejudiced that I dismiss a whole group of people as automatically bad just because of their work or income. This nation brought itself down financially because of it's collective greed and stupidity and laziness. Now the rope has come to near it's end and the left wants to blame it all on: Those that worked harder and smarter, anyone in a certain profession, and the "free market" that doesn't even exist. Those of us on the conservative side have been pointing out (in some cases, for decades) what was coming and why. And it has pretty much happened as predicted. Our fed govt has strayed from it's legal boundaries and catered to the craven desires of the stupid and greedy in exchange for the votes to get into office and power. Both parties had a go at it, but the left and the Dems are the worse by far. In fact, they brag about it. The only good potential leaders I see are currently in the Republican Party, but there are still plenty of them I wouldn't vote for even against Obama. In the last presidential, I voted for Alan Keyes. He has plenty of baggage, but he was the best choice of them all. It's not a matter of "winning", Bob, it's that we all need to make sure we start with actual facts and go from there. I can present my facts and you can present yours, but all I hear from your side is talking points from the left.

Paul Emery

Scott

I was responding to Todd's rather odd analogy by reversing his storyline. Sorry if you found it distasteful. Lousy guitar players? Pick any of the hair band whankers that made millions (Aerosmith, Black Sabath, etc..) and compare them to Danny Gatton or Roy Bucannon who barely got by as an example.

I tend to agree with you George about the inevitable GDP ratio crisis. That's why we need a decline in spending and an increase in revenue by mining the tax slackers and big time avoiders. George, you know that tax reform is a huge and time consuming process. Why not tax abusers that have scammed the system by eliminating loopholes and subsidies for those described above for exmple while striving for meaningful reform? If we are in the state of emergency that you claim I'd think you'd be into any fair way to close the gap including raising revenue.

Todd Juvinall

It appears I have stumped Paul. He is unable to grasp what I have asked. What a hoot!

Paul Emery

You may be too deep for me Todd. Can you reword your question is really simple language?

George Rebane

OK PaulE, that's a step forward. But massive spending cuts are the only realistic way to drive deficits to zero and stabilize the debt (without even a hope yet of paying it down). I don't know of any "tax abusers", and if any are identified, then the combined resources of the IRS and DOJ should make sure they spend some hard time behind bars.

But as I have pointed out numerous times already, we are in unknown territory today with the feds sucking out 25% of GDP (and plan on making that the new norm), and you (and yours) want to increase this fraction even more. And then you expect that government revenues are going to increase as a result. I invite you to reconsider the arguments put forth here - http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2011/06/the-liberal-mind-tax-rates-dont-affect-earnings.html

Finally, the question that no liberal wants to answer: What percent of GDP should be enough for the feds to pull out of the economy and spend for the necessaries of state? The conservetarian in me looks at the numbers and comes up with 15% which, under a new tax code, should make the economy and government revenues soar.

Paul Emery

Abusers to me are the leeches that make billions of $ and spend no money on taxes therefore taking advantage of the infrastructure, government services and military protection while contributing nothing towards their funding. The "wall of shame" corporations fall into that category for a start.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/ad-lib/2011/apr/10/tax-evaders-wall-shame/

Requiring a balanced budget requires a clear consensus and understanding of what role we ask government to play in our lives. That consensus will then elect representatives that pass supporting legislation and set tax levels to support those objectives. All additional spending would require funding support and if necessary tax increases such as a war tax for adventures such as Iraq, Afghanistan and yes, Libya. For example, if it becomes an expression of the national will to have universal health care then funding to pay for it will be in the budget and may include tax increases. Just a reminder that all citizens of Denmark pay taxes, there is a minimum tax rate no matter what your income level.

A balanced Budget amendment does not necessarily deal with the current debt. That will require additional measures to establish a revenue surplus that will then pay down the debt, much like the Clinton-Gingrich example.

Greg Goodknight

Sorry, Paul, even if there was no corporation income tax whatsoever, every penny of corporate profits would still be subject to taxation. Corporations are just handy places for government to reach in and skim some off the top, before that profit gets to the owner, whether they are a blue collar guy's retirement savings or Teresa Heinz Kerry's Senatorial purchase fund.

Paul Emery

But Greg these Corps pay no taxes and in many cases receive millions in subsidies. Are you saying that this is OK and Corps should pay no taxes?

Paul Emery

Correction Billions in subsidies

Greg Goodknight

Paul, the profits of corporations are owned by the owners. The owners get taxed. Ratchet up the effective corporate tax rates and you hurt the retirement savings of the working stiffs more than you hurt your hated 'fat cats'.

Greg Goodknight

"Requiring a balanced budget requires a clear consensus and understanding of what role we ask government to play in our lives. That consensus will then elect representatives that pass supporting legislation and set tax levels to support those objectives."

No, a balanced budget just requires the Congress to not spend more than is taken in. It's much easier than you make it out to be.

George Rebane

Acknowledging that my questions were again sidestepped (nothing new here), the accusation of the "leeches" is a bit puzzling. Why so? Well, apparently the corporations did everything that the government wanted them to do, and were subsequently rewarded exactly as the government specified that they should be rewarded. Adding this to GregG's comments, isn't this exactly the desired corporate behaviors that were envisioned in the the Grand Plan when the tax code was last modified????

Account Deleted

Paul - I have a lot Buchanan's stuff but he was a lousy example to pick. The man was a hopeless drunk and he screwed his own career. He was a great guitarist but ended his life in a jail cell in shame. Sad. I like Adrian Legg, Phil Keaggy, and Bill Frisell a lot but they're not going to fill arenas and I don't think they would want to. Just because you don't like Aerosmith et al, doesn't mean the guitar players are lousy. Those guys can play a lot of other good stuff, but it doesn't make money and they don't record it.
I think now I'm way off from George's topic, but I doubt there's going to be much in the way of agreement here. I think most folks just can't appreciate how broke we are. We need to cut spending a lot and increase the economy a lot to just stay afloat. But it just won't happen, so hang on and have fun.

Paul Emery

Okay George let's look at at least one of your questions. To put the tax revenue at 15% of GDP as you suggest would put us in the company of such countries as the Dominican Republic and Tunisia who have similar rates. Here is a useful chart from the Heritage Foundation for reference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_revenue_as_percentage_of_GDP

If we look at the 25% level we chart next to Venezuela and Samoa Most Western European nations are above 38% so we've got a ways to go to match them.

Also, we should look at the percent amount paid for military spending and we are at 4.7%, sixth highest % and by far the greatest over all spender in the world surpassed notably by Iraq and Israel and other Arab nations such Saudi Arabia. Since there seems to be no disposition to cut military spending from your side the cuts would have to come from domestic programs and the percent paid to support military ventures would increase dramatically. This is from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

It all boils down to what kind of country do we want to live in and, yes, are we willing to pay for it.

My use of the description of money sucking Corporations as leeches is of course an editorial but somewhat effective description of business practices that live off the blood provided by hard working taxpayers.

Todd Juvinall

Paul, does the tax burden in those countries reflect all taxes? The reason I ask is in America we are taxed at special districts, cities, counties, states and the feds. Is that 15% only at the federal level in those countries?

George Rebane

PaulE, 'there you go again' to quote a famous man.

Your comparisons to Tunisia and the Dominican Republic as America's fate with a 15% of GDP government share are from the simplistic world model that all collectivists purvey. Such countries have autocratic governance, corruption beyond comprehension, and economic engines from which nothing that low taxes (per se) can unleash. Such desperate comparisons humorous.

The behavior of corporations has been countlessly explained here. They are a creation of our malevolent tax code.

Paul Emery

Good question Todd. The chart, provided by the Heritage Foundation, bases their figures on total tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product.

Paul Emery

I didn't place a judgment on our house mates in the 15% GDP that you prefer. The numbers, from the Heritage Foundation, tell their own story. I keep asking for contemporary examples of admirable countries but you seem to have none, other than a couple of Asian City States, so that leaves me grasping for straws when I try to extrapolate your supposition to the real world. I need some help here.

Account Deleted

"business practices that live off the blood provided by hard working taxpayers" Actual examples? C'on Paul, if you can't provide any backup, why should anyone listen to this non-stop hatred and prejudice? The fact is, you can't raise the tax rates high enough to sustain the out of control spending. Our military is a necessary and mandated cost. It is not the reason we are going broke. I'm a hard working tax payer and I know who takes my money and wastes it. It's the govt, Paul. What company forces you to pay them anything? Name one, just one. You want to raise the taxes on companies? Where does that money come from? Keep shooting your foot Paul, you might have a little stubble where your toes were.

Todd Juvinall

Pal, I checked your link to Heritage and could not find if the countries you are using pay property tax, special district taxes and fees at all levels. Even though it says total tax burden I do not believe they mean at all levels. The reason is logical. The fed burden we are discussing is only the fed burden. So I have to assume they mean only the top government for a comparison. I don't think Afghanistan has a property tax but I could be wrong. When you add all levels of government here in the USA you have somewhere near a 50% burden.

Paul Emery

Actual practices? Scott you are like a greyhound chasing a phony rabbit. The thing is that I agree with much of what you say but I think revenue increases have to be part of the formula so why not go after those who take and don't give. Our corporate taxes are not the highest in the world when you factor loopholes and subsidies. Then they come in quite low. How about this one from the Hall of Shame.

"Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock. "

The illegal war in Iraq will likely end up costing us 1.5 T or more. That's chump change right? Also, the truckloads of bribery cash dumped into the tents of mullahs by the Bush admin. It's military spending so no scrutiny allowed. Thank goodness your view only represents 25% of the electorate but it's fun to chat with you anyway.

Yes Roy Bucannon was a drunk and probably a bad example. But Danny Gatton? What a player. Have you heard him?

Paul Emery

Todd

I was just using he Heritage numbers and definitions. Total tax means total tax in my mind. Of course you might not trust the Heritage Foundation but they are a Conservative think tank of note.

Todd Juvinall

No Paul, I trust them. Their definition does not contain any tax rates other than the federal level.

George Rebane

"Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock. "

And what in hell was wrong with that??!! Wells Fargo was one of the banks that were called in to the famous 'Saturday night massacre' by the feds and told to accept the bailouts, no and, ifs, or buts. It received $25B (not $107B) and paid it back. In the meanwhile it bought a failing bank in order to strengthen its position in the industry and maintain value for its shareholders. Clearly, all criminal activity.

Paul Emery

Todd

Can you show me the details that conclude that State and other taxes are not part of the Heritage calculations? It's a very important conclusion that needs validation.

Todd Juvinall

Paul the onus is on you since you cited Heritage. I am the one who is sceptically. Please give the readers the whole enchilada.

Paul Emery

Okay since you have no information otherwise let's let it stand as Heritage puts it "total tax revenue" . There is no information otherwise. Nice try Todd, I gave you a fair chance.

Todd Juvinall

Well golly thanks. Dodging is not pretty Paul.

Paul Emery

You do a pretty good job of it.

Todd Juvinall

No dodging here. You failed the test of veracity.

Account Deleted

Yes, Paul - increased revenue does need to be part of it, but that needs to come from an expanded economy. Not taking more from those that already pay more. You have failed completely to make your case. What about the BLOOD? Yes - I will look up Danny Gatton, I suggest you look up a basic math primer and some good books on western logic. We can provide help, which you obviously need.

Mikey McD

Some believe that Wells "bought a failing bank" due to strong arming by Uncle Sam. The foreclosure season is still very much upon us...

Paul Emery

Scott

What happens if the economy does not expand enough to cover tax cuts? Answer Bush 2, Reagan, Bush 1, massive debt and doubling and tripping of the deficit. It's the Republican way that's why they can't be trusted with math. Those numbers are undeniable even by Todd the Dodger.

Todd Juvinall

Spending cuts work Paul, endorse them.

Mikey McD

Paul, increased tax rates kill tax revenue.

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