Category Archives: Taxes

Republican flip-flops and lies

Individual Mandate

The Republicans had a good idea back in the day requiring people to buy health insurance. This policy was developed because they didn’t feel that they should not have government offer single payer healthcare. Their solution requires people to be responsible and buy health care insurance. This was based on the idea that everyone has a responsiblity to protect themselves, and other people from higher health insurance premiums. During the 93′ healthcare debacle Orin Hatch the right-wing conservative proposed this idea in Clinton’s plan.

Find it weird that once Obama support a Republican developed idea they claim it’s unconstitutional? I don’t.

Cap and Trade

When debate host Gwen Ifill asked Palin whether she supported capping carbon emissions, her answer was unequivocal:

“I do,” she said. “I do.”

Cap and trade, yet again, is a Republican idea. They felt that the government should get out of businesses way, and allow the government to set a cap on the amount of carbon emissions, and then allow the private sector to trade their cap on emissions.

After Obama supports this conservative developed idea Plain blasted her own policy;

“I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy,” she wrote on July 14, 2009. “It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.”

Is it policy or poltics? I wonder.


We may have a good development on getting facts into the Republican party, but it may cost the middle class.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy,” said spokesman Brad Dayspring.

David Camps of the Ways and Mean Committee even finally admitted that tax cuts add to the deficit. But, here’s the problem they want a tax cut for the middle class to end, but they never mention that their tax cuts for the rich are adding trillion to the deficit. The Bush-era tax cuts will add 4 trillion to the deficit over a ten-year period. Republicans stop this non-sense. They have now shown that they care more about corporation and the richest in America rather than the middle class.


Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Clean Energy, Health Care, Taxes


Don’t the American people want jobs?

Over the past few days, the Senate and House leadership has selected the Senators and House members who will be on the Debt Reduction Committee that was created as part of the debt ceiling deal that was reached earlier this month. Some progressives have reacted angrily to some of the Democratic picks – most notably to the selection of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).  While we share some concerns about the selections, a far more effective response would be for progressives to flood the Democratic members of the Committee with letters and phone calls urging them to prioritize job creation, increase revenue from the wealthy, and ensure there are no cuts to Social Security or Medicare beneficiaries.

The Debt Reduction Committee is charged with proposing by November 23, 2011 $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through spending cuts and/or revenue increases.  If the Committee is able to agree to a proposal, it would then receive an up-or-down vote, with no filibusters or amendments, in both houses of Congress and must be either signed or vetoed by President Obama.  The Committee has twelve members, with six from each party. Any proposal that goes to Congress would have to be approved by at least a 7-5 majority, so at least one Democrat or one Republican member of the Committee must end up siding with the other party in order to avoid a deadlock.  If the Committee does not make a proposal, or Congress rejects the proposal, $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years starting in 2013 would automatically go into effect.  Those automatic cuts would include nearly $500 billion reduction in military spending, but no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, or beneficiaries of Medicare.

Given Democrats’ propensity to compromise, progressives are understandably concerned that one of the six Democratic members will end up supporting a GOP deficit reduction proposal.  And much of that concern has been targeted at Sen. Baucus, with folks like the Young Turks and Markos claiming that the “fix is in” and that the “GOP has already won.”

While Senator Baucus has certainly been disappointing to progressives on health care reform, the estate tax, and other issues, the progressive attacks on Baucus, and on Senator Harry Reid for selecting him, appear to be overwrought, as Baucus’ performance on core progressive issues during the various deficit debates of the past year has been pretty strong.  For example, Baucus strongly supported keeping Social Security out of the debt ceiling negotiations, noting that the program “is not responsible for the deficits we face in the general fund today,” and has been “a major force in ending widespread poverty among the elderly.”  Baucus also lambasted the GOP’s vote to abolish Medicare, slammed the House GOP’s Cut, Cap, and Balance proposal as “radical,” and voted against the debt reduction proposal made by Simpson and Bowles Debt Commission.  In other words, Senator Baucus appears to be reachable on some key issues such as protecting Social Security and Medicare.

Rather than attacking individual Democratic committee members or throwing our hands up and saying the GOP has already won, we progressives should be working to make sure the Democrats on the Committee hear what we want loud and clear.  Winning Progressive recommends making the following three points:

1. Jobs Must be Priority Number 1 – With unemployment still at 9.1% and underemployment at 16.1%, the number one priority must be creating jobs.  And the way to achieve job growth is through a WPA-style jobs program, significant infrastructure investment, and a stimulus package focused on shoring up state and local government budgets and investments in developing a green energy economy.  Job creation will not only help the economy, it will also decrease the deficit by achieving economic recovery and, therefore, revenue increases.

2. Make the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share Again – With taxes on the wealthy and corporations at or near the lowest levels since the 1930s, increased revenue from the top 2% must be the part of any effort to reduce the deficit.

3. No Cuts to Medicare Beneficiaries or Social Security – Social Security is not causing or contributing to the deficit.  Skyrocketing health care costs post long term fiscal problems, but the solution is to rationalize health care spending, not abolishing the most cost effective form of health insurance, Medicare.  Benefits should not be cut for either program under the guise of deficit reduction.

To make your voices heard and help push the Debt Reduction Committee in a more positive direction, contact the Democratic members of the Committee today at the links below and urge them to prioritize job creation, increase revenue from the wealthy, and ensure there are no cuts to Social Security or Medicare beneficiaries.

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Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Economy, Taxes


Warren Buffet on taxing the rich NYT Op-Ed

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.


Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Taxes


The new Republican party

The only thing I gathered from the Republican debate last night was that Republicans are for a couple things;

1. Tax cuts

2. Less regulation

3. Cut, Cap, and Balance

4. Privatizing the big three

The only argument they seem to have is that Obama should be a one term president because he’s a failed leader, and a socialist! Let me remind the Republicans that Obama passed almost universal healthcare; that will decrease the deficit, he said that he ordered his executive branches to look into decreasing their regulation that are outdated, and he signed a historical effort to reduce the debt. Now, the debt bill I wasn’t in support of, but my point is that Republicans will never support Obama on any issue, because as Bachmann said clearly last night their only goal is to see Obama a one term president.

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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Debt, Taxes


Trade, Taxes, and Banking; How to fix our tax and banking system

By Dylan Ratigan


We continue our special, three part series “Jobs Wanted.”  Yesterday we explained the trade component.  Today, taxes.

I want to get into how they can be used as leverage to influence spending and investments, and foster prosperity and jobs.

First, Washington needs to stop viewing the tax code as simply a way to raise money, and instead use taxes to create results.  The U.S. tax code should spur American investment and job creation, not prevent it like it currently does. It is simple economics — if you lower taxes on something, you see more of it.  The principle also works in reverse, and I have a great example of how taxes influence behavior — the cigarette tax.  Remember back in 2008, New York raised its cigarette tax by more than a dollar to $2.75.  The result – consumption fell and the state’s smoking rate dropped by 12%.  If the tax code can reduce smoking by 12%, by altering it we can also make investing in America grow by 12, 15, even 20%… who knows! That would add jobs by the millions!  We can reverse this flow of money by using the tax code to make investing in our own country more profitable than sending that cash and jobs overseas, or using it for financial speculation.

Of course, another issue with the tax code is corporate loopholes.  Every year you and I send a check to Washington to pay our taxes, while large corporations, like GE, don’t pay a dime!  Now, I’m not here to demonize big business — they’re simply taking advantage of tax loopholes set up by their friends in Congress.  And it’s all legal!  But we need to close the loopholes and shatter the practice of large corporations using money and power to gain favorable tax treatment.


This week we spoke about how fixing trade and the tax code would lead to jobs.  Today’s it’s all about banking.  The best way I can describe our banking sector right now is it’s like a leaf blower.

Follow me on this one — the system can either inject capital and spread it around through lending, which when done right creates jobs… Or it can suck all the money out.

Right now we’re stuck in that reverse position where banks are taking the money out of play.  We gave away the farm and got no changes in the way banks do business.

President Bush did whatever he needed to pass the problem on to Barack Obama…and President Obama doubled down on the Bush plan, leaving banking and Wall Street to go on as if nothing happened.  The President, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke threw more of our cash at the big banks to keep them afloat by printing money they didn’t have.

But that’s like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it! Because current banking, and for that matter, trade law, makes it more profitable for banks to engage in financial speculation, loan the money right back to our own government, or take it overseas than it does to focus on domestic lending.

In order to reverse the blower, we need to debate laws that encourage banks to lend, as opposed to speculate and extract…so that money is spread around to job creators who actually produce ideas and hire workers.

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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Banks, Economy, Taxes


Trade, Taxes, and Banking: The screwed up trading system


We can’t keep letting American based corporations send American jobs over seas. We must repeal the NAFTA. We must bring the jobs home. If you’re an American corporation you will employ Americans.

These three trade deals would send more jobs over seas call your represenatives and tell them to say no to sending more jobs overseas!

  • Step 1: Get informed about the Korea trade deal
  • Step 2: View instructions for calling to your Representative in Congress below.
  • Step 3: Visit our Trade Vote Tracker to report your Representative’s position and view other activists’ comments on their Representative’s stance on the trade deals

Take Action! Contact your representative today!

Dial (202) 224-3121 to reach the Capitol switchboard. If you are not sure who is your Representative, tell the operator you want to talk to “your House member” and give your zip code. They will connect you – and then follow the script below.

When the office answers, ask for the “Trade L.A.” (legislative assistant). If he or she does not answer, leave a message AND call back and ask for the Chief of Staff – if he or she does not answer, leave a message there also.

“I am from [your town] and I’m calling to urge Representative _____ to oppose the three NAFTA-style trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama that Bush signed and Obama is now pushing. The Korea deal is projected to increase our trade deficit and cost many more American jobs. How can we even consider trade deals with unionist murder capital Colombia and tax haven Panama. Our country cannot stand any more job-killing, NAFTA-style trade deals. Is Rep. X for offshoring of American jobs? Does he/she oppose all three of these trade deals? Will he/she vote no to help stop these three job killers? Please keep the American people in mind and start creating real American jobs. Thank you for your time.”

Then, ask to be informed in writing of the Representative’s position.

Let us know what the office said by leaving a brief comment here – even if they don’t yet have a written position, let us know exactly what they said. When you get a written response, please share that also. Your reports will help target undecided Members of Congress and prevent this devastating deal from being passed.

If your Rep’s stance is anything but firmly against the trade deals, please keep calling to keep the pressure on!


How this came about is that one of the chiefs here at MSNBC asked me, “Dylan, how can America create jobs? Should we shrink government? Should we cut spending? Should we increase spending?

The answer — maybe all of the the above — maybe none of the above, because at this point, it’s the wrong question!

To create real jobs, a country must have more money coming in than going out. But we have the exact opposite, with much more money going out that we have coming in!  Until we reverse that trillion-dollar trend, it is mathematically impossible to create sustainable jobs.

There are three main components that the government controls that determine the flow of money: Trade, Taxes, and Banking. I’ll be covering all three.

Let’s begin with Trade. If you look at the math of the so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA from the Clinton Administration, they put our country at a disadvantage and force american CEO’s to do business that rewards their bottom line, and hurts the rest of us.

All the deals are aimed at making it easier and more profitable to export jobs, send money overseas and keep the cash offshore rather than invest it here at home. I want to use the firm Caterpillar as an example to

They now make a lot of heavy equipment in China.  If they made it here like they used to, it would face a 25% tax from Chinese Government to import, but if they make it in China – NO TAX.

And by the way, Chinese imports to America are taxed at 2.5%.  Now Caterpillar gets a giant discount on equipement build and sold in China.  Jim Owens, the Chief of Caterpillar, his job is to make money for his company and shareholders.  If you or I ran Caterpillar, we’d either export jobs and money to China to make the bottom line, or be fired.

Maybe if our government had the courage to level the playing field, the Jim Owens’s of the world would say “Let’s make it in America.”

But until then, it’s bye bye jobs and bye bye cash, in favor of highly profitable, rigged trade agreements for the profit of a few.  We must level that playing field if we’re going to create jobs in America.


Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Economy, Fairness, Taxes


What the “Super Congress must do; for Progressives

1. Create an economy that creates atleast 300,00+ jobs per month.

2. Create and economy with a minimum 4% increase in GDP growth rate.

3. Allow all Bush tax cuts to end.

4. Means test Medicare, and Social Security.

5. Add a 4.5% surtax on individuals making above 250,000 to help pay for entitlement programs.

6. Increase the negotiating power of the federal government on healthcare.

7. End too big to fail, and trust bust too big to fail corporations.

8. Add a tax on risky financial tools; such as derivatives and credit default swaps.

9. Enact a public option.

10. End the corporate loopholes that allow some businesses to pay nothing in taxes.

10. Put in place a cap-and-trade programs that forces the private sector to innovate.

11. Enact the Congressional Reform Act of 2011.

12. Force corporations to bring back foreign profits, and use those profits to fund the rebuilding of America.

13. Reform the financial institutions that brought as to where we are today.

14. End NAFTA, and bring the jobs home to America.

15. Repeal of the Citizens United case.

16. Enact malpractice reform.

17. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Budgets, Debt, Fairness, Health Care, Investments, Taxes