Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama signs $18 Billion Unemployment Extension as New Jobless Claims Rise for Second Week

The jobless rate remains above 9% nationwide, with a projected 17% of the U.S. populace either unemployed or underemployed, and is expected to remain at that level through November. On ThursdayObama signed a bill that extended unemployment benefits to (according to the AP) “several hundred thousand” people whose benefits have expired. They will be receiving payments retroactively. In the same week, new jobless claims rose for a second straight week, boosting the “seasonally adjusted” rise in claims to 484,000. Although there are some indicators that the economy has inched towards recovery, with consumer spending up with factory production, these are modest gains which are setback by the continual layoffs.

As the tax base further erodes, (current estimates are that 47% of the tax base pay no taxes at all, and with the Earned Income Credit (those making less than $48,000 annually) are able to receive refunds that allow for an additional $3,000 to $5,000 “bonus”. Add to that the 9.7% nationwide average of those receiving unemployment benefits (and not counting those who have fallen off the “roll”), the number of those not paying taxes into the system (tractable) rises to 56.7%, leaving the balance of taxpayer to attempt to foot the bill. The word “unsustainable” is appropriate in this case, as with recovery uncertain, this percentage of those paying taxes, will further decline.
Unless and until government spending is brought under control and incentives to larger corporations as well as small businesses to once again invest in the United States are instituted, this trend should continue unabated. The solution that has worked in the past, from Kennedy to Reagan to George W. Bush – tax cuts across the board, must be reintroduced in order to provide such incentive to both those that employee and the consumer. Dolling out earned income credits once a year to almost half of the population will indeed, see consumer spending spike temporarily, however, this is spending based on monies from the Federal pocketbook, rather than sustained earnings from the private sector.

The options before the American public are clear, as the path grows increasingly uncertain – exercise the privilege of voting in November and research the candidate to be sure that individual is a true fiscal conservative, and one that is not so far vested in their political party (so-called Blue Dog Democrats that almost to a man(or woman) voted for the Budget Reconciliation Act that brought the Health Care Reform Bill and the takeover of the Student Loan Industry to fruition in one fell swoop) that they will not fear bucking the status quo by voting down increased spending, voting for tax cuts, and pledging to their constituents that “pork projects” will be put on hold indefinitely. The addition of a pledge to attempt to overhaul the IRS, cut the fat, and make the code “simple” and fair across the board would be another test of sanity in a prospective office holder. (Additionally, those in favor of sending the Health Care Reform Bill back to the drawing board, to make sure it includes specific real cost savings measures such as tort reform and allowing citizens to purchase coverage across state lines – are worth more at the ballot box). Unless and until voters are willing to send a strong message, and choose candidates that will deliver, this situation will continue unabated. How to research: Simply

Google who is running for (name your congressional district, and or state house or senate district,) in 2010, should that not produce any results, go to the Federal Election Commission website to find out who is running in your state. Another useful tool is Open a site which allows one to research where a candidates money is coming from. This information allows one to better understand who their Representative is most popular with, the people or the special interest groups. Further, to research how a member votes, merely visit: Thomas Library of Congress

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Massachusetts – High Court rejects $5.00 “fee” on inmates’ allowance – Ruling: “Taxing Inmates Unlawful”

The Man behind the Tax on Mass. Inmates Taxpayer Funded Allowance - Sheriff Hodgson - image

From, Springfield, MA. One rarely finds a tax or fee in Massachusetts one can actually agree with, however, in the interest of fairness, there is one set of “fees” that may be worth putting on the books. As Massachusetts taxes everything from your dogs to pre-paid cell phone usage, to your Dish TV, to cover the costs of the massive entitlement programs the Bay State is known for, one tax that appears to rub the wrong way is a tax on certain items and services for inmates at the State’s correctional centers. Thomas Hodgson, a Bristol County sheriff, had charged inmates a $5.00 per day fee for services such as haircuts to offset the Burdon on the taxpayer. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that it was “unlawful” to tax the incarcerated. Sheriff Hodgson disagrees.
He has askedthe State Legislature to take up a bill by State Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, an Attleboro Republican, which would allow for such charges. According to Hodgson, the state is losing millions of dollars each year by not assessing a charge on inmates who receive an allowance from the State. The premise is twofold, increase state revenue and teach fiscal responsibility to those who are incarcerated.

Hodgson’s logic:

“We’ve gotten to the point in the commonwealth where we need to start looking at alternatives, and one that is particularly important to me, and I think most of the people in the commonwealth, is the issue of charging inmates fees for their cost of care,” Hodgson said. “You talk about raising taxes on candy and soda, so now you’re taking from kids’ allowance to help pay for government to run these institutions like prisons by taxing, basically, their allowance. But these people that are stealing their computers and bikes and commit crimes in their neighborhoods continue to come to prison with no responsibility.”

From 2002 to 2004, Hodgson collected $375,000 per year in inmate “taxes” before the court stepped in noting he had overstepped his authority. On the one hand, the excessive taxes levied on the inmates (residents) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts bears scrutiny, especially with the Federal government poised to add a VAT (Value Added Tax) to the plethora of Federal taxes in place. A VAT would place taxes across the board and affect every level of income. A Fair Tax, or Consumption tax on its own is a legitimate alternative to the income tax, however, with our Federal Government on a growth spree, the introduction of a VAT would not replace any taxes, rather necessitate the hiring of more IRS agents to oversee the collection (similar to the 16,000 being hired to collect fees on those not complying with the Federally Mandated Health Care Reform Act – Massachusetts DOR is the Commonwealths “arm” for levying and collecting fees on those Massachusetts citizens who do not have proof of health insurance coverage attached to their tax returns.) Therefore, all things being equal, the state and federal deficit growing in leaps and bounds, why not tax those who are using tax dollars as income? One can understand the growing frustration of the middle income taxpayers, as those paying taxes represent approximately 50% of the population.

In fact, the several state and IRS videos are available that encourage those who earn less than (now 48,000) to file for the Earned Income Tax Credit Must See Video (embed disabled) here The premise of these Public Service Announcements which play during the tax season, suggests that even those who do not pay taxes could receive an additional $5,000 from the Federal government. The end of the suggested video (Must See) notes “You Earned It!”.

Therefore, if the Federal and State Governments hand money out tax over fist to those who may not necessarily have “earned” it, and take it away from those who have, it makes perfect sense that the Commonwealths Court felt inclined to slap the wrist of the Sheriff who suggested that inmates learn fiscal responsibility by paying a $5.00 fee (tax). It goes to the mentality of the lunatics who believe that tax dollars are similar to monopoly money.

As we watch our income shrink due to higher taxes on fuel and a rise in the cost per barrel of crude, as we watch the price of hamburger and other food items increase 26% over last year (one must save receipts and compare it is astounding), (Note: This increase is due to rising costs of food delivery, and other state and federally mandated programs on grocery stores employers and union contracts - the cost of which are added to that gallon of milk), it is no wonder that the individual who is working and paying taxes to the Commonwealth and the Federal Government (State, Federal, Medicaid and Social Security Taxes) might resent others who do not pay taxes. Of those who receive an allowance for committing crimes (taxpayer funded), one has to wonder, if these individuals also file taxes and are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (which would not surprise).

Although generally and vehemently opposed to taxes, this one appears to be as fair a tax as any, and the Sheriff deserves a round of applause from the Citizens of the Commonwealth. One cannot expect, however, the Massachusetts legislature to follow through on any bill that would impose this particular tax.
Even the States Jump in – Get your Earned Income Tax Credit

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Party in Boston – AP suggests 10,000 in attendance, while focus remains on Palin and Brown.

Tea Party held in Hartford, 2009 - Image TMP

The Associated Pressis suggesting that the Tea Party in Boston will draw an estimated 10,000 people today – the article then goes on to speak to the absence of Senator Scot Brown, who will be in Washington going about the people’s business. The deluge of articles on the subject, from the Boston Globe ”Welcoming Palin to Boston” to Business Week’s ”Palin’s Boston Rally With Tea Party Fails to Draw Senator Brown”, one might get the erroneous impression that the Tea Party is all about Palin and Brown. What the press does not seem to understand, or wishes to ignore, is the fact that neither Brown nor Palin are of import in regards to the Tea Party Movement, other than the fact that Palin is speaking (and Brown’s presence is not required.) The Tea Party Movement is a rally designed to protest excessive taxation and certain State and Federal policies that place an added burden on the “masses”, and also play fast and loose with the Constitution.

There are big questions that aren’t being asked (or are being avoided), for example: why are independents and Democrat joining the movement? Followed by: How come the Tea Party Organizers are mainly women? Finally, how many Tea Party chapters are there? Basic demographics might help the media understand why the Tea Party is making headway where traditional political parties appear to be standing still, or more to the point, attempting to downplay (The Democrats) and align (The Republicans) with members of this movement?

It is in reality a movement by and for the people, with an undefined central leadership, but the ability to communicate across state lines in order to draw significant attention (through large crowds in rallies) to policies they feel are not helping our economy, or more to the point, the middle class and those who are bound by fixed incomes. They are patriotic, and contrary to the continuous media sledgehammer, educated, every-day, Americans who are fed up with the way the government appears to ignore the people that fund and hire. One can meet a Tea Party activist in the grocery store (or outside collecting signatures for a particular fiscally conservative candidate), in the library researching the constitution, arms loaded with books including the Federalist Papers, and the guy next door.

On any given day of the week, a Tea Party meeting is taking place in towns and cities across the country, and on any given Saturday, one might find a band of protesters on a street corner holding signs and waving flags. A recent Rasmussen poll suggests that 24% of the general public considers itself part of the Tea Party Movement, with an additional 10% with a close friend and or relative belonging to the group.. In addition, 48% of those polled believe that their views are more closely aligned with Tea Party philosophy opposed to the 44% who believe they are closer in view to the Obama. The kicker, 52% believe that any Tea Party Member understand the Constitution better than their Congressional Representative. (Rasmussen).

Obviously, major political parties, the Obama administration and the press are aware of these statistics, which is most likely why the continual downgrading of the Movement, with a focus on Palin and Brown, (rather than the aforementioned) is what one finds in the daily news.

This morning, as the Tea Party members from across Massachusetts, and New England gather in Boston, it will be the rally itself, rather than the headliners, that should be the wake-up call that business as usual is on the way out, and that the people will exercise their right to hire or fire their representatives, both at the state and the Federal level, should they not reign in spending. It is a simple theme that transcends politics and politicians and resonates with every American regardless of party affiliation. That is the bigger story.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sarah Palin On the Boston Commons – Democrats Plan Counter-Protests to Liberty Speech, plan to “Dress Well”

Tea Party Protest in Atlanta 2009, drew 15,000 to 20,000 image: altermdia
Sarah Palinis making a stop in Boston on Wednesday, April 14. Palin is the keynote speaker for the Tea Party Express stop on the Boston Commons. The rally, according to the Boston Globe, will draw “several thousand activists to Boston, where, according to local Massachusetts Democrat union leaders Palin does not belong. Apparently, not unlike “the Kennedy Seat”, the Bay State, belongs to the Democrats and their Unions. The fact that Scott Brown managed to take back the “people’s seat” has been lost on those in denial. What is more generally missed is that it was not so much Brown who was elected, but the people who were sending a message to the rest of the country from the land where David Axelrod test drove Obama’s election with his protégée Deval Patrick. Residents of Massachusetts saw the writing on the wall, well in advance of November 2008, and as the year progressed, and taxes on everything from dogs to satellite TV appeared, the proverbial straw broke that camel’s back. Palin does indeed belong in Massachusetts, as does anyone with a message that is pro-liberty and anti-tax. It is, after all, known as the “Cradle of Liberty, rather than the “birthplace of the Progressive-socialist agenda.”

In the interest of “fairness”, a counter protest to the “Tea Party Movement” is being planned by by a Kathleen Toomey, who used Facebook to attract 300 “anti-Tea Party protestors”. The gist of Ms. Toomey’s protest against the tea party – fashion – her group will be wearing “beautiful clothing” in order to highlight the fact that Tea Party Activists are not especially well-dressed. (In the world of Boston liberals, dressing well, apparently trumps intellect. Other counter-protests are planned, according to several sources, but the question remains, what on earth are they protesting - personal liberty, freedom from government and taxation? That’s about right for the Massachusetts DNC, and the Progressives that feel any form of small government, less taxes messages are over-the-top and should be censored.

That said, what is of interest is the crowd estimate of “several thousand” – Palin, who has drawn crowds average 10,000 plus at each of the Tea Party events, should be able to hold her own in Boston – When the sitting President, Barak Obama, goes to Portland, ME (an hour drive) he is able to draw at least a crowd – how large of a crowd – no-one’s talking. Articles from Boston to Maine put no estimate on the “crowds” that were there to see the President; rather emphasis is placed on the fact that there was a “crowd”. Which may be why Ms. Toomey and her 300 well-dressed pro-tax group feel the need to show up and protest – it is after all, in today’s world a popularity contest.

The reality is that no-one knows how large a crowd will be on the common on a Wed. morning in April to hear Palin or to participate in the Tea Party Express Rally. The fact that Massachusetts alone has Tea Party groups organized across the Commonwealth is lost on most media, as is the fact that Boston is accessible to every New England State, where, one can bet, there may be Tea Party Activists who are planning on attending.

Regardless of the size of the crowd (which remains to be seen), the change in the Bay State towards government intervention and taxation is palpable. As the 2010 Congressional Races offer opportunities for incumbents to retire, (90% of the Congressional seats are up for re-election), a Tax Day Tea Party with Palin as a speaker is the least of the Massachusetts DNC problems. The brand, in Massachusetts and elsewhere has been tainted with the spend and tax tar-brush, and that will stick until, as the signs say, the people “Kick the Bums Out” (via the polling booth).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Obama Job Approval Continues to Decline: Gallop Disapprove at 48% - The Carter Comparison

Time Magazine Irony - Carter and Inflation, Carter graced Time Cover Consistantly - image Time Archives
The Gallop Daily Presidential Tracking Pollnow shows President Obama’s approval at 45% in the latest poll released this past week. A Rasmussen poll taken during the same period shows a 53% disapproval, with Fox and USA Today showing the President’s approval under 50% (Real Clear Politics). A look at past Presidential Approval Ratings up through George W. Bushshows that the majority of incumbent Presidents had approval ratings well above 50% going into the second year of their presidency, with two notable exceptions: Carter, whose approval fell below 50% after his first year in office and stayed at or below 50%. Carter’s policy’s were eerily similar to Barack Obama’s – however, Carter was not seen as an aggressive Progressive (Socialist), even though he fostered the same type of Government intervention programs, including auto bailouts (Chrysler), and job creation funded by the Federal Government. One often wonders if, with the blueprint for disaster outlined by Carter readily available – that no-one bothered to avail themselves of the evidence of what might or might not work.

It was the economy and the rise in interest rates, coupled with a world view of a “weak” United States, which cost Carter a second term. Interest rates on everything from new home loans to used car loans rose substantially, while his pacifist approach to foreign policy, led to the American Embassy hostage situation in Iran. Carter also had his plan for reducing the costs of Health Care, while increasing Medicare, and the Hospital Cost Containment Act, which limited payments made to hospitals.

Déjà vu

Barack Obama’s initiatives are far more aggressive than Carter’s - the New York Times article 4/11/2010 entitled: “Interest Rates Have Nowhere to Go but Up” speaks to the coming rise in interest rates, which will strike the housing marketing first. The fact that interest rates have remained low for 30 years bring up images of the “misery index” which Carter created at that time. The misery index was a combination of the rate of inflation and unemployment.

Although high school history texts treat Carter kindly, one has to be aware that life, under the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, was miserable, and the fact that documents exist (in newspaper reports of the time and firsthand accounts. There are, perhpas, one or two accurate accounts of his Progressive approach to the presidency in the 173 books to be found on Amazon.)

It was under Carter that the term “Reagan Democrat emerged – Obama’s now faces the Tea Party movement – which, although painted as a fringe group of “right-wing” conservatives closely aligned to the Republican party, is, in truth, made of disenfranchised independents, Democrats and Republicans. The difference lay in the amount of time it took Carter to alienate the population 3 years) as opposed to the speed with which Obama has done so.

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