Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Wow: Ezra Klein admits the real unemployment rate is 11 percent

From the left-leaning Washington Post, of all places.

Excerpt:

Typically, I try to tie the beginning of Wonkbook to the news. But today, the most important sentence isn’t a report on something that just happened, but a fresh look at something that’s been happening for the last three years. In particular, it’s this sentence by the Financial Times’ Ed Luce, who writes, “According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

Remember that the unemployment rate is not “how many people don’t have jobs?”, but “how many people don’t have jobs and are actively looking for them?” Let’s say you’ve been looking fruitlessly for five months and realize you’ve exhausted every job listing in your area. Discouraged, you stop looking, at least for the moment. According to the government, you’re no longer unemployed. Congratulations?

Since 2007, the percent of the population that either has a job or is actively looking for one has fallen from 62.7 percent to 58.5 percent. That’s millions of workers leaving the workforce, and it’s not because they’ve become sick or old or infirm. It’s because they can’t find a job, and so they’ve stopped trying. That’s where Luce’s calculation comes from. If 62.7 percent of the country was still counted as in the workforce, unemployment would be 11 percent. In that sense, the real unemployment rate — the apples-to-apples unemployment rate — is probably 11 percent. And the real un- and underemployed rate — the so-called “U6″ — is near 20 percent.

There were some celebrations when the unemployment rate dropped last month. But much of that drop was people leaving the labor force. The surprising truth is that when the labor market really recovers, the unemployment rate will actually rise, albeit only temporarily, as discouraged workers start searching for jobs again.

Yeah, because taking money away from private sector job creators costs jobs. That is straight out of Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson”: Public Works Means Taxes.

Look:

More stimulus spending means fewer jobs

More stimulus spending means fewer jobs

From the Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it’s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report’s contents. Sure enough, the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus,” released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama’s economic “stimulus” did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.

The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.

In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.

When the government takes a dollar from a job creator, they take half of it for themselves, and then they often give the other half to some favored group, like a “green energy” company or Planned parenthood or a labor union.  Then they who turns around and give half of that handout right back to Obama as a campaign donation. The only way to stop them from doing more of this stimulus is to stop giving them money.

Do you know what has been proven to create jobs, though? TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH.

Consider this article by the Cato Institute, which discusses how the Reagan tax cuts affected the unemployment rate.

Excerpt:

In 1980, President Carter and his supporters in the Congress and news media asked, “how can we afford” presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s proposed tax cuts?

Mr. Reagan’s critics claimed the tax cuts would lead to more inflation and higher interest rates, while Mr. Reagan said tax cuts would lead to more economic growth and higher living standards. What happened? Inflation fell from 12.5 percent in 1980 to 3.9 percent in 1984, interest rates fell, and economic growth went from minus 0.2 percent in 1980 to plus 7.3 percent in 1984, and Mr. Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.

[…]Despite the fact that federal revenues have varied little (as a percentage of GDP) over the last 40 years, there has been an enormous variation in top tax rates. When Ronald Reagan took office, the top individual tax rate was 70 percent and by 1986 it was down to only 28 percent. All Americans received at least a 30 percent tax rate cut; yet federal tax revenues as a percent of GDP were almost unchanged during the Reagan presidency (from 18.9 percent in 1980 to 18.1 percent in 1988).

What did change, however, was the rate of economic growth, which was more than 50 percent higher for the seven years after the Reagan tax cuts compared with the previous seven years. This increase in economic growth, plus some reductions in tax credits and deductions, almost entirely offset the effect of the rate reductions. Rapid economic growth, unlike government spending programs, proved to be the most effective way to reduce unemployment and poverty, and create opportunity for the disadvantaged.

The Heritage Foundation describes the effects of the Bush tax cuts.

Excerpt:

President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.

At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.

It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.

In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced. Rather than expand by 36% as the Congressional Budget Office projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.

The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.

Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:

  • GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
  • The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
  • The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.

The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.

It worked for Reagan and it worked for Bush – they made unemployment go down, while Obama’s public works spending has made unemployment go up. Those are the facts. And we have to live in the world as it is. We may not like it, it may not be intuitive to us, it may not line up with our feelings, but that is the way the world is. When you let people with capital keep more of the money they earn, they hire more people and they try to make more money. When the rich risk their capital, they take the rest of us up with them – either by giving us jobs, or by offering us things that we are free to buy or not. Things like iPods, laptops and kitchen appliances. And the more competition there is among sellers in a free market, the lower the prices go, and the higher the quality gets.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Sowell explains the historical effects of tax cuts

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Here’s part 1 of 3.

Excerpt:

The actual results of the cuts in tax rates in the 1920s were very similar to the results of later tax-rate cuts during the Kennedy, Reagan and George. W. Bush administrations — namely, rising output, rising employment to produce that output, rising incomes as a result and rising tax revenues for the government because of the rising incomes, though the tax rates had been lowered.

Another consequence was that people in higher-income brackets paid not only a larger total amount of taxes, but a higher percentage of all taxes, after what were called “tax cuts for the rich.” It was not simply that their incomes rose, but that this was not taxable income, since the lower tax rates made it profitable to get higher returns outside of tax shelters.

The facts are unmistakably plain, for those who bother to check the facts. In 1921, when the tax rate on people making over $100,000 a year was 73%, the federal government collected a little over $700 million in income taxes, of which 30% was paid by those making over $100,000.

[…]By 1929, after a series of tax-rate reductions had cut the tax rate to 24% on those making over $100,000, the federal government collected more than a billion dollars in income taxes, of which 65% was collected from those making over $100,000.

There is nothing mysterious about this. Under the sharply rising tax rates during the Wilson administration, fewer and fewer people reported high taxable incomes, whether by putting their money into tax-exempt securities or by any of the other ways of rearranging their financial affairs to minimize their tax liability.

Under Wilson’s escalating income-tax rates to pay for the high costs of the First World War, the number of people reporting taxable incomes of more than $300,000 — a huge sum in the money of that era — declined from well over a thousand in 1916 to fewer than three hundred in 1921. The total amount of taxable income earned by people making over $300,000 declined by more than four-fifths in those years.

Secretary Mellon estimated in 1923 that the money invested in tax-exempt securities had tripled in a decade, and was now almost three times the size of the federal government’s annual budget and nearly half as large as the national debt. “The man of large income has tended more and more to invest his capital in such a way that the tax collector cannot touch it,” he pointed out.

Getting that money moved out of tax shelters was the whole point of Mellon’s tax-cutting proposals. He also said: “It is incredible that a system of taxation which permits a man with an income of $1,000,000 a year to pay not one cent to the support of his government should remain unaltered.”

Here’s part 2 of 3.

Excerpt:

Empirical evidence on what happened to the economy in the wake of those tax cuts in four different administrations over a span of more than 80 years has also been largely ignored by those opposed to what they call “tax cuts for the rich.”

Confusion between reducing tax rates on individuals and reducing tax revenues received by the government has run through much of these discussions over these years.

Famed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., for example, said that although Andrew Mellon, secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1932, advocated balancing the budget and paying off the national debt, he “inconsistently” sought “reduction in tax rates.”

Nor was Schlesinger the only highly regarded historian to perpetuate economic confusion between tax rates and tax revenues. Today, widely used textbooks by various well-known historians have continued to misstate what was advocated in the 1920s and what the actual consequences were.

According to the textbook “These United States” by Irwin Unger, Mellon, “a rich Pittsburgh industrialist,” persuaded Congress to “reduce income tax rates at the upper-income levels while leaving those at the bottom untouched.”

Thus “Mellon won further victories for his drive to shift more of the tax burden from the high-income earners to the middle and wage-earning classes.”

But hard data show that, in fact, both the amount and the proportion of taxes paid by those whose net income was no higher than $25,000 went down between 1921 and 1929, while both the amount and the proportion of taxes paid by those whose net incomes were between $50,000 and $100,000 went up — and the amount and proportion of taxes paid by those whose net incomes were over $100,000 went up even more sharply.

And here’s part 3 of 3.

Excerpt:

President Kennedy, like Andrew Mellon decades earlier, pointed out that “efforts to avoid tax liabilities” make “certain types of less-productive activity more profitable than other more valuable undertakings” and “this inhibits our growth and efficiency.” Therefore the “purpose of cutting taxes” is “to achieve a more prosperous, expanding economy.”

“Total output and economic growth” were italicized words in the text of Kennedy’s address to Congress in January 1963, urging cuts in tax rates. Much the same theme was repeated yet again in President Reagan’s February 1981 address to a joint session of Congress, pointing out that “this is not merely a shift of wealth between different sets of taxpayers.”

Instead, basing himself on a “solid body of economic experts,” he expected that “real production in goods and services will grow.”

Even when empirical evidence substantiates the arguments made for cuts in tax rates, such facts are not treated as evidence relevant to testing a disputed hypothesis, but as isolated curiosities. Thus, when tax revenues rose in the wake of the tax-rate cuts made during the George W. Bush administration, the New York Times reported:

“An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year.”

Expectations, of course, are in the eye of the beholder. However surprising these facts may have been to the New York Times, they are exactly what proponents of reducing high tax rates have been expecting, not only from these particular tax rate cuts, but from similar reductions in high tax rates at various times going back more than three-quarters of a century.

It’s Thomas Sowell – the official economist of the Tea Party.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Sowell explains the historical effects of tax cuts

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Here’s part 1 of 3.

Excerpt:

The actual results of the cuts in tax rates in the 1920s were very similar to the results of later tax-rate cuts during the Kennedy, Reagan and George. W. Bush administrations — namely, rising output, rising employment to produce that output, rising incomes as a result and rising tax revenues for the government because of the rising incomes, though the tax rates had been lowered.

Another consequence was that people in higher-income brackets paid not only a larger total amount of taxes, but a higher percentage of all taxes, after what were called “tax cuts for the rich.” It was not simply that their incomes rose, but that this was not taxable income, since the lower tax rates made it profitable to get higher returns outside of tax shelters.

The facts are unmistakably plain, for those who bother to check the facts. In 1921, when the tax rate on people making over $100,000 a year was 73%, the federal government collected a little over $700 million in income taxes, of which 30% was paid by those making over $100,000.

[…]By 1929, after a series of tax-rate reductions had cut the tax rate to 24% on those making over $100,000, the federal government collected more than a billion dollars in income taxes, of which 65% was collected from those making over $100,000.

There is nothing mysterious about this. Under the sharply rising tax rates during the Wilson administration, fewer and fewer people reported high taxable incomes, whether by putting their money into tax-exempt securities or by any of the other ways of rearranging their financial affairs to minimize their tax liability.

Under Wilson’s escalating income-tax rates to pay for the high costs of the First World War, the number of people reporting taxable incomes of more than $300,000 — a huge sum in the money of that era — declined from well over a thousand in 1916 to fewer than three hundred in 1921. The total amount of taxable income earned by people making over $300,000 declined by more than four-fifths in those years.

Secretary Mellon estimated in 1923 that the money invested in tax-exempt securities had tripled in a decade, and was now almost three times the size of the federal government’s annual budget and nearly half as large as the national debt. “The man of large income has tended more and more to invest his capital in such a way that the tax collector cannot touch it,” he pointed out.

Getting that money moved out of tax shelters was the whole point of Mellon’s tax-cutting proposals. He also said: “It is incredible that a system of taxation which permits a man with an income of $1,000,000 a year to pay not one cent to the support of his government should remain unaltered.”

Here’s part 2 of 3.

Excerpt:

Empirical evidence on what happened to the economy in the wake of those tax cuts in four different administrations over a span of more than 80 years has also been largely ignored by those opposed to what they call “tax cuts for the rich.”

Confusion between reducing tax rates on individuals and reducing tax revenues received by the government has run through much of these discussions over these years.

Famed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., for example, said that although Andrew Mellon, secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1932, advocated balancing the budget and paying off the national debt, he “inconsistently” sought “reduction in tax rates.”

Nor was Schlesinger the only highly regarded historian to perpetuate economic confusion between tax rates and tax revenues. Today, widely used textbooks by various well-known historians have continued to misstate what was advocated in the 1920s and what the actual consequences were.

According to the textbook “These United States” by Irwin Unger, Mellon, “a rich Pittsburgh industrialist,” persuaded Congress to “reduce income tax rates at the upper-income levels while leaving those at the bottom untouched.”

Thus “Mellon won further victories for his drive to shift more of the tax burden from the high-income earners to the middle and wage-earning classes.”

But hard data show that, in fact, both the amount and the proportion of taxes paid by those whose net income was no higher than $25,000 went down between 1921 and 1929, while both the amount and the proportion of taxes paid by those whose net incomes were between $50,000 and $100,000 went up — and the amount and proportion of taxes paid by those whose net incomes were over $100,000 went up even more sharply.

And here’s part 3 of 3.

Excerpt:

President Kennedy, like Andrew Mellon decades earlier, pointed out that “efforts to avoid tax liabilities” make “certain types of less-productive activity more profitable than other more valuable undertakings” and “this inhibits our growth and efficiency.” Therefore the “purpose of cutting taxes” is “to achieve a more prosperous, expanding economy.”

“Total output and economic growth” were italicized words in the text of Kennedy’s address to Congress in January 1963, urging cuts in tax rates. Much the same theme was repeated yet again in President Reagan’s February 1981 address to a joint session of Congress, pointing out that “this is not merely a shift of wealth between different sets of taxpayers.”

Instead, basing himself on a “solid body of economic experts,” he expected that “real production in goods and services will grow.”

Even when empirical evidence substantiates the arguments made for cuts in tax rates, such facts are not treated as evidence relevant to testing a disputed hypothesis, but as isolated curiosities. Thus, when tax revenues rose in the wake of the tax-rate cuts made during the George W. Bush administration, the New York Times reported:

“An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year.”

Expectations, of course, are in the eye of the beholder. However surprising these facts may have been to the New York Times, they are exactly what proponents of reducing high tax rates have been expecting, not only from these particular tax rate cuts, but from similar reductions in high tax rates at various times going back more than three-quarters of a century.

It’s Thomas Sowell – the official economist of the Tea Party.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Senator Tom Coburn lists some bad examples of government waste

Here’s the story.

Excerpt:

Coburn, R-Muskogee, whose office regularly churns out reports mocking federal projects and programs, said Monday that “cutting wasteful and low-priority spending from the budget is not only sensible, but essential.”

“In today’s economy, we can’t afford to spend nearly $2 million to showcase neon signs no longer in use at Las Vegas casinos; nor can Congress and federal agencies afford to spend nearly $1 billion a year on unnecessary printing costs.”

The 100 projects cited on Monday tread some familiar ground for Coburn reports — road signs paid for with stimulus funds, research projects that sound like folly — and are mostly domestic. There is no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan, despite government reports documenting millions lost to fraud and waste.

Topping Coburn’s list is the conclusion of a FOX News story that the Department of Veterans Affairs spends $175 million each year to maintain buildings it can’t use, in some cases because they’re in such disrepair.

Other items on the list:

• $217,000 for a University of California and Stanford University study on when and why political candidates are ambiguous.

• $90,000 to fund promotion of the Vidalia onion, including $60,000 for a campaign timed to coincide with the release of a Shrek movie.

•  $2.5 million on the Census Bureau’s television ad that aired during the Super Bowl to promote the head-count but left many viewers scratching their heads in confusion.

• $465,000 for an international AIDS conference in Austria.

• $35 million paid in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims to an alleged Armenian crime ring.

• $48 million for a streetcar system in Atlanta that runs the same route as the city’s subway system.

• $900,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against a former housing director in Philadelphia.

•  And $28 million to print “rarely used” paper copies of the Congressional Record.

Here’s a recent post from the Washington Examiner that compares Democrats and Republicans on pork barrel spending. (H/T Gateway Pundit via Muddling)

Excerpt:

Press coverage of the budget frenzy on Capitol Hill has suggested that pork-barrel earmark spending is still a bipartisan problem, that after months of self-righteous rhetoric about fiscal discipline, Republicans and Democrats remain equal-opportunity earmarkers.

It’s not true. A new analysis by a group of federal-spending watchdogs shows a striking imbalance between the parties when it comes to earmark requests. Democrats remain raging spenders, while Republicans have made enormous strides in cleaning up their act.

In the Senate, the GOP made only one-third as many earmark requests as Democrats for 2011, and in the House, Republicans have nearly given up earmarking altogether — while Democrats roll on.

The watchdog groups — Taxpayers for Common Sense, WashingtonWatch.com, and Taxpayers Against Earmarks — counted total earmark requests in the 2011 budget. Those requests were made by lawmakers earlier this year, but Democratic leaders, afraid that their party’s spending priorities might cost them at the polls, decided not to pass a budget before the Nov. 2 elections. This week, they distilled those earmark requests — threw some out, combined others — into the omnibus bill that was under consideration in the Senate until Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it Thursday night. While that bill was loaded with spending, looking back at the original earmark requests tells us a lot about the spending inclinations of both parties.

In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.

This is why stimulus spending, which is advocated by Democrats, costs jobs. Democrats waste money. They take money out of the job-creating sector of the economy, and they waste on government spending. If private companies wasted money like government, they would go out of business. Unfortunately, government can waste money like this all the time, and they just borrow more money. When you hear a Democrat say that they want to “invest” money they stole from businesses and workers in order to “stimulate” the economy, what they are talking about is wasting money and/or buying votes from their favored special interest groups.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Republicans block Democrats’ attempt to raise taxes on job creators

From Fox News.

Excerpt:

Senate Republicans on Saturday voted against President Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to only the middle class in a pair of votes Democrats are seizing to paint the GOP as guardians of the rich.

The Senate voted 53-36 to extend all expiring tax cuts on individuals with incomes of less than $200,000 a year and married couples making less than $250,000 — seven shy of the required 60 to advance.

Now keep in mind that “the rich” are the very people who own the small businesses that create most of the jobs. That is why constant slamming of the rich with taxes and health care mandates has raised the unemployment rate to 9.8% and kept it above 9% for 19 months – a record never before seen in the history of the country. When Obama says “the wealthiest 2%”, you need to hear “9.8% unemployment”. The wealthy are the ones who create the jobs. Bash the wealthy, and you get fewer jobs.

Obama says:

President Obama said he was “very disappointed” in the Senate’s verdict.

“Those provisions should have passed,” he said.”It makes no sense to to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans especially when those high-income tax cuts would cost an additional $700 billion that we don’t have and would add to our deficit.”

“But with so much at stake, today’s votes cannot be the end of the discussion,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential to hardworking middle class families and to the economy to make sure their taxes don’t go up on Jan. 1.”

But the truth is:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately slammed the political maneuvering by Democrats after the votes.

“According to the strange the logic of Democratic leaders in Congress, the best way to show middle class Americans that they care about creating jobs is to slam some of America’s top job creators with a massive tax hike,” he said on the Senate floor.

“Today’s vote was an affront to the millions of Americans who are struggling to find work and a clear signal that Democrats in Congress still haven’t got the message from the November elections,” he said.

Obama is anti-middle class because he is anti-small-business, and small businesses hire the middle class.

Democrats don’t understand how jobs are created

In fact, the unemployment rate has been steadily rising since the Democrats took control of the spending process by winning the House and Senate in January 2007. The left side of this graph begins when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of the House and Senate in January 2007.

Democrats took control of the economy in 2007

Democrats took control of the economy in 2007

The chart doesn’t lie. When the Democrats control the budget, spending and unemployment rise a lot. When the Republicans controlled the House and Senate, the unemployment rate was 4.5%. These numbers do not lie. When they told you that more spending (the “recovery plan”) to their favored special interest groups will create private sector jobs, they lied. The numbers show that they lied.

People like Michele Bachmann actually OWN SMALL BUSINESSES and they HIRE AMERICAN WORKERS. People like Michele Bachmann should be in charge of the economy. Not people like Obama. Obama had a rich grandmother who paid for all his schooling at expensive private schools. He had his life handed to him on a silver platter. Michele Bachmann grew up poor.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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