Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Unemployment rate rises: 169,000 more people not in labor force

First, I hope everyone remembers about the William Lane Craig vs Alex Rosenberg debate tonight at Purdue University. There is live-streaming available, details here.

And now, three scary stories from CNS News.

First, this one about the recent depressing jobs report.

Excerpt:

The number of Americans not in the labor force grew by 169,000 in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs report.

BLS labels people who are unemployed and no longer looking for work as “not in the labor force,” including people who have retired on schedule, taken early retirement, or simply given up looking for work. There were 89 million of them last month.

[...]The nation’s unemployment rate increased a tenth of a point in January, rising to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent, a level the Labor Department described as “essentially unchanged.”

Second, this one about Obamacare health care plans.

Excerpt:

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

And finally, this one about Obamacare’s effect on job creators, aka “the rich” who need to “pay their fair share”.

Excerpt:

Sixty-one percent of U.S. small business owners said they were “worried about the potential cost of healthcare” and 56 percent said they were “worried about new government regulations,” according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup small business index released on Jan. 31, which also showed that 30 percent of small business owners are not hiring and fear going out of business within a year.

“At the bottom of the list, but still at a surprisingly high level, 30% of owners say they are not hiring because they are worried they may no longer be in business in 12 months,” according to Gallup’s index summary. “This is up from 24% who had the same worry in January 2012.”

[...]Gallup said the reasons given for less hiring, such as healthcare and government regulations, are “troublesome” and have negative implications for the U.S. economy.

Bad news! I remember the good old days of the Bush administration, when we had lower taxes, a 4.4% unemployment rate, and a $160 billion dollar budget deficit. Maybe watching tonight’s debate with WLC and this Duke University naturalist tonight will cheer me up.

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Fiscal cliff deal raises taxes by $600 billion, increases spending $330 billion

The Heritage Foundation explains.

Excerpt:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just now released its score of the bill the Senate passed early this morning while everyone was celebrating the beginning of the New Year. Despite knowing for a long time that taxes would go up on all Americans today, the Senate waited until we technically went over the cliff to act. Washington’s dysfunction was even fodder for New Year’s revelers in Times Square.

Going over the cliff allows Congress to technically say that it isn’t raising taxes, but is cutting them instead. CBO’s score backs them up on this by scoring the Senate bill as a $3.6 trillion tax cut. No one should fall for this. The Senate bill is a tax hike because it allows taxes to go up from 2012 to 2013. The tax increases in the bill will reportedly raise about $600 billion over the next 10 years.

Also of note in the CBO score is that the Senate bill increases spending by around $330 billion by extending expanded unemployment benefits, a temporary “doc fix” patch to prevent cuts to Medicare, and extension of the agriculture programs.

There was some good in the Senate bill — the harmful defense sequester cuts were postponed and most tax hikes were avoided. But there was bad — tax hikes that will hurt the economy and do little to tame the deficit, especially factoring in the spending in the bill.

As I noted before, the CBO has predicted that the bill will add $4 trillion to the national debt, taking us over the $20 trillion mark.

Bloomberg:

The budget deal passed by the U.S. Senate today would raise taxes on 77.1 percent of U.S. households, mostly because of the expiration of a payroll tax cut, according to preliminary estimates from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.

More than 80 percent of households with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would pay higher taxes. Among the households facing higher taxes, the average increase would be $1,635, the policy center said. A 2 percent payroll tax cut, enacted during the economic slowdown, is being allowed to expire as of yesterday.

According to the CBO, the deal would raise taxes by $41 for every $1 cut from the budget. Have we really dodged a fiscal cliff?

 

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Obama’s fiscal cliff plan would increase debt to $20 trillion by 2016

Forbes magazine explains why Obama’s plan doesn’t solve our long-term spending problem.

Excerpt:

The President, while not presenting concrete proposals, has been quite clear on what he wants: to raise taxes on the top two percent, keep the Bush tax cuts for everyone else, offer only vague promises of future spending cuts, and gain the unprecedented authority to raise the debt limit without Congressional approval. He does not plan to reform the entitlements so dear to his heart and his base’s. Instead of less spending, he would like to spend more on “stimulus” and “investments.” Obama knows that physicians will desert Medicare if he cuts their compensation by the scheduled 26.5 percent. That is simply not going to happen.

Here are Obama’s desired alternative fiscal policies to avoid the fiscal cliff in order of their effect on the five-year budget as estimated by the CBO:

1. Preserve Bush tax cuts and other tax provisions for everyone except the top 2 percent: Raises the five-year deficit by $2.0 trillion.

2. Drop the fiscal-cliff sequestration of spending and expand discretionary spending by the rate of inflation: Raises the five-year deficit by another trillion dollars.

3. Raise the tax rate on the top 2 percent:  Lowers the five-year deficit by $300 billion.

4. Extend enhanced unemployment benefits: Raises the five-year deficit by $200 billion.

5. Do not cut Medicare payment rates to physicians: Raises the five-year deficit by some $100.

Four of the five fiscal policies on Obama’s wish list raise the deficit. Only one – the vaunted tax on the rich on which he based his campaign – lowers the deficit, but only by a miniscule $300 billion ($60 billion per year). If Obama gets the tax and spending changes he wants, his 2017 successor will inherit a national debt in excess of  $20 trillion.

A warning: The 2013-2017 budget deficits could be much higher. No one knows what the costs of Obama Care will be. By 2017, the federal government will be spending more on health care than on social security. The CBO projection assumes that the costs of Obama Care come in on target. If Obama Care cannot contain health care costs, we could easily see a five-year deficit well in excess of $5 trillion, for an annual deficit of more than a trillion dollars. The CBO also uses a historically low rate of increase of discretionary non-defense spending equal to the rate of inflation. If we return to “business as usual” in Washington, the discretionary spending figure could also be blasted out of the water.

Obama based his re-election campaign on “the rich should pay their fair share” and “I killed Osama.” Well before the election, it was clear from the government’s own figures that taxing the top two percent would make only a tiny contribution to solving our deficit problems.

Why was this not pointed out by the media, who played along with the “tax the rich” fairy tale?  Why was this not the central theme of the Republican campaign?

I think that point I highlighted in bold deserves emphasis. Obama ran up over $6 trillion in new debt – pushing us to a $16.5 trillion dollar debt. His “balanced approach” will generate a measly $60 billion a year in “new revenues”, assuming that “the rich” don’t just curtail their productive activities and shift their operations elsewhere (Canada). If you generate $60 billion in revenues, there is NO WAY that this is going to pay for a trillion dollars a year in new debt. So we are on track to hit over $20 trillion in national debt in Obama’s second term, taking us into Greece-like territory.

And that is according to the official CBO numbers.

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Will raising taxes on the rich help the economy and create more jobs?

The presidents of my two favorite think tanks, Arthur Brooks (AEI) and Edwin Feulner (Heritage) explain in this USA Today editorial.

Excerpt: (links removed)

First, there is no evidence that tax increases will actually solve our troubles. On the contrary, years of data from around the world show that when nations try to solve a fiscal crisis primarily by raising tax revenues, they tend to fail. In contrast, fiscal approaches based on entitlement reform and spending cuts tend to succeed.

American Enterprise Institute economists Kevin Hassett, Andrew Biggs and Matthew Jensen examined the experiences of 21 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries between 1970 and 2007. They found that countries with successful fiscal reforms, on average, closed 85% of their budget gaps with spending cuts. The countries with failed reforms, on average, relied at least 50% on tax increases. President Obama’s strategy falls firmly in the latter camp. After discounting the accounting tricks that create fictitious spending cuts, the president’s plan would impose about $3 in tax hikes for every $1 in spending cuts.

That is, his approach would probably land America in the “failed attempt” column. Five years down the line, we would be in the same fiscal mess we are in today, just with higher taxes and a bigger government.

Second, tax hikes aimed at small segments of the population wouldn’t raise much in revenues. Consider the “Buffett Rule” that the president spent many months promoting. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, it would raise about $47 billion over a decade. The federal government currently spends about $4 billion more per day than it takes in. The Buffett Rule, then, would raise about enough next year to cover 28 hours of government overspending. Heritage Foundation economist Curtis Dubay finds that closing the deficit solely by raising the two highest tax brackets would require hiking them to 159% and 166%, respectively.

Third, as economists and business executives have noted repeatedly, raising taxes on families earning over $250,000 per year is effectively a massive tax hike on small businesses. Most small businesses today organize as S-corporations or other pass-through entities; their income is taxed as personal income. A study by Ernst and Young shows that Obama’s proposed tax hike would force these small businesses to eliminate about 710,000 jobs. Moreover, these households already bear a great deal of tax liability. According to the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, those earning $250,000 and above — roughly 2% of all taxpayers — earn 22% of income, but pay 45% of all federal income taxes.

Simply put, increasing tax rates on the wealthy is not a serious approach to solving America’s fiscal woes. The problem is purely one of excessive spending, not inadequate taxing.

Revenues haven’t changed substantially over the last decade, but government spending is way, way up. That’s what’s causing us to go into debt – massive government spending on turtle tunnels and Solyndra. We can do better than socialism.

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John Boehner on Fox News Sunday discussing the fiscal cliff

It’s time for our weekly update on the fiscal cliff.

Full text:

On Fox News Sunday, Speaker John Boehner said Republicans have offered a balanced approach to averting the fiscal cliff but the president is “not being serious about coming to an agreement.” Boehner says the White House is holding tax increases over the heads of the middle class while demanding more spending and tax rate hikes that will hurt small businesses.

Here are some of the highlights:

Boehner: President Obama’ s Fiscal Cliff Offer is “Nonsense,” a “Non-Serious Proposal”:

“A non-serious proposal.  The president was asking for $1.6 trillion worth of, uh, new revenue over 10 years, twice as much as he’s been asking for in public.  He has stimulus spending in here that exceeded the amount of new cuts that he was willing to consider.  It was not a serious offer. … I looked at [Secretary Geithner] and I said, ‘you can’t be serious?’ … You know, we’ve got several weeks between Election Day and the end of the year.  And, uh — and three of those way — weeks have been wasted, uh, with the — with this nonsense.”

Boehner: President Obama Asked for More New Spending Than Spending Cuts:

“We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing. They have actually asked for more revenue than they’ve been — been asking for the whole entire time. … And all of this new stimulus spending would literally be more than the spending cuts that he was willing to put on the table. … Look at the fact that they put $400 billion worth of unspecified cuts up that they’d be willing to talk about, but yet, at the same time, that’s over $400 billion over 10 years.  Uh, while he wants over $400 billion in new stimulus spending. And this is — this is — it’s a non-serious proposal.”

Boehner: What Will President Obama Do With $1.6 Trillion? Spend It!

“I mean think about the — the proposal we got from the president.  If we gave the president $1.6 trillion of new money, what do you think he’d do with it? He’s going to spend it.  It’s what Washington does. … They’ll spend it.”

Boehner: Raising Tax Rates Will Hurt Small Businesses and Destroy Jobs:

“Now, listen, I believe that raising tax rates hurts our economy, hurts the prospects for more jobs in our country.  And I realize that the president may disagree.  But the fact is, is that if there’s another way to get revenue, uh, from upper income Americans, that doesn’t hurt our economy, then why wouldn’t we consider it?”

Boehner: Spending Cuts & Reforms Must Exceed Any Increase in the Debt Limit:

“Forever.  Silliness.  Congress is never going to give up this power.  I’ve made it clear to the president that every time we get to the debt limit, we need cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.  It’s the only way to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would if left alone.

Boehner: Going Over the Fiscal Cliff Will Hurt Our Economy, Is Not Fair to the American People:

“[T]his isn’t an issue about Democrats and Republicans.  My goodness, this is about our country.  And we get — ought to get serious about dealing with the problems at the end of the year.  And we need to get serious about our deficit and our debt, uh, that are burying our children’s future. … [G]oing over the cliff will hurt our economy, will hurt job creation in our country.  It’s not fair to the American people. … This agreement should come sooner rather than later, because just the threat of the fiscal cliff is already hurting our economy.”

That’s where the Republicans stand. They did offer to tax the rich by capping tax deductions, so that the very wealthy would pay more in taxes. But Obama turned down that offer. That was a solid offer, and Obama turned it down.

Right now, I am just sick of the American people who re-elected this spendthrift. I want the Republicans to let all the tax cuts expire. It will be good for the American people as a whole to see the importance of not re-electing an ignorant fool. Maybe we have to hit the bottom of how much we can borrow before the people who voted for “Obamaphones” will feel the effects of their economic ignorance.

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