Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Call

One of the major arguments I keep hearing about why states (and extrapolating, the federal government) can never, ever raise taxes on the rich is because they'll simply leave, and they can more than afford to.  But Ezra Klein discovers that this just doesn't happen when taxes on the rich go up.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which is really stellar on state tax issues, has put together a list of relevant studies on this question. All of them find that the effects of migration between states of higher taxes are minimal:

1) Economist Andrew Leigh did a national study (PDF) looking for effects of state income tax rates on migration patterns. He could not find a statistically significant relationship.

2) After Maryland instituted higher tax rates on wealthy individuals in 2007 and 2008, tax returns from millionaires dropped. But the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found (PDF) that the drop was not due to millionaires leaving, but to the recession making them no longer millionaires.

3) The California Budget Project notes (PDF) that California imposed a temporary tax increase on high earners from 1991 to 1995, and the number of millionaire filers increased by 33.4 percent. Another high-income tax hike was implemented in 2005, and the number of millionaire filers increased by 37.8 percent.

4) New Jersey increased taxes on high earners in 2004, and Princeton researchers did find (PDF) that New Jersey lost $37.7 million in tax revenue after migration by wealthy tax payers. However, that number was dwarfed by the more than $1 billion overall revenue gain from the tax increase, and the number of high-income filers still increased between 2004 and 2006.

As the New Jersey numbers suggest, it would be going too far to say that state tax rates have no effect on cross-state migration. However, you have to balance that against evidence that the revenue generated by state tax increases on high earners overwhelms that lost from taxpayers' leaving.
The New Jersey study is especially telling.  Yes, some rich folks did leave New Jersey.  But most stayed, and the state got a massive revenue boost because of it.   It's funny how the Village and the Republicans are always screaming about protecting our precious rich Americans, when some of the most wealthy have no problem giving back.  Warren Buffet has said several times that the richest Americans need to pay more in taxes...but hey, all those poor people in the Senate can't afford it.

Wingers Are Barton On A Winner

Think Progress has compiled the Right Wing Noise Machine defense of Joe Barton's "shakedown" comment.  While officially the GOP wants Joe to apologize, the reality is that a vast majority of Republicans agree with Barton and are backing BP because they can't pass up any opportunity to hate Obama.
– PAT BUCHANAN: “Barton made a very courageous statement in my judgment. … To have anyone stand up and even indirectly defend [BP] and say that they were a victim of a shakedown shows some political courage.
– INGRAHAM: “I think Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.
– NAPOLITANO: “That is a classic shakedown. The threat to do something that you don’t have the authority to do. ”
– KILMEADE: “One Congressman calling the BP compsensation fund a ’shakedown,’ but does he have a point?
– GINGRICH: “The president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company.
– VARNEY: “It is Hugo Chavez-like, is it not? To sieze a private company’s assets.”

Steve M. has more on this too.

The reality is that the Wingers have Obama Derangement Syndrome on one side, and a need to pretend they are human enough to pass by faking dislike for BP on the other.  Not only have they stopped pretending to dislike BP, they are now openly pulling for the oil spill to ruin this administration.  They literally cannot control themselves.

Even faced with the fact that this is the worst environmental disaster this country has ever dealt with, they cannot help but cheer for the oil spill to cause as much damage to Obama as possible so that the Republicans can "win" a disaster of epic proportions.  They're not even pretending anymore.  Joe Barton and his defenders made that abundantly clear despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly want Obama to get even tougher with BP.

That's what kind of people we're dealing with here.  That's all they have to offer:  a deep and irrational hatred of Obama that borders on sociopathic.  Let's not kid ourselves.  All they care about is destroying Obama. If you had any doubts about the stakes of this midterm, then this week should have dispelled those thoughts immediately.  It's win at any cost for them.

Even if that cost is watching this country burn.

World Cupdate

In Group D action, Germany provided a lesson to everyone in the Cup this year:  anything can happen.  The heavily favored German juggernaut only ended up blitzing themselves as German star Miroslav Klose was double-carded in the first half, giving the Serbians a man-up advantage.  The White Eagles then immediately tore into the stunned German defense as Milan Jovanovic put what turned into the game winner away less than a minute later at 38'.  The Serbs then held off the German attack and suddenly things are looking increasingly grim for the Europeans in this Cup save for the Dutch.  So far the officiating has been mostly solid, but today's double booking on Klose and yesterday's shaky arbitration in Mexico-France (South Africa and Australia have legit gripes too) is starting to make me wonder.

That brings us to Group C and the United States versus Slovenia.  The Green Dragons came in leading the group and were looking to put it away with a win over the Yanks, while the USA, nursing a number of injuries from a physical match with England, were fighting with their backs against the wall.  The teams matched up 2-4-4 attack plans, and the Slovenians, confident after their victory over Algeria, guaranteed another win. It looked fated to be so as the Yanks immediately got behind again as Birsa arced a 30 yarder into the corner past keeper Tim Howard at 13'. Suddenly the United States were in dire trouble of playing a meaningless game next week against Algeria as the Green Dragons ran rampant in the first half.  A second goal by Ljubijankic at 43' all but buried the dreams of the USA for another four long years.   But the second half saw the US sub in Feilhaber and Edu for Findley and Torres, and immediately it paid off with a Landon Donovan goal at 48'.  The US then poured on the offense, and several yellows gave the Yanks a number of set pieces to tie, but they couldn't convert until Mike Bradley powered one home at 82'.  But a piece of lousy officiating and an early whistle robbed the US of goal #3 at the end.  The Yanks again play their hearts out for a draw.

That left Algeria vs England, the Desert Foxes taking on the Three Lions.  England had a wonderful chance to advance for sure with a win here, and it looked early like Wayne Rooney and crew would do just that, slamming into the Desert Foxes defense with a number of early opportunities as Algeria's shaky nerves nearly cost them everything, but they resisted everything thrown at them with smart play and a 3-4-3 plan that kept England busy on counterattacks.  Rooney stepped up his game to inspire his eleven in the second half to try to put the game away.  The Desert Foxes however lived up to their name and frustrated England a number of times and most importantly didn't give up a booking until 85'.  Sloppy play from the Three Lions allowed Algeria to play for the draw, and that's what they got as the whistle blew on 0-0 and the sound of boos and suddenly it's the US that have the chance to break this Group wide open with a +2 goal advantage over England heading into next week.

That Poll-Asked Look

The latest Gallup poll shows Americans want job stimulus spending, big time.
Among four pieces of legislation Congress could consider this year, Americans are most supportive of authorizing more economic stimulus spending. Specifically, according to a June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll, 60% of Americans say they would favor "additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy."

Nearly as many Americans -- 56% -- favor regulating energy output from private companies, a key element of the "cap and trade" bill that has been stalled in Congress and that President Obama alluded to in his Tuesday night Oval Office address. However, it should be noted that the question highlights the positive goal of reducing global warming, but not any of the potential costs for business and consumers.
Americans also approve of more regulations on banks and are split on health care reform.  Republicans naturally want no additional spending or regulation and a full repeal of health care legislation, Democrats want the opposite, but Independents prefer all four measures, including repealing some or all of health care reform.

As I said earlier today, the Dems still have a long way to go to convince people health care reform was worth it.  But they do have a fair amount of support for job stimulus why are Democrats like Ben Nelson blocking it?

Maybe it has something to do with Nebraska's 5% unemployment rate, and the fact Nebraska gets as many Senators as California and Michigan, states hurting badly for jobs and being blocked on job legislation by Big Ben.

Awesome New Frontiers In Obama Derangement Syndrome

NRO's John Derbyshire finally says openly what's on every Obama-hating mind out there:  that they're openly rooting for the oil spill to wreck this administration for good.
In slightly different words: The best we can hope for is that the thing just goes on gushing through the bore hole indefinitely. (Or until we can drill enough relief wells to reduce the pressure. Don’t hold your breath.)

I’m as horrified as anyone by this — if the guy has got it right, and I’ve understood him correctly. At the same time, as a constitutional pessimist, I’ll own to a certain grim satisfaction. The infantile optimism of post-JFK America may have met its match down there in the Gulf. Nature is not mocked.

"Yay! We've finally got something Obama can't fix! He's done! Now America will be dominated by Very Serious People again instead of Dirty F'ckin Hippies who want to use government to make people's lives better rather than using it to make rich people more wealthy. The nerve of President Kenyan Muslimguy!"

That's right folks, we've fnally gotten to the point where the Wingers are pulling for the geyser to cause as much damage as possible, so they can say "I told you so!" in November.

Oh, the name of Derb's post?

No, We Can't.


Insert Your Own "Uh-Oh!" Joke Here

Uh-oh!  Spaghetti-Os...
Campbell Soup Co. is recalling nearly15 million pounds of canned "SpaghettiOs with Meatballs" because of possible under-processing, the U.S. agriculture department said.

The recall includes 14.75-ounce cans with a use-by date between June 2010 and December 2011 of three varieties of the product: "SpaghettiOs with Meatballs," "SpaghettiOs A to Z with Meatballs" and "SpaghettiOs Fun Shapes with Meatballs (Cars)."

Consumers who have purchased those products with a plant code of "EST4K" should not eat them and should return them to the store where they were purchased for an exchange or full refund, Campbell Soup said.
Fifteen million pounds of food.  Boy, if there were only a government agency that could monitor something with the potential to widely affect millions of Americans know, eat food.  Peanut butter, tomatoes, spinach, now Spaghetti-Os...what's it going to take, folks?

Down The Memory Hole

Remember Elena Kagan?  The White House is hoping you do...and you don't.
The White House is quietly choreographing every aspect of Elena Kagan's march toward a lifetime term on the Supreme Court.

From working to dampen the impact of revelations about her stint in the Clinton White House to going out of their way to trumpet praise from conservative backers, members of President Barack Obama's team are using every available tool to burnish Kagan's image.

Take the public release of tens of thousands of pages of files from Kagan's time as an aide to former President Bill Clinton. The Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, working with White House lawyers, has for two weeks in a row made the records available on Friday afternoons, a time when few people are paying attention. That puts stories about the records in Saturday newspapers, when even fewer are reading.

The last installment of those documents – about 11,000 e-mails Kagan wrote and about 70,000 more she received while working in Clinton's White House – is scheduled to be released on Friday, a little more than a week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is to begin Kagan's confirmation hearings.

The White House is pressing hard to define Kagan for Americans before her opponents can. A new poll shows the public's opinion is still highly shapeable.
It's highly shapeable because there's bigger things to worry about presently.  But that's about to change.  Kagan will get her hearings soon and it's going to be right back into the crucible for her.  She might want to shoot BP a  thank you card.

Very, very quietly, that is.

Daddy Scares Us

David Sanger illustrates in the NY Times today the exact problem with the Village and with Republicans on Obama, the oil spill, and BP.  One one hand, they complained bitterly for weeks that he hasn't done anything.  Now they are complaining that Obama's $20 billion escrow fund is dangerously close to the Imperial Presidency.

The Wall Street executives who needed the government to prop them up, but still thought their services were worth millions a year, were cast by Mr. Obama as a shameless privileged class. Toyota was described as seeking profits over safety; Wellpoint, the insurance giant, was castigated for seeking to insulate itself from the new health care legislation by taking actions that the law will soon prohibit.

Against that backdrop, forcing BP to take a $20 billion bath — even before the inevitable lawsuits are filed — seemed an easy decision. Mr. Obama had no legal basis for the demand, but concluded he did not need one. “He had a power other presidents have used — you call it jawboning,” Mr. Emanuel said.

The question is whether the cumulative effects of these actions create an impression that, over the long run, may make it harder to persuade both American and foreign corporations to cooperate with Mr. Obama’s program to reinvest and reinvigorate the American economy.

“He’s walking a very fine line here,” said Jeffrey Garten, a professor of trade and international finance at the Yale School of Management and a former top official in the Clinton administration’s Commerce Department. “He is taking each case on the merits as he sees it, but he runs the risk of sowing a level of mistrust about all big companies. And it’s those companies — not small businesses — that he will need to invest and innovate for the kind of recovery he wants.” 
It's laughable, watching Sanger defend these huge multinationals and chiding Obama on using the bully pulpit, not days after his colleagues smashed Obama for not doing enough to suspend the notion that he too was in the pocket of big business and that he worked for corporations, not the people.  Obama's going to scare off the big companies!  They'll leave for China and take millions of jobs with them if they can't get away with fleecing the American people!

The only person bought and paid for here is Sanger.

There are plenty of Villagers and folks on the left suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome too, folks.  It's starting to get a little ridiculous.

The Kroog Versus The Euro Depression

Paul Krugman sees dark, dark clouds on the economic horizon after Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block the latest jobs bill and wonders just how bad the pain is going to be for the average American and warns that Germany will give us a nasty preview.
In America, many self-described deficit hawks are hypocrites, pure and simple: They’re eager to slash benefits for those in need, but their concerns about red ink vanish when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy. Thus, Senator Ben Nelson, who sanctimoniously declared that we can’t afford $77 billion in aid to the unemployed, was instrumental in passing the first Bush tax cut, which cost a cool $1.3 trillion.

German deficit hawkery seems more sincere. But it still has nothing to do with fiscal realism. Instead, it’s about moralizing and posturing. Germans tend to think of running deficits as being morally wrong, while balancing budgets is considered virtuous, never mind the circumstances or economic logic. “The last few hours were a singular show of strength,” declared Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, after a special cabinet meeting agreed on the austerity plan. And showing strength — or what is perceived as strength — is what it’s all about.

There will, of course, be a price for this posturing. Only part of that price will fall on Germany: German austerity will worsen the crisis in the euro area, making it that much harder for Spain and other troubled economies to recover. Europe’s troubles are also leading to a weak euro, which perversely helps German manufacturing, but also exports the consequences of German austerity to the rest of the world, including the United States.

But German politicians seem determined to prove their strength by imposing suffering — and politicians around the world are following their lead.

How bad will it be? Will it really be 1937 all over again? I don’t know. What I do know is that economic policy around the world has taken a major wrong turn, and that the odds of a prolonged slump are rising by the day. 
He's right, of course.  There's no inflation in sight.  Only the stimulus has kept us above water and that runs out at the end of the year.  2011 will be a disaster, and don't think the Republicans voting against job bills right now aren't completely aware of what they are doing.  The GOP plan to balance the budget on the backs of the poor while approving more tax cuts for the wealthy is well under way.


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