Quote of the Day

You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X and he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who’s coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe or worse yet, Saul Alinsky. And this is how politics has changed; you used to have to run against an actual candidate, but now you just recreate him inside the bubble and run against your new fictional candidate.

That’s how Bush won in 2004, by running against John Kerry, a French war criminal. And speaking of Bush, I know conservatives are saying oh Bill, come on Democrats did the same thing to him. No. Say what you will about the left’s hatred of Bush, at least we were hating on the real guy. We didn’t invent a boogeyman who tanked the economy, took us to war on false pretenses, and tortured prisoners. That was the actual guy.

But run down the list of complaints about fantasy Obama. He wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it, and read terrorists their rights, yeah, like he did Tuesday in Somalia. And look what Gingrich said about him this month. (Video of Gingrich claiming Obama is against work). Yes, Obama is anti-work. You remember the bill he championed, The Grab A Corona And Call In Sick Act.

You see, the difference is the Republicans hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do. What’s he’s thinking. What he secretly wants to change. Anger with Bush was based on what he actually did. What Bush was thinking didn’t matter, because he wasn’t.

I’ve mentioned many times that there is little relationship between the real Barack Obama and the Barack Obama which Mitt Romney and other Republians talk about. Bill Maher broadcast this back in January, but I’ve just seen the above graphic being spread on Facebook this week. Transcript and links via Politicus USA. Here’s the video:

I Hope Harry Reid Knows What He Is Doing Or He Should Stop Acting Like A Republican

I sure hope Harry Reid knows what he is doing, or he might wind up helping Mitt Romney in the end. As Romney refuses to release his tax returns we cannot be certain whether the accusations are true, but Reids claims that a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years sounds rather fishy. Even a Bain investor actually did say that, how credible would this be. I’ve never seen a financial adviser show their personal tax returns to a client. If Mitt Romney won’t release his tax returns when he should, while running for president, whey would he have shown them to a client when their was no reason to?

The reactions of the McCain people, who did see many of his returns four years ago, also makes me doubt there would be anything as damaging as not paying taxes for ten years. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his rate was closer to zero than 15 percent in 2009.

Of course we cannot be certain about this unless Romney does release his tax returns. Perhaps Romney did brag about not paying taxes, and perhaps the McCain people are covering for him out of party unity.

Harry Reid is sticking to his accusations:

On Wednesday, Reid stuck to his story, and broadened it.

“I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. “I have had a number of people tell me that.”

Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.”

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” Reid said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

A Romney spokesman said Reid’s charge was baseless and below the belt.

Burden of proof isn’t so one-sided here. Romney should release his tax returns, but that doesn’t free Reid of being obligated to back up his charges too.

There are possible up-sides to this. Reid is drawing even more attention to Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. This might also force Romney to release his returns.

One possible down-side to this is that should Romney release his tax returns, whatever comes out might not be as bad as Reid is alleging, and the meia story could then change to Romney’s vindication. If it turns out that Romney is hiding something such as only paying around 5 percent for a couple of years, the story could then be that the charges of paying no taxes for ten years were outright false as opposed to how little taxes Romney paid.

Looking at the reactions to this around the blogosphere is amusing. Conservatives seem unanimous in condemning Reid for making false accusations, which is rather hypocritical considering that conservatives (including Romney) make false accusations about Democrats on a regular basis. Most conservatives can’t conceive of responding to liberals with anything other than a gross distortion of the facts. As Steve M. says, “welcome to our world, Mitt. Now you have a vague sense of how Democrats feel all the time.” Still, do we really want a Democratic leader acting like a Republican?

Romney Plan Would Raise Taxes on 95%

Mitt Romney’s proposed tax plan would provide tremendous tax cuts for the wealthy, but to make up for the revenue loss 95 percent of tax payers would see a tax increase according to a study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Those in the top 0.1% would receive a tax break of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. In doing these calculations, the Tax  Policy Center even granted Romney the questionable assumption that giving these tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy would stimulate the economy and generate more tax revenue.

Barack Obama brought this up in campaigning in Ohio:

“If Gov. Romney wants to keep his word and pay for this plan, then he’d have to cut tax breaks that middle-class families depend on to pay for your home, the home mortgage deduction; to pay for your health care, the health care deduction; (or) to send your kids to college,” the president said.

“And here’s the thing: He’s not asking you to contribute more to pay down the deficit, he’s not asking you to pay more to invest in our children’s education, or rebuild our roads or put more folks back to work,” Obama said in Mansfield, Ohio. “He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut.”

Obama and DNC Respond To Dishonest Romney Ads On Small Business

Barack Obama has responded with an ad of his own to respond to those dishonest Romney ads which distorted a statement by Barack Obama about small business. Video above and text follows:

“Those ads taking my words about small business out of context; they’re flat out wrong. Of course Americans build their own business. Everyday hard-working people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs, and make our economy run.

And what I said was that we need to stand behind them as America always has. By investing in education, training, roads and bridges, research and technology. I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message because I believe we’re all in this together.”

This follows responses from the Obama campaign which I noted yesterday. Obama also showed no patience for this dishonest attack at a fund raiser yesterday:

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he’s losing his patience over the Republican attacks aimed at his “you didn’t build that” comment.

“I have to tell you, I generally have patience with what the other side says about me, that’s a requirement of this job,” Obama said during a $5,000-per-plate fundraiser here, according to the pool report.

“And if you don’t like folks talking about you, you probably shouldn’t run for president. The one thing I do have no patience for is this argument that somehow what I’m criticizing is success… I want to promote success,” Obama said.

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse issued this memo regarding the planned Democratic response (emphasis mine):

In conjunction with OFA, we’re going to turn the page tomorrow on Mitt Romney’s trumped up, out of context fact-checked-to-death BS about the President and small business and set the record straight on how Mitt Romney has a horrible record on small business, a failed record on jobs and who is advocating for policies that are great for millionaires, billionaires, big oil and corporate America – but that would devastate small businesses and stifle job growth and small business expansion. We’ll being done this with on the ground events in states which are coming together as we speak and with a national press conference call which will include small business owners and others – including at least one person from MA – who will speak about Romney’s failed record and failed policies as well as President Obama’s record as a consistent advocate for small businesses.

Mitt Romney’s going to have to have more than manipulating video and taking quotes out of context to make up for his failed record on jobs and economic and small business development as Governor of Massachusetts and the policies he’s advocating for now that would roll back the investments and support small businesses and communities have always counted on to succeed. As governor of Massachusetts you need look no further than Mitt Romney finishing 47th out of 50 in jobs and manufacturing plummeting to know Mitt Romney’s tenure was a disaster for small businesses in the Bay State.

He left Massachusetts with the highest per capita debt in the nation and created or raised over 1,000 taxes and fees that came to $750 million a year – taxes and fees that fell largely on the middle class and small businesses.

If you’re the Governor that raised a fee on milk and attempted to impose a $10 fee for a state certificate of blindness, it becomes clear why Mitt Romney doesn’t want to talk about his record as Governor on jobs or the economy or budget and taxes.

And he slashed job training programs and cut the manufacturing extension partnership – both devastating to small business development.

What’s worse is that Romney wants to take his failed approach national where he’s pledged to slash the budget so deeply to pay for tax breaks for millionaires like himself he’d devastate the very investments needed for businesses of any size to succeed – especially small businesses. We know the Romney-Ryan budget would slash funding for education, training, research and development, scientific research, investments in clean energy, higher ed, student loans. He’d forgo new investments in high speed rail, broadband, road and bridge construction and repair. And of course – he would have let Detroit go Bankrupt.

Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about financial engineering for his own gain and off shoring money, outsourcing jobs and setting up Swiss Bank Accounts – but he clearly has little clue how the real economy works for small businesses or the middle class. If Mitt Romney thinks that communities and small businesses can succeed strictly on their own – he needs to acquaint himself with the real world where businesses depend on an educated workforce, R and D, and solid infrastructure – everything from broadband to road, bridges and rail.

No – there is only one candidate in this race who should apologize for his record, positions and attitude towards small business – and that’s Mitt Romney.


Three Strikes Against Romney’s Lie About Obama And Small Business

Lacking legitimate arguments against Obama from the right, Mitt Romney and other conservatives have concentrated on fabricating attacks against Obama for views he does not actually hold. The latest attacks, based upon twisting a comment from Obama to give it a quite different meaning, is beginning to backfire against Romney. While Obama  spoke about the benefits to businessmen from government infrastructure they did not build, such as the roads and bridges, Republicans twisted this into a ridiculous statement that businessmen did not build the businesses which they created. Conservatives, who believe a Randian fantasy about the economy and are often ignorant of how a market economy actually works, have been easily fooled into believing the claims from the right.

Obama’s statement should actually not be controversial at all. It is such common sense that people receive some benefits from others that even Mitt Romney expressed a similar view talking to Olympians in 2002:

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right! [pumps fist].”

This no more reduces respect for the accomplishments of the Olympians than Obama’s statement shows any lack of respect for the accomplishments of creators of small businesses.

The second embarrassment for Romney is that the businessman in an ad promoting the attack on Obama turned out to have received government assistance even beyond government roads and bridges:

HE GOT HELP. In the Mitt Romney campaign web and television ads that received national attention last week, a blunt Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson tells President Barack Obama that he, his father and his son _ and not the government _ built his company.

But as it turns out, Gilchrist did receive some government help for his business, albeit a long time ago.

In 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority “to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment,” according to a New Hampshire Union Leader report at the time.

The federal government allocates to each state a certain amount of tax-exempt bonding capacity each year for business and housing loans.

Because the bond buyers do not pay federal taxes on the interest, the interest rate for the borrower is typically lower than that of standard bank financing.

Last year, Gilchrist Metal also received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008, according to a government web site that tracks spending.

The Romney camp released a web ad featuring Jack Gilchrist last Thursday after Obama had said a week earlier that “if you were successful, you didn’t get there on your own” and added, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

Finally, even Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, who has previously taken the Romney line even when his own newspaper showed that he was wrong, has finally done some fact checking on this Romney lie:

The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.

Suddenly, the word “that” appears as if it is referring to a business, rather than (apparently) to roads and bridges…

Romney, however, descends into silly season when he extrapolates Obama’s quote and says that means Obama believes Steve Jobs did not build Apple Computers.

Here’s what Obama said when Jobs passed away earlier this year: “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the Internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.”

That sounds like Obama believes that Jobs really did build his company. He did not mention the roads to Cupertino.

Taxes Fall To Thirty Year Low Under Obama

The right wing has been spreading many falsehoods about Obama, such as that he is a Muslim, he was born outside the United States, he is responsible for huge increases in the deficit, and that he has been raising taxes. All of these are false. The first two are outright lies, the increase in the deficit is a consequence of policies during the Bush years, and Obama has cut taxes since taking office. The Washington Post reports on the decreased tax burden under Obama:

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third.

Still, at the very moment anti-tax protesters were emerging as the most powerful force in American politics, handing Republicans landslide control of the U.S. House, the data show that people were sending the smallest portion of their income to the federal government since 1979.

During Obama’s first year in office, the average tax rate paid by all households fell to 17.4 percent, down from 19.9 percent in 2007, according to the CBO. The 2009 rate was significantly lower than the previous low of 19.4 percent in 2003 and well below the 30-year average of 21 percent.

The tax burden — which includes all forms of federal levies, including income, payroll and corporate taxes — lightened for households across the board, the result in part of Obama’s signature “Making Work Pay” tax credit and other tax cuts passed as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, the CBO said.

The lowest fifth of earners benefited the most, sending just 1 percent of their before-tax income to the federal government in 2009, compared with 5.1 percent in 2007. The top fifth of earners paid 23.2 percent, compared with 24.7 percent in 2007.

The average federal income tax rate also reached a new low, settling at 7.2 percent in 2009 — two points lower than in 2007, the CBO said. Although detailed data are available only through 2009, the CBO said more recent estimates suggest that effective tax rates remained at historically low levels in 2010 and 2011.

“However much Republicans try to perpetuate false claims, the facts speak for themselves: Tax rates have never been lower than under President Obama,” said Rep. Sander M. Levin (Mich.), the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes.

Even with Obama’s proposal to repeal the Bush tax cut on taxable income over $250,000 per year, only about two percent of the country will face higher taxes (and this will be a very small tax increase for most). Republican claims of higher taxes under the Affordable Care Act are also false. In contrast, the Republican plan supported by Mitt Romney will result in higher taxes for the middle class.


Tax Increases For Very Few

I really hate it when Obama and other Democrats talk about increasing taxes on families making over $250,000 because they are  making their tax plans sound worse than they are. We then see conservatives use scare tactics that people will stop working once they reach $250,000 in income to avoid paying higher taxes, but this makes no sense to those who understand how marginal tax rates work. Even if one earns enough to fall under the higher rates, taxable income under $250,000 will still be taxed at the same rate as before the proposed increase. Only taxable income over $250,000 will be taxed at the higher rate, resulting in a modest increase in taxes for most upper income earners. Steve Benen provided this table (via Kevin Drum) explained:

If your family makes $250,000 a year, under Obama’s plan, every penny in income will get the tax break. If your family makes $260,000 a year, under Obama’s plan, you’d get the tax cut for your first $250,000, then pay slightly higher taxes on the $10,000.

As a result, everyone with an income would get a tax break. Even those at the very top would end up paying less in taxes than they did under Clinton because Obama would still give them a break on their first quarter-million.

Good explanation, but there is still one key point left out. It takes an income closer to $300,000 to have a taxable income of $250,000. Few people earning over $200,000 aren’t putting a good chunk of income in retirement accounts, and there will be other tax deductions such as mortgage interest and local taxes. This reduces even further the number of people who will have to pay an extra 3 percent on a portion of their income.

Despite all the talk about “job creators,” only 3 percent of small business owners make over $250,000 per year.  As Jonathan Capehart pointed out, “As the president said yesterday, letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy would not impact 98 percent of American wage earners and 97 percent of small-business owners.”

Besides, as a business owner, I would also point out that minor changes in taxes have zero impact on how many people I hire. I hire employees based upon what is needed for business purposes. I’m not going to avoid hiring another employee if one is needed should I have to pay a few hundred dollars more a year in taxes if taxes are increased. Democrats are also offering more tax breaks for small business as well as the middle class, but even without these breaks I’d  be willing to pay a few hundred dollars more a year in taxes under the Democrats as opposed to voting for a party which is anti-science, pro-theocracy, and hostile to individual liberty.

Despite GOP Scare Tactics, Most People Will Not Pay More In Taxes Under Affordable Care Act

Mitt Romney might not be able to decide if the mandate is a tax or penalty, but for the most part Republicans are resorting to false claims about taxes in the Affordable Care Act to continue to scare and mislead voters.  The tax penalty in the mandate only affects two percent of the population, and overall the ACA is certainly not the largest tax increase in history as conservatives claim. It is far less than the Reagan tax increase of 1982, and few will actually wind up paying more in taxes.

Overall, Obama’s health-care law will increase federal revenues as a portion of gross domestic product. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law will reduce federal deficits by a relatively small amount—$210 billion, by 2021.

Here’s a nice chart from Ezra Klein which breaks down how the tax increases in Obamacare stack up against tax hikes passed by previous administrations. You can see that Obama’s tax increase will bring in less revenue as a portion of GDP than the tax increases put in place by presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or Ronald Reagan.

Lots of different tax hikes are tucked into the Affordable Care Act. If you’re a tanning salon, a medical device maker, a pharmaceutical company, a small business owner who doesn’t want to provide health insurance coverage to your employees, or an individual who refuses coverage, you’re going to have to cough up more money to the IRS in the form of penalties, fees, and yes, taxes. Individuals earning $200,000 or above and couples earning at least $250,000 will pay a 0.9% Medicare surtax and a 3.8% surtax on investment income. Some of these taxes—such as the 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices—could be passed along to consumers.

If you’re just about anyone else, the health-care law is likely to be a net plus. People who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty line will become eligible for Medicaid. Families earning up to 400 percent of the poverty line—about $100,000—also get lots of subsidies for insurance on state-run exchanges whose goal is to bring down the cost of care.

Republicans such as House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) have been particularly keen on bringing up small business, arguing that Obamacare amounts to a tax hike for them. If you’re a business with up to 25 employees, you’re also going to get a big tax credit to help with your employees’ health-care bill. After 2014, that credit will cover up to 50 percent of employer contributions.

Taken together, claims that Obamacare amounts to the largest tax hike in the entire history of humanity—or even the last 20 years—don’t add up.

The Affordable Care Act is especially beneficial in promoting small business. A small percentage of small business owners make enough to be subject to the higher taxes while many will receive tax breaks to provide coverage for employees. This will help small businesses compete for employees, being able to offer coverage comparable to larger companies, along with helping business owners. Having health insurance become portable will also allow more people to leave larger companies to either work for small businesses or start businesses of their own.

Quote of the Day

“A new study found that a record number of America’s wealthiest citizens are renouncing their citizenship to avoid high taxes. Which explains why today Donald Trump claimed HE was born in Kenya.” –Jimmy Fallon

AMA Backs Decision On Affordable Care Act While Conservatives Remain Irrational

Right wingers remain furious over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, such as one Tea Party leader hoping that those who upheld the law get colon cancer. If they are this upset about the Affordable Care Act, imagine how their heads will explode in November when Obama is reelected.

Conservatives are now making noise falsely claiming that the Affordable Care Act represents a major tax increase. McClatchy found that only about two percent of the country would be at risk of paying the penalty under the individual mandate.  Those worked up about this tax which only affects a tiny percent of the country are also ignoring all of Obama’s tax cuts for individuals and small business. In contrast, the Republican tax plan supported by Mitt Romney would increase taxes on the middle class in order to pay for even greater tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy. Republicans also ignore the fact that most Republican leaders supported the individual mandate until it became part of Obama’s health care plan (which is essentially the Republican alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care plan).

Medical News Today reports that the American Medical Association is pleased that the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court:

Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, President of the American Medical Association (AMA), said that the AMA is pleased with the ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold health reform. Dr. Lazarus added that the AMA has always supported health insurance coverage for all US citizens. The decision means that millions of Americans who currently do not have coverage may now look forward to it to either “get healthy” or “stay healthy”.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare law was upheld by the US Supreme Court on 28th June 2012 by a majority of 5 to 4. According to political commentators in the US media, the result is a triumph for the Democrats in this election year and a setback for the Republicans.

Dr. Lazarus reiterated the AMA’s position on its commitment to working on behalf of the country’s doctors and patients to make sure the law carries on being implemented in ways that both encourage and incentivize improved health outcomes and an optimized health care system.

Dr. Lazarus said:

“The AMA remains committed to working on behalf of America’s physicians and patients to ensure the law continues to be implemented in ways that support and incentivize better health outcomes and improve the nation’s health care system.

This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies. The expanded health care coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive.

Affordable Care Act has already helped 54 million people

He added that the Supreme Court decision ensures continued funding for vital research on the effectiveness of drugs and therapies and improves the chances for millions of Americans to receive coverage for prevention and wellness care. The new law has already helped approximately 54 million patients.

Less paperwork for healthcare professionals today, says AMA

The Affordable Care Act has helped simplify administrative burdens, Dr. Lazarus added. It has streamlined insurance claims so that doctors and their staff can dedicate more of their time to patient care, and less on paperwork.

The AMA says that the new law protects Medicare patients stuck in the “donut hole”. In 2010 and 2011 a considerable number of patients saved money on prescription drug costs.

Dr. Lazarus said “These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers.”