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Furthermore! – Man the Battlements!

February 14, 2012


Furthermore! – Man the Battlements!

Regis got home exhausted last night after their first technical rehearsal for The Gardener’s Lament. They had trouble with the special effects, Regis explained. Apparently the gardener goes to great lengths, and heights and depths, to protect his vegetables from Regis’ character. I saw the set yesterday, and that huge wall with net-throwers and laser beams looked very formidable. But rather than throwing spinning nets for him to nimbly duck around, Regis said the wall worked more like Pootie the Precious spitting up hairballs. He described it as “class warfare hilarity.”

“Oh, like the American Enterprise Institute about President Obama’s proposed budget,” I replied.

In an article titled Obama’s ‘rosy’ budget scenario doubles down on class warfare, AEI writer James Pethokoukis hyperbolizes:

Then again, Obama’s new budget isn’t about economic growth or cutting debt or creating a “built to last” economy. The Obama campaign is built around the idea of reducing inequality. So in his budget, Obama takes the populist whip to the wealthy and to business[.]

I didn’t hear any loud whip cracks yesterday. Then again, I was listening to music while researching my thesis on 21st Century Political Nuttitude. Maybe Jackson Browne drowned out those whip cracks. Mrs. Squirrel said she didn’t hear any either, but she was playing with the twins – Nancy and Michelle – and you know how loud toddlers can be.

Just in case, I looked at the New York Times blog The Caucus. The story was headlined Obama Proposes Taxing Wealthiest Dividends, which qualifies for a Misplaced Modifier Award. But writer Jackie Calmes seemed … calmer:

In his new budget blueprint, President Obama is proposing to tax dividends of the wealthiest taxpayers as ordinary income subject to their top income-tax rate, which was the practice until the Bush administration lowered the rates. The proposal, released on Monday morning with other parts of the budget, would raise about $206 billion over 10 years.

Assuming that the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year, as required by law, dividends for the top 2 percent of income-earners would be taxed at 39.6 percent. Before 2002, the richest taxpayers paid a 35 percent tax on dividends, like on all ordinary income.

So this whip-cracking populist class warfare amounts to … returning to the tax structure before the 2001 Bush tax cuts. Oh, the horror! Pethokoukis continues:

1. The top income rate would be raised to 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.

2. Under the “Buffett rule,” no household making over $1 million annually would pay less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.

3. Between now the end of a second Obama term, Obama proposes $707 billion in “net deficit reduction proposals.” Of that amount, only 16 percent is spending cuts.

4. The majority of small business profits would be taxed at 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.

5. The capital gains rate would rise to 25.0 percent (including the Obamacare surtax and deduction phase out) from 15 percent today.

If I’ve counted the nuts correctly, for each additional $1000 of ordinary income or small business profits over $379,150, the wealthy would pay an extra $46 in federal income taxes. Capital gains would be taxed at 25% and dividends would be taxed as ordinary income, just like that communist Ronald Reagan did back in 1986. Do svidanya, America!

Pethokoukis adds two more points:

6. The double-tax on corporate profits (including dividends) would increase to 64 percent based on the statutory corporate tax rate (58 percent using the effective tax rate), easily the highest among advanced economies.

7. The double tax on corporate profits (including capital gains) would increase to 51 percent (44 percent using the effective tax rate), also among the highest among advanced economies.

Well sure, if it makes sense to count individuals’ taxes on dividends and capital gains as if they were really corporate taxes. But Mitt Romney, supported by the Wall Street Journal, says corporate taxes should be counted as individuals’ taxes on dividends and capital gains. Apparently, conservatives want to count individuals’ taxes as corporate taxes … and also count corporate taxes as individuals’ taxes.

And they complain that President Obama plays games with the numbers.

I offered to let Regis wear my class warfare correspondent’s vest in the play, but the costume designer said no. I was disappointed at the time, but now it looks like I’ll need that vest myself.

Good day and good nuts.

  • winterbanyan

    Actually, another evaluation of the Obama budget shows 2.5 dollars in cuts for every dollar in tax increases. See Noontime News today.

    As for the Republican view of corporate taxes and individual taxes actually being a double tax… hardly. It works just like the rest of the economy as far as I can figure out, and since corporations are hardly paying any taxes these days anyway, what’s the complaint.

    I pay taxes on my earnings. Then I spend them. Whoever gets those dollars also pays taxes on income. What the Republicans are suggesting is that taxes should be paid only once on each dollar… at least for the wealthy and corporations. I’m not buying it.

    Great takedown, Squirrel.

    • You not only pay taxes on your earnings. You also often pay excise and/or sales taxes when you spend your earnings. And then, yes, the businesses or people you pay with your earnings also pay taxes, and so on …

      … but conservatives only worry about that for wealthy investors. Then they count those taxes both ways.

      Good day and good nuts.

  • addisnana

    Squirrel… have you written the chapter yet on loopholes vs. loopiness? What an opening line:

    Apparently, conservatives want to count individuals’ taxes as corporate taxes … and also count corporate taxes as individuals’ taxes.

    The discussion on tax rates is strange because very few (I almost said none but I couldn’t back that up) of the wealthiest or the big corporations pay the stated tax rates. In fact some pay more for lobbyists than they do in taxes.

    IBT provides a table of major corporations, including blue chips GE, DuPont and Boeing, illuminating their three-year U.S. profits, taxes paid and lobbying expenses. The totals of the 30 companies is nothing short of staggering including $163,691 million in U.S. Profits, -$10,602 million in taxes and $475.67 million in lobbying expenses.

    I hope you have a good helmet to go with the vest. You may need more protection than just a vest.

    • addisnana

      PS I am not a proponent of the Fair Tax but the numbers on income, negative taxes and lobbying fees are good.

      • Jim W

        Thanks for the numbers.

        As for the Fair Tax, do you trust the State Sales Tax Authorities?

        This nonpartisan legislation (HR 25/S 1025) abolishes all federal personal and corporate income taxes, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes and replaces them with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax – administered primarily by existing state sales tax authorities.

    • BPI said they couldn’t afford the helmet that matches my class warfare correspondent vest, so the Professor of Astrology Janitor made me one from a walnut shell. It looks kinda cool, but when I wear it I find I’m hungry all the time….

      As for the Loopy Loopholes chapter, I started working on that but my laptop kept switching over to Looney Tunes whenever I hit the Enter key. Maybe it has a virus?

      Good day and good nuts.