Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

School Choice: Time to Move Forward

As evidence mounts that the government/union education monopoly is failing our children, 2012 should see ramped up efforts to advance school choice.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Last week, Education Week published “What Research Says About School Choice,” in which nine scholars analyze the results of various studies concerning “school choice” – the quaint notion that parents should be able to choose where to send their kids to school. The report boasts no ecstatic claims, nothing about lions and lambs, no Hallelujah moments – just a sober look at the 20 year-old movement to end mandatory zip code school assignments. Some of the findings:

Among voucher programs, random-assignment studies generally find modest improvements in reading or math scores, or both. Achievement gains are typically small in each year, but cumulative over time. Graduation rates have been studied less often, but the available evidence indicates a substantial positive impact.

Among voucher programs, these studies consistently find that vouchers are associated with improved test scores in the affected public schools. The size of the effect in these studies varies from modest to large. No study has found a negative impact.

A third area of study has been the fiscal impact of school choice. Even under conservative assumptions about such questions as state and local budget sensitivity to enrollment changes, the net impact of school choice on public finances is usually positive and has never been found to be negative.

Also last week, the California Charter School Association released its second annual “Portrait of the Movement: How Charters are Transforming California Education.” Not a sales pitch or compilation of cherry-picked data data, the CCSA report is an honest look at California’s 900 plus charter schools which educate about 400,000 students. A few of its many findings:

Charters that serve low-income students exceeded their prediction at high rates relative to the traditional system; students at charters serving low-income populations are five times more likely than their non-charter counterparts to be served by a school in the top 5th percentile.

Charter schools are more likely than non-charters to have both above average academic performance and above average growth. They are less likely than non-charters to perform below both state averages of status and growth.

A small number of low-performing charters were closed after the 2010-11 school year.

Earlier this month, the results of a study about school choice and its effects on crime in North Carolina, conducted by David J. Deming, assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, were released. This study examined neither vouchers nor charter schools, but rather a district-wide open enrollment policy whereby any student could apply to any school within the district. If a popular school had more enrollees than seats, a lottery was held. The rather stunning findings:

In general, high-risk students commit about 50 percent less crime as a result of winning a school choice lottery.  Among male high school students at high risk of criminal activity, winning admission to a first-choice school reduced felony arrests from 77 to 43 per 100 students over the study period (2002-2009).  The attendant social cost of crimes committed decreased by more than 35 percent.  Among high-risk middle school students, admittance by lottery to a preferred school reduced the average social cost of crimes committed by 63 percent (due chiefly to a reduction in violent crime), and reduced the total expected sentence of crimes committed by 31 months (64 percent).

The study finds that the overall reductions in criminal activity are concentrated among the top 20 percent of high-risk students, who are disproportionately African American, eligible for free lunch, with more days of absence and suspensions than the average student.

Hence, the ability to choose the school that a child attends not only increases chances of a better education, but also greatly decreases the likelihood that the youth will become a criminal. And not only doesn’t it cost anything, lower crime rates have been shown to be a boon to local economies.

Another kind of school choice was recently attempted by parents at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, a Mojave Desert town in eastern California. Tired of low test scores, some parents organized and got more than 50 percent of the parents at the school to sign a “Parent Trigger” petition, which would give them the right to choose a different type of school governance. Their choices included firing the principal, removing some of the faculty, shutting the school down or turning it in to a charter school. Linda Serrato, Deputy Communication Director of Parent Revolution, explains that this particular petition laid out two options: “…negotiate with the parents to give them the autonomy they need to turn around their school, or they will use the Parent Trigger to take their school away from the district and convert it into a community charter school, run by local parents and educators.”

However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the California Teachers Association, a union that will go to great lengths to maintain the status quo and thus its political power, sent out “representatives” to Adelanto to disseminate “information” to the parents there. (“Union speak” alert: “Representatives” and “information” really mean sending unidentified operatives to petition-signers’ homes and feeding them lies about the petition that they just signed.)

The unionistas’ door-to-door rescission campaign managed to scare enough signers into revoking their signatures, thus nullifying the proposed action. CTA pulled the same stunt in Compton, the first time parents rose up and “pulled the Trigger.”  But after a legal challenge, in which the parents were successfully represented pro bono by the firm of Kirkland and Ellis, the Trigger went forward, and produced the opening of a new charter school. Apparently, Kirkland and Ellis are ready for a second go-round and will represent the parents in Adelanto.

School choice is an idea whose time is long overdue. Scholars know it. Charter school attendees know it. Crime free youths in North Carolina know it. Parent activists in the Mojave Desert know it.

The nearsighted, the naysayers, and the beneficiaries of the current failing status quo — moribund educrats, reactionary school boards and power-mad teacher unions – realize they could be in trouble and will desperately fight to extinguish the fires of reform whenever and wherever they can. But as parents and taxpayers become enlightened about the advantages of choice and empowered  to take action, their opponents — with their lame assertions, name calling, sophistry and bullying — will see their hegemony wilt and ultimately will be rendered powerless.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

February 25, 2012

The Liberal Myth of the Starving Americans

By WARREN KOZAK

We take it as a given that hunger stalks America. We hear it in the news, we see a myriad of government and private organizations set up to feed the hungry. And we are often reminded of the greatest of all ironies—in the richest nation on earth, there are still those without enough to eat. But are these media portrayals of hunger in America accurate?

A hungry child is the ultimate third rail in the entitlement debate. Few candidates—Democrat, Republican or independent—would even question conventional wisdom on this particular issue because that would make them look indifferent to hungry children and that, of course, is political death.

The U.S. government spends close to $1 trillion a year providing cash, food, housing, medical care and services to poor and near-poor people. Of that figure, about $111 billion is spent on food in federal and state programs. Yet despite this spending, stories of rampant hunger persist. With all that money going out, how is that possible?

In a report published last September by the Heritage Foundation, researchers Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield asked that very question. They found that, according to Census Bureau data for 2009 (the most recent year statistics are available), of the almost 50 million Americans classified as poor, 96% of the parents said their children were never hungry. Eighty-three percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and 82% of poor adults said they were never hungry at any time in 2009 due to a lack of food or money.

One could deduce that the reason the vast percentage of America’s poor say they are never hungry is precisely because of federal and state assistance, but the government offers no way of testing whether this is true or false.

Enlarge Image

Associated Press

What’s clear is that the number of Americans on food stamps—as Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich pointed out in a recent debate—is at a record high. In 2011, more than 46 million Americans—about one in seven—received food stamps.

Perhaps of greater consequence is the belief of many that food should now be free. In a recent report in the magazine Wisconsin Interest, reporter Mike Nichols discovered that in the 2010-11 school year, approximately 373,000 children received free school lunches in Wisconsin. But there are nowhere near 373,000 kids in the state who come from families falling anywhere near the poverty line. The obvious explanation: A lot of middle-class and upper-middle-class kids are eating lunch at taxpayer expense.

This is not just a Wisconsin phenomenon. Nationally, one out of four school children received a free lunch in 1970, according to the state and federal government data examined by Mr. Nichols. Today, two out of three lunches served in schools are free or nearly free.

The original goal of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the 1960s was relatively conservative. LBJ said he wanted to turn the poor from “tax eaters to tax payers.” But the opposite seems to have occurred. Where there were once strict guidelines regarding the type of food that was available for food stamps, almost all constraints (save liquor) have been dropped. Even the term food stamps is antiquated—people now use plastic cards that resemble credit cards, thus alleviating any stigma connected to welfare.

Various industries have benefited from food stamps over the years—from the local bodega and chain grocers to America’s farmers. In fact, you may soon see today’s benefits card used in a restaurant near you. The fast food industry is lobbying Congress to make these cards available in their establishments. That’s somewhat irrelevant since benefit cards are already sold for cash, allowing the sellers to buy whatever they please anyway.

Fraud is a major problem, and not just at the federal level. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are currently at odds over whether to continue an anti-fraud attempt to fingerprint benefit recipients. Mr. Bloomberg says it saves millions of taxpayer dollars every year by keeping people from applying for assistance multiple times. Mr. Cuomo says it stigmatizes people and thus keeps hungry children from eating.

But reform is possible. “This isn’t rocket science,” says Heritage’s Mr. Rector. If able-bodied, non-elderly recipients of food stamps were required to work or at least show they are looking for work, the numbers would drop dramatically and poverty would decline as well. “That’s exactly what happened under welfare reform in 1996,” he says.

The lessons are clear. All it takes is the political leadership.

Mr. Kozak is the author of “LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay” (Regnery, 2009).

via Warren Kozak: The Myth of the Starving Americans – WSJ.com.

February 23, 2012

The New Blacklist by Pat Buchanan on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent

My days as a political analyst at MSNBC have come to an end.

After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.

The calls for my firing began almost immediately with the Oct. 18 publication of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”

A group called Color of Change, whose mission statement says that it “exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice,” claimed that my book espouses a “white supremacist ideology.” Color of Change took particular umbrage at the title of Chapter 4, “The End of White America.”

Media Matters parroted the party line: He has blasphemed!

A Human Rights Campaign that bills itself as America’s leading voice for lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgendered people said that Buchanan’s “extremist ideas are incredibly harmful to millions of LBGT people around the world.”

Their rage was triggered by a remark to NPR’s Diane Rehm — that I believe homosexual acts to be “unnatural and immoral.”

On Nov. 2, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who has sought to have me censored for 22 years, piled on.

“Buchanan has shown himself, time and again, to be a racist and an anti-Semite,” said Foxman. Buchanan “bemoans the destruction of white Christian America” and says America’s shrinking Jewish population is due to the “collective decision of Jews themselves.”

Well, yes, I do bemoan what Newsweek’s 2009 cover called “The Decline and Fall of Christian America” and editor Jon Meacham described as “The End of Christian America.” After all, I am a Christian.

And what else explains the shrinkage of the U.S. Jewish population by 6 percent in the 1990s and its projected decline by another 50 percent by 2050, if not the “collective decision of Jews themselves”?

Let error be tolerated, said Thomas Jefferson, “so long as reason is left free to combat it.” What Foxman and ADL are about in demanding that my voice be silenced is, in the Jeffersonian sense, intrinsically un-American.

Consider what it is these people are saying.

They are saying that a respected publisher, St. Martin’s, colluded with me to produce a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic book, and CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, Fox Business News and the 150 radio shows on which I appeared failed to detect its evil and helped to promote a moral atrocity.

If my book is racist and anti-Semitic, how did Sean Hannity, Erin Burnett, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Lou Dobbs and Ralph Nader miss that? How did Charles Payne, African-American host on Fox radio, who has interviewed me three times, fail to detect its racism?

How did Michael Medved miss its anti-Semitism?

In a 2009 cover story in the Atlantic, “The End of White America?” from which my chapter title was taken, professor Hua Hsu revels in the passing of America’s white majority.

via The New Blacklist by Pat Buchanan on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent.

February 23, 2012

Frightened Republicans Imploding

Privatize Social Security "Make the Poor Wealthy"

Privatize Social Security "Make the Poor Wealthy"

by Dick McDonald

Fearing opposing cutting taxes and dependency benefits going into a Presidential election Congressional Republicans this week extended the payroll tax cut for the rest of 2012, extended unemployment benefits, stopped Medicare cuts and bent over and took it in the shorts by allowing Democrats to not pay for any of it. So much for the Tea Party revolution, for Conservative values – they are but a distant memory of headier times in 2010.

Now you think Republicans are waffling now, just wait until the Obama fear train starts rolling.  Obama has 185 welfare and dependency programs he will tell you the heartless Republicans will kill. He will trumpet from his bully pulpit that the greedy 1% that the Republicans are protecting don’t care if you are penniless and destitute as long as they can pay 15% in income taxes, have you pay 30% and  live the high life.

Oh I love to hear Republicans howl over how they will bury Obama and Senate Democrats with no plausible plan other than the “death by the sword” draconian cuts to the dependency state.  Folks it’s fun to watch FOX but let’s wake up. When people walk into the voting booth they throw away beliefs and principles and vote their pocketbook.

That is why Congressional Republicans just lost a game of “chicken” to the Democrats. They realize the effect it would have on pocketbook voters.  So what is your answer Republicans?  Waffling Mitt? Saint Santorum? No it is not our Presidential candidate – it is what he is going to do for everyday Americans.  As it stands today that is bumpkus

And don’t give me this drivel about “trickle down” and how the job creators are going to save us. Hell they don’t have $2 trillion of new capital to invest in creating new jobs. And even if they did that would only last for a year. We need new significant new capital each and every year to extricate us from the disaster the Congress has visited upon us.

To create jobs we can’t continue to commit socialist suicide spending borrowed and printed money.  A government can’t spend us into prosperity. They are lousy “investors.” They are in the confiscation business not the investing business.

The American people on the other hand are great investors who have created the world’s most successful and vibrant economy.  Why not let the people use part of their income each year to invest in themselves by investing in the economy? At a trillion a year- each year into the future – the economy would grow faster than the phony Chinese rate. Tens of millions of jobs would be created every couple of years to the point we would be begging the Mexicans to come back to America.

Now you ask where are the American people going to get a trillion dollars of new capital each year to invest in the economy.  The answer is right on your weekly paycheck. They are called payroll taxes and they amount to about a trillion a year. Those taxes put into a personal investment account each taxpayer owns which is immediately invested in the stock market for their working life will not only solve the jobs problem but solve the income equality problem by making every worker and his family millionaires at retirement.

Oh we can afford to pay out the old Social Security and Medicare system beneficiaries too. Hell that would only have been three trillion in the last three years when Obama ran up five trillion of unnecessary debt and saddled our children with it. In three years increased income taxes on a fast growing economy will pay off much of the legacy entitlements.

Conferring wealth on Americans will remedy so many of the country’s and the people’s ills.  See here for a complete analysis.

Republicans must either start throwing carrots at the voters or expect Democrats and the American people to ride you out of town on a rail.

February 21, 2012

Obama: The Things We Don’t Know About Him

Who is Barack Hussein Obama?

Obama has spent nearly $2 million to cover up records from his past. We have no birth certificate, no grades from colleges and universities attended, no papers written, no speeches given. What is he trying so hard to cover up? Did his papers indicate his true colors? Was he aligned with Black Panther-like radicals? Would his papers reveal anti-Americanism or a radicalism that would categorize him more in line with a die-hard communist rather than simply a socialist? Is he hiding these things because he is an extremely private person and doesn’t care for the limelight (I can’t even keep a straight face while writing those words), or does Barack Obama have a background that must be hidden from the American people in order to fulfill the necessary deception to get him elected and probably re-elected?

Obama Still Has A Lot Of Explaining To Do

Why hasn’t anyone from Besuki or St. Francis of Assisi School stepped forward to tell tales of their relationship with Barry Soetoro? Barack attended Punahou School, a college preparatory school in 1971.  No one seems to have remembered him.  Obama openly admits that he used tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine to “push questions of who I was out of my mind” (Boston  Globe, Nov.  2007.)  If Obama took drugs to forget who he was, did all of his friends take drugs to forget who he was also?  No one, NO ONE, remembers him.

We know so much about our presidents. We collect facts and trivia about them. We are fascinated when we find common facts about extraordinary men.  We know that Abraham Lincoln was 6’4”. We know that James Madison was only 5’4”. We know that George Washington wore dentures made of animal teeth.  We know that a 332 pound Howard Taft got stuck in the White House bath tub the first time he used it.  Very few people even know the 21st president named Chester A. Arthur.  He once declared, “I may be President of the United States, but my private life is my own d_____  business.”  This seems to be the ongoing motto of Barack Obama. We know so little about him that it ceases to be simply unusual; it borders on being just plain weird.

If you look hard enough, you will find a picture of Michelle and Barack’s wedding. But you won’t find any male friends accompanying the groom. His best man was Malik Obama, a half-brother from Kenya.  Why are there no pictures or recollections of male buddies at his wedding?  Did he have any friends?

via Obama: The Things We Don’t Know About Him | Western Journalism.com.

February 21, 2012

CTA in Bed with the Occupy Crowd? LOL!

The California Teachers Association is seeking cover in the Occupy Wall Street movement. The OWS crowd doesn’t understand that CTA and other public employee unions are a major part of the problem.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Last week, part of my post concerned itself with the March 5th “Occupy the Capitol” protest being promoted by the California Teachers Association.I wrote,

“Not only is CTA inviting the OWS rabble, they are calling for teachers to attend, even though it is a school day, thus costing taxpayers all over the state untold thousands in costs for subs and robbing children of a productive school day.”

Little did I know, March 5th was just the tip of the iceberg. The CTA website is now touting a “Week of Action” covering the first seven days of March. Many activities are planned and will be led by various “Occupy” groups that have sprung up like weeds. The result is a grand mishmash of radical organizations coming together to vent their spleen over various and sundry issues, and all links to their activities are available through the CTA website.

Right on the CTA homepage you can access the MarchFirst DayofAction Facebook page which whines about the evils of corporations and privatization.

Then there is March 1 National Day of Action for Education website which blasts,

“We call on all students, teachers, workers, and parents from all levels of education —pre-K-12 through higher education in public and private institutions— and all Occupy assemblies, labor unions, and organizations of oppressed communities, to mobilize on March 1st, 2012 across the country to tell those in power: The resources exist for high-quality education for all.” If we make the rich and the corporations pay we can reverse the budget cuts, tuition hikes, and attacks on job security, and fully fund public education and social services.”

This site, with its clenched fist logo, also has a list of supporting organizations. The roster consists of a motley collection of radical retreads — SDS and MEChA and latter day acolytes – By Any Means Necessary and Occupy groups from all over the country.

Occupy Education California has a list of accomplices on their home page – American Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers, Berkeley Faculty Association, Codepink, La Raza, SDS, Socialist Organizer and Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.

There is even a meet-up page online, so that if you are an OWSer and think that you must “do something,” you can find an event here. (Amazingly, there is a group in Beverly Hills. So I guess after stuffing yourself at Trader Vics, you can go out and rail at the rich.)

All these groups’ messages are a thinly veiled attack on capitalism and can be summarized as such:

Corporations and rich people bad.

Big government good. They take money from corporations and rich people and give it to us.

Clearly there is a 1960s flavor to all this – a pastiche of angry student groups and serious radicals, but with a new wrinkle, especially in CA – teachers unions and college faculty associations are involved. During the 60s, most unions of any kind wouldn’t be caught dead at protest rallies, but these are different times and different unions. The irony here is palpable. The teachers unions and other public employee unions, barely existent in the 60s, are claiming victimhood, but in reality are a big part of the problem.

One of the mantras of the Occupy crowd is that corporations should pay their fair share.

Do the OWSers know that the California Teachers Association and other teachers unions are corporations with a special 501(c)(5) tax status which means that they pay no tax?  Yes, CTA is a corporation that brings in nearly $200 million a year and pays no taxes. Yet, CTA is promoting events that call for corporations to pay their fair share??!! (If anyone reading this blog has the misfortune to get caught up in an Occupy event, why not ask one of the protesters if they think it’s fair that CTA should pay nothing in taxes. Please post their response in the “comments” area below.)

Do the OWSers know that private corporations in the U.S. have a 35 percent tax rate which is the second highest corporate tax rate of all industrialized countries

Do the OWSers know that many the leaders of the unions they are partnering with make in the neighborhood of $500,000 a year which makes them one percenters?

Do the OWSers understand that corporations are behind their beloved revolutionary accoutrements – smart phones, lap tops, social media websites, etc?

Do the OWSers understand that CA is in deep financial trouble in large part due to overly generous public employee union pension funds and that these funds invest in the stock market (a collection of corporations) to make up for the shortfall?

Do the OWSers and their new best friends in the teachers unions have a clue as to how many teachers have money tied up in 403(b)s? These tax sheltered annuities provide a way for teachers to invest in stocks (corporations) and defer any tax payments on capital gains until after they retire?

The anti-corporate hysteria has spread like wildfire, but corporations are not the problem. CTA and other public employee unions, with their privileged tax exempt status and endless demands on the private sector, are the real greed mongers.  Yet CTA et al have the cojones to join forces with the OWSers. And the OWSers are either too uninformed or too brainwashed to realize the irony.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

February 20, 2012

Obama: an Alinsky-trained shakedown artist & the Treasury of the United States

Why does Obama hide the truth about himself?

Barack Obama is not only the country’s first black president, but historically, he’s the first community organizer president.  As suggested in a previous article, when the richest and most powerful nation in the world allows an Alinsky-trained shakedown artist access to its Treasury, bad things happen.

It’s safe to say our president didn’t learn the fine arts of running a charity bake sale while working as a community organizer in Chicago. The sweet-talking Obama first cut his teeth as a radical foot soldier shlepping for the Developing Communities Project, an organization set-up to transform black churches into left-wing political organs. The task would require the impressive skill of being able to out-sermonize preachers and to devilishly tempt the faithful into trading heavenly worship for radical agitation.

While Obama was schmoozing sermonizers in the projects, among them the vulgar jeremiad-spewing Reverend Wright, he crossed paths with the militant Associations of Community Organizing for Reform Now (ACORN), a sprawling network of thousands of leftists. A bromance was born.

The amount of disinformation regarding Obama’s early years with ACORN is daunting.  Article after article deny the president had any serious contact with ACORN, which was picked up as a ready-made meme by the same seedy outlets that shamelessly promoted Obama during his 2008 election campaign.

Pathetically, Obama’s own pilloried website “Fight the Smears” (the old “Attack Watch,” which is now the old “Truth Team“) brazenly claimed “Barack Obama never organized with ACORN.”  Understandable claim, given the formally de-funded ACORN’s scandalous record. But it is also untrue.

So what happened, if we might depart from the official narrative of the Ministry of Truth?

via ACORN II: A Radical Takes Root « Beat Obama.

February 18, 2012

Obama: Three years in office, twenty-one tax hikes

"Just remember I have cut taxes....Don't let anybody tell you different."

Since taking office three years ago, President Barack Obama has signed into law twenty-one new or higher taxes on the American people:

1. A 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco:  On February 4, 2009, just sixteen days into his Administration, Obama signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack.  The median income of smokers is just over $36,000 per year.

2. Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (takes effect in Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following:

1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016 + 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085

(Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS). Bill: PPACA; Page: 317-337)

3. Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax (takes effect Jan. 2014):  If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees.  Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Bill: PPACA; Page: 345-346

Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

4. Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income (Tax hike of $123 billion/takes effect Jan. 2013):  Creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income: Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 87-93

Capital Gains Dividends Other*
2011-2012 15% 15% 35%
2013+ (current law) 23.8% 43.4% 43.4%
2013+ (Obama budget) 23.8% 23.8% 43.4%

*Other unearned income includes (for surtax purposes) gross income from interest, annuities, royalties, net rents, and passive income in partnerships and Subchapter-S corporations.  It does not include municipal bond interest or life insurance proceeds, since those do not add to gross income.  It does not include active trade or business income, fair market value sales of ownership in pass-through entities, or distributions from retirement plans.  The 3.8% surtax does not apply to non-resident aliens.

5. Obamacare Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (Tax hike of $32 bil/takes effect Jan. 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family).  Higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions.  CPI +1 percentage point indexed. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,941-1,956

6. Obamacare Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax (Tax hike of $86.8 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Current law and changes:

First $200,000
($250,000 Married)
Employer/Employee
All Remaining Wages
Employer/Employee
Current Law 1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
Obamacare Tax Hike 1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
1.45%/2.35%
3.8% self-employed

Bill: PPACA, Reconciliation Act; Page: 2000-2003; 87-93

7. Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax (Tax hike of $5 bil/took effect Jan. 2011): Americans are no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957-1,959

8. Obamacare HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Tax hike of $1.4 bil/took effect Jan. 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,959

9. Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax” (Tax hike of $13 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (currently unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs educationBill: PPACA; Page: 2,388-2,389

10. Obamacare Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers (Tax hike of $20 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax.  Exempts items retailing for <$100. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,980-1,986

11. Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI (Tax hike of $15.2 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994-1,995

12. Obamacare Tax on Indoor Tanning Services (Tax hike of $2.7 billion/took effect July 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,397-2,399

13. Obamacare elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D (Tax hike of $4.5 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013) Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994

14. Obamacare Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike (Tax hike of $0.4 bil/took effect Jan. 1 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,004

15. Obamacare Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals (Min$/took effect immediately): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new “community health assessment needs,” “financial assistance,” and “billing and collection” rules set by HHS. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,961-1,971

16. Obamacare Tax on Innovator Drug Companies (Tax hike of $22.2 bil/took effect Jan. 2010): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,971-1,980

17. Obamacare Tax on Health Insurers (Tax hike of $60.1 bil/takes effect Jan. 2014): Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year.  Phases in gradually until 2018.  Fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,986-1,993

18. Obamacare $500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives (Tax hike of $0.6 bil/takes effect Jan 2013). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,995-2,000

19. Obamacare Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2 ($min/takes effect Jan. 2012): Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957

20. Obamacare “Black liquor” tax hike (Tax hike of $23.6 billion/took effect immediately).  This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 105

21. Obamacare Codification of the “economic substance doctrine” (Tax hike of $4.5 billion/took effect immediately).  This provision allows the IRS to disallow completely-legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to reduce taxes owed. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 108-113

Read more: Americans for Tax Reform

February 16, 2012

Voter Fraud Could Decide Next Election

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Reports are coming in that the voter rolls have been faked. We knew that the voter rolls were padded in places like Chicago, but now we’re learning that the fraud is more widespread than we ever could have imagined. The question is, can we do anything to stop it?

In the days of the Soviet Union, Communist leaders would generally get 95 percent of the vote, and nearly every eligible voter voted.

A new report by Pew Center on the States estimates that among 24 million voter registrations, about one out of every eight are either no longer valid or are inaccurate. Of the invalid or inaccurate registrations, 1.8 million belong to deceased individuals and 2.75 million belong to people who are registered to vote in more than one state.

You can see how these fraudulent voter numbers can be used to tip an election. Most of elections these days are close to even. We are a 51 to 49 percent nation. It doesn’t take much fraud to throw enough votes to a favorite-son candidate. The Kennedy-Nixon presidential election in 1960 was always thought to have been won by Kennedy due to voter fraud:

Many Republicans (including Nixon and Eisenhower) believed that Kennedy had benefited from vote fraud, especially in Texas, where Kennedy’s running mate Lyndon B. Johnson was Senator, and Illinois, home of Mayor Richard Daley’s powerful Chicago political machine. These two states are important because if Nixon had carried both, he would have won the election in the Electoral College.

It was serious enough that many Nixon supporters urged him to contest the race.

You know that Liberals have been using these bogus rolls to pad their numbers. 2012 may be the first national election that there are more votes than actual voters.

There’s another element to voter numbers that’s troubling and easily fixed. The Pew study “also found that 51 million U.S. citizens are eligible to vote, but have not registered. This represents 24 percent of the voting eligible population.”

Tens of millions of Americans who are eligible to vote don’t vote. Of course, some of these non-voters we don’t want to vote, but I suspect that there are big numbers of conservative, anti-big-government Americans who have given up on the political process. They don’t see much of a difference between Democrats and Republicans. The reason that we have a one-party “Republicrat” political system may be due to voter indifference. If you are one of them, now is the time to reengage. Too much is at stake. Your non-vote only means greater voting strength for the opposition. Remember, the presidential race is not the only one being run. Congress can stopped the President if it has the will and the guts.

via Voter Fraud Could Decide Next Election.

February 15, 2012

Stephen F. Hayward’s New book grades the presidents from Wilson forward

You have graded the presidents from Woodrow Wilson onward, giving Fs to five presidents: Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. You also give President Obama a provisional F. What does it take to get a failing grade?

Article II of the Constitution is fairly short, but it contains the specific oath of office to “protect and defend” the Constitution. My three-fold criteria for giving a constitutional grade to presidents according to how well or badly they did in living up to the oath is simple: do they understand — and agree with — the principles of the Constitution as the founders understood them; were their actions in office consistent with the founders’ constitutionalism; and third, were their Supreme Court appointments faithful to the founders’ constitutionalism, or were they liberal judicial activists? Many Republican presidents did very poorly on this last criterion.

via Stephen F. Hayward | | The Daily Caller.

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