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September 8, 2010 - 8:41am

Today's Poll: Should the Bush tax cuts be extended?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Dennis Jay
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The question should read: Should the Bush tax cuts be extended: __ for everyone. __ for everyone making less than $250,000. __ for no one. That's the real issue. Extending the cuts to people making over $250K will do little to stimulate the economy because most of them will add it to savings. The lower and middle-class will spend the money immediately. Not extending any tax cuts, in my opinion, likely will throw the economy back into recession.
Peter O'Brien
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Dennis, Are you employed by someone making less than $250,000? Most people aren't. They are not the enemy.
Tony Ferrando
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Incorrect... Only 2.5% of all "small businesses" nationwide fall in that category, and the increase would be minimal - a whole big 3.6% increase! Whoa, not that! The rest of the "small businesses" are corporations and LLCs and not affected by an increase to the personal income tax rate. Let's get one thing straight, income tax rate has not had any impact on any business decisions ever. Period. Taxes are something you pay *after* you've made your profits, they aren't taken out weekly or bi-weekly like your paycheck taxes, and hiring an employee is a deductible. Since hiring an employee is a deductible, raising taxes has no negative impact on hiring because an increased tax can be offset rather easily. A business owner making exactly $250,000 would see an increase of $1,800 in taxes.... What does affect business is access to capital. And if you have to take out a $700 billion dollar loan to save one person 1800 dollars a year, there's going to be less access to that capital... and 1800 dollars a year isn't exactly going to pay anybody's salary, now is it? Obtaining a loan to expand your business and staffing the expanded business sure would, though.
Peter O'Brien
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Tony, Explain to me how people are going to afford more of your product on less money? And then when your business income is less and you are not selling as many widgets why are you going to hire? Substantial business investments are made in corporation by people making over $249,999 a year. That money is used to attain capital in the form of new machinery, better technology, basically anything that will improve the business. Its also used to hire new people. With the increase in capital gain taxes that will occur on Jan 1, you will see less investing in an already stagnant economy. I'm sure that will help out the middle class. Not to mention that a progressive income tax is part of the communist manifesto and was specifically mentioned by the founders as something to be avoided.
Tony Ferrando
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Peter, businesses pay taxes on *profits*. If you buy X, and sell Y - then you continue to buy X, and sell Y. So if your business income is less because you sold Y-1 widgets this year, then, miraculously, you PAY LESS TAX. Capital is first required to transfer it to any of the assets you listed. Capital is something one can leverage to gain assets. Capital, in the event of needing those things, is going to come in the forms of loans to purchase the assets. Since there's a wee bit of a credit crunch... in case you haven't noticed... the government taking out MORE loans to fund a tax cut is counter-productive. If there's no money for the Fed to loan out because the Fed, itself, is loaning money to pay for your unfunded tax cuts - then there's no money to loan down the line, first to the banks at a historically low rate, then to a business to expand. You eliminate a 700 billion dollar loan, then suddenly there's 700 billion dollars back in the coffers that can be turned the other way, inward, to invest. And seriously? The Communist Manifesto, which was written in 1848, contained items something the founders said to avoid? Really? They must've been better than Nostradamus to know someone as crazy as Marx, who wrote a book about an *international* utopian society, would include that in his short-term demands, and thus have the foresight to avoid mentioning anything about it. Here's a little hint for you... the Founding Fathers? They were liberals... incredibly far-left liberals. Conservatives at the time? They were Royalists, and supported the crown. And what did they say, exactly? Thomas Jefferson... He only wrote the Declaration of Independence, surely he has no idea what the Founding Fathers intended, that's why they're trying to write him out of the history books in Texas... Here's a little quote from the guy, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on." George Washington only levied the first tax ever, the Whiskey Tax, and said "To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes." I'm going to stop there, but if you really want to play the game of history with a historian, please feel free to try again.
Peter O'Brien
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I did not imply that the founders wanted to avoid communism. And income tax needed to be adopted by constitutional amendment because it was illegal to levy one. "No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken." In every case since Kennedy a tax cut increases revenue to the government. I wasn't talking about business taxes in my post addressed to you so your y-1 example is mute and my question still stands, if you are shrinking are you going to hire more workers? Since you mentioned the credit crunch, are enterprenuers who can't get credit going to have the extra cash needed when the government takes more? A 700 billion dollar loan could have been avoided if we didn't waste our money on Obama's stimulus and health care. Also the democrats had opportunities to make the tax cuts permanent and failed to do so.
John Roach
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Many small businesses are LLC's, true. But the money the owner makes is usually both part profit, part expenses, and part salary. If you're a professional providing a service and have 3 or 4 people working for you, and have to give the government 3-5% more out of you income, what do you do? You could just raise your rate/fee, and hope all your competitors do the same. You could forget hiring that extra person you had planned on. You could cut an employee. You could say no raise this year or cut back on any benefits. But, bottom line, the owner has less money at the end of the year. A bigger businesses can just pass the cost of the tax onto us. And like NYS, its not like they will use the money well. They will continue to waste it, and come back for more next year.
Tony Ferrando
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That is one hell of a misinterpretation of Section 9 of Article 1. And it was superceded by the 16th Amendment in 1913 anyhow. There's always been an income tax, it's right there in Section 2, Clause 3 of the same article of the Constitution, which you quoted. "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." That is, a state with 15% of the nations population according to 1789s Census law, pays 15% of the nations taxes, to be collected by the state, and delivered to the government.
Tony Ferrando
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"Since you mentioned the credit crunch, are enterprenuers who can't get credit going to have the extra cash needed when the government takes more?" Uhmm... yes. If the government takes more, then the government itself is not loaning the money, which is creating the credit crunch itself - thus, actually leaving money in the coffers of the Fed to loan out, thus banks begin to offer more loans, thus companies can take out more loans. And since hiring an employee is, once again, a deductible - if you want them to take less, hire more. It's a simple mathematical equation.
George Richardson
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"Also the democrats had opportunities to make the tax cuts permanent and failed to do so." They should have only been for people earning less than $250,000 a year to begin with. And we would have been excluded if Bush didn't need to give everyone a little something to dupe them into the biggest welfare for the rich scheme ever perpetrated in this country. What a bunch of suckers greedy Americans are. Thirty pieces of silver would have done the trick.
Howard B. Owens
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Tony, your rather -- not sure of the right word here -- cold, hard, indifferent, cavalier -- attitude toward entrepreneurs is frightening and chilling, and sad, because I'm quite sure such anti-business attitudes are common in this country. You obviously have no idea how difficult it is for a small business to generate enough revenue to support oneself and ones family and pay taxes. In the 1990s, I ran my own business, and we were pretty much done in by a lack of sufficient revenue to pay taxes. With The Batavian, the thing that worries me the most is generating enough revenue to pay taxes. We can take care of all of our other expenses, but taxes are outrageously high. What you call profits is what I need to live on -- for every dollar I take out to pay rent or buy food, Uncle Sam wants some portion of it. I don't get to deduct my salary as a business expense. And there are no deductions against the self-employment tax. When I talk with other small business owners, dealing with taxes is the biggest burden they face, so this isn't just an issue for me. I'm not addressing any specific policy issue here, or even complaining about my obligation to make some sort of societal contribution through taxes. I'm merely reacting to what I perceive in your comment as "big deal, businesses pay taxes" attitude. It is a big deal and a big problem if you believe the American economy should continue to grow, because it takes entrepreneurs, especially start ups and other small businesses, to make that happen.
Tony Ferrando
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John- 1800 dollars on every 250,000 dollars is not the salary of an employee. In fact, to even hit a minimum wage full-time salary in these new [read: old] taxes, that "small" business would have had to make 2.26 million dollars in *profit* in a given year... and cutting an employee will only raise your profit and lead you to have even higher taxes that, in your scenario, you are trying to avoid. And the 2.5% of these small businesses that it would affect... a vast majority of them are hedge funds. How many jobs do hedge funds create? Oh, that's right... 1. How many jobs were created in the 2000s with these unfunded tax cuts, pushed through with Budget Reconciliation, in place? A whole decade of job growth right? How's 3 million sound? How many were created in the 90s when Clinton was president and these same taxes were in place? How does 23.1 million sound? Oh... and just for the record, Clinton inherited a recession from 41, just like Obama has from 43. So, where's the historical evidence, exactly, that letting these unfunded, deficit-exploding tax cuts will create jobs?
Howard B. Owens
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BTW: If I could take just half of what I'll be required to pay in taxes this year and re-invest in software development, there's many improvements I could make toe the site, which would help us grow, which would mean more revenue, which would lead to eventually hiring employees and helping the economy. You can't tell me there isn't a direct correlation between the government taking business from business owners, regardless of size or structure, and the ability for entrepreneurs to reinvest revenue into growing the business. If you raise taxes, that's more money going to unproductive and wasteful government uses rather than going to productive entrepreneurial uses.
John Roach
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Tony, Facts are facts. If you take more money from somebody, they have less for anything else. The amount may seem small to you, but time after time, even on more liberal networks like MSNBC, small businesses say they are not hiring because of uncertainty over tax increases. While some liberals bash the Bush & Regean tax cuts, two liberals, John Kennedy and Mario Cumuo, both showed the government brings in more money when it cutstaxes. JFK's cut are often cited. But most people forget the Mario Cumuo, in his first 2 years in office, cut taxes and revenue increased. But, as with the Bush cuts, spending was not held in check resulting in deficits. So, if you don't like what Bush or Regean did, how about JFK and Cumuo? Why did it work for them?
Howard B. Owens
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Here's an inconvenient truth: Bill Clinton's 1993 budget cut taxes for 90 percent of small businesses. What happened next: Economic boom.
Tony Ferrando
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Howard - quite the contrary. I appreciate your hard work on this website. While we've never formally met, I say hi every time I see you. What needs to be done, however, is a very difficult choice that will, of course, divide. The alternative is continue the deficit expansion - which simply exacerbates the credit crunch. That's a fact. If you have a lower money supply, then there's less money to loan out - unless you print more, which devalues money. You could always hyperinflate the economy to create the illusion that you're out of a mess like somebody did in the 80s, but all that does is ruin peoples pensions and create a huge pension problem within corporations some 20-30 years down the line. Reagan cut taxes once, John, then raised them more than anybody else for the next 7 years to correct what he did. There was also a shift of taxes, because all the exemptions were removed, from the wealthy to the middle class... which is why the middle class is shrinking at an alarming pace - and why there's no incentive for wealthy to reinvest. And it's interesting you bring up JFK... it was actually LBJ that saw those thru. Irregardless, that was a tax cut that ended up being from 91% to 70%. And if you adjust the dollars to todays figures after inflation, you'll see an entirely different picture of what was really done.
Howard B. Owens
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Tony, introduce yourself next time.
I just read this thread and I agree with Howard. No offense Tony, for someone who understands history so well, you sure do speak as if you know and understand of what it takes to run a business. From your words however, you know very little. You further understand very little of our economy. So since you are a historian and I am in finance, let me pose this to you...Do you know what was the first thing that disappeared when Clinton created the luxury tax? Jobs. When the luxury tax was enacted, some industries like boating, private jets and high end cars, etc, shrank in some cases 60%. With that was also the loss of middle class jobs. How did that help anything? You also use the $1800 a lot as a way to downplay the real effects. This is not only a weak standpoint, but also shows that you don't fully grasp the severity of the problem. As a matter of fact, the very tone of your writing says, to me, that you don't care if it hurts because they have enough. Which is ridiculous. I understand using the "Founding Fathers" line can be a tad silly, so I will not base my argument 200+ years in the past. I will stick to the past few decades. Raising taxes of any kind for any amount is not only simple of mind, but lacks any type of progressive thought. It shows that those who use the "Tax the Rich" are not trying to stabilize the country, but instead have some kind of economical prejudice. It has been proven: Any time you cut taxes, there will be economical growth. I challenge you as a historian to show me over the last 40-50 years something to the contrary.
Chris Charvella
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Howard, did you mean this when you were talking about Clinton's small business tax cuts? In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a Republican vote. It cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families, made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses,[55] and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers.[56] Additionally, through the implementation of spending restraints, it mandated the budget be balanced over a number of years. Because it sounds a whole lot like what you and John are arguing against.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton You see, Democrats understand that if you cut taxes you have to pay for the deficit. We don't like to place that burden on middle class families. Republicans think that if you cut taxes on the wealthiest 2% they'll pay for themselves, but of course that has been proven wrong at least twice in the last 30 years.
Peter O'Brien
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When was it proven wrong Chris? Bush's tax cuts were for everyone... and spending wasn't frozen. So were Reagan's... and spending wasn't frozen.
Tony Ferrando
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On the contrary and to paint the rest of the picture, Bill Clinton's Omnibus actually raised the top tax rate for 100% of individuals, and businesses filing as such, earning over the 250 mark - it was simply targeted better so that it accomplished both a revenue increase and an ultimate tax cut to those that invested properly... It raised the top tax rate to 39.6%..... the same number it will return to if the Bush cuts expire. And it didn't garner a single Republican vote, as they cited those tax increases while ignoring the incentives. And thanks Phil, but my degree is in History, by historian I merely mean my ability to research quickly and accurately... But I too work in Finance, Treasury Management, to be exact... But in painting in such a broad sweeping way of "tax cuts" and not narrowing down specifically the taxes in question, you're wrong. As both a banker by trade and a historian by training, it has been proven every time, that when you "cut taxes" for the simple sake of cutting taxes that disproportionately favor the rich, there is negative growth. 43% of the Bush tax cuts went to the wealthy, zero economic growth for a decade - the numbers are a few posts back. Reagan cut taxes in 1981, immediate recession only corrected by 7 years of tax hikes. The GDP dropped 2%, unemployment rose 2% to a staggering 9.7% total, higher than today. In 1982 he increased taxes by 17 billion, .8% of the GDP for what is the single largest peace time tax increase in our nations history, and it was in the middle of a recession. 1983, Social Security Reform Act, a tax increase - which dollar for dollar effectively erased all tax cuts he had in 1981. Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, another tax increase. The Tax Reform of 1986, yet another tax increase... and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987... yet another tax increase. "Tax Cuts" paint with too broad a brush. Targeted taxes, and targeted tax cuts, resulted in economic booms. "Tax Cuts" for the sake of cutting taxes never have, and never will. All you need for evidence of that is 1981 and 2001. Frankly, we disagree here, I get it - that likely won't change. And it also isn't a question of who "has enough." It's a question of reversing the larger problem of the deficit causing a credit crunch, which effects all industry and personal dealings.
Chris Charvella
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It was proven wrong by the Reagan and Bush recessions, at least Reagan had the common sense to try and correct his folly; Bush, like many of you posting in this thread, was an ideologue until the bitter, bitter end.
Howard B. Owens
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Chris, where am I arguing against anything? I merely pointed out that Clinton cut taxes for small businesses. And you can't seriously be suggesting that Obama and current Democratic leadership is following the same fiscal policies as Clinton? As I remember it, Democrats held their nose while supporting Clinton's conservative fiscal policies, while Republicans lied about it, or tried to avoid the issue by hyping Monica and Whitewater, and tried to claim he was all tax-and-spend.
Chris Charvella
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Howard, you touted Clinton's small business tax cuts as beneficial but neglected to mention that to pay for them he raised income taxes on the top 1%.
Howard B. Owens
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Chris, because it's completely immaterial to the point I was making. For the narrow purpose of talking about taxes on small businesses, the rich tax doesn't matter, just as Clinton's tax cuts for poor working people don't matter, or the price of tea in China doesn't matter.
John Roach
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Chris, You don't have to "pay" for a tax cut. You cut spending by the same amount. And the Clinton "balanced budget" was not balanced. They (Clinton and Congress) left things like Social Security in what they call "Off line". They just didn't put it in the budget. Just like the Social security Lock Box, that never existed. If you did that, you'd go to jail. Of course, we'll see a smaller version of all this with the tax and fee increases the Democrats passed here in NY. Lets see if the NY economy gets better.
Tony Ferrando
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But, Howard... as Dennis points out, "Should the Bush tax cuts be extended: __ for everyone. __ for everyone making less than $250,000. __ for no one." That's how it's playing out on Capitol Hill, and Mitch McConnell said he's open to a compromise - how far the compromise may reach, or if a comrpomise is needed, who knows. But either way, it doesn't look to be shaking out anywhere near as cut-and-dry as the poll is currently written.
Tony Ferrando
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You absolutely have to "pay" for tax cuts, it's splitting hairs to call symantecs on that - whether the money is taken from another source or loaned from China, somebody is "paying" for it. The blanket tax cuts in question, specifically Reagan and Bush, were not paid for... they were deficit spending. Nothing was cut.
Chris Charvella
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John, Bush didn't cut spending though did he? Cutting spending is one way to pay for a tax cut, the other way is to increase the tax revenue coming in from another sector. Bush didn't do either of these things so his tax cuts were a disaster. No thank you to more.
Interesting Tony...I don't have the time to break each of these points down. I wasn't trained to be a historian, so it takes me a little longer to read through different laws and passages. But here's a quick one that I take sincere issue: 43% of the Bush tax cuts went to the wealthy, zero economic growth for a decade I am no fan of Bush, but if you want to accuse me of Broad brushing then you sir are as guilty as I. You cannot even be remotely serious as to try and associate the two. Bush was a moron who funded two wars while allowing important financial regulations to become too relaxed. The fall of important markets and subsequent economy is the reason for low economic growth, not the tax cuts. It was directly after these cuts that we saw the recovery after the Internet bubble and 9/11. You're right, we will not agree on this. The honest answer is that this government needs to control spending and not not raise taxes on any level. We can all get into these intellectual pissing matches on what tax is right; where, but the fact is if we controlled how we spend our money it wouldn't be needed. As someone who has my own business and someone who helps others, a raise on taxes is not good.
Chris Charvella
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By the way, Alan Greenspan agrees with Tony and I. Last time I checked he knew more about this sort of thing than all of us. http://iactnow.org/2010/09/05/alan-greenspan-extending-bush-tax-cuts-wit...
Chris, Bush was and still is and idiot...You will never hear me defend him on that front.
John Roach
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Chirs, I agree. After the JFK tax cut, Johnson didn't cut spending, he raised it for new social programs and didn't pay for the Viet Nam war. Bush didn't cut spending or pay for two wars. Mario Cumuo not only didn't cut spending after his tax cuts, he went on one of the biggest spending sprees in State history (Remember selling Attica?).
Tony Ferrando
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Sorry Phil - let me explain myself. By being too broad, I simply meant the loose use of the term "tax cuts" is what makes it broad and an incorrect statement - mostly because it's often a double-edged sword in addition to being far more complex. If we just look at it so broadly as that, it's going to paint a totally different picture than what it does if you look at the specific taxes in question. As you point out, the implementation and subsequent repeal of the Luxury Tax. The Luxury Tax, when drilled down to that level, negatively impacted the entire luxury goods market. And in addressing it as a broad issue, I effectively left myself open for your retort... way to pounce on that one.
Chris Charvella
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So, John, are you for or against extending the Bush tax cuts?
Howard B. Owens
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To pay for tax cuts, cut spending, starting with the $600 billion that could be saved by bringing all the troops home. You could also cut a tremendous amount by doing away with wasteful and duplication federal departments such as education and health. And to quote Tony, "That is, a state with 15% of the nations population according to 1789s Census law, pays 15% of the nations taxes, to be collected by the state, and delivered to the government." So do away with the IRS and have the states collect all the taxes to fund the federal government, not the other way around.
Howard B. Owens
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FWIW, if isn't clear, I don't have a position on the Bush tax cuts. There's bigger fiscal issues to worry about and I just wish somebody in a position of leadership had a sensible strategy for what to do.
Peter O'Brien
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seems to me Bush's tax cuts increased government revenue to the highest amount ever.... http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/downchart_gr.php?year=1992_2009&view=...
Peter O'Brien
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There is such a man. John Linder. http://linder.house.gov/ Fair Tax. It does what you want. Abolishes the IRS and has the states collect the money for the fed, though not based on percentage of the population.
John Roach
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Chris, I want the cuts made permanent, for everyone. But I want spending cut also (I am sure we can do without another study on the sex lives of goats). Bringing back the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan will help. And lets get out of Kosovo. Most people forget Clinton sent troops there and its time to bring them home also.
Chris Charvella
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That would be good John...someday. Right now though, we have to pay off our debt for two wars and the previous tax cuts that weren't paid for.
Howard B. Owens
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So, Chris, how do we pay off our debt for two wars and previous tax cuts by borrowing another $60 billion for "stimulus"?
John Roach
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Chris, If you really feel that way, then the Bush tax cuts should be eliminated for everyone, no exceptions and some of the estimated 47% of people who don't pay taxes should pay at least some.
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With all the different comments and opinions already posted, has no one considered the psychological effect on consumers and their spending habits that NOT extending the Bush tax cuts will have ? Our fragile economy doesn't need anymore consumer confidence woes.
Chris Charvella
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Well, Howard, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would be a start, not forcing the military to accept equipment that they don't want would help to. Targeted spending cuts to non-essential programs like John's goat sex example couldn't hurt either. After all that we could close corporate tax loopholes so corporations who make money in this country can't hide it tax-free in the Caymans (oops, just did that last week,) increase tariffs on goods produced outside the US that could be made here. Then, after we get back from our lunch break we can shut off funding to pharmaceutical companies who use federal grant money to develop new drugs and then charge Americans ten times what they charge the rest of the world. After our afternoon nap we can write legislation that forces commodities traders to take delivery of the product they're buying and selling. This will stop speculation on staple products once and for all driving down the consumer cost of everything from milk to gas. Once we've taken care of the deficit we can all sit around the conference table and write a Constitutional amendment that would forever require 'pay-go' budgeting and eliminate off-budget expenditures for everything from bridges to wars. I'm just getting warmed up folks, we haven't even talked about pork yet.
Chris Charvella
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Oh, one more thing: 'Use it or lose it' departmental budgeting needs to die. For those unfamiliar with how departments spend your tax dollars, this is how use it or lose it works: Sometime near the end of the fiscal year department heads will realize that they have money left over. They realize that if they don't use every penny of their budget they'll have a difficult time justifying the same budget for the following year. The department head then panics and starts purchasing ridiculous amounts of crap they don't need. This sort of 'Oh, shit!' spending inflates governmental budgets on every level. It happens in your Village Hall and it happens in the White House, and it's a disease that needs to be eradicated immediately. This practice doesn't happen because of greed or any penchant for underhandedness. The fact is, departments want to keep their budgets at least at par levels because just like the years you have extra, there are years when you don't have enough. If you've ever worked for government at any level, you know how impossible it is to get things you really need when the money isn't in your budget. Use it or lose it is a cancerous way to do business, particularly when you're using taxpayer dollars. It's a trend that has bred itself deep into government on all levels and rewards dishonesty instead of common sense.
John Roach
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Chris, Talk about pork.
Chris Charvella
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Joined: Jan 15 2009 - 4:25pm
Pork tomorrow, John, I have a date with my daughter.
Howard B. Owens
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Chris, enjoy your date -- the best kind, I'm sure. But, I'm still not clear, do you or don't you support borrowing another $60 billion (I mean, where else is the money going to come from beside borrowing or printing more) for another round of stimulus? Or if you buy into some notion that the spending is being "offset" ... why not "offset" our current debt before spending more? In short, do you support a plan to spend another $60 billion on infrastructure? And where does that proposed spending fit into pork? (BTW: so-called pork makes up a very small fraction of federal spending)
Michele Case
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Thank you Chris, Howard, Tony etc. for some real thought provoking discussion, one of the best blog threads I have read in awhile. Have only recently begun to even try to understand the complexities of politics, but I found your discussion very enlightening. Thanks again,

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