Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ron Paul calls Gaza a "concentration camp" on Iranian TV

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ron Paul: "I Wouldn't Risk American Lives" To End The Holocaust

Ron Paul: "I Wouldn't Risk American Lives" To End The Holocaust

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Congressional Republicans: "We will not raise your taxes as much as the other guys"

If Congressional Republicans want to know why people call politics the "second oldest profession" and view politicians with similar regard to used car salesmen, they need only look at the new mantra of Republican super committee members: "We will not raise your taxes as much as the other guys." Congressional Republicans, who railed against President Obama for raising a trillion dollars of new taxes in the Obamacare legislation and professed that raising taxes in the middle of a recession is the surest way to prolong it, have pledged to raise half a trillion dollars in new taxes as their opening gambit in the super committee negotiations.

Congressional Republicans who refused to be sucked into the Marxist rhetoric of President Obama and the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd by voting down tax increases on millionaires and billionaires, have proposed raising taxes on families and small businesses making a fraction of that amount. Congressional Republicans who reminded us that we have a "spending problem" and not a "revenue problem" have thrown their lot in with Congressional Democrats. These Democrats mocked Republican Presidential candidates for refusing to accept a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases while being unwilling to accept the recommendation of the President’s blue ribbon commission when it proposed a 4:1 ratio of tax cuts to spending increases. While this is terrible economic policy, the political implications for Congressional Republicans and the Republican Presidential candidate are even worse.

Republican super committee members have reportedly proposed eliminating or scaling back itemized deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable deductions in exchange for the permanent extension or a slight reduction in the Bush era income tax rates. Make no mistake, this will be a NET TAX INCREASE at the federal level. Whether taxing income or property, most states levy taxes in the neighborhood of at least 5-10%. Reducing the highest income tax bracket by no more than 10% would likely result in a net tax increase for most Americans in this income tax bracket, especially when combined with the elimination of the deduction for mortgage interest.

This tax increase would effect the overwhelming majority of small business income which, as Congressional Republicans continue to remind us, is responsible for most job growth. This does not sound like a prescription for reducing the country’s 9% unemployment rate. Even if Congress were to devise a formula so no one paid additional income tax, scaling back or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would result in a dramatic reduction in home prices since home buyers would lose the benefit of the tax deduction. In an economy where people estimate that approximately 25% of homes are worth less than the value of their mortgage, this is a prescription for disaster.

As bad as the economic implications are for this proposal, the political implications are even worse. On the shoulders of the Tea Party movement in 2010, Republicans swept into office in the largest Congressional shift of power in the country’s history with a mandate to limit the size and scope of the federal government. This means reducing spending and lowering taxes. By agreeing to raise taxes by at least half a trillion dollars, Congressional Republicans will be turning their backs on the people who voted them into office. This will allow their Democrat opponents to claim correctly that ALL politicians support raising taxes.

Voting to raise half a trillion dollars of new taxes will cut the legs out from under the Republican Presidential candidates as well. Many candidates have offered plans that cut federal taxes and flatten tax rates dramatically. Voting to raise taxes in advance of the election will allow President Obama to label the Republican Presidential candidates as extreme because Republican Congressmen had just voted to raise taxes. In addition, voting to make the Bush era tax rates permanent before the election will prevent Congressional Republicans from pointing out that their Democrat colleagues did not support extending these rates beyond 2012.

Congressional Republicans may read polls that suggest that everyone would prefer that someone else pay for the federal government. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans seem unable to read election results. Two weeks ago by a 2:1 margin in a state that President Obama won by nearly 10% of the vote in 2008, the voters of Colorado soundly rejected a measure to raise the state sales tax by 1/10th of 1% in order to pay for an increase in education funding. This is the same justification that President Obama and Congressional Democrats use to defend far greater tax increases.

Since Congressional Democrats have rejected their initial proposal, Congressional Republicans need to take a harder line in future negotiations. For the economic future of the country and their own political survival, Congressional Republicans should fear what happens if they raise taxes much more than if they get sucked into President Obama’s political narrative. President Obama is a sinking ship. The question for Congressional Republicans is whether they want to go down with him.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Governor Perry's Plan Falls Short: High Corporate Tax Rates and Generous Exemptions Hurt 'Cut, Balance and Grow'

Governor Perry made significant strides toward producing a pro-growth tax proposal with his announced "Cut, Balance, and Grow" economic plan. Unfortunately, his plan has some glaring deficiencies.  

(1) It is NOT strictly a flat tax and will SHRINK the tax base. The $12,500 personal deduction per individual provides an enormous advantage to large households at all income levels. Further, if a Head of Household of a family of four makes $50,000, he would have NO federal income tax liability under Gov. Perry’s plan. This will dramatically shrink the federal tax base even more than it has under President Obama. If Gov. Perry wants to restore an ownership society where every individual is a taxpayer and has a stake in his or her government, this plan will not accomplish that. 

(2) This plan is guaranteed to balloon the deficit in the short term. By allowing taxpayers to choose a tax regime, Gov Perry is guaranteeing every taxpayer a tax-break. As a taxpayer, I say "great"! Unfortunately, Gov Perry does not plan to balance the budget in the short term, and our creditors will want their money back eventually, so we will be piling on to a $16 trillion debt when Pres Obama leaves office. 

(3) The reduction in the corporate rate is insufficient to stimulate growth substantially. While I applaud Gov. Perry for recognizing that the corporate tax rate needs to be reduced, most states add another 5%+ or so of state corporate income tax, making a corporation’s effective rate 25%+. That is not enough of a reduction to encourage US corporations to relocate operations from countries like Ireland where they are taxed at 12.5%. 

Gov. Perry takes some positive steps, though. Both Gov. Perry's plan and Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan equalize the corporate and individual rates, thereby eliminating an area of regulatory arbitrage. Also, Gov. Perry moves to a territorial tax system, thereby reducing the tax obligation of U.S. multinationals and eliminating an incentive to relocate offshore. Unfortunately, Gov Perry does not reduce the corporate rate sufficiently to make the US an attractive place for foreign and domestic multinationals to invest. This is significant, since there has been no net U.S. corporate job growth in a decade. 

By contrast, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan reduces effective corporate tax rates to just over 10% in some states, thereby avoiding Gov. Perry’s problem. At a 10%+ effective tax rate, drug conglomerates might develop AND manufacture their drugs in the U.S. again. There would be no incentive for software giants like Microsoft and Google to shift profits overseas. Net U.S. corporate investment and US Treasury receipts would soar! 

(4) Gov. Perry does not plan to balance the budget until the last year of his second term in 2020. While this may be comparable to Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan, it would add trillions of dollars of U.S. debt unnecessarily. If Gov. Perry thinks we have too much debt at the moment, imagine what he will think when he finally balances the budget before he leaves office at the end of his second term. 

(5) Gov. Perry wants to audit all regulations passed since 2008. Great!, but why stop there? Why not audit every agency regulation in the Federal Register? 

(6) Gov. Perry wants to freeze federal civilian hiring. Great!, but why not reduce the size of the federal civilian workforce to 2008 levels at least--the levels before they ballooned under Pres. Obama. While Gov. Perry is at it, why not lower federal wages to 2008 levels as well! 

Gov. Perry wants to eliminate baseline budgeting. That is a LONG overdue common-sense proposal! 

There are other good suggestions, like returning federal spending to 18% of GDP. I would prefer to cut spending further and balance the budget sooner without the consideration of an arbitrary spending level. 

Gov Perry wants to raise the Medicare and Social Security retirement age gradually. This is a necessary reform if we ever plan to get a handle on those programs. 

Gov Perry wants to dramatically increase our domestic energy production as well as repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley. I am thrilled those proposals seem to share universal acceptance among the GOP candidates. 

Unfortunately, Gov. Perry’s tax proposal falls short of Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan in its boldness and stimulative impact. While a FAR cry better than what we have today, it is not enough. Also, Gov. Perry's plan exacerbates the current problem with our tax code, which rests the burden of paying taxes on the shoulders of too few of our citizens.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kill vs Capture, Did Obama Make the Right Choice?

Originally published at:

According to Reuters, the mission was to kill Bin Laden and not capture him. Given that Bin Laden is responsible for the deaths of several thousand U.S. citizens and our involvement in two costly and destructive wars, his summary demise will not cause anyone to lose much sleep. However, Saddam Hussein was captured alive by U.S. Special Forces and met his ultimate reward. KSM, also captured alive by U.S. Special Forces, is soon to follow. The question becomes, why did President Obama chose to order Bin Laden's death as opposed to his capture and would our national security have been enhanced by his live capture?

Given President Obama’s insistence that terrorists be afforded the same protections as common criminals, it seems an odd choice to order the summary execution of the world’s #1 terrorist. However, given the President’s inability to gain Congressional approval for such trials and his distaste for military tribunals, it makes sense President Obama would want to avoid that complication. Further, President Obama has insisted the military prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed and has not ordered any NEW terrorists be detained there.

Finally, remember that President Obama signed an Executive Order immediately upon taking office restricting interrogation techniques to the Army field manual. Given that Bin Laden would likely be a tough nut to crack, interrogation under those circumstances or if he were read his Miranda warnings as the Attorney General has done repeatedly with other captured terrorists would limit the effectiveness of any potential interrogation.

Why interrogate? Given that Al Qaeda is responsible for leveling TWO US embassies, attacking the Pentagon and US Navy ships, presumably ordered an attack on the White House or the US Capitol building, attacking the World Trade Center TWICE killing thousands, and lord knows what else, we might have some interest in asking a question or two to Al Qaeda’s leader. Further, given that Al Qaeda is presumed to be a splinter group where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, one would think it might be useful to ask a question or two to the guy at the top, even if we had to waterboard him to elicit an answer.

Even if Bin Laden has not been involved in tactical decisions since he went into hiding after 9/11, a fact that is the basis of pure conjecture, one might want to know who has been aiding Bin Laden in Pakistan (both inside and outside the military and government), who went through his training camps (it is unlikely we have identified all the terrorists), where Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri are hiding, how he communicates with the outside and who is aiding and funding him, how al Qaeda coordinates with other terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, and any information he may have about future operations. Answers to these questions among others that would undoubtedly have saved MANY American lives. Unfortunately, they will never be answered.

As a native New Yorker who remembers 9/11 vividly, I wish Bin Laden an eternity in hell. At this point however, I would have much preferred the opportunity to learn the answers to these questions and more and consider it a sin that we threw away a gold mine of unknown riches of potential intelligence. My suspicion is that President Obama is uninterested in learning the answers to these questions. He does not believe we are fighting a war against Jihadism and would like to sweep the ‘war on terror’ under the rug and wind down our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a sordid chapter in our nations history in his view. His preacher of twenty years told us that 9/11 represented “America’s chickens coming home to roost.” Unfortunately, our enemies do not share our President’s view and will not cease their war against us.

While I celebrate Bin Laden’s death, it would have been much sweeter had our President given our intelligence services the opportunity to extract information that might have saved American lives first.