Tuesday, March 26, 2013

RE: tax reform

My idea of a simplified tax code:


Take your annual income and divide it by 4,000.  The resulting number is your tax rate percentage.  Cap that rate at 30 to 33%.   No deductions of any sort.


If you are concerned that the poor might pay too much tax, then give everybody a $1,000 after calculation exception.

Best wishes,

John Coffey


Sunday, March 24, 2013


'France has so far dodged the "problem child" reputations that Spain and Italy have earned. But it looks like that will be increasingly hard to keep up. Data today on France's business output hinted not just that its economy is decaying—but that it's doing so rapidly.


Markit's preliminary March purchasing managers' index—which measures monthly changes in private-sector output—came in at 42.1 (pdf), down from 43.1 in February. (Anything lower than 50 reflects a drop in output.) That's the fastest slowdown in business activity France has seen since March 2009. And Jack Kennedy, economist at Markit, says this likely augurs a larger crumbling of the French economy.


"My take is it's really a continuation of the sharp weakening pattern we've seen in recent months—so very much a trend rather than a blip," Kennedy tells Quartz. "Most of the anecdotal feedback from the survey panel points to a general lack of confidence and clients reining in spending accordingly."


To frame it in another horrifying perspective, the PMI of the euro zone's second-largest economy was lower than that of Spain and Italy—and almost down to Greek levels (video), as Reuters' Jamie McGeever explains.'




Saturday, March 23, 2013


'As Senate Democrats start the process of voting on their first budget in four years, they are being reminded why it was so nice not to have to do so.


Consider that 33 of the 100 members of the upper chamber have never voted on a budget as senators, having come into office since the Senate last passed a full fiscal plan on April 29, 2009.


This may explain the problems surrounding the budget now lumbering forth in the Senate and why members are only belatedly coming to understand the political peril the vote will pose for them.'






public objections to Keystone are becoming increasingly mainstream among Democrats. Tom Friedman said "No to Keystone. Yes to Crazy." A New York Times editorial endorsed a crusade the Post had labeled a counterproductive obsession a week before. Splits continue to open up among Democrats on this issue.


Not to worry, say all those red state Democratic senators and representatives up for re-election. It's a one-time problem, sure to be a faded memory by 2014. That's where they're wrong. Few observers on either side of the aisle have grasped how intensely many Democrats have latched onto the crusade against fossil fuels, especially young people and Democrats in coastal states.


A poll out yesterday showed that New York State voters had turned against fracking by a clear margin for the first time, this despite the economic wonder-working of this drilling revolution. If some of those voters were motivated by shaky pollution claims, rather than climate change, keep in mind that the climate movement is behind most of those pollution charges.


Massive margins against fracking in New York City tipped the balance against suburban and upstate voters. New York State Democrats oppose fracking by a mighty 62 to 21 percent. A new national poll (which may have been distorted somewhat by the way the questions were framed) also makes it clear that substantial numbers of Democrats–young voters in particular–are strongly focused on Keystone.


How are Democrats supposed to shake this internally divisive energy/climate issue? The Post complains that Keystone is a "trumped up" battle, but the movement that turned Keystone into an issue is perfectly capable of "trumping up" yet another Armageddon, and another after that. Bill McKibben and his allies demand a swift end to America's use of fossil fuels. If and when Keystone fades as an issue, they're bound to draw another line in the sand. Having secured backing from the New York Times for their Keystone campaign, these folks are not about to stop.'




Price controls

'Anyone looking for a clue about the future of health policy debates should take note of a Center for American Progress panel convened earlier this month. The topic at hand was journalist Steven Brill's Time magazine story on high medical bills, which compared rates charged to uninsured and privately insured patients with the negotiated, lower per-service rates charged to Medicare.


But rather than push for a government-run, single-payer system—what liberals often term "Medicare for all"—several of the left-leaning health experts on hand talked up a technocratic alternative known as "all-payer": Instead of the federal government serving as a universal insurer, as in single payer, the government would set payment rates for the entire system, public and private, eliminating price discrepancies for different payers.


In other words, price controls. This is the great new idea that has gripped liberal health wonks as health costs have continued to rise: to simply have the government declare that prices must be lower. That's neither a new idea nor a particularly great one, and there's little reason to think it will have result in meaningful restraint of health care cost growth.


All-payer and other forms of rate setting have a long history in the U.S. Throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, multiple states experimented with various forms of state-driven rate setting. The Nixon administration pursued a bevy of wage and price controls, while Congress passed legislation encouraging states to set up rate-setting regimes. A federal effort backed by President Jimmy Carter failed to pass, but by the end of the decade states such as Maryland, New York, and New Jersey were all moving forward with ambitious all-payer-style price control systems.


Those systems, however, became impossible to sustain pretty quickly. For one thing, they were just too complicated: Not only did these systems attempt to set rates for every single hospital product and service, they also included provisions attempting to redistribute funds from relatively wealthier hospitals to relative poorer hospitals. The result was a labyrinthine system of reimbursement procedures and payment exceptions that confused even the public administrators who were supposed to oversee its workings.


As Harvard health professor John McDonough chronicled in a 1997 essay for Health Affairs, officials from many of the states that tried rate-setting later concluded that "the statutes and regulations needed to sustain their rate-setting systems were complex and often incomprehensible." McDonough quotes the former chair of Massachusetts Senate Health Committee describing the payment rules as being "like Sanskrit—no one could understand them."'




Fwd: Israel

From: larry.r.trout


'Leaders on Friday reacted to the dramatic turning-point in Turkey-Israel relations after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized for the killing of nine Turkish citizens in a 2010 naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.


Foreign Minister and chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Avigdor Liberman, said that Israel's apology to Turkey is a "serious mistake," Army Radio reported Friday…


Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum reacted positively to the news, with party leader Tzipi Livni welcoming the reconciliation between Israel and Turkey.


"This is a very important step, and the right one, as I told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu," Livni wrote on her Facebook.


"In these times, especially looking at what is happening in Syria, there are mutual security interests between Israel, Turkey and the United States," Livni stated, adding that it was an excellent final note on which to end Obama's visit.


Similarly, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich on Friday praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to reconcile with his Turkish counterpart, saying it is "best to swallow one's pride and do what is beneficial for the state."


"Hopefully reconciliation with the Turks after three years is the first step towards a new policy of strengthening Israel's diplomatic and strategic standing," Yacimovich said in a statement.'



Friday, March 22, 2013

FW: tax reform


From: Trout, Larry


'Is there a solution? Yes: tax reform with a twist.


The problem begins with definitions. By tax reform, Obama means eliminating deductions, exclusions, credits of various kinds with all the money going to the Treasury.


That's radically new. The historic 1986 Reagan-O'Neill tax reform closed loopholes with no extra money going to the Treasury. The new revenue went directly back to the citizenry in the form of lower tax rates.


This is called revenue-neutrality. The idea is that tax reform is a way not to fatten the Treasury but to clean the tax code. It means eliminating special-interest favors and behavior-altering deductions that create waste and inefficiency by inducing tax-preferred rather than market-oriented economic activity. And it introduces fairness by removing breaks and payoffs for which only the rich can afford to lobby.


As a final bonus, tax reform's lower rates spur economic growth. A unique win-win-win: efficiency, fairness, growth.


Obama's own Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission offered a variant. First, it identified an astonishing $1.1 trillion per year of these "tax expenditures." That's more than $11 trillion in a decade. In one scenario, it knocked them all out and lowered marginal tax rates to just three brackets of 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent.


But here's the twist. Using the full $1.1 trillion annually of newly redeemed "loophole" revenue, Simpson-Bowles could have dropped the rates a bit below 23 percent. But instead it left some of that money in the Treasury, an average of almost $100 billion a year, or about $1 trillion over a decade. It was a reasonable compromise, so reasonable that even the Senate's most fierce spending hawk, commission member Tom Coburn, signed on.


Now, Simpson-Bowles is not on the table but it could be a model. Obama's "tax reform" would send 100 percent of the revenue to the Treasury. Reagan-O'Neill sent 0 percent. Simpson-Bowles fell somewhere in between. So should any grand compromise.


Before deciding exactly where to locate that compromise, however, we have to decide which deductions to cut, yielding how much revenue. The bad news is that, given all the lobbying and haggling this would occasion, it could take years to work out. The good news is the formula proposed by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein. Before even picking and choosing which deductions should remain permissible, it simply allows no one to reduce his tax bill by more than 2 percent by using any or all of the deductions and loopholes in the current tax code (except charitable contributions).


There should, of course, be separate negotiations over which of the hundreds, thousands, of loopholes/deductions should be tossed out as corrupt or counterproductive rent-seeking. But the 2 percent ceiling means that we don't have to wait until full tax reform — because the Feldstein formula significantly and immediately reduces the impact of all the loopholes.


Feldstein calculates that his tax reform would yield $2.1 trillion in new revenue over a decade'




Thursday, March 21, 2013

RE: What The Top U.S. Companies Pay In Taxes - Forbes.com



Is the statement is true or is it not?     You seem to just dismiss it because you don’t like Milton Freidman.    I can see either way, and you could argue that it is a half-truth, but I see a basic grain of truth that all taxes eventually come out of the pocket of some human being.


Your question seems confrontational, since you ask me to choose between one undesirable outcome and another undesirable outcome. The answer to the question is neither.  


Given the nature of your question, and since you call my other email a “rant” and describe Friedman as insignificant, it appears  to me like name calling, which is a tactic often used by some in political discussion.   I have the impression that you are reacting out of emotion, although I also think that you have a desire to base your views on facts.


I think that there are many liberal myths that we have been so pounded into us that people can’t see the trees through the forest.  Some of these myths are indeed partial truths, but they get exaggerated so out of proportion that they distort the reality of the situation.


I consider the following to be facts that can be backed up by clear evidence …


1.       The wealthy pay a great deal more in taxes than the middle class and poor even when measured as a percentage of their income.  Of course there are exceptions to this where some people have taken advantage of the system and maybe we can close some loopholes.  (Personally I want to scrap the entire tax code and start over.)   But closing loopholes will produce less than a hundred billion in annual revenue which is a drop in the bucket compared to our current deficits.

2.       No matter how high the tax rates have been in the past, the Federal Government has  never collected more than 20.6% of GDP and this was during the dot com boom.  This is because people change their behavior as taxes go up.

3.       The current level of spending of the Federal Government is around 24 to 25% of GDP.  Therefore, just trying to soak the rich will not solve our deficit issue.

4.       Using government spending to stimulate the economy has always failed and produced worse economic outcomes.  The reason that it fails is that causes resources (capital, labor) to be taken away from the free market and it always puts us deeper in debt.

5.       The total spending of all levels of government in the United States is around 40% of GDP.

6.       Increasing total government spending beyond 25% of GDP, regardless of the context, reduces GDP growth on average by .1% per year for every 1% increase in spending as a percentage of GDP.  Theory aside, I think that the political reality is that total government spending will never be less than 30 to 35% of GDP, and the economic reality is that the percentage will probably get higher, not lower.

7.       The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal Government are so huge that we can’t hope to pay them.  Our best hope is to have strong economic growth, which will increase the tax base, and is why you can’t dismiss economic growth.

8.       As the public sector portion of the economy increases, the investment portion of the economy goes down, as it has done in recent years.


I get a sense that you are concerned about disparity of wealth, and so am I.   There are many who believe, including myself, that having too much government spending and inflationary monetary policy produces disparity of wealth because there are too many people who figure out how to profit from this.


My core values are that I believe personal and economic freedom.  I think that if the government takes from me just to give to someone else, that this is legalized theft and takes away the fruits of my labor and my freedom.   However, I am not a pure libertarian in the sense that I don’t want to pull the rug out from underneath those in need.  But I do think that with the help of economic growth that we could move in the direction where fewer people are reliant on public charity.


Since you mentioned morality …


I don’t believe that it is ethical to take excessive amounts of money from people just because they are wealthy.   Under the current system, a person could pay 40% federal plus Social Security and state and local taxes.  Asking someone to pay, hypothetically, 60% or more of their income is just theft, and discourages hard work and investment.  There is no government benefit that well-to-do person would get that would justify confiscating 60% or more of his income.


Now it is my turn to sound emotional, although that is not really my intent:  In part, I think that we have become a national of thieves.  It has become O.K. to use government to steal from your neighbor and benefit yourself.  We have lost any belief in limited government, and the constitutional limits on government have been completely ignored.   In effect, we have thrown out the Constitution, and become a European style government.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

From: Jennings, Mike


Milton Friednam comment is an insignificant tautology. All tax designations are labels for who pays what. Likewise, the highest corporate tax rate meaningless if no US corporation pays then.


So where are you coming from? Are you looking for someone else to pay your burden for being able to live in this great country or are you offering to pay somebody else’s taxes.


From: Coffey, John R


Milton Friedman pointed out that Corporations don’t pay taxes – people do.   It either comes from the shareholders, or higher prices, or less employment.


We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  Other countries lowered their corporate tax rates to become more competitive.


From: John


Would no more tax holiday for GE really end up helping Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer? Doubtful. "The average Joe should be in favor of lower corporate taxes," says Hodge, "because ultimately they are paying the corporate income tax. Either as workers, getting lower wages and fewer jobs, or as consumers, paying higher prices, or as retirees, getting lower dividends and earnings on their investments."



Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Woodward's Truths and Sullivan's Smears Expose Our Corrupt Media

Other than a few media tsk-tsks, though, over the years, Sullivan has paid zero price for any of this behavior. In fact, these deliberate smear campaigns have likely helped to up his media profile and endear him to a left-wing media that secretly loves this behavior. How else to explain why there has been no pushback, no admonitions, no warnings from his peers about what this kind of "reporting" can do to one's career and credibility.

But who is having his career relentlessly undermined right now? Bob Woodward, for doing nothing more than reporting the truth and his opinion.

So, as you can see, the message from the media is abundantly clear: You can hurl all the unfounded claims and filth at the right without ever having to fear any kind of recrimination from your "journalist" peers. But should you report a truth about Barack Obama that derails his political goals, your peers will relentlessly destroy you and your legacy -- 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Here is an idea

Here is an idea:  Let’s force everyone to get up an hour early so that they will be sleep deprived, grumpy, have more auto accidents, and are generally less productive.   While we are at it, let’s have government control every aspect of our lives, increase the burden of government every chance it gets, and put us so far in debt that we will be indentured servants forever.


Reform will not happen until we scrap the entire legal code and start over with something simpler, easier, and less burdensome to society.  The first place we should start is the tax code.

Best wishes,

John Coffey


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Right-Wing Case Against Paul Ryan's Budget


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fwd: 3/11

Great Star war purchase background…



'Judge Halts New York City Soda Ban

The city is "enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations," New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.'



Dare to be fiscally responsible…



'The S&P 500 .SPX climbed for a sixth straight day on Friday and ended nine of the past 10 weeks higher. All three major U.S. stock indexes racked up the biggest weekly gains since the first week of the year.


European shares dipped on Monday as investors digested Italy's downgrade by Fitch on account of political stalemate.


China's uneven economic recovery signals a looming dilemma for policymakers as official data over the weekend showed inflation at a 10-month high in February while factory output and consumer spending were weaker than forecast.'



'Late in the afternoon on April 2, 1991, Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano on the Philippine island of Luzon, began to rumble with a series of the powerful steam explosions that typically precede an eruption. Pinatubo had been dormant for more than four centuries, and in the volcanological world the mountain had become little more than a footnote. The tremors continued in a steady crescendo for the next two months, until June 15th, when the mountain exploded with enough force to expel molten lava at the speed of six hundred miles an hour. The lava flooded a two-hundred-and-fifty-square-mile area, requiring the evacuation of two hundred thousand people.


Within hours, the plume of gas and ash had penetrated the stratosphere, eventually reaching an altitude of twenty-one miles. Three weeks later, an aerosol cloud had encircled the earth, and it remained for nearly two years. Twenty million metric tons of sulfur dioxide mixed with droplets of water, creating a kind of gaseous mirror, which reflected solar rays back into the sky. Throughout 1992 and 1993, the amount of sunlight that reached the surface of the earth was reduced by more than ten per cent.'





'Big, bad carbon dioxide gets most of the attention when it comes to greenhouse gases, but it's not the only one that's warming the earth. Methane — a gas that is found in everything from landfills to cow stomachs — also plays a big role. Although global methane-emissions levels are much lower than CO2 emissions, pound for pound methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas; a ton of it has 23 times the warming effect of a ton of CO2.' (100 time the effect over 10 years).





"Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately." --Joe Biden, Aug. 22, 2012


    I see your Bidenism and I raise you.


    "His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so. God rest her soul. And- although, she's- wait- your mom's still- your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul." --Joe Biden, on the mother of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen (and probably a reason the Irish don't like us anymore).

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fwd: Venezuela

'The civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who ran for president twice in the 1980s, traveled to Caracas Thursday to attend the funeral of Hugo Chavez, the staunchly anti-American Venezuelan leader who died earlier this week.


In an opinion article on CNN.com, Jackson explained that in the South American nation he would "meet with political, religious and community leaders" to reiterate the official message from President Barack Obama's administration that the United States hopes to foster better ties with Venezuela.'




Fwd: Births


'With its huge supply of oil and an educated and urbanized middle class, Venezuela ought to be among the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet since Chavez took power 14 years ago, Venezuela's economy has been ravaged. Even with the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela's growth has lagged behind other Latin American nations. Because Chavez nationalized, expropriated or destroyed other industries, Venezuela's exports now consist almost entirely of oil, whereas pre-Chavez, oil accounted for 77 percent of exports.


Chavez spent many millions on programs for the poor. Yet his assault on the private economy hurt the poor most of all. The currency has been devalued five times in the past 10 years and has lost 66 percent of its value since 2008. Inflation has been running at more than 23 percent annually, robbing the poor, along with everyone else, of purchasing power.


The government's response to food shortages has been two-fold -- forcing producers to meet quotas and placing price controls on more than 400 items. Like Stalin before him, Chavez resorted to his own version of the "saboteur" accusation against businessmen attempting to survive in his tightly regulated world. Forty butchers were arrested in 2010 for charging more than the permitted price for beef. Here's AP: "The government says butchers can charge 17 bolivars -- about $4 -- for a kilogram of beef. Butchers say they have to pay 14 bolivars -- about $3 -- for the meat, leaving them no margin to cover the other costs of their business." In addition to meat, there are chronic shortages of eggs, flour, oil, sugar and gasoline.


Since the nationalization of the electrical power industry in 2007, Venezuela has been plagued by blackouts. Every region of the country is affected several times a week.


And then there is crime. Venezuela had a high crime rate before Chavez, but the murder rate has more than tripled since he took power, making Caracas the most dangerous city on earth. Venezuela now suffers more murders than the United States and the European Union combined, though its population is only 1/28th as large. Most often victimized? The poor. Chavez has opened Venezuela's doors to drug traffickers and tolerates corruption among the police. The U.S. State Department warns travelers of the danger of robbery and kidnapping as soon as they arrive at the airport. ". . . Individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms or other credentials are involved in facilitating or perpetrating these crimes."





Fwd: award canceled

'The department had named Ibrahim among recipients of a women's award to be presented Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama…


The State Department has canceled the award it planned to give an Egyptian activist whose Twitter account included virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic statements.


The decision Friday comes a day after the administration postponed the award, while it looked into the recently discovered tweets from activist Samira Ibrahim.


Some of the tweets praised attacks on U.S. diplomatic installations and against Israeli civilians in Bulgaria.'




Best wishes,

John Coffey


Fwd: Syria

'Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there is "absolutely" no chance of Moscow telling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.


He told the BBC that Russia was not in the "regime-change game".


The main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has long insisted that President Assad must go before any talks take place.


Mr Lavrov is due to visit London next week for talks with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.


Both countries say the Syrian crisis will top the agenda. Russia has traditionally been a close ally of the Syrian government and is the country's biggest arms supplier.


But while there is agreement that a negotiated settlement is the best way forward, Mr Lavrov told the BBC there was no question of Russia asking President Assad to stand aside.


"I can only say it is not for us to decide who should lead Syria. It is for the Syrians to decide," he said.


Asked if there was any chance of Russia urging President Assad to stand aside, he said: "Absolutely not. You know that we are not in the regime-change game. We are against interference in domestic conflicts.'




We asked Mubarek in Egypt to step aside when his people protested. Russia won't ask Syria's Assad to step aside after killing 40,000 Syrians.


'The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but that is because many Americans have given up looking for a job.


Dean Baker, an economist with the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, said Friday that the decline in U.S. labor force participation in this recent data release was "striking."


The unemployment rate has dropped more than 40% of the way back to its pre-recession level, but the employment-to-population ratio is closer to its trough than its pre-recession peak.  In English: less Americans are looking for employment.


While women have fared better than men in the job market, this is mostly because they did not take the same hit to employment at the start of the downturn in late 2008 early 2009, Baker said today.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployment fell to 7.7% from 7.9%, but the drop was at least partially attributable to a decline in labor force participation, Baker says. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) was unchanged at 58.6 percent, exactly the same as the rate in February of 2012 and just 0.4 percentage points above the low hit in the summer of 2011.'




Best wishes,

John Coffey


Fwd: Chavez

On Mar 7, 2013, at 3:40 PM, "larry.r.trout wrote:

'Venezuela's acting president, Nicolás Maduro, has said that Hugo Chávez's embalmed body will be permanently displayed in a glass crystal casket'




Is he snow white or sleeping beauty?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Coffey 

Vladimir Lenin

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fwd: Threat

'Lanny Davis: White House Threatened Me Too


Washington Times columnist and Democratic insider Lanny Davis tells WMAL-AM that his editor, John Solomon, "received a phone call from a senior Obama White House official who didn't like some of my columns, even though I'm a supporter of Obama. I couldn't imagine why this call was made." Davis says the Obama aide told Solomon, "that if he continued to run my columns, he would lose, or his reporters would lose their White House credentials."'




working 5 part strategy...

'Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said that passing the Rogers measure makes political sense, because if the Senate rejects it and wants to spend more, it will be responsible for shutting down the government after March 27.


Jordan said that the five-part budget strategy hatched by House leaders in January is working. The victories started when the House used the debt-ceiling increase to force the Senate to do a budget for the first time in four years.


"Conservatives are making a difference," he said. After the House passed the "No, Budget, No Pay" law, "the next day Chuck Schumer finds Jesus," he said, by agreeing to do a Senate budget.'