April 18, 2012

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Jennifer Rubin posts on how good Romney’s prospects are for 270 electoral votes. Pickerhead thinks if Obama continues to sink in the polls, we can expect him to dump Biden and put Hillary on the ticket.

The electoral map reveals how perilous is President Obama’s grip on the White House. Let’s start, as RealClearPolitics does, with a base of 170 electoral votes for Mitt Romney. It’s hard to imagine that Obama could win any of even the less-red states that comprise that batch (e.g. Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Montana). To get 100 more and seize the presidency, Romney only needs some states that routinely went Republican before the 2008 race (Nevada, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia) and needs to hold on to a few that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) managed to win (Arizona, Missouri). This gets Romney to 273.

In other words, Romney doesn’t need to win (but he might) in New Hampshire or New Mexico. He would love to, but isn’t required to, break through in states like Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin or Michigan. (The first and last would seem the most likely.)

It may come as a shock to liberals when you break it down by the only measure that matters (electoral votes), but Romney can do worse that George W. Bush did in 2004 (when he won Iowa and New Mexico) and still win the White House. …


Peter Schiff worked his way to commenting on the president’s legal scholarship.

Last  week, responding to President Obama’s latest populist assault on the wealthy, I issued a commentary in which I explained why his ideas about American economic history were fundamentally flawed. As dangerous and erroneous as those views are, at least I can cut the President some slack for commenting on a subject in which he really has no basis for expertise. Hailing from academia and local community organizing, Barack Obama likely did not spend huge amounts of time boning up on economic history. However, there are other subjects where he should find firmer footing. Constitutional law certainly comes to mind. After all, Obama rose to national prominence based on his status as a legal scholar.  He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He went on to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, one of the top ranked schools in the country.

Based on these achievements, it is simply stunning that he made so many fundamental errors last week in his analysis of the Supreme Court’s review of his sweeping health care legislation. Not only did he make grossly inaccurate statements with regards to the health care legislation, and the history of Supreme Court decisions that relate to it, but he also showed little understanding of the very purpose that the Court serves within the constitutional framework of the U.S. government.  These remarks either indicate that a Harvard degree isn’t worth the paper it’s written on or that there is nothing Obama won’t say to advance his political agenda.

In his apparently off-the-cuff remarks he stated that “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what will be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” Before even turning to the more nuanced parts of that statement, I would ask the President what he considers to be a “strong majority?” His health care legislation (dubbed “Obamacare” by Republicans), passed the House of Representatives in March 2010 on a nearly party line vote of 220-215 (some would call this result “a squeaker.”) What’s more, just six months later, the slim majority that voted to pass the legislation was voted out of existence. Not only would the law stand no chance of passage in the current Congress, the majority of Americans still show misgivings about the expansion of federal power that the law involves.  So much for a groundswell of national support. But that’s just the appetizer. …


And Peter Ferrara notes the community organizer’s understanding of taxation.

President Obama has a community organizer understanding of America’s taxes. His rhetoric doesn’t recognize that under our tax system the earnings from capital investment are taxed not once, but multiple times.

First, by the corporate income tax, then again by the individual income tax through the tax on dividends, then if you sell the capital investment, through the capital gains tax, then when you die, by the death tax. When he complains that the rich are not paying their fair share, he is just looking at the rate on any one of these taxes, and not considering all of the others. So he wants to raise them all for those making over $1 million per year to what he considers the tax rate paid by the middle class, which he calls the Buffett rule.

As a result, Obama would increase the top capital gains tax rate by 100%, increase the top tax rate on dividends by 100%, increase the top two income tax rates by nearly 20%, and increase the death tax rate by nearly 60%, while the corporate tax rate remains the highest in the industrialized world. The capital gains tax rate under the Buffett Rule would be the fourth highest among OECD nations, as the Wall Street Journal noted on Wednesday.

The Heritage Foundation explained it like this on Wednesday. The taxation of capital is like a trip on a toll road, where you have to pay $3.50 to get on the road, then $3.50 at a toll booth on the road, then a $1.50 toll to get off the road. Obama’s understanding of the tax code is like saying the toll for this trip is $1.50, which is somehow unfair to those who take the bus on the same route for a $3.50 total fare (assume the bus is exempt from the tolls). So he thinks the toll to get off the road should be $3.50 as well.

But Warren Buffett is more than happy with Obama’s proposals. That’s because his Berkshire Hathaway is effectively the largest tax shelter in the nation, partially shielding its investors precisely from the multiple taxation of capital. So raising tax rates sharply to make that multiple taxation far worse will just mean more customers for him. Buffett’s company is like a subway next to the road that only charges $1.50 total fare. …


WaPo OpEd calling for $10 million loans for everyone shows how ridiculous our situation has become.

Are you concerned about growing income inequality in America? Are you resentful of all that wealth concentrated in the 1 percent? I’ve got the perfect solution, a modest proposal that involves just a small adjustment in the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy. Best of all, it will mean that none of us have to work for a living anymore.

For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the “carry trade,” has been enormously profitable for them.

So why not let everyone participate?

Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)

Think of what we can do with all that money. We can pay off our underwater mortgages and replenish our retirement accounts without spending one day schlepping into the office. With a few quick keystrokes, we’ll be golden for the next 10 years.

Of course, we will have to persuade Congress to pass a law authorizing all this Fed lending, but that shouldn’t be hard. Congress is really good at spending money, so long as lawmakers don’t have to come up with a way to pay for it. …


Even the NY Times understands we’re heading for serious problems.

ON Jan. 1 of next year, the federal tax bill for a typical middle-class household — making in the neighborhood of $50,000 — is scheduled to rise by about $1,750. This increase, which would come from the expiration of both the Bush tax cuts and the Obama stimulus, would follow a decade of little to no income growth for many people. As a result, inflation-adjusted, after-tax income for the median household could fall next year to its 1998 level, in spite of the continuing economic recovery.

The middle-class tax increase is just the beginning of budget changes set to take effect at the start of 2013. Poor families would see their taxes rise somewhat, too. Total federal taxes for top-earning families would rise by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Spending cuts would also take effect, squeezing domestic programs — education, transportation, scientific research — and the military.

All in all, the end of 2012 will be unlike any other time in memory for the federal government.

The tax increases and spending cuts are the result of Washington’s having previously kicked the can down the road, to use a phrase that is popular here. Rather than pass a plan to cut the deficit, policy makers have put off tough decisions. With the Bush tax cuts, lawmakers deliberately made them temporary, to avoid running afoul of budget rules intended to hold down the deficit.

Not surprisingly, leaders of both parties now say they are opposed to letting the changes happen on Jan. 1. Economists are also frightened of what such a sharp shift in government policy might do to a still fragile economy. Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, has referred to the various expirations as “a massive fiscal cliff.” Congressional aides, quoted in The Washington Post, call it “taxmageddon.”

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