Nobody From Nowhere (@i8dc)

Occasional Common Sense

Weekly Links Worthy of a Few Minutes

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A Sales Tax on Wall Street Transactions by Nancy Folbre – “[P]roponents like Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research assert that it would primarily affect short-term ‘noise traders’ and discourage speculation rather than productive investment.”

Still waiting for Rove’s apology by Steve Benen  – “[T]here’s just something about Rove lecturing on this that rankles. The stimulus ended the freefall Obama inherited from … Rove’s White House. There’s a jobs crisis that the president inherited from … Rove’s White House. Rove is complaining about “more debt,” after Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit and a fiscal disaster from … Rove’s White House.  What we have here is an arsonist whining on national television about the speed with which the fire chief is putting out the arsonist’s own fire. ”

The Sad Statistic That Trumps the Others by Tyler Cowen – “[A] dollar spent on health care does not necessarily mean a true dollar’s worth of value added. The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country, yet without producing measurably superior results. To the extent that some of these expenditures are wasteful, the gross domestic product and productivity numbers overstate economic growth… Expenditures on the military and domestic security have risen since 9/11, but those investments are intended to neutralize external threats. Even if you agree with this spending, it generally doesn’t produce useful goods and services that raise our standard of living.”

Rich and Sort of Rich by Andrew Ross Sorkin – “How did $250,000 become the magic number? … That seems to be the threshold. Under $250,000, you’re middle class; over it and you’re wealthy. Where did this number come from?  The dividing line appears to have its genesis in 1993, when President Bill Clinton created a new tax bracket at $250,000 and raised the rate to 39.6 percent… If Mr. Obama were really trying to return to Mr. Clinton’s 1993 levels, he would have to adjust the bracket for inflation, moving it up to about $386,075.” [which is in effect today’s 35% bracket starting at $379,150 –dlc]

The Rich Can Afford to Pay More Taxes by Bruce Bartlett – “It is not class warfare to suggest that the richest 1 percent of people in society pay one-third of their income to the federal government, as they did under Ronald Reagan. Keep in mind that dividends were taxable as ordinary income every year of his administration, and in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 he supported taxing capital gains as ordinary income as well.”

The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight by David McRaney – “In a political debate you feel like the other side just doesn’t get your point of view, and if they could only see things with your clarity, they would understand and fall naturally in line with what you believe. They must not understand, because if they did they wouldn’t think the things they think. By contrast, you believe you totally get their point of view and you reject it. You see it in all its detail and understand it for what it is – stupid. You don’t need to hear them elaborate. So, each side believes they understand the other side better than the other side understands both their opponents and themselves.”

Why Do Half of All Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax? by Ezra Klein – “In 2011, about 46 percent of households won’t pay income taxes. For about half of them, the standard provisions of the income tax wiped out their liability. If you don’t make any money but you take a standard deduction and have a few dependents, you’re not going to pay any income tax. Roberton Williams, one of the report’s authors, gives the example of “a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero. As he says, ‘the basic structure of the income tax simply exempts subsistence levels of income from tax.'”

The Strange Power of Really Bad Ideas, Medicare Edition by Paul Krugman – “[R]aising the Medicare eligibility age… [is] a terrible idea on multiple grounds. First, the underlying notion — Americans are living longer, so retirement programs should start later — is true only of the upper half of the income distribution. Life expectancy for the other half has not risen much.  Second, raising the Medicare age would make America as a whole poorer — because while it might save the government some money (and even that isn’t totally clear, because treatment of some conditions would be delayed and impose higher costs when people finally do get on Medicare), it would push people into higher-cost private coverage. Austin Frakt estimates $2 of private costs for every dollar of budget savings.

Do Republicans really oppose temporary tax cuts, or just Obama’s tax cuts? by Ezra Klein – “Republicans who were willing to let the federal government default on its debt to prevent even a hint of a tax increase are now willing to permit a $120 billion tax increase for next year. The question is, why?”

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Written by David Clayton

August 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm

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