President Obama admits it: His proposed “Buffett Rule” tax on millionaires is a gimmick.
“There are others who are saying: ‘Well, this is just a gimmick. Just taxing millionaires and billionaires, just imposing the Buffett Rule, won’t do enough to close the deficit,’ ” Obama declared Wednesday. “Well, I agree.”
Actually, the gimmick was apparent even without the president’s acknowledgment. He gave his remarks in a room in the White House complex adorned with campaign-style photos of his factory tours. On stage with him were eight props: four millionaires, each paired with a middle-class assistant. The octet smiled and nodded so much as Obama made his case that it appeared the president was sharing the stage with eight bobbleheads.
And if that’s not enough evidence of gimmickry, after his speech Obama’s reelection campaign unveiled an online tax calculator “to see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do.”
Obama argued that his plan to make sure that those earning north of $1 million a year don’t pay a lower tax rate than average Americans — although gimmicky and insufficient — is an advance. “The notion that it doesn’t solve the entire problem doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it at all,” he explained.
That’s true, to a point. But Obama’s claim that the Buffett Rule “is something that will get us moving in the right direction toward fairness” would be more convincing if he took other steps in that direction, too.
Three years into his presidency, Obama has not introduced a plan for comprehensive tax reform — arguably the most important vehicle for fixing the nation’s finances and boosting long-term economic growth. His opponents haven’t done much better, but that doesn’t excuse the president’s failures: appointing the Simpson-Bowles commission and then disregarding its findings, offering a plan for business tax reform only, and issuing a series of platitudes. The Buffett Rule, rather than overhauling the tax code, would simply add another layer.
A search of the White House Web site yields 17,400 mentions of the Buffett Rule — a proposal that would bring in $47 billion over 10 years, much of that from 22,000 wealthy households. By contrast, the alternative minimum tax gets fewer than 600 mentions on the site. The AMT, if not changed, will take about $1 trillion over a decade from millions of taxpayers, many of whom earn less than $200,000 a year…
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
After my post yesterday about the NASA letter, a liberal friend –one of the few who is fun to debate because he doesn’t get emotional– countered with the fact that the letter had been organized by H. Leighton Steward, who is connected to the oil industry.
In reply I asked whether he thought 49 NASA luminaries could be duped by an oil Svengali into signing such a letter. We went back and forth.
In digging around, I found this on the NASA website. It is from page named “uncertainties.” Here are three excerpts.
Emphasis is added, simply to note how much is admittedly unknown, curious for science that Al Gore maintains is “settled.”
- Clouds. Clouds have an enormous impact on Earth’s climate, reflecting back into space about one third of the total amount of sunlight that hits the Earth’s atmosphere. As the atmosphere warms, cloud patterns may change, altering the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth. Because clouds are such powerful climate actors, even small changes in average cloud amounts, locations, and type could speed warming, slow it, or even reverse it. Current climate models do not represent cloud physics well, so the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently rated clouds among its highest research priorities. NASA and its research partners in industry, academia, and other nations have a small flotilla of spacecraft and aircraft studying clouds and the closely related phenomenon of aerosols.
- Carbon cycle. Currently, natural processes remove about half of each year’s human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere, although this varies a bit year to year. It isn’t well understood where this carbon dioxide goes, with some evidence that the oceans are the major repository and other evidence that land biota absorbs the majority. There is also some evidence that the ability of the Earth system to continue absorbing it may decline as the world warms, leading to faster accumulation in the atmosphere. But this possibility isn’t well understood either. The planned Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission will mark NASA’s first attempt to answer some of these questions via space observations.
- Ocean circulation. One very popular hypothesis about climate change is that as the Earth as a whole warms, ocean circulation in the Atlantic will change to produce cooling in Western Europe. In its most extreme form, this hypothesis has advancing European ice sheets triggering a new ice age. A global-warming induced ice age is not considered very likely among climate scientists. But the idea highlights the importance of ocean circulation in maintaining regional climates. Global ocean data sets only extend back to the early 1990s, so there are large uncertainties in predictions of future ocean changes.
In three days, $100,000 was raised for Caine’s scholarship fund.
Obama in 2008
“If you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.”
- Republicans want “convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts—especially for the wealthy.”
- Republicans want to “let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity.”
- If GOP’s “cuts . . . were to be spread out evenly across the budget,” then “Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS” research would be slashed, 10 million college students denied assistance, and “thousands” of researchers and teachers “could lose their jobs.”