Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Obama & McCain on taxes and the economy.

Will Obama or McCain's proposal tax home sales more? What about capital gains? With “both John McCain and Barack Obama offering tax cuts,” according to the Christian Science Monitor, “the 2008 election promises a boost for the typical family budget” regardless. But the myths require debunking - smears circulate in email misrepresenting the differences - sometimes deliberately. Facts help...

"New Tax" Falsehoods: One e-mail in particular contains a string of made-up taxes that it falsely claims Obama has proposed. He has not proposed a tax on new homes with more than 2,400 square feet, or a new gasoline tax or a tax on retirement accounts. The most laughably false claim is that Obama would tax "water." But it's out there, and in covering it the media echoes it... Want more facts?

  • Capital Gains Rate: It's untrue that Obama is proposing a 28 percent capital gains tax rate. He said in an interview on CNBC that he favors raising the top rate on capital gains from its present 15 percent to 20 percent or more, but no higher than 28 percent. And as for a 28 percent rate, he added, "my guess would be it would be significantly lower than that."
  • Tax on Dividends: Another false claim is that Obama proposes to raise the tax rate on dividends to 39.6 percent. Dividends currently are taxed at a top rate of 15 percent, and Obama would raise that to the same rate as he would tax capital gains, somewhere between 20 percent and 28 percent but likely "significantly" lower than 28 percent. This higher tax also would fall only on couples making $250,000 or more or singles making more than $200,000.
  • Taxing IRAs and 529s: Contrary to email rumors, raising tax rates on capital gains or dividends would not result in higher taxes on any investments held in Individual Retirement Accounts or in popular, tax-deferred "college funds" under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. The whole point of such tax-deferred plans is that dividends and capital gains are allowed to accumulate and compound tax-free, and neither Obama nor McCain proposes to change that. And as previously mentioned, any capital gains or dividend income from stocks, bonds or mutual funds owned outside of tax-deferred accounts would continue to be taxed at current rates except for couples making over $250,000, or singles making more than $200,000
  • Doubled Taxes? The claim that "Under Obama your taxes will more than double!" is also false. Do you really need to ask? The comparative rate tables one e-mail smear provides for McCain and Obama are entirely wrong, as explained in a March 13 article about another false e-mail (from which the tables are copied.) It is supposedly a comparison of tax rates before and after the Bush tax cuts, but it grossly overstates the effect of the Bush cuts. Obama actually proposes to retain the Bush cuts for every single income level shown in the bogus table.
  • Estate Tax. The claim that Obama proposes to "restore the inheritance tax" is also false, as are the claims that McCain would impose zero tax and that Bush "repealed" it. McCain and Obama both would retain a reduced version of the estate tax, as it is correctly called, though McCain would reduce it by more.

    The tax now falls only on estates valued at more than $2 million (effectively $4 million for couples able to set up the required legal and financial arrangements). It reaches a maximum rate of 45 percent on amounts more than that. It was not repealed, but it is set to expire temporarily in 2010, then return in 2011, when it would apply to estates valued at more than $1 million ($2 million for couples), with the maximum rate rising to 55 percent.

    Obama has proposed to apply the tax only to estates valued at more than $3.5 million ($7 million for couples), holding the maximum rate at 45 percent. McCain would apply it to estates worth more than $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a maximum rate of 15 percent. I wonder how that difference relates to the assessed value, or anticipated selling price, of the best of the McCain homes...

Why all the misinformation?

Some of it's based on simple confusion. After all, Obama's not prone to cute sound-bites such as "Read my lips: No new taxes." Some of the emails circulating, however, are so consistently mis-representing the facts - facts that are easy to verify - that one can only conclude a deliberately malicious intent to strike fear in the wallets of middle class voters is behind the lies.

In an ideal setting voters would all have access to reliable, current, accurate information sources. They'd also take the time to examine that information, no matter if it was Obama's stand on taxes, McCain's statements about taxes or his speeches on why health care doesn't need the fixes Obama's proposed, or rookie Governor Palin's changing stand on the pork barrel "Bridge to Nowhere." In practice, time is short, and rumors often get as much (if not more) coverage as facts on the evening TV news or in newspapers. Futhermore it's often hard to tell which part of a story is the truth. The media producers have motives that must be examined, particularly those who profit from selling commercials since they obviously desire to make a profit. When in doubt, follow the money.

Who profits from the election of McCain or Obama -- or your mayor?

Who profits from voters feeling disenfranchised and tuning out?

The airwaves are as full of misinformation - willfully employed - as the email is. Are you ready to step up and be an Agent of change, to contribute to help spread the truth?

Wayne Berman, Top McCain Fundraiser, Also Lobbyist For Big Oil

Wayne Berman's a key fundraiser for the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain and a member of the government relations staff of Oglivy, a PR firm with a Washington office. 

Berman's a prime example of why people say that McCain's in the pocket of Big Oil.  Wayne Berman's serving as a lobbyist for Chevron in their legal battle against the country of Ecuador.

Berman has taken the incredible step of trying to get the Bush Administration to take special trade preferences away from Ecuador if that country doesn't drop its billion dollar lawsuit against Chevron.

I can personally save Wayne Berman the trouble by telling him Chevron's not at fault to anywhere near the levels charged by Ecuador.  But the other side of this story has nothing to do with Chevron and everything to do with Wayne Berman's key involvement in McCain's campaign. 

With ties like Wayne Berman, it's impossible for McCain to claim he's not a friend of Big Oil.

Petroecuador Employees Fight Over Occidential Petroleum's Left Over Luxury Cars

If one needs any evidence of how divided Ecuador's class culture really is, and of how this still-poor country (even with its oil industry) has so little that its citizens scrap for everything, we have this report of Petroecuador employees actually coming to blows over luxury cars left behind after the state forced that American oil company out of the country.

Now, the resulting "wake" has improved the oil sector, if not the messy politics that defines it in this country. Now, Petroecuador controls 50 percent of all oil export production in Ecuador. And while Occidental has approached the Bush Administration for help in re-acquiring the assets seized by Ecuador, the nation's representatives are taking a hard line stance, not allowing a "an arrogant, portentous transnational that doesn’t respect Ecuadoran laws to harm our country,” according to Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.  

Sen. Joe Biden Rips Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin in Landhorne, PA

Barack Obama picked not only the most experienced person in the Senate to be his running mate, but perhaps the most passionate one as well. In this campaign stop at Landhorne, PA, Biden reminded all Americans of the problems we've faced over the last eight years of the Bush Administration: lost jobs and a lost self-esteem.


You know, the more I see stories like this, the less faith I have in America.  What bothers me about this story of Adam LaDuca is that he's 21 years old and so this racist view is a reflection of his parents.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The leader of a statewide group of college Republicans has been forced to resign after posting racially insensitive comments about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on the Internet.
Adam LaDuca, 21, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, wrote on his Facebook page in late July that Obama has "a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami (and probably would.)"
LaDuca, who previously had called Martin Luther King Jr. a "pariah" and a "fraud," also wrote: "And man, if sayin' someone has large lips is a racial slur, then we're ALL in trouble."
The College Republicans asked LaDuca to resign after his remarks were publicized by the Pennsylvania Progressive, a blog written by a Democratic committeeman from Berks County. The group announced LaDuca's resignation on its Web site Friday.

Palin Charged Rape Victims For Tests As Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska

Palin Charged Rape Victims For Tests As Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska

This Frontiersman article written while Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla has to be read to be believed:

Published on Monday, May 22, 2000 9:00 PM 

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles recently signed legislation protecting victims of sexual assault from being billed for tests to collect evidence of the crime, but one local police chief said the new law will further burden taxpayers.
The governor signed House Bill 270, sponsored by Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, outside the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam room at Alaska Regional Hospital. In attendance at the signing were members of victims advocate groups, law enforcement agencies and legislators.
The new law makes it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims insurance companies for the costs of examinations that take place to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault did occur.

We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence, Knowles said. Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.
While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests
Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.
In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.
According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.
Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.
The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. Id like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things, Fannon said.
Fannon said he intends to include the cost of exams required to collect evidence in a restitution request as a part of a criminals sentencing.
Palmer police chief Laren Zager said that to his knowledge, no sexual assault victim has ever been billed by the city of Palmer for an exam to collect evidence of a crime. Zager, who has been police chief since January, said he would never expect a victim to be burdened with the cost of a police investigation.
Im prepared to pay every dime in an investigation. As long as I am chief, I would never bill a victim, Zager said.
The new bill would also make law enforcement agencies that are investigating a sexual assault responsible for the costs of testing victims for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception.