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April 29, 2011

They’re Crazy, Alright, Crazy Like a Fox... Wait, Damn!

Professor Andrew Linzey together with professor Priscilla Cohn this week called for the end of the use of such terms as “pets” and “owners,” as labels like those are insulting to animals.

We should probably point out that professor Linzey and professor Cohn are identified as “leading academics,” which is important to make clear since otherwise they might come across as a crackpot theologian and a backwater academic.

In that same vein, we would prefer it if in the future you were to refer to Planet Moron as “a leading source of political and social analysis.”

Also, “sexy.”

The professors go on to argue that terms including “free-roaming” and “free-living” should be substituted for “wild animal” in that “wildness:”

“…is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence.”

In other words, pretty much the life led by animals in the wild.  However we are cautioned that:

“There is an obvious prejudgment here that should be avoided.”

You know what else should be avoided?  Free-roaming animals. 

Free-Roaming Bear

To be fair, we never really noticed that our own moron dogs were offended by our careless use of language, but now that we have started to pay attention, we do notice some subtle differences in facial expressions.

For example, this is dog #1.

Dog Expressions

Here he is after we called him our “pet.”

Dog Expressions

And here he is after we called him a worthless flea-bag.

Dog Expressions

It’s just heart-breaking to see the hurt in his eyes. 

Or he could just want a biscuit.

Similarly, this is dog #2.

Crazy Dog

We don’t talk to dog #2 because we’re pretty sure she’s going to kill us in our sleep one day, and Mrs. Moron and I are mostly just jockeying for who will appear to be the weaker and slower between us.

Still, this has been a real eye-opener for us and from now on we’re going to take care what we say to our companion animals, take seriously our responsibilities as human carers, and strive to avoid using terms like "sly as a fox, “eat like a pig” or “drunk as a skunk.”

But we’re still locking that brown dog up at night.

J.

April 29, 2011 at 05:12 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 26, 2011

Lions, and Tigers, and Speculators, Oh My!

Rising gasoline prices have proven to be a real brain stumper for the Obama administration.  But in fairness, they’re probably too busy dealing with all the turmoil and civil unrest going on in the world’s major oil-producing region to have much time to think about what factors could possibly be playing into increased prices at the pump.

And that’s not all that’s on their plate. White House officials are also trying to get a handle on what ramifications a falling dollar might have on the economy so looking into the possible reasons oil prices are spiking is just going to have to wait.

Still, the public expects the President to speak out on a topic of great importance to their personal lives.  However, the distractions above might explain why President Obama’s first attempt to assign responsibility for high gasoline prices did not go as well as perhaps his advisors could have hoped. As it turns out, blaming the people who vote for you is not a great idea.  Also not a great idea is suggesting to a man who has ten kids that he should purchase an expensive new hybrid van, although in fairness to the President this is not as financially callous as it might sound since no such van actually exists.

However, the President has learned from this mistake and now believes he may have found the real villain in high oil prices:

Speculators.

In fact, the President ordered the Justice Department to begin an investigation into speculators based on the clear and unambiguous evidence that his poll numbers are dropping.

While some may point out that blaming high oil prices on speculators is badly misplaced, we believe we may have found a speculator who is responsible:

Suspect Ben Meet one “Ben S. Bernanke.” Also known among organized economics figures as “Bearnanke,” “Bernie Mac,” “Banana Ben,” “The Ben Bernanke,” and most famously, “Helicopter Ben.” Mr. Bernanke’s last known whereabouts were in the office of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve where it is believed he is engaging in rampant speculation by making an “all-in” bet on inflation, the value of the dollar, and the U.S. economy as a whole. With a stack of chips $2.65 trillion high, Helicopter Ben is letting it ride!

If you see this man, DO NOT approach him as he is prone to wanting to discuss at length the role quantitative easing plays in fending off deflation in an environment of real asset devaluations. Instead, contact Attorney General Eric Holder at the U.S. Department of Justice and let him know you’ve found his man.

Wanted Ben Poster

J.

April 26, 2011 at 02:53 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 25, 2011

Weeks 12 & 13 – Our 21st-Century Regulatory System

We continue to monitor the progress being made on President Obama’s “21st-Century Regulatory System” initiative intended to not only promote “economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation," but also to “root out regulations that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb,” and yet at the same time “won't shy away from addressing obvious gaps.” 

Friday, April 15

It’s all relativism, er, we mean relative.

Proclamations

It is wholly fitting that the President should on the same day recognize not only one of the single most defining events in our nation’s history, but also the Civil War.

Yes, but how do you feel?

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Food and Drug Administration

Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Experiment To Evaluate Risk Perceptions of Produce Growers, Food Retailers, and Consumers After a Food Recall Resulting From a Foodborne Illness Outbreak.

…After reading the news article, participants will complete a questionnaire  assessing their emotional response, appraisals, attribution of responsibility, perceptions about the safety of the affected produce...

Monday, April 18

We’re from the government…

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

Grapes Grown in Designated Area of Southeastern California; Increased Assessment Rate

SUMMARY: This rule increases the assessment rate established for the California Desert Grape Administrative Committee.

Like all government-sponsored programs keeping a watchful eye on industry, the California Desert Grape Administrative Committee is intended to ensure the public has a voice and its interests are properly represented. You can tell this by the fact that the 12-member board of the California Desert Grape Administrative Committee consists of 11 representatives of the desert grape industry, and 1 representative of “the public:”

The California Desert Grape Administrative Committee is comprised of 12 members, with each member having one alternate. Five members and their alternates shall be producers or officers or employees of producers (producer members). Five members and their alternates shall be handlers or officers or employees of handlers (handler members). One member and alternate shall be either a producer or handler or officer or employee thereof, and one member and alternate shall represent the public.

Thursday, April 21

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Proposed Fort Ross-Seaview Viticultural Area; Comment Period Reopening

AGENCY: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; comment period reopening. Four commenters, all owners or operators of Sonoma County wineries and vineyards, opposed the establishment of the Fort Ross-Seaview viticultural area as outlined in Notice No. 34. Stating that their vineyards, all located to the north of the proposed Fort Ross-Seaview viticultural area, have the same viticultural characteristics as those found within the proposed area, these four commenters requested that TTB delay a final decision on the establishment of the Fort Ross-Seaview viticultural area so that they could gather additional evidence to support their contention that the proposed viticultural area should be expanded to include their properties.

Perhaps more than anything else, this makes clear why we have to raise taxes to address our budget deficit. There just isn’t any fat left to cut.

Friday, April 22

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order; Referendum Procedures

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

SUMMARY: This rule establishes procedures for conducting a referendum to determine whether issuance of a proposed Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order (Order) is favored by domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber.

See above.

J.

April 25, 2011 at 01:38 PM in Our 21st-Century Regulatory System | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 22, 2011

Let's Call It, “Pre-Emptive Godwin”

How would you take it if someone called you a “progressive” based on your support of causes typically associated with progressives?

If you’re Mike Huckabee, you’d draw the only obvious conclusion available:

“What did I do that apparently caused him to link me to a fatal disease and a form of government that murdered millions of innocent Jews?” 

There was really no other way to interpret Glenn Beck’s assertion that Mr. Huckabee was a “progressive.”

“I think Mike Huckabee is a guy who’s had Michelle Obama on and has said ‘you know what, your fat kids programs are great’… Look at his record, he’s a progressive.”

Mike Huckabee took the totally appropriate level of offense at this:

“I had the audacity—not of hope—but the audacity to give respect to the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to address childhood obesity.”

What could possibly cause Glenn Beck to suggest that Mike Huckabee’s support of a government-sponsored initiative to determine what your children should eat is somehow “progressive?”  As the former governor further points out:

“The First Lady’s approach is about personal responsibility—not the government literally taking candy from a baby’s mouth.”

Exactly. The First Lady’s approach is about personal responsibility, and by “personal responsibility,” she means, “someone else’s responsibility:”

“And as America’s restaurant owners, you’re responsible for one-third of the calories our kids get on a daily basis. The choices you make determine what’s listed on the menus, what’s advertised on billboards, and what’s served on our plates.”

This has nothing to do with being “progressive,” it's purely voluntary, such as when she suggested restaurants list calories on their menus.  When their response was unsatisfactory, legislation was included in the President’s health care law requiring it.

As you can see, they “volunteered” not to comply, so it’s really their own fault they ended up being forced.

And what's so progressive about Michelle Obama being behind a new federal law that dictates standards for the nation's school lunches?  Well, aside from her being behind a new federal law that dictates standards for the nation's school lunches.

That still leaves open the exact logic Mr. Huckabee used when he took affront at Glenn Beck’s remarks. As he explains it:

“This week Glenn Beck has taken to his radio show to attack me as a Progressive, which he has said is the same as a “cancer” and a “Nazi.”

This is what is what is known as Huckabeerian Logic:

If A = B

And occasionally in the past under different circumstances and in a different context, B = C

Then A = Genocidal Nazi Murderer.

Using Huckabeerian Logic, we can anticipate Mike Huckabee’s reaction to most any benign observation of his behavior.

Let’s say you had the temerity to suggest that the completely non-progressive (and therefore non-Nazian) Mike Huckabee had raised taxes 21 times during his tenure in Arkansas?

Using Huckabeerian Logic, we know how Mike Huckabee will react:

“What did I do that apparently caused you to link me to Attila the Hun, and laying to waste the cities of Eastern Europe?” 

Or, suppose you suggested that maybe he should wear a tie more often?

“I had the audacity—not of hope—but the audacity to wear an open-collared shirt. In the past, people in open-collared shirts have been accused of being mass murdering cannibals. I’m no fan of mass-murdering cannibals but their wearing of open-collared shirts is about comfort, not killing innocent people and sautéing their organs in a white wine reduction.”

This suggests a new Huckabeerian corollary to Godwin’s Law:

“The first persons to claim they have been compared to Nazis, even if they haven’t been, wins the argument!”

J.

April 22, 2011 at 09:50 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 20, 2011

She’s Probably a Big Cee Lo Fan

In an unfortunate incident, Professor Ellen Lewin, a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, in the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, at the University of Iowa,… Okay, we lost our train of thought… 

Oh, yes, now we remember, apparently Professor Lewin did not much care for a blast email sent out by the university’s College Republicans promoting their “Conservative Coming Out Week.” Being an educator with decades in the classroom, she took this as an opportunity to engage the young students in a Socratic Dialogue of sorts, and emailed them the following response (not safe for work, or the classroom):

F You Republicans

Okay, so maybe Socrates would have used a different word rather than come right out and say, “Republicans.”

Still, some felt her response lacked a certain tolerance for ideas and opinions with which she disagreed, and so she followed up her original response with a heartfelt apology. However, like any good teacher, she first offered an explanation, the better to put it all in context:

“This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government.”

So you see, she blamed her intolerance of the College Republicans on the fact that she was just coming off a fresh bout of intolerance of Republicans in government.  Look, as long as she has a good explanation, we’re not going to second guess her. (We might never know exactly which outrages had set her off, but we strongly suspect they had something to do with the fact that Republicans refuse to agree with her.) She went on:

“I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities.”

See, she’s very sorry that she affronted your “delicate sensibilities.” She also just called you a pussy.

In conclusion, she suggests that even though the College Republicans had sought and received official approval from the university for the email blast, in the future they might want to consider shutting the hell up:

“I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”

It is important we not make these times any more difficult for Professor Lewin than necessary so that she may continue her important work:

“As a scholar working at the juncture of feminist, cultural, and medical anthropology, Lewin's work has long concerned the ways in which women make sense of the multiple identities they derive from ethnicity, race, and class, sexual orientation, and maternal status.”

We here at Planet Moron are also concerned in the ways we make sense of our multiple identities which we derive from gin, baseball, shiny things, and more gin. It’s a real juggling act.

“In lesbian and gay studies her work has focused on the construction of community in American cultural contexts, and, in response to recent debates in feminist and queer theory, to devising more nuanced understandings of concepts of resistance and accommodation.”

It’s a competitive world out there, and we simply cannot allow the Chinese to beat us in advanced queer theory. Right now, while we sit on the sidelines, the Chinese are building high-speed cultural constructs and leading the world in clean anthropological nuances.

Professor Lewin ultimately decided her original apology was unsatisfactory, and so issued a follow up:

“I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity.”

Okay, so “apology” is probably too strong a word.

So, what rises to the level of “obscenity” in Professor Lewin’s mind?

“Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work.”

No wonder she told those obscenity-spewing College Republicans, “F--- YOU!”

“And the ‘Animal Rights BBQ’ is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause.”

Yeah!  What were those College Republicans thinking when they suggested that they might not share animal rights activists’ passion for a cause they don’t particularly believe in?

“Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member.”

Yeah!!  The message one of the College Republicans sent after being told “F--- YOU” was insufficiently respectful!  You might ask how does it make sense that Professor Lewin would justify her initial response based on something that only happened later?  Hey, you know what?

F--- YOU!

Definitely NOT safe for work:

J.

April 20, 2011 at 09:03 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 19, 2011

It’s Always Fun Until Someone Gets Hurt. Or Maybe Just Bruised a Little.

No parent wants to think about it, but the danger is there. Your young son or daughter, laughing happily one moment, and the next have speeding towards their head at many times the speed of a falling leaf, a deadly plastic perforated orb of impending doom.

We speak of the “wiffle ball,” or “ball of death” as it might be characterized by the New York State Health Department bureaucrats who deemed the game of Wiffle Ball along with Red Rover and Capture the Flag as posing “significant risk of injury” and so subject to state regulation.

Now, before you get all riled up saying this is no longer the same nation that defeated the Nazis in the Napoleonic Wars, you should know that the new regulations are fully supported by the New York State Camp Directors Association (NYSCDA), an industry group which felt it was vital to close a “loophole” in the law that had been allowing parents to give their money to people who were not members of the NYSCDA.

With the new regulations in place, small indoor camps that offer as few as two activities, one of which is on the danger list, come under the same expensive and onerous regulations as the big camps which offer sports like archery and horseback riding, also considered to pose “significant risk of injury.”  Just like Wiffle Ball.

As Adam Langbart, President of the NYSCDA points out,

“People are dissecting the law and dissecting the rules and regulations and basically taking things out of context. You gotta look at the big picture and not just say, ‘Oh. The state wants to regulate Wiffle Ball.’ They don’t.”

Exactly. They don’t want to.  They have to. For the children.  The children of members of the NYSCDA, anyway.

Wiffle Ball Injuries We should note that New York State regulators did exempt such activities as Frisbee from the list, even though, according to the New York State Department of Health statistics, Frisbee results in more injuries than Wiffle Ball and Red Rover combined. 

Which just goes to show, don’t mess with the powerful Frisbee industry.

Injury by Activity 2009 Leaving that aside, we can’t ignore the inherent danger of Wiffle Ball.  Think about it.  Plastic ball.  Plastic bat.  Why not just give the kids a stick of dynamite and a hammer?

The carnage is undeniable. In 2009 (the latest year for which data is available), Wiffle Ball was responsible for no fewer than 2 injuries in the state.

We don’t know the stories behind those tragedies, but we’re pretty sure that at some point, Tylenol was involved.

Why can’t kids do something safe, like dancing?

Okay, dancing resulted in five times the injuries of Wiffle Ball.

How about “arts and crafts?”  That sounds safe and peaceful.

Those produced twice the injuries.

In fact, “traveling between activities” produced over ten times the injuries while the ever-dangerous “playing” produced over 30 times the injuries.

Okay, fine, how about they just go to camp and  sleep.

Sleeping produced over three times the number of injuries.

Come to think of it, if you really want your children to be safe, maybe you should just have them play Wiffle Ball.

J.

April 19, 2011 at 07:01 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2011

It’s Tax Day, Everybody! Well, Not Everybody…

Today is tax day, and while no one likes to pay taxes, there is a certain communal spirit to it, the notion that on this one day, we all share the common burden of supporting the government, and by “we all share the common burden,” we mean, “about half of us share the common burden.”

As it turns out, due to various tax breaks, deductions, and credits, about 45% of American households either owe no federal income tax, or actually get money back from the IRS.

However, as CNN helpfully points out,

“But like most statistics, it is often misunderstood – “

Which tells you a lot about what CNN thinks of its readership, but that’s not all:

“…and, in the case of those trying to stir political outrage, misrepresented.”

As CNN explains it, when those who are trying to stir political outrage point out that nearly half of American households pay no federal income tax, many people don’t realize that they are only talking about federal income tax.

They really ought to make that more clear.

According to CNN, there are lots of other taxes those people pay:

“That does not mean such households end up paying no taxes whatsoever. For instance, those in the group still pay other taxes such as state and local income taxes, as well as property and sales taxes.”

“And the group doesn't necessarily get off scot-free when it comes to payroll taxes -- which support Social Security and Medicare.”

The point being that while it may be true that you are bearing the burden of paying for national defense, the Department of Transportation, the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Education, National Public Radio, and the rest of discretionary federal spending, and nearly half of your fellow citizens are not, you should take care to remember that they are paying other taxes.  Which you also pay. 

Okay, that sounded better when it was still inside our brain.

How did we get to a point where nearly half of American households pay no federal income tax?

According to CNN:

“The tax code is filled with hundreds of tax breaks to encourage economic activities the government favors, tax experts say. For instance, the law offers credits to supplement the wages of low-income workers,…”

Personally, we don’t think the government should be encouraging people to earn low wages, but that’s just us. 

Regardless, given the situation, we believe the famous quote of Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr. might need some updating:

“Taxes are the price other people pay for a civilized society.”

And yes, you are welcome.

J.

April 18, 2011 at 01:21 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 17, 2011

What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing on a Stamp Like This?

Not the Statue of Liberty The Post Office this week was forced to admit an embarrassing mistake when it was discovered that its stamp commemorating the iconic Statue of Liberty which has welcomed huddled masses yearning to breathe free from its perch in New York Harbor for the past 125 years, had instead a picture of a fake Statue of Liberty that has welcomed Midwestern gamblers yearning for an inside straight from its perch near the breakfast buffet at the New York New York Casino in Las Vegas for the past 14 years.

While the mix up was not intentional, the Post Office is sticking by its decision noting,

“We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway.”

Given this attitude, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this is not the only time the Post Office has used the wrong picture on a stamp. We have since learned the following commemorative stamps are also not what they seem:

Not Wedding Roses The flowers depicted on the “Wedding Roses” stamp are unfortunately not real wedding roses. The Post Office has admitted that they had been part of an Easter breakfast promotion swiped off a display table in the lobby of a Cracker Barrel in Waldorf, Maryland. The Post Office defended its action noting that the eggs had been runny.

Not Gregory Peck  While intended to honor the memory of actor Gregory Peck, in a cost-cutting move the Post Office decided to skip using a photography service and instead substituted a picture of Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe’s Great Uncle Alvin. The Post Office explained its decision with a statement that read in part, “Close enough.”

 

Not Kumquats The stamp designed to celebrate the lunar New Year was supposed to include a picture of kumquats, which are eaten for good luck and are given as special gifts. The stamp instead depicts Wild Arum, a poisonous berry native to Europe.  When informed of the error, the Post Office noted that “it’s not even an American holiday,” and besides, “no one eats stamps.”

Not Celia Cruz In an effort to pay proper respect to “Latin Music Legends,” the Post Office issued a series of commemorative stamps recognizing the greats of the genre. However, due to some confusion at the printing plant, the stamp intended to honor Celia Cruz, instead used a depiction of Top Chef contestant Carla Hall. Carla Hall When made aware of the error, Post Office officials pointed out that Ms. Hall “makes a mean chicken pot pie.”

Not Kansas A stamp issued in celebration of Kansas achieving statehood accidentally depicted an artist’s conception of the state of Indiana.  In response to a reporter’s question about the resulting outrage from the proud citizens of Kansas, a Post Office  spokesperson noted, “Tomato, tomahto.”

J.

April 17, 2011 at 01:03 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2011

Spinning The Future

On Wednesday the President outlined his innovative plan for addressing the nation’s fiscal crisis and bring our federal deficit under control:

  • Reduce spending.
  • Increase taxes.

It’s surprising no one had thought of that before. But he did warn us that he’d bring us change.

But what about the details?  Did the President step up to the challenge and lay out his plans no matter the political cost?

Let's examine his proposal:

“The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week.  That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years.  We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about.”

The President is playing with political fire here. Those “tough cuts” he mentions will almost certainly alarm the people who will be affected by those cuts, whoever they may be. We would not be surprised to learn that those people are already organizing against the cuts, if they knew what they were.

“The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending.  I believe we can do that again.” 

No, Mr. President, you are the courageous one for having the fearlessness to say in no uncertain terms that someone else is going to cut something in the future. Do they give out Nobel Prizes for political courage? Because they should.

“The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget…  Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.”

“Come on, Mr President,” you are probably saying, “We need specifics if we’re going to take you seriously.”

“We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare’s purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid.”

Not only will he “drive greater efficiency,” he’s going to “demand more efficiency.”

But what if the as-yet unidentified and unrealized efficiencies fail to do the trick?

“But if we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, then this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.”

All we can say is, “Wow.”  You didn’t think he would go there, but he went there.  He is willing to commit today to have other people find other unidentified savings if the unidentified savings he had originally not identified fail to materialize. (All the while still "improving Medicare.")

And what about Social Security? The President has a detailed plan for that too.

“While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that’s growing older.  As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations.”

You simply do not tell senior citizens that you’re going to have some other people think of ways to strengthen Social Security and expect to get re-elected, you just don’t. That’s not political courage, that’s political suicide.

That still leaves tax increases, possibly the most contentious part of his detailed plan, and yet he laid down the gauntlet on that as well:

“I believe reform should protect the middle class, promote economic growth, and build on the fiscal commission’s model of reducing tax expenditures so that there’s enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit.” 

Finding ways to reduce tax expenditures (see yesterday’s glossary) is not just something he’s thinking about maybe doing. It’s something he believes in maybe doing. (The word you're searching for is "commitment.")

That still leaves corporate taxes.

“And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive.“

We can’t believe he was willing to say outright, with no prevarication, that “we should reform our corporate tax code as well.”  Talk about giving your opponents a target to shoot at.

So, to sum up, the President’s plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years consists of the following four steps:

  1. Find a way to save money in discretionary spending.
  2. Have Gates find a way to save some more in defense spending.
  3. Find efficiencies in health care spending and have someone else strengthen Social Security in some fashion.
  4. Increase certain taxes in a manner yet to be determined.

As the President said,

“So this is our vision for America -– this is my vision for America -- a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future; where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden; where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and we provide rising opportunity for our children.”

Somehow.

J.

April 15, 2011 at 05:13 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 14, 2011

The 2012 Federal Budget Glossary

Yesterday, President Obama presented his “Framework for $4 Trillion in Deficit Reduction,” not to be confused with his 2012 budget submitted two months ago that was a framework for $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction. That was just a spring training budget meant to give his guys a good workout, see how the budget team played together and make any changes that might be necessary.  In light of Paul Ryan being put into the starting rotation by the GOP’s front office, the President realized he needed to step up his game.

Of course, making sense of all this can be very difficult for average Americans who may be unfamiliar with the wonkish vocabulary used by beltway insiders to discuss fiscal policy and so, using the President’s speech yesterday as a guide, we offer you:

The 2012 Federal Budget Glossary

“Tax Cut”

Used in a sentence: They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut.”

Definition: The act by which you don’t increase taxes on the rich from what they have been for years. (Not to be confused with a tax hike.)

“Tax Hike”

Used in a sentence: “In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans.“

Definition: The act by which you increase taxes on the middle class from what they have been for years.   (Keep in mind that tax hikes apply only to the middle class. The rich never have tax hikes, only increased fairness.)

“Millionaires.” 

Used in a sentence: But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.” 

Definition:  Anyone making more than $200,000 a year.

“Billionaires.” 

Used in a sentence: But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.” 

Definition:  Anyone making more than $200,000 a year.

“Spending Reductions in the Tax Code”

Used in a sentence: “…Then my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code.”

Definition: Consists of the extra money the government lets you keep through provisions in the tax code (such as the mortgage interest deduction) and is predicated on the assumption that all the money you make first and foremost belongs to the government

“Tax Expenditures”

Used in a sentence:The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code, so-called tax expenditures. In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans.”

Definition: After taking into account the money the government lets you keep though spending reductions in the tax code, this is the money the government let’s you keep after income taxes. This amount is commonly referred to as “take home pay” but could just as easily be considered an allowance.  (And really, a “thank you” now and again would be nice.)

“Most Fortunate”

Used in a sentence:  “…the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more.”

Definition: People who, through hard work, determination, and sacrifice, make more money than the less fortunate.

“Less Unfortunate”

Used in a sentence: As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate.”

Definition: People who vote for Obama.

“Fairness”

Used in a sentence: See above.

Definition: That which is achieved by increasing taxes on the rich (or refusing to give them a “Tax Cut,” per above) no matter how much they pay now.

J.

April 14, 2011 at 05:29 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack