Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quick Hits - July 17, 2012

Earlier today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress on the current state of the U.S. economy.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered a bleak new assessment of the U.S. economy to lawmakers on Tuesday but remained guarded about what the Fed would do about the disappointing outlook…

…He also sounded sharp concerns over the labor market, which Fed officials have made clear is central to whether they decide to enact more programs to spur growth. The Fed chief predicted that progress in reducing the country's 8.2% unemployment rate "seems likely to be frustratingly slow."

During the Fed Chair's appearance, Democrat Senator Chuckie Schumer (NY) demanded Bernanke take action to stimulate the national economy prior to the November election...
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., exhorted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to stimulate the economy before November through some form of quantitative easing or other monetary policy, which Bernanke said could create jobs.

“Despite two false starts, we’re having a much rougher time than we ever imagined getting unemployment down,” Schumer told the Senate Banking Committee. “So get to work, Mr. Chairman.” Schumer said Bernanke needed to stimulate the economy because Congress refuses — “maybe after November we will,” he opined.

“We will act in an apolitical, non-partisan manner to do what is necessary for the economy,” Bernanke replied. “We have said we are willing to take further action,” he added, saying “it’s very important that we see sustained improvement in the labor market.”
This demand from a Senator of the same party in the Senate that is actively holding the U.S. economy hostage -  willing to drive the economy off the 'taxmaggeddon' cliff in order to hike income taxes to feed the ravenous maw of a progressive government...
Today, the top 1% of income earners pays 37% of all federal income taxes, far more than their 17% share of the nation's income. The bottom half, meanwhile, pays just 2% of all income taxes, although they account for 13% of the nation's income, according to IRS data.

What's more, the share paid by the rich is higher today than it was when Bush took office, when it was 34%.

How is this not fair?

And while Obama claims that the nation "can't afford" Bush's cuts for the rich, and that these "are a major driver of our deficit," that, too, is poppycock.

The most "expensive" parts of the Bush tax cut — to use the misleading Washington parlance — were those benefitting the middle class, which accounted for the vast bulk of the Bush tax package.

And raising the top two tax brackets to Clinton-era levels — as Obama proposes — will do nothing to ameliorate the nation's ongoing fiscal crisis. At best, it would trim the 10-year deficit by a mere 8%, and that's assuming the rich don't take steps to avoid the higher taxes.

What Obama's tax plan will do — by his own admission — is hit some 900,000 small businesses with a tax hike, cutting their ability to invest, grow and hire.

In other words, Obama and his Democratic allies are pointing a gun at the economy and threatening to pull the trigger unless they get a tax hike that will itself hurt economic growth. All in an attempt to portray Republicans as the party of the rich.

So much for hope and change.
More hope and change? Did you know that under President Obama's economic policies in this latest 'recovery summer', more Americans joined the federal government disability rolls in the last three months than found new jobs?
Quick side note - The proposed French plan to increase the income tax rate for those earning more than €1 million annually to 75% has sparked an exodus of those facing this rate to the UK and Switzerland. A new poll by McClatchy-Marist finds that 52% of registered voters are in favor of keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax rates in place for ALL income levels...
Some of the strongest support for extending all of the tax cuts came from some of Obama’s most reliable supporters, such as young voters, minorities and the poor and working class.  
Young voters ages 18-29 favored tax cuts for everyone by a margin of 69-29, the largest margin of any age group. Interestingly, “those making less than $50,000 supported tax cuts for all incomes by 53 percent to 41 percent.”   
Of course, the current debate isn’t even over tax cuts, but merely keeping current rates in place.
Hold that thought a moment, as we're going to be paying another visit to this poll shortly... Appearing on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' program with the vapid Mike Brzezinski, Deputy Obama Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter performed a less than adroit walk-back / non-walk-back of her rhetorical molotov cocktail directed at Mitt Romney attacking him as a 'felon'...  

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
President Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Tuesday she was not suggesting Mitt Romney “committed a crime” when he filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding his role with Bain Capital, but said the issue highlighted his lack of transparency with voters.  
"If you look at the discussion we were having, last week it was revealed that Mitt Romney signed his name on SEC documents saying he was chairman, CEO, president and full owner of Bain Capital. But he's also telling the American people that he's not responsible for anything that happened there. So we're simply pointing out that both things can't be true," Cutter said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Without a record to run on, the President's campaign has been focusing the last 2 months on a relentless $100 million campaign of primarily negative advertisements attacking Mitt Romney over his tenure / non-tenure at Bain Capital. They are being directly assisted in this by many elements of the mainstream media - whose sycophants seem to believe that they are surrogates of the Obama campaign. Here, CNN Anchor Erin Burnett lectures Mitt Romney to release more tax returns and pay more taxes...
BURNETT: It is an issue for Mitt Romney. It is not his wife's money. And unlike John McCain, Romney's career has been in business, not politics. Mitt Romney is running on his business expertise. His tax returns are a relevant window into how he conducts his business affairs. If he refuses to release them, it is because, one, he had a lot more money in tax shelters in prior years than he does now.  
Two, he did something shady. Or, three, he's stupid. Now Mitt Romney is not a stupid man. And if he did something shady, well he did it because if he did, the IRS would already have found it. So let's assume it's number one. He had a lot of tax shelters, took advantage of every loophole known to man in the 72,536-page IRS tax code. That's fair and square. That is why the tax code is so long so people can take advantage of it. But here's our decent proposal. Release the returns. If there's a lot of tax shelters and some frankly incredibly low tax rates, significantly lower say than your 13.9 percent rate in 2010, Mitt, then say this: My tax rates were too low. I don't believe that passively invested money should be taxed lower than income other people earn by working.  
I benefitted from low rates on investment. That's not great policy and I'm going to change it. On day one -- by the way, three words everybody if you see his ad, you know Mitt Romney likes to say "on day one" – I will end the carried interest loophole that personally saved me tens of millions of dollars at least. After all Americans know that this country needs major tax reform. Even Tea Partiers like Rand Paul and Mike Lee have said on this show that they would close some of the loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans.  
And Mitt, you could use this as a chance to show how generous you are. Get ready for this everybody. It is true that Mitt Romney gave $7 million to charity in the two years that I held up. That's 2010 and 2011. Now that's 16.4 percent of his income. It is more than he paid in federal taxes. Now, keep this screen up because I want to show you this.      
It's not like he sat there and hoarded the money he didn't pay to Uncle Sam. He gave enough away to make his rate, well 31 percent. Greater than the 30 percent that President Barack Obama says should be the minimum rate for wealthy Americans. So if you look at it that way, Mitt's taxes seem to add up just fine. He could make the argument; that's why he should seize the narrative. It isn't caving to Democrats to release them. Not only have many in his own party called on him to do it, which you'll hear in a moment, it also lets him take control of the conversation.
After all, what's wrong with being known as one of the most generous people in the country?
So, with this line of attack being directed at Mitt Romney over the last two months - has it changed the race at all? Let's revisit the McClatchy-Marist poll that we cited earlier and look at where they have the Presidential race... Obama 48, Romney 46.

Here's Hot Air's Ed Morrissey's analysis of this poll...

On the whole, this is not good news for Barack Obama. The previous Marist/McClatchy national poll was in March — and that also showed a two-point lead for Obama over Romney, 46/44. Since that time, Marist has focused on swing-state polling — which also showed dead heats in June. Obama and his allies have flooded the media zone with hard-hitting ads, and the best that one can say about their effect is that Obama isn’t losing ground. Romney has yet to unleash a big attack on the airwaves, but those days will come soon, especially with the way Romney is raising funds.

This is the same survey from Saturday’s release on the tax cut issue, so the same sample issues apply. The skew is D+7 with a D/R/I of 36/29/34 among registered voters, which means this leans a little toward Obama. That can be seen in the breakout of independents, which favor Romney by four, 48/44. In 2008, when the electorate really did have a D+7 skew, Obama won by seven points and carried independents by eight. Losing independents would mean that Obama would have to get a base turnout that exceeded the 2008 model, which seems extremely unlikely. This race is not moving at all in any direction at the moment.
The Romney campaigne out raised the Obama campaign by $16 million in May and $35 million in June. They are trending up in their fundraising. The Obama campaign is trending down - which then gives us days like this in the President's schedule for today...
9:00 am ET || Departs White House

11:30 am CT || Arrives San Antonio

1:00 pm CT || Delivers remarks at a fundraiser; The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio

2:30 pm CT || Attends a fundraiser; private residence, San Antonio

3:50 pm CT || Departs San Antonio

4:25 pm CT || Arrives Austin

5:50 pm CT || Delivers remarks at a fundraiser; Austin Music Hall

7:55 pm CT || Delivers remarks at a fundraiser, private residence

9:10 pm CT || Departs Austin

1:20 am ET || Arrives White House

No work, just 4 fundraisers...which should have the President close to the 200 mark since announcing his reelection campaign.

An Olympics official says Muslim countries have blocked the International Olympic Committee from honoring the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Games in Munich.
An Olympics official admitted that Muslim countries blocked the “One-Minute of Silence” campaign to honor the 11 murdered Israeli athletes, one of the widows said.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andre was one of the athletes massacred in the Munich Games in 1972, told the European Jewish Press that Jacques Rogge, president of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, told her that his “hands were tied” by the admission of 46 Arab and Muslim members to the International Olympic Committee.

She replied, “My husband’s hands were tied, not yours.”

The widow has been conducting an uphill battle to convince the International Olympics Committee to remember the slain athletes with one minute of silence before the opening of the Games in London next week. It never has done so since the murders 40 years ago.

Today in History 

1941 - Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak, still a major league record, ends in Cleveland as he is held hitless by 2 Indian pitchers.

1944 - An ammunition ship being loaded in Port Chicago, California explodes, killing 322. The port, 30 miles north of San Francisco, was a major munitions facility. Poor training, lax safety standards, and a franctic loading schedule contributed to the accident. The blast of nearly 5,000 tons of explosives and ammunition damaged parts of San Francisco.

1945 - The final 'Big 3' meeting between the US, UK, and USSR takes place in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam.

1955 - Built for $17 million on 160 acres of former orange groves, Disneyland opens to the public. Today, the park hosts more than 14 million annual visitors who spend close to $3 billion.

1996 - TWA Flight 800, a 747 bound from New York's JFK International to Paris, explodes over the Atlantic Ocean just as it commences it's climb to cruising altitude - killing all 230 souls on board. While the official investigation determined the crash was caused by a mechanical fault which exploded the aircraft's central fuel tank, there are those who continue to believe the aircraft was downed either by a terrorist's bomb or an accidental U.S. Navy missile test.

1997 - After 117 years in business in the United States, Woolworth Corp closes it's last 400 US stores. Woolworth's was one of America's first 'five and dime' stores. From this point, the company changed its name to Venator Group and focused on their Foot Locker retail stores.

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