Sunday, July 11, 2010

Politics GPS Need to Know BBC Nightline Worth Watching

Tags: Worth Watching Tea Party Freeland PBS Meacham Need to Know Zakaria GPS PBS BBC Nightline

Need to Know is the PBS replacement for Moyers Journal. I find it a quite interesting program which I DVR and watch it during the weekend. I turn off the TV at ten or earlier so I tape shows I want to watch later. Jon Meacham who is the editor of Newsweek is one of the moderators of Need to Know on Friday. The website is much more organized than in the past and easier to find things. Try it. As soon as the sale of Newsweek is resolved, I will again subscribe.

The Key statement by Chrystia Freeland: My interpretation of what she said: "American voters have already been heavily stripped of income so they do not like programs that take even more money from them. That is why Healthcare Reform is not popular, but so far the Democrats are too stupid to compare more subscribers of the young as in Life Insurance and control of too much unnecessary procedures." She is a former USA editor at the Financial Times who was a very popular commentator on MSNBC, and one of my favorites. The other was former Governor Eliot Spitzer who will have a CNN program this fall which I will not miss.

I like to also watch CNN’s GPS starring Fareed Zakaria He interviewed the financial guy in the UK Osborne, a conservative who looks like another Thatcher. Osborne is sharply reducing funding for the poor and taxing the rich. When the middle class sees no opportunity and made poor by the conservative party as in the USA, they vote against the liberals because the middle class is so poor that they don't want to give any more to anyone else. Our Tea Party reflects the mood of the country to a larger extent than polls indicate.

“He's the U.K.'s youngest Chancellor of the Exchequer - that's finance minister to the rest of us - in over 100 years.

And he's introduced a bold new strategy to fighting Britain's deficit: cutting the budget in a big way and raising taxes.

Fareed sits down with George Osborne for an exclusive interview to discuss the strategy behind Britain's new austerity budget, the return of the Conservative party to power and much more.” Video should be available soon.

BBC Nightline is a program normally not available here except on the BBC website. Before the Nov Election 2000 Gore vs Bush that Governor Jeb Bush removed 100,000 voter registrations in Democratic precincts by calling them felons without any proof. The major American Press/Media were offered the exclusive, but refused to publish or report it or buried it.

The computer company admitted that they arbitrarily removed the names without any investigation or using their middle initials or their exact birth date. Some were restored by local election officials, but at least half were not. The Scalia Supreme Court stopped the recount which found that Gore won by any permutation of the recount and even without excluding the 600 fraudulent overseas votes they detected.

Remember the corporate press and media main function is to increase profits through advertising. They also prefer the more corporate Republican party unless the previous Republican administration extraction of money from the American people was so obvious and severe that they must put in a Democrat to share or take the blame. McClatchy (Most honest large news service), Huffington Post (conservative and liberal views), Crooks and Liars good news analysis will be all you need to understand what is happening in our country.

Zero Estate Taxes in 2010 Robs Us of Billions of Tax Revenues By Jon Perr Wednesday Jun 09, 2010 1:00pm Thanks to obstructionist Republicans in Congress and their perpetual campaign to kill the estate tax, the United States Treasury stands to lose billions in revenue in 2010. And as the New York Timesreported this week, a large chunk of it won't be coming from a single family. The heirs of Texas pipeline billionaire Dan L. Duncan "may become the first American billionaire allowed to pass his fortune to his children and grandchildren tax-free" and so become among the first beneficiaries of the GOP's new slogan for the wealthy, "die here, die now, pay less!"

The Times described how the supposed deficit-hawks Republican Party conspired to unleash a flow of red ink that could cost the federal government billions this year alone:

Had his life ended three months earlier, Mr. Duncan's riches - Forbes magazine estimated his worth at $9 billion, ranking him as the 74th wealthiest in the world - would have been subject to a federal tax of at least 45 percent. If he had lived past Jan. 1, 2011, the rate would be even higher - 55 percent.

Instead, because Congress allowed the tax to lapse for one year and gave all estates a free pass in 2010, Mr. Duncan's four children and four grandchildren stand to collect billions that in any other year would have gone to the Treasury.

In 2009, only 1 in 500 American estates paid taxes. But barring new legislation in Congress, in 2011 the estate tax rate will jump back up to its pre-2001 level of 55%, starting at $2 million per couple. In December, the House voted 225-200 to maintain 2009's rate of 45% beginning at $3.5 million per person or $7 million per couple. But as 2009, Jon Kyl led the successful GOP effort to block the bill, ensuring the temporary expiration of the estate tax on January 1st:

"It's a problem that doesn't have to exist if they'll just leave the existing law alone and let the rate go to zero, which is where everyone wants it to be."

Well, not everyone.

But as ThinkProgress documented, even as she faced a tough reelection battle, millionaire Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln remained in Jon Kyl's corner fighting to reduce the estate rate to 35% beginning at $5 million per person:

Key Senate negotiators are making significant progress toward resolving the tangled legislative mess known as the estate tax. Notably, Finance Committee members Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., are finding revenue-raising offsets within the estate tax code to cover the costs of the more generous rate and exemption they want...If they can use estate tax offsets to bridge the estimated $60 billion to $80 billion gap between their proposal and the House-passed bill (HR 4154), Kyl and Lincoln could shield themselves from some class-based arguments about tax fairness.

But thanks to the new "Pay-Go" budgeting rules every Senate Republican voted against in January, that $60 billion to $80 billion hole must be filled by spending cuts or other tax increases.

Under the 2009 rate, 99.8% of estates owe no estate tax at all. And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) showed, over 62% of estate tax revenue comes from the "extreme wealthy" with fortunes greater than $20 million. "Only three percent of taxes owed" are paid by estates under $5 million. But as the Washington Post explained in April 2009, those are precisely the pockets Lincoln and Kyl want to line:

The estate tax is scheduled to disappear in 2010, only to be resurrected the following year at its 2001 level, when it applied only to estates worth over $2 million per couple at a rate of 55 percent. In fact, no one expects it to return to that level -- although letting it do so would be a far more rational response to the current crisis than the Lincoln-Kyl approach. Rather, President Obama has proposed holding the tax at this year's level: an exemption of $7 million per couple, with a 45 percent rate for amounts beyond that; this would cost $484 billion over 10 years. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has endorsed this solution, with indexing for inflation. This would hardly be punitive. At that level, 99.76 percent of estates would incur no tax whatsoever. Those who owe would pay, on average, $2.25 million less than they would have paid at the 2001 exemption level. Why in the world should these folks get more of a tax cut?

The Republican scam over the so-called "death tax" is as bogus now as it was when President Bush first perpetrated it nine years ago. (The House GOP budget, fittingly unveiled by Rep. Paul Ryan on April Fool's Day 2009, would eliminate the estate tax altogether. CBPP estimated that ending the estate tax would cost the United States Treasury $1 trillion over 10 years.) While Nevada Senator John Ensign griped, "It destroys a lot of small businesses and a lot of family farms and ranches in America," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) groused:

"People who aren't wealthy, who may have built up value in land over generations and many family farms find themselves in situations where they've got to sell the farm in order the pay the taxes."

As it turns out, of course, not so much.

While CBPP estimated that only 1 in 500 estates is impacted by the current law, the Tax Policy Centerquantified last year just how few family farms or small businesses are actually impacted by the estate tax proposals under consideration:

We estimate that under the Obama proposal, 100 family farms and businesses would owe tax. (We define such estates as those where farm or business assets are valued at under $5 million and comprise the majority of estate assets.) The Lincoln-Kyl proposal would cut the number to 40. Even under current law, fewer than 2,700 family farms and businesses would owe tax.

Last month, supposed centrist Republican Chuck Grassley (R-IA) signed onto the Kyl-Lincoln reverse Robin Hood plan. As it turns out, Grassley's worth is estimated at between $2.1 million and $5.2 million. So if Grassley succeeds in exempting himself from paying the estate tax, who will make up the shortfall for the U.S. Treasury? The answer is in your mirror.

And unless Congress acts soon, the heirs of billionaire big-game hunter Dan Duncan will have bagged the biggest prize of them all.

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)

Jim Kawakami, July 11, 2010,

Need to Know PBS July 9, 2010

The battle over unemployment

July 9th, 2010

As we simmer along with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent — a number that would be higher if so many people hadn’t simply given up looking for work — the proposed solutions seem contradictory: Spend more to stimulate the economy; cut spending to reduce the deficit. Smart people on either side of that argument will tell you why they’re right. But left in the middle are hundreds of Americans whose unemployment benefits have run out, with no relief in sight from a Congress that refused to extend these benefits before going on recess. Reuters Global Editor-at-Large Chrystia Freeland sat down with Jon Meacham to weigh the policies and politics. Hit link for 5 minute video

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