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John Kartch

Obama's VAT Trial Balloon Dusts Off Bill Clinton's 1993 Playbook


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 6:11 PM PERMALINK


When it comes to finding a way to finance government-run health care, the administration of Barack Obama is floating a VAT trial balloon echoing that of President Bill Clinton in 1993.

The Obama administration’s VAT trial balloon is being floated by Kenneth Baer, spokesman for Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag, who was quoted in the Washington Post on Wednesday as saying a VAT is "unlikely to be in the mix" but did not rule it out, despite Obama’s central campaign promise not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000: "While we do not want to rule any credible idea in or out as we discuss the way forward with Congress, the VAT tax, in particular, is popular with academics but highly controversial with policymakers.”
 
In April of 1993, newly inaugurated President Clinton was exploring ways to pay for his government health care plan, including a VAT, as noted at the time in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
 
Trial balloons wafting over Washington say the administration may be considering a value-added tax - VAT for short - to fund universal health care coverage. And President Bill Clinton himself is keeping the balloons aloft. “There are all kinds of arguments for it on policy grounds,”Clinton said Friday at a press conference.Clinton said he hadn't decided to include a VAT in his health care plan. But he said he didn't mind the fact that two top administration officials said they liked the idea.’ We've had a lot of people from business and labor come to us saying they thought that that tax would help make their particular industries more competitive in the global economy,"Clinton told a reporter, who implied that the aides were speaking out of turn. (Gallagher, J. (1993, April 25). Clinton Stirs a VAT; New Tax Enters Health Debate. St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)
 
“The people closest to Obama seem to believe he wasn’t telling the truth when he promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.  “Otherwise they would have outright rejected the mere mention of a VAT, a tax that would be paid by all Americans.”

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1.9 Million Jobs Lost Under Obama-No Matter How You Slice it


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, May 11th, 2009, 4:09 PM PERMALINK


The White House's invention of new metrics such as “saved” jobs and “job-year” doesn't pass the laugh test.

The U.S. has lost at least 1.9 million jobs since President Barack Obama took office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the total number of jobs nationwide fell from 134.3 million at the end of January to 132.4 million at the end of April.

Meanwhile, Obama and his economic advisors have resorted to the invention of highly questionable new metrics such as the number of “saved” jobs and – making its debut today -- the number of “job-years” created.
 
The concept of a “saved” job was best debunked by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. On March 4, while testifying before the Committee, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was challenged by Baucus as follows:
 
SEN: MAX BAUCUS: "You created a situation where you cannot be wrong. If the economy loses 2 million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would've lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs. You've given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct."
 
BLS data show 651,000 jobs were lost in February; 663,000 jobs were lost in March; and 539,000 jobs were lost in April. The unemployment rate stands at 8.9 percent, up from 7.6 percent at the end of January.

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Pre-Buttals to Obama's Press Conference


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 7:57 PM PERMALINK


According to his prepared remarks for tonight’s press conference, Obama will make the following claim:

“We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families.”
 
Rebuttal:
 
First, cutting taxes for “95% of all working families” is mathematically impossible. Obama is referring to the “Making Work Pay” refundable tax credit, which took effect on April 1. According to IRS data, one-third of all income tax filers don’t have a federal income tax liability.  About 15 percent of all working families don’t even have a FICA tax liability, and these numbers are before taking into effect all the new refundable tax credits of the Obama budget.  For these “working families,” all Obama’s budget will do is cut them the equivalent of a welfare check.
 
Second, there is no intellectually honest way to measure “saved or created” jobs. As Senator John Ensign (R-NV) said on March 4 to Tim Geithner: "You created a situation where you cannot be wrong. If the economy loses 2 million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would've lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs," Ensign said. "You've given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct."

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Press Conference Tonight: Questions for Obama


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 5:41 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform suggests the following questions be asked of President Obama tonight as he holds the third prime time press conference of his presidency:

Tax Hikes on Those Making Less than $250,000: You repeatedly promised during your campaign that you would not raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 per year. Yet your very own budget contains a “Cap and Trade” tax plan that will increase taxes on every American family by $3,100 per year, and other provisions that could total as much as $10,000 per year. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) recently said “No one in this country realizes that Cap-and-Trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one.” Do you agree with him?
 
Transparency: The website BarackObama.com emphasizes a promise you made during your campaign – a promise that all legislation reaching your desk will be posted online for five full days so that Americans have a chance to review it. On numerous occasions, including the “Stimulus” bill, you have not lived up to this promise. Why?
 
95 Percent of Working Families: You have said that your budget cuts taxes for 95 percent of working families. Yet the IRS reports that one-third of tax returns record no income tax liability. How is your claim mathematically possible?
 
Small Business Tax Hikes: You have said that your plan to raise tax rates on families making $250,000 or more will only affect a small percentage of small businesses, which pay business taxes on their owners’ 1040s. Yet IRS data shows that $2 out of every $3 in profits earned by small businesses pays taxes in just these households. Isn’t the fact that most small business profits will be subjected to a tax hike an important consideration?
 
Tea Parties: On April 14, your spokesman Robert Gibbs said he was not sure if you knew about the “tea parties” attended by at least 578,000 Americans in at least 540 locations. Going forward, do you think it is important to take the concerns of these Americans seriously?

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Top Five Ridiculous Quotations of Obama's First 100 Days


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 2:03 PM PERMALINK


On the occasion of President Obama’s first 100 days in office, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) highlights five memorable quotations from the Obama Administration:

“What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, not a single earmark, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable.”
 
            -- On Feb. 9, President Obama characterizes a stimulus bill that contains over 9,000 earmarks as not containing “a single earmark”
 
 
“As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't -- not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited -- I am.” 
 
-- On February 24, Obama makes his first address to a joint session of Congress and claims he does not believe in “bigger government”. Two days later he releases his budget outline which dramatically increases the scope of the federal government.
 
 
I want to underscore that one of the mistakes governments have made over time in dealing with economic crises is putting the brakes on too quickly or in ways that hurt growth just as it’s starting to take hold.  We just want to be careful not to do that.”
 
-- On March 12, testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner admits that tax hikes “hurt growth” -- while ducking questions as to whether Obama’s planned tax hikes would go into effect in 2011 regardless of the condition of the economy
 
 
I don't know if the President is aware of the events.”
 
-- Robert Gibbs on April 14, in response to a question about the nationwide “tax day tea parties” attended by at least 578,000 people in hundreds of cities nationwide.
 
 
I'm not making jokes about it.  I'm being completely sincere that only in Washington, D.C. is $100 million not a lot of money.  It is where I'm from.  It is where I grew up.  And I think it is for hundreds of millions of Americans.”
 
-- Robert Gibbs on April 20, attempting to defend the paltry sum of proposed budget cuts by Obama: $100 million, which is less than 0.003% of Obama’s FY 2010 budget and less than one day of interest on the “stimulus” bill
 

 

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Obama's Broken Promise: No Tax Hikes on Those Making Less Than $250,000


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 4:34 PM PERMALINK


During his campaign, President Obama promised repeatedly that he would never raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 per year. A review of Obama’s first 100 days in office shows he has broken this promise on at least two occasions.

PROMISE:
 
“I can make a firm pledge.  Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes (September 12, 2008, Dover, NH)
 
"No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised," Joe Biden said, "whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax."(Joe Biden, Oct. 3, 2008, Vice Presidential Debate, St. Louis, MO)
 
DATES PROMISE BROKEN:
 
Feb. 4 -- just 16 days into his presidency, Obama signs into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack, which took effect on April 1. 
 
The tax increase falls squarely on the shoulders of the middle and low-income Americans Obama said he would not raise taxes on: 55 percent of smokers are “working poor”, one in four smokers live below the poverty line, and on average, smokers, whose median income is a little more than $36,000 make about 30 percent less than non-smokers.
 
Feb. 26 -- Obama released his FY 2010 budget which imposes a range of tax hikes including a ''cap and trade'' tax of $646 billion. Every American family will pay this tax in the form of higher gasoline, heating and electric bills. By adding together the “cap and trade” tax increase along with other energy tax hikes in the Obama budget and dividing by the number of families, it's clear what this annual tax hike would be:  The average American family would pay, directly or indirectly, approximately $10,000 per year in new energy taxes.
 

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Obama's $100 Million in Spending Cuts = Less Than One Day of Interest on the "Stimulus" Bill


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, April 20th, 2009, 3:41 PM PERMALINK


President Barack Obama today asked his Cabinet to find a mere $100 million to cut from the federal budget in the next ninety days. This hollow attempt to placate a concerned citizenry represented by at least 360,000 tax day tea party attendees is an insult to taxpayers and equals less than one day of interest on the $787 billion “Stimulus” bill.

Here’s the math:
 
--The “Stimulus” bill created $787 billion in new debt
 
--Assume an interest rate of 5 percent
 
--5 percent of $787 billion = $39.5 billion
 
--$39.5 billion divided by 365 days = $108.2 million per day in interest generated from the debt issued to finance the stimulus package
 
“This is a pathetic joke”, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. This ‘cut’ is less than three thousandths of one percent of the federal budget. Penny wise, trillion dollar stupid.”

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ATR Commends Sen. Specter for His Decision to Vote Against EFCA


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 2:32 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform congratulates Sen. Specter for his decision to vote against cloture and final passage of the Employee Free Choice Act better known as Card Check. This is perhaps the most important issue facing Congress this year.

To see ATR’s full statement on Sen. Specter’s decision, click “read more.”
 
 
Specter to vote against Card Check
ATR commends Sen. Arlen Specter for his commitment to vote against both cloture and final passage of Employee Free Choice Act
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Americans for Tax Reform was able to confirm today that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) will announce his intent to vote against both cloture and final passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as “Card Check.”
 
Senator Specter has come through in the clutch,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This is almost certain to be the single most important vote of 2009. The Employee Free Choice Act has the potential to do tremendous damage to the economy at an extremely vulnerable time. Thank you Senator Specter for standing on the side of individual liberty for American workers.”
 
Among other anti-worker features such as binding arbitration, EFCA will eliminate a worker’s right to a federally-supervised private ballot election. Instead, private ballots will be replaced by a kind of open-air petition known as a “card check.” Under this system, workers would lose their right to privacy. Employers, union organizers, and co-workers would all know whether individual workers each vote for or against unionization.
 
Additionally, a recent study from The Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs estimates that the effects of the EFCA and card check will cost 600,000 American jobs in 2010 alone.

 

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Geithner acknowledges tax hikes "hurt growth" while ducking questions on implementation


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, March 12th, 2009, 1:16 PM PERMALINK


Treasury Secretary Geithner testified before the Senate Budget Committee today.  Under questioning from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Geithner admitted tax hikes "hurt growth" but ducked questions as to whether Obama's planned tax increases would still go into effect if the economy is not in recovery by 2011.

ATR issued the following in response:

Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee this morning, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner acknowledged tax increases “hurt growth” yet repeatedly ducked questions on whether President Obama’s planned tax hikes would go into effect in 2011 regardless of the condition of the economy:

SEN. MIKE CRAPO, R-Idaho:  “You say that the tax increases will only happen when the economy has recovered. I understand that a lot of economists are saying we are going to be recovered by 2011.   Frankly I think there are economists who are saying maybe our recovery will not be so strong by then.  My question to you is, are these tax increases contingent on a recovery or are they going to happen regardless of what happens in 2011?”
 
SEC. GEITHNER: “Senator, I think it is a very important question. I think, again, we need to lay out an ambitious path for bringing those deficits down, commit to achieving that with a mix of measures on the resource side and the spending side to do the best possible job of leaving our economy stronger, and that’s what the President’s budget tries to do. Now of course we are going to have to watch how the economy evolves and I want to underscore that one of the mistakes governments have made over time in dealing with economic crises is putting the brakes on too quickly or in ways that hurt growth just as it’s starting to take hold. We just want to be careful not to do that.”
 
SEN. CRAPO: “So are you saying if we don’t see the more rosy picture in 2011 that we may not see the Administration suggest that we move to enact tax increases?”
 
SEC. GEITHNER: “I’m just saying that recovery requires that we keep stimulus sustained until growth is in place but we have to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”
 
“Obama and Geithner are putting the brakes on the economy NOW. Unlike Secretaries of the Treasury, small businessmen and women plan their investment and hiring decisions based on the tax burden years in advance,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Telling someone you are going to dramatically raise their taxes later is a disincentive now, not just in a matter of 22 months into the future.   That is, unless you are one of Obama’s cronies and you don’t pay your taxes anyway.”

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Obama breaks three promises with signing of Omnibus spending bill


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009, 3:44 PM PERMALINK


After President Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill today, Americans for Tax Reform released the following:

President Barack Obama today signed HR 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, a $410 billion piece of legislation containing over 9,000 earmarks. By signing the bill, Obama breaks at least three of his most important campaign promises:
 
1)      Transparency -- Obama promised to post passed legislation online for five full days before signing it. Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill less than a day after he received it from Congress.
 
“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you, the American voter, will have five days to look online and find out what it is before I sign it.
 
(June 22, 2007.  Manchester, New Hampshire. Video clip at 20m 10s:  http://tinyurl.com/dl2wog)
 
2)    Overall spending – Obama promised to enact net spending cuts as President. The Omnibus bill is more than 8 percent higher than 2008 spending levels.
 
“So we’re going to have to make some investments but we’ve also got to make spending cuts, and what I’ve proposed -- you’ll hear Senator McCain say ‘he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending’ --but, actually, I’m cutting more than I’m spending.  So that it will be a net spending cut.” 
 
(Oct. 7, 2008.  Second Presidential Debate - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM0Eri8VWiw)
 
3)     Wasteful spending – Obama promised to “go line by line” to make sure taxpayer money was not wasted. Among the questionable spending in the Omnibus bill is an earmark which sticks taxpayers with a $200,000 tab for a tattoo removal program in California.
 
“And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”
 
(Sept.  26, 2008.  First Presidential Debate -- http://tinyurl.com/ad6966)

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