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Posts Tagged ‘election 2008

Obamanomics and Taxes: The “Fair” Illusion…

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Senator Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats often talk of making the US tax system more “fair” by imposing additional taxes on higher earners. They argue this segment of the population should be carrying a disproportionally heavier load than the rest of the populace. It’s a very calculated and clever argument: it appeals to envy and social divisions while at the same time jeopardizing only a small segment of voters. But does it have any basis in reality?

When it comes to the US tax system, the wealthy already pay an astonishingly disproportionate share of all tax revenues. Take, for example, the top two percent of all earners: this group pays an incredible 43.6% ¹ of all personal federal income taxes. Yes, you read that right: two percent carry nearly half the load.

Well, you might argue, if they make 43.6% of all income, then that seems reasonable. Not even close: the top two percent of all earners take in 24.1% of all income.

The bottom 50% of all earners contributes a mere 3.3% of all federal income taxes (while earning 13.4% of all income).

Let’s drill down a little further and look at the top five percent: Senator Obama has called on increasing the taxes on this group, and he has defined them as earning $250,000 or more per annum (since then, he’s adjusted that to $200,000 in a television ad; his running mate, Senator Joe Biden, uses $150,000). What do the numbers say about this group?

Well, Senator Biden is closer to the truth than Senator Obama: the top five percent of all earners make $137,056 a year. They currently contribute, wait for it, 57.1% of all federal income taxes. Can it truthfully be said they are not carrying their fair share?

Britain experimented with similar wealth-redistribution schemes in the ’70s: the top earners were subjected to a 90% (yes, ninety-percent!) tax rate. What happened as a result? They left.

Written by westcoastsuccess

November 1, 2008 at 8:59 pm

An Open Letter to Senator Obama…

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Senator Obama,

You spoke today about your plan to increase capital gains taxes from 15% to 20%. You referred to it as a “modest increase”.

Sir: most people, even most Democrats, do not consider a 33% increase in taxes “modest”.

You’ve also spoken about your intent not to raise taxes on the so-called “middle-class”.

These two statements are incompatible: over 100,000,000 Americans will be affected by your 33% tax increase (which you’ve previously said you’d ultimately raise to 28%, which would be a total tax increase of 87%). People who are relying on their retirement investments will be affected. People invested in mutual funds will be impacted. Hard working people who rely on their union-negotiated pension will be affected, since those same pensions invest in the markets.

Further, at a time when capital has retreated on a wholesale basis from the markets, threatening the entire economy and making investments by companies in job-creating growth virtually impossible, do you truly believe new barriers to capital are prudent economics?

Senator Obama, please, please reconsider this course of action. Neither the American people nor the economy can reasonably be expected to sustain a 33% tax hike, and while ideology is a fine thing in extremely small doses, now isn’t the time to impose it, regardless of how tempting control of all arms of the Legislative and Executive branches of government may make it.

Written by westcoastsuccess

November 1, 2008 at 9:22 am

On Eve of Debate, a Strategy for McCain…

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As Senators John McCain and Barack Obama prepare for Tuesday’s debate, the most recent polls show this debate a must-win for Mr McCain: Mr Obama’s campaign has the momentum with just a month to go before Americans go to the polls and leads McCain in virtually every survey recently conducted.

What can Senator McCain do to stem the tide and reverse some of Senator Obama’s recent gains? Plenty:

  • Start with an obvious avenue of attack: Senator Joe Biden’s own opinion of Mr Obama, as expressed during the Primary campaign. Senator Obama’s running mate had this to say about the Presidential candidate he now shares a ticket with:
    • “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
    • On Afghanistan, Biden’s campaign released this at the time: “It’s good to see Sen. Obama has finally arrived at the right position, but this can hardly be considered bold leadership.”
    • “Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries [Iran, et al] within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no.” (Contrary to what Mr Biden now says, Senator Obama did indeed state he would meet unconditionally with Ahmadinejad).
    • “I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”
    • On Obama’s plan for withdrawing from Iraq: “My impression is [Obama] thinks that if we leave, somehow the Iraqis are going to have an epiphany” of peaceful coexistence among warring sects. “I’ve seen zero evidence of that.”
  • Next up, Senator McCain needs to attack Senator Obama (and Senator Biden, too) on earmarks and pork-barrel spending, and on this issue, McCain has the opportunity for a very serious body blow: Mr Obama has requested about three-quarters of a billion dollars in earmarks and pet projects during his three years in office. Add in Mr Biden’s one-third of a billion this year alone, and the numbers are shocking against Senator McCain’s history of never having asked for an earmark during his long Senate career. This should particularly play well in the current economic climate: it’s unlikely the American people have much stomach for lavish government spending at a time when they find themselves tightening their financial belt buckles more than a notch or two.
  • The geo-political card should have been Senator McCain’s trump card all along, and Mr McCain needs to get back on message here. He can do so by drawing attention to the agreement Russia and Venezuela recently signed whereby Russia has agreed to provide a loan for the equivalent of one billion dollars to Venezuela for a military/techincal co-operation program. Two Russian Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers also recenty landed in Venezuela, and the countries have agreed to hold joint naval exercises before the year is up. Senator McCain can point to his recent stance on Russia’s invasion of Georgia at a time Senator Obama opted not to interrupt his Hawaiian vacation to respond.
  • In general, Senator McCain needs to press Senator Obama, and press him hard: Mr Obama does not do so well under pressure and without an adoring crowd, and when pressed he often stumbles – his speech becomes very halting as he struggles to find the right way to position his answer. That’s not the mark of a person who knows his positions; rather it’s the mark of a person who knows how his positions should be perceived.
  • Press the “change” issue: in Senator Obama’s short Senate tenure, he’s been anything but a change agent, and has instead obediently voted along party lines. Mr Obama has no history to speak of involving reaching across party lines or defying his party.
  • Senator Obama will seek to continue to paint Senator McCain as “Bush Revisited”. The counter-attack to that is simple: the only thing more unpopular than Bush is the Democratic Senate. Mr McCain needs to start painting Mr Obama as an extension of that unpopular legislative body. Pointing out that Senator Obama’s party has had the majority for some time now and have chosen to do not much of anything should be an effective line of attack.
  • Recently, Governor Palin has attacked Senator Obama’s links to William Ayers, the former member of the Weathermen, the group which bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol Building and various police cars etc. Senator McCain would do well to continue to press Senator Obama on his associations: his links to convicted felon Antoin Rezko (Mr Obama’s first political donor and former neighbour; prosecutors of Mr Rezko have requested a sentencing delay and it’s rumored Mr Rezko is on the verge of spilling the beans on corruption in Illinois politics), his twenty-year attendance at the church of Reverend Wright and Mr Obama’s ties to big-money in Washington (Senator Obama’s campaign donations from big money dwarf those Senator McCain (or even Senator Clinton) have received, as we wrote previously).
  • Take the focus off the economy. One easy way to do so is to point out to Senator Obama that there’s only so much influence the government has on the economy in what’s ostensibly a free market, as vividly demonstrated by the impotence of the recent bailout bill. Senator McCain should take a page out of history and point out that the more an economy is managed, the poorer the results for the people – that’s also been very vividly demonstrated in the twentieth century. Follow up, hard, on Governor Palin’s recent message that government is not the solution to every problem but more often is the cause.
  • Refer to Mr Obama as “Senator Obama”. It makes Mr Obama’s somehow jarring familiarity at using “John” for Mr McCain seem all the more odd – like calling one’s father by his first name as a child.

In short, Senator McCain needs to come out swinging and put his younger, less experienced opponent on the defensive. Mr McCain has kept himself rather in check thus far. If he plans to close the gap between the two campaigns, now is the time to come out swinging.

How McCain Blew His Golden Opportunity…

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In a week of shocking developments, including a defeated bill which sought new government spending in excess of the defense budget (and, in fact, any single item of the general budget), Senator John McCain blew a golden opportunity to put his well advertised but difficult to discern “maverick” reputation on the line on behalf of the majority of american people.

While the Democratic party, and Senator Barack Obama, and President Bush and many Republicans believe artificially increasing the supply of credit by way of government intervention at the expense of more than $7,000 for every taxpayer (and with all the urgency of a stick up artist poking his gun in your ribs and demanding your wallet) is a prudent idea, the bulk of the US population believe otherwise.

They’re right.

Contrary to virtually all media reports, government interventionism led directly to the current “crisis”. Despite this, the only solution proposed revolves around additional government intervention. Media “pundits” notwithstanding, “Main Street” understands the profound hypocrisy at play here. Unfortunately, in an election year featuring one candidate deeply commited to government interventionism and another candidate desperately commited to the idea that a leader should be seen to be doing something, even if that something is the wrong thing, the majority of americans have no one representing their views, or their pocket book.

John McCain has shown a shocking lack of courage in not standing up to the special interests who support the proposed government bailout. These same special interests, who routinely espouse the merits of free enterprise (but only when free enterprise works to their advantage) and are now calling for government intervention on a scale never before seen. John McCain supports their pleas.

There was another path for Mr McCain to take. He could have, for example, told the american people that the solution was for the government to get out of the business of guaranteeing low-quality loans. He could have said that the time for government to subsidize irresponsibility, be it on a personal level or institutionally, has long since passed. He could have made the case that picking the pockets of the people on so-called Main Street to subsidize Wall Street is profoundly un-american. He could even have put forth the (shocking, these days) notion that government is not, in fact, the solution to each and every problem. Instead, he seems to have charted a course intended to appear as “leadership”, but which leaves angry, financially threatened americans with no alternatives among Presidential candidates on the critical issue of a government bailout.

This is an issue with profound implications. Not just for americans today, but also for their children and grand children. In a country which espouses the freedom of the individual above all, but which increasingly proves the concept to be lip service at best, the populace has a choice of a “change agent” or a “maverick”, both of whom lack the courage to plot anything resembling a new course.

Land of the free? Home of the brave? Not anymore…

Obama and Biden Voted Specifically in Favour of Bridge to Nowhere…

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In the duplicitous fashion which has become the hallmark of today’s politics, the Democratic candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States continue to mock their Republican Vice-Presidential nominee for her state’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”, despite both having voted specifically in favour of the bridge.Barack Obama, perhaps giving a shout-out to law firms with lobbying ties, among his biggest contributors?

Both had the opportunity to vote in favour of the bridge’s withdrawal from the massive transportation bill. Instead, Mr Obama and Mr Biden, together with 80 of their colleagues, voted not to eliminate funding for the bridge from the bill.

Meanwhile, CNN reports on Mr Biden’s own pet bridge project in his home state of Delaware: a $13 million earmark for “shoring up” a bridge which is not, it seems, in need of attention. This year alone Mr Biden has requested over one third of a billion dollars for 116 pork barrell projects in Delaware.

Mr Obama, for his part, requested three quarters of a billion in earmarks during his short time in the Senate. He decided to forego any further earmarks as of 2009.

Mr McCain has never requested an earmark for his home state of Arizona.

Read more at CNN.com.

Written by westcoastsuccess

September 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Obama’s Fundamental Problem…

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Barack Obama, perhaps giving a shout-out to law firms with lobbying ties, among his biggest contributors?

Barack Obama, perhaps giving a shout-out to law firms with lobbying ties, among his biggest contributors?


There’s no other way to look at it: the 2008 US election should be an absolute cakewalk for the Democrats: a profoundly disliked president, an economy in a crisis not seen since the late 1920s, an unpopular war, US global influence vastly diminished, a currency weaker than it’s been in a generation and eight solid years of a Republican presidency.

And yet, in recent polls, Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, disliked by his own party’s most faithful (in multiple senses of the word…), is starting to gain a small lead. What gives?

The problem is fundamental to Democrats: on the whole, the population of the United States does not embrace Democratic philosophy, and the Democratic party itself is a collection of such deeply divergent special interests that keeping a coalition happily united is a near impossible task.

On the first point, the bulk of the US population does not agree with the fundamental principle of Democratic policies: that it is a just course of action to take from many to pay for the chosen few on ideological grounds. In fact, the “founding fathers” of the US said as much: to quote Thomas Jefferson, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

The majority of people in the US are willing to look after themselves, work hard and honestly don’t expect the government to provide the solution to every last inconvenience.

Take the mortgage crisis: while Barack Obama (and the Democratic Congress) pushed for a government bailout of the banks (ostensibly under the guise of helping the distressed home owners, however keep in mind it’s the banks who lose on a grand scale when mortgages default), Mr. McCain had a very different message: why should you, as a responsible homeowner, have to pay for your neighbour’s error in judgement in taking on an ultimately unserviceable mortgage?

You’d think Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democrats would gain an awful lot of traction with their “we’ll save you” message. However they miscalculated the math: their “solution” imposes a burden on 95% of the population for the benefit of the 5% of the population who quite willingly and freely chose to over-extend themselves. While on the surface you’d think Mr. Obama’s message would have massive popular appeal, the Democrats simply don’t have the numbers.

They likewise have a problem hanging their case for the White House on President Bush’s unpopularity. Why? Because the only thing statistically more unpopular among Americans than President Bush is the Democratic Congress! The Democratic message, repeated ad infinitum, of Mr. McCain being simply an extension of President Bush has rung hollow from the get-go: if you’re going to make the case that your opponent is simply a mirror image of the current President by virtue of the fact he voted with the President 90% of the time, you’d best first ensure your record doesn’t reflect a voting record that obediently voted with your even more unpopular Congressional colleagues 97% of the time!

Clearly Mr. Obama’s advisors see Mr. McCain’s reputation for independence as a very significant threat to their candidate’s image as an agent of change. Unfortunately in doing so, they expose Mr. Obama to charges that he’s anything but an agent of change, opening the door for Mr. McCain to point to his rival’s hardly-inspiring record of simply going along with his party during his three years in office.

On the second point, the Democrats are a party based on reconciling irreconcilable differences: their supporters include union members (read: union leaders), but also the “environmentalists” who oppose exactly the kind of industries who lend themselves to a unionized workforce. An overwhelming majority of lawyers support the Democrats by virtue of the party’s opposition to punitive damage caps, but at the same time they seek to appeal to Jack and Jane Blue Collar, hardly a constituency enamored of rich lawyers who enjoy a lavish lifestyle based largely on attacking large employers of union folk. Those same hard working, blue collar supporters find themselves supporting the same party as vaccuous Hollywood stars, for whom it’s important to be seen as egalitarian as they phone in their donations while ensconced in their multi-million dollar homes.

Mr. Obama’s San Francisco comments about “people clinging to guns and religion” is very telling: this is a party which, at its root, attempts to appeal to the disenfranchised only for the purpose of getting power so that they can subsequently get to the more important task of imposing ideologies. It’s no different than Mr. Obama making speeches about “protecting” blue collar jobs by way of protectionist policies while his representatives simultaneously approach the Canadian government to reassure them it’s all just talk and they needn’t get nervous about existing trade agreements, despite their candidate’s insistence he will “renegotiate” those same agreements.

The bigger problem Barack Obama and the Democrats face is the sophistication of the voters: the Democratic message of the government as the solution for all the populace’s woes doesn’t ring true to a population who has seen it all before and is familiar with the results. If government intervention was truly the answer, wouldn’t pre-open-economy China, the old Soviet Union and, more recently, Venezuela be paradises for their people?

Finally, the Democratic leadership seems to have an oddly myopic view of reality: they appear to only associate with other Democrats and in so doing get a distorted view of their own popularity. Their hubris has bitten them many times before: both Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry were widely considered shoe-ins – it was incomprehensible that they should lose. Far-left Democratic supporters (think Michael Moore et al) were utterly dumb-struck that their candidate could have lost in ’00 and even more so in ’04. However a look at an electoral map should have given them a heads up: it’s only in areas of particularly dense population that Democratic philosophies gain traction. By land mass, the United States overwhelmingly embraces Republican political philosophies (as difficult as those philosophies are to define when you have a Republican President who spends more and grows government larger than any Democrat has).

It must be tough times indeed for any clear-eyed Democratic supporter: circumstances have aligned in a way that ought to leave them planning a victory parade rather than worrying about the messy business of campaigning. And yet, the more the voters learn of their candidate, the worse the poll results become. Meanwhile, in a climate ripe for a message of change, the Democratic candidate finds himself up against an opponent who has more (and proven) credibility as an actual change agent.

At heart, most Americans really just want the government to leave them alone and let them get about the business of working hard and providing for their own needs and the needs of their families. For these voters, the only thing worse than being told what to do is being told what to do by the government, regardless of how elequently those orders are conveyed…

Obama Picks Bob Barker as Running Mate…

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Joe Biden - a poor man's Bob Barker?

"Help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered!"
Senator Joe Biden (left): a poor man's Bob Barker? (And what, exactly, is he trying to illustrate with his hands???)

Learn more at CNN

Written by westcoastsuccess

August 22, 2008 at 11:45 pm