Last 2 weeks of the Presidential Election

July 26, 2012

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As the Presidential race continues towards the end of summer and the start of the conventions in due time, the race appears to have started to tighten a bit.  Over this two week period President Obama has lost a bit of ground, probably due to his gaffes and negative campaigning, something he dodged entirely in 2008.  Mitt Romney appears to have caught up a bit but still lags overall.  His failure to take on the President has been sort of a cat and mouse situation all summer with neither side wanting to go all-in this soon.  A criticism of Romney’s during the primary campaign was how soft he was in the early contests with no hard hitting.  Florida changed that and he paid a bit later in the contest but eventually won.

I suspect that neither side wants to put the gloves on so soon.  Though President Obama seems to be struggling to find a message behind an ailing economy and continually disappointing jobs numbers.  Another slow report in Aug. and/or Sept. could be pretty damning to his campaign.  His efforts have fallen behind attacking Romney of late.  Something I suspect doesn’t sit well with voters looking for that same Hope and Change message of 2008.  Also this struggling for a message has caused the most notable gaffe to date “you didn’t build that”.

Romney on the other hand is slow playing.  Currently he’s on an under-publicized foreign trip, certainly compared to 2008 when then Sen. Obama was stopping for photo-ops and speeches in front of hundreds of thousands.  All of this leaves us wondering when Romney will ever join the fight.  He’s been careful not to lay out too many positions this early as to avoid any pitfalls in the fall.  At the same time he’s been sort of off the mind of voters, something I suspect he intends so that they’re not over-saturated come election time in the fall.

Overall I think the President is suffering from his economic situation right now and is struggling to make the campaign about Mitt Romney, which is failing in these recent weeks.  As more negative news about the economy surfaces, his numbers steadily decline.  Romney seems to be sitting back deflecting blows with a rope-a-dope strategy in play.  Trying by not trying, and thus allowing the election to be about what the voters care about, the economy.  This of course plays into his wheelhouse rather than jumping at side issues like immigration, gay rights, or gun control.

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Pierce Morgan and Horrible Journalism

July 24, 2012

Pierce Morgan and Horrible Journalism

I saw this “discussion” last night on CNN.  I understand Mr. Morgan is from a different country with much different laws, but this was quite embarrassing on his part.  At least let the discussion occur before you decide to rip into it with your opinion or present some facts other than repeating over and over “100 rounds of ammunition a minute!”  While Mr. Morgan may have a point to make it gets drown out in him blatantly falling back on strawman arguments and shouting over, cutting off, and simply disrespecting someone he’s invited as a guest.  Not to mention the second guest slinging wild accusations about the NRA (which were untrue) and simply dismissing studies as “no no they’re false use common sense”.  This is not the 1800’s, this call to common sense in lieu of studies that exist simply because you don’t like the results is the height of anti-intellectualism.

Many people have strong feelings on this topic, but this “interview” was terrible.  It’s a display in bullying a “guest”.  At least let the opposing view speak, otherwise it’s nothing but an editorial present by Mr. Morgan to promote his own views.


Paying the “Fair Share”

July 24, 2012

Now let me premise this post by saying that I do think there is a bit of an argument to be made about the lack of bonuses to lower level employees that do a great deal of work for companies, or for salary parity.  But this topic gets kicked around quite frequently.

So when we talk about “fair shares” it’s important to analyze just what share everyone is paying.
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Here we see the overall share of the Federal Tax Liability being paid to the government for all taxes (income, payroll, ect.).  These stats are produced by the CBO in it’s analysis of how taxes work in this country.  And most astonishing to me right away is that the bottom 20% of the population pay 0.3% of all Federal taxes.  Even more incredible, the bottom 40% pay about 4% of all the Federal taxes in this country.  That’s nearly half the population paying for 4% while the other half of the population pays for 96% of the Federal Tax Burden.

The top 20% of wage earners in this country pay nearly 70% of all Federal taxes and that number has been rising since the 1970’s.  Fair to address is that the top 20% have also seen an increase in their share of the wealth during that growth period.  That’s not to say that the bottom 50% are “poor” but that through economics the top have sold the bottom a good deal of items and concentrated their wealth (ipads, flat screen tvs, cars, computers, etc.) primarily through investment.

I think it’s important to note that the top 40% of wage earners now pay nearly 90% of the Federal Tax burden for all taxes.  That means the other 60% of lower and middle class earners are left with the remaining 10-15% of the tax burden.  That’s a huge disparity.  I think the issue here is not that top earners aren’t “paying their share” (which I’d conclude they are) but that budgeting and saving even for middle class families seems almost unheard of these days.  Now I understand (as I grew up poor myself) that this doesn’t apply to all families and many are scraping by.  But I think for many middle income families frugal living is a thing of the past.  And now that they face a looming retirement with no savings they feel that retirement is entitled to them.  That somehow they’ll be taken care of, which only has pushed the burden to the younger generation to cover the most costly years of living (65+) when medical treatment becomes a must.

There has been a shift in the American society, which says that middle class families should support kids going to college and traveling and flat screen tvs and two cars.  There’s a “every family deserves this” sort of attitude which assumes that high end products (like cars) should be cheaper.  That tax rates need to reflect this burden on middle class families (buying 2 cars is a must).  I wouldn’t take qualms with the bottom 20% of the population (paying 0.3% of all federal taxes) as they’re the lowest level of earners and surely feel the most burden of providing for their own daily living.  I surely hope they’re not complaining about paying their taxes as they pay very little.  But the middle 20 – 40%, middle income America, certainly should realize that they’re not overburdened with this tax rate either.  That middle 40% of the population pays around 15-20% of the Federal Tax Burden and that’s been declining.  Middle income savings are nearly unheard of.  Yet most middle income homes have luxury items (ipads, ps3’s, 2 cars, flat screen tv’s).  Which I think gets to the problem.  Those without savings are screaming about how unfair their tax burden is, while they refuse to save money and spend what they earn on luxury goods.  Effectively pushing their money to the upper class.
Maybe we need to do a better job teaching budgeting and economics in high school.