Thursday, September 30, 2010
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I originally posted up this article on my blog back in October:
Democrats want to take away your 401k
Well - I have an update that I will cross-post over at my site - but - since we've been slacking - anyone who still comes by here gets to read it first! This is the whole story from the Carolina Journal
Carolina Journal Exclusives
Dems Target Private Retirement Accounts
Democratic leaders in the U.S. House discuss confiscating 401(k)s, IRAs
By Karen McMahan
November 04, 2008
RALEIGH ˜ Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers' personal retirement accounts ˜ including 401(k)s and IRAs ˜ and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.
Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.
The testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings Oct. 7 drew the most attention and criticism. Testifying for the House Committee on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar retirement accounts, such as IRAs, and confiscate workers' retirement plan accounts and convert them to universal Guaranteed Reti rement Accounts (GRAs) managed by the Social Security Administration.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, in prepared remarks for the hearing on "The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Workers' Retirement Security," blamed Wall Street for the financial crisis and said his committee will "strengthen and protect Americans' 401(k)s, pensions, and other retirement plans" and the "Democratic Congress will continue to conduct this much-needed oversight on behalf of the American people."
Currently, 401(k) plans allow Americans to invest pretax money and their employers match up to a defined percentage, which not only increases workers' retirement savings but also reduces their annual income tax. The balances are fully inheritable, subject to income tax, meaning workers pass on their wealth to their heirs, unlike Social Security. Even when they leave an employer and go to one that doesn't offer a 401(k) or pension, workers can transfer their balances to a qualified IRA.
Ghilarducci's plan first appeared in a paper for the Economic Policy Institute: Agenda for Shared Prosperity on Nov. 20, 2007, in which she said GRAs will rescue the flawed American retirement income system (www.sharedprosperity.org/bp204/bp204.pdf).
The current retirement system, Ghilarducci said, "exacerbates income and wealth inequalities" because tax breaks for voluntary retirement accounts are "skewed to the wealthy because it is easier for them to save, and because they receive bigger tax breaks when they do."
Lauding GRAs as a way to effectively increase retirement savings, Ghilarducci wrote that savings incentives are unequal for rich and poor families because tax deferrals "provide a much larger 'carrot' to wealthy families than to middle-class families ˜ and none whatsoever for families too poor to owe taxes."
GRAs would guarantee a fixed 3 percent annual rate of return, although later in her article Ghilarducci explained that participants would not "earn a 3% real return in perpetuity." In place of tax breaks workers now receive for contributions and thus a lower tax rate, workers would receive $600 annually from the government, inflation-adjusted. For low-income workers whose annual contributions are less than $600, the government would deposit whatever amount it would take to equal the minimum $600 for all participants.
In a radio interview with Kirby Wilbur in Seattle on Oct. 27, 2008, Ghilarducci explained that her proposal doesn't eliminate the tax breaks, rather, "I'm just rearranging the tax breaks that are available now for 401(k)s and spreading ˜ spreading the wealth."
All workers would have 5 percent of their annual pay deducted from their paychecks and deposited to the GRA. They would still be paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, as would the employers. The GRA contribution would be shared equally by the worker and the employee. Employers no longer would be able to write off their contributions. Any capital gains would be taxable year-on-year.
Analysts point to another disturbing part of the plan. With a GRA, workers could bequeath only half of their account balances to their heirs, unlike full balances from existing 401(k) and IRA accounts. For workers who die after retiring, they could bequeath just their own contributions plus the interest but minus any benefits received and minus the employer contributions.
Another justification for Ghilarducci's plan is to eliminate investment risk. In her testimony, Ghilarducci said, "humans often lack the foresight, discipline, and investing skills required to sustain a savings plan." She cited the 2004 HSBC global survey on the Future of Retirement, in which she claimed that "a third of Americans wanted the government to force them to save more for retirement."
What the survey actually reported was that 33 percent of Americans wanted the government to "enforce additional private savings," a vastly different meaning than mandatory government-run savings. Of the four potential sources of retirement support, which were government, employer, family, and self, the majority of Americans said "self" was the most important contributor, followed by "government." When broken out by family income, low-income U.S. households said the "government" was the most important retirement support, whereas high-income families ranked "government" last and "self" first (www.hsbc.com/retirement).
On Oct. 22, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Argentinean government had seized all private pension and retirement accounts to fund government programs and to address a ballooning deficit. Fearing an economic collapse, foreign investors quickly pulled out, forcing the Argentinean stock market to shut down several times. More than 10 years ago, nationalization of private savings sent Argentina's economy into a long-term downward spiral.
Income and Wealth Redistribution
The majority of witness testimony during recent hearings before the House Committee on Education and Labor showed that congressional Democrats intend to address income and wealth inequality through redistribution.
On July 31, 2008, Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified before the subcommittee on workforce protections that "from the standpoint of equal treatment of people with different incomes, there is a fundamental flaw" in tax code incentives because they are "provided in the form of deductions, exemptions, and exclusions rather than in the form of refundable tax credits."
Even people who don't pay taxes should get money from the government, paid for by higher-income Americans, he said. "There is no obvious reason why lower-income taxpayers or people who do not file income taxes should get smaller incentives (or no tax incentives at all)," Greenstein said.
"Moving to refundable tax credits for promoting socially worthwhile activities would be an important step toward enhancing progressivity in the tax code in a way that would improve economic efficiency and performance at the same time," Greenstein said, and "reducing barriers to labor organizing, preserving the real value of the minimum wage, and the other workforce security concerns . . . would contribute to an economy with less glaring and sharply widening inequality."
When asked whether committee members seriously were considering Ghilarducci's proposal for GSAs, Aaron Albright, press secretary for the Committee on Education and Labor, said Miller and other members were listening to all ideas.
Miller's biggest priority has been on legislation aimed at greater transparency in 401(k)s and other retirement plan administration, specifically regarding fees, Albright said, and he sent a link to a Fox News interview of Miller on Oct. 24, 2008, to show that the congressman had not made a decision.
After repeated questions asked by Neil Cavuto of Fox News, Miller said he would not be in favor of "ki lling the 401(k)" or of "killing the tax advantages for 401(k)s."
Arguing against liberal prescriptions, William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, testified on Oct. 24 that the "roots of the current crisis are firmly planted in public policy mistakes" by the Federal Reserve and Congress. He cautioned Congress against raising taxes, increasing burdensome regulations, or withdrawing from international product or capital markets. "Congress can ill afford to repeat the awesome errors of its predecessor in the early days of the Great Depression," Beach said.
Instead, Beach said, Congress could best address the financial crisis by making the tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 permanent, stopping dependence on demand-side stimulus, lowering the corporate profits tax, and reducing or eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends.
Testifying before the same committee in early October, Jerry Bramlett, president and CEO of BenefitStreet, Inc., an independent 401(k) plan administrator, said one of the best ways to ensure retirement security would be to have the U.S. Department of Labor develop educational materials for workers so they could make better investment decisions, not exchange equity investments in retirement accounts for Treasury bills, as proposed in the GSAs.
Should Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency, congressional Democrats might have stronger support for their "spreading the wealth" agenda. On Oct. 27, the American Thinker posted a video of an interview with Obama on public radio station WBEZ-FM from 2001.
In the interview, Obama said, "The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society." The Constitution says only what "the states can't do to you. Says what the Federal government can't do to you," and Obama added that the Warren Court wasn't that radical.
Although in 2001 Obama said he was not "optimistic about bringing major redistributive change through the courts," as president, he would likely have the opportunity to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices.
"The real tragedy of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused that I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change," Obama said.
Karen McMahan is a contributing editor of Carolina Journal.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
"Read my lips: No New Profits!"
"Some people blame low oil supplies or high oil demand for the recent spike in gasoline prices," said the presidential hopeful, "but these are just outdated economic theories. The real cause is speculative trading in the oil futures market. Trading by unscrupulous, unpatriotic profit-mongers. My administration will put a stop to this by making it illegal to sell oil futures for more than was paid for them. Without the market distortion caused by the so-called 'profit-motive' , our energy market - under the prudent and level-headed guidance of the federal government - will once again become both free and fair."Obama said that he intended to implement his "No New Profits" pledge within his administration' s first 100 days, promising to expand his economy-saving plan to other markets as his tenure progressed.
"Although I've long stood against the 'excessive' profits made by oil companies," said Obama, "the fact is that ALL profits are inherently excessive. That's why I vow to extend this program to other markets as well. Food, precious metals, stocks, bonds - all will eventually be both bought and sold 'at cost'. With all price fluctuations banned by the force of law, America will finally have a stable, sustainable, plannable future, unmarred by the evils of fear or uncertainty.
"The Democratic contender, however, reassured his audience that this new stability would not interfere with the creation and implementation of new government programs. "Some of my critics contend that without profits, we would be unable to collect the new taxes necessary to implement important new government programs like Universal Health Care, but we will find a way to make the wealthy pay their fair share. They'll just have to sell off their mansions and limousines."
"At cost, of course," he concluded.
Commentary: This speech by Obama should appeal to the Democratic base, many of whom are socialist at heart. Unfortunately, I also run into people who drive SUV's and are not necessarily die-hard Democrats or very political at all who will also find this rhetoric appealing. There seems to be a lot of people, even otherwise educated people, who simply have no understanding of economics. An increase in the price of their favorite commodity or a loss of a job and they are ready to tax away an industry's profits, embrace wage and price controls, and nationalize companies. You may recall, California Representative Maxine Waters called for "the government taking over and running the oil companies" back in May. Despite the repeated failures of socialism, there are many who still find it appealing.
OK. For you people in Antioch, the Obama speech is a parody. That is not a real story and he really didn't say those things. I don't want this to become one of those Internet rumors that are repeated as the truth. Unfortunately however, as bizarre as it may sound, Maxine Waters did call for oil company nationalization.
Author unknown, I plucked this from a chat group.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I really like that last line - looks like our Israeli friends have no confidence in the Obamessiah either!
Here's the article:
Israel has a year to stop Iran bomb, warns ex-spy
By Carolynne Wheeler in Tel Aviv and Tim Shipman in Washington
Shabtai Shavit, an influential adviser to the Israeli parliament's defence and foreign affairs committee, told The Sunday Telegraph that time was running out to prevent Iran's leaders getting the bomb.
Mr Shavit, who retired from the Israeli intelligence agency in 1996, warned that he had no doubt Iran intended to use a nuclear weapon once it had the capability, and that Israel must conduct itself accordingly.
"The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time," he said in an interview
Mr Shavit, 69, who was deputy director of Mossad when Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981, added: "As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared. We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don't work. What's left is a military action."
The "worst-case scenario, he said, is that Iran may have a nuclear weapon within "somewhere around a year".
As speculation grew that Israel was contemplating its own air strikes, Iran's military said it might hit the Jewish state with missiles and stop Gulf oil exports if it came under attack. Israel "is completely within the range of the Islamic republic's missiles," said Mohammed Ali Jafari, head of the feared Revolutionary Guard. "Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime cannot confront it."
More than 40 per cent of all globally traded oil passes through the 35-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, putting tankers entering or leaving the Gulf at risk from Iranian mines, rockets and artillery, and Mr Jafari's comments were the clearest signal yet that Iran intends to use this leverage in the nuclear dispute.
Despite offering incentives, the West has failed to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium. Israeli officials believe the diplomatic process is useless and have been pressing President Bush to launch air strikes before he leaves office on January 20 next year.
They apparently fear that the chances of winning American approval for an air attack will be drastically reduced if the Democratic nominee wins the election. Mr Obama advocates talks with the regime in Tehran rather than military action.
That view was echoed by Mr Shavit, who said: "If [Republican candidate John] McCain gets elected, he could really easily make a decision to go for it. If it's Obama: no. My prediction is that he won't go for it, at least not in his first term in the White House."
He warned that while it would be preferable to have American support and participation in a strike on Iran, Israel will not be afraid to go it alone.
"When it comes to decisions that have to do with our national security and our own survival, at best we may update the Americans that we are intending or planning or going to do something. It's not a precondition, [getting] an American agreement," he said.
Our liberal friends must be pissed to see that last sentence - Our Israeli friends get it. We should not, never, ever, be required to get approval from ANYONE to defend ourselves. Do you think they will go to the U.N. Security Council to announce their intentions when they decide to go? I think that is a resounding NO!! And...neither should we...ever.
I see some serious Global Warming coming Iran's way in the near future! That's enough to bring a tear to my eyes! I hope Muchmud Imanutjob is heeding this warning.
Monday, June 16, 2008
In 2006 in the lead up to the Congressional elections Nancy Pelosi promised "a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices." At the time gas was $2.23 per gallon; now it is $4.00.
Many people are looking to find a culprit and are looking for a conspiracy. The primary cause of higher gas prices is increased demand from developing countries, primarily China and India. However, if one wants someone to blame, the Democrats are the prime candidates. Democrats have blocked new American exploration, drilling and refineries for the last twenty years.
Nancy Pelosi is not such and idiot that she does not understand the cause of higher gas prices. Since, however, she promised "a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices," she should be held accountable. Nancy did you not promise to bring down gas prices?
This video was copied from youtube and was a production of rocketsfan34.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
City of Loma Linda bans smoking in most public places
LOMA LINDA, Calif. (AP) -- Smokers soon will have far fewer places where they can light up in Loma Linda. Council members on Tuesday passed an anti-smoking law that prohibits tobacco use in most of the city's public places.
The ordinance bans smoking on Loma Linda's public streets and sidewalks, in parks, restaurants, theaters and hospitals, as well as most of the city's motel and apartment units. The fine for a first offense will be $100 or less. The city of nearly 21,000 residents in San Bernardino County was founded in 1905 by Seventh-day Adventists. They typically abstain from alcohol, caffeine and meat.
When cigarettes are outlawed, only outlaws will have cigarettes.
Last October a new rule went into effect in Nashville and now most of the honky tonks of Nashville are smoke-free. I smoke a pipe so I don't have a craving to smoke the same way a cigarette smoker does, but sitting in a bar, listening to live county music and drinking a beer is when I most want to light up. Since the ban went into effect I find I have a whole lot less desire to go out. Dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music just seem to go together.If I would have still been in the Metro Council, I would not have supported the ban on smoking in bars. I think it should be left up to the individual bar owner to set his own rules about smoking and the the customer can decide if he wants to visit that establishment or not. Nevertheless, while I don't like it and wouldn't have voted for it, I can understand the second hand smoke argument for banning smoking in enclosed places. Prohibiting smoking outdoors, however, is punitive and discriminatory and I do not see the logic used to ban it, other than people just find it offensive. I don't think we should have the right not to be offended.
Some people just can't stand it if other people are having fun. People like banning activity of which they disapprove. Strip clubs are often banned under the guise of health and safety regulations. Zoning and permitting are often used to prohibit activity that is otherwise legal. Regulations supported by the Baptist and the liquor industry keep wine out of Tennessee grocery stores.
Where are the lobbyist for the merchants of death when you need them. If this ban can stand, then the good citizens of Loma Linda may next ban coffee drinking in public. If the tobacco industry will establish a non-profit entity to legally challenge irrational smoking bans like this, I will donate ten dollars. Maybe smokers ought to converge on Loma Linda and have a massive smoke-in.
Monday, June 9, 2008
You can't tax profits! Profits is what comes AFTER taxes. If you try to tax "profits" it just goes back in to the corporate expenses - which get passed on to the consumer! So..here we are paying $4.02 as a national average for ONE freakin' gallon of gas - expected to get to $4.50 by July and this dipshit is proposing taxing oil even further?
So - the government taxes every gallon of gas at a rate of 16% and the big oil companies make a profit of 4% off of every gallon. So - the government makes 4 times the amount the big oil companies make - and they waste every penny of it on earmarks, failed social programs, and big government bureaucracy - yet they want to tax big oil? Who the hell is he kidding?
The next time the media and the government start complaining about these so-called "gross" profits made by the big oil companies - just remember - multiply that by 4 and you see how much the government takes in for doing nothing! Obama says he's going to take the "windfall profit tax" and give it to those "who can't afford their energy bills." Sounds like a socialist system of wealth redistribution to me!
Well - gee - who's fault is it those people can't afford their energy bills? Could it be....the government? Afterall, isn't it the government who has put up all the roadblocks to drilling and tapping our own natural resources? We have enough natural gas and coal in our country to warm 30 million homes for 60 years - yet - because of government regulation and stonewalling - we aren't allowed to tap in to it. We have enough oil reserves in our country to fuel every single vehicle in this country for 60 years - yet - because of government regulation and bans and kowtowing to eco-terrorists - we can't even tap in to it! We aren't even allowed to drill off the coast anywhere in our country - yet - China is scheduled to begin drilling 70 miles off the coast of Florida within the year! There currently is a bill being pushed through that would ban American companies from drilling within 125 miles off the coast.
So - if that bill gets passed - then a foreign country is allowed to drill for oil off our coast where we are not allowed to?!?!? How freakin' crazy is that! 125 miles is in international waters - hell - anything past 7 miles is considered international waters. How the hell does the government expect to impose this 125 mile ban?
If Obama gets elected and has his way - just remember people - you asked for it and you will most definitely PAY for it!