Posts Tagged ‘ Obama ’

Raise My Taxes, Mr. President!

Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek:

For the last few months, we have heard powerful, passionate arguments about the need to cut America’s massive budget deficit. Republican senators have claimed that we are in danger of permanently crippling the economy. Conservative economists and pundits warn of a Greece-like crisis, when America can borrow only at exorbitant interest rates. So when an opportunity presents itself to cut those deficits by about a third—more than $300 billion!—permanently and relatively easily, you would think that these very people would be in the lead. Far from it.

The Bush tax cuts remain the single largest cause of America’s structural deficit—that is, the deficit not caused by the collapse in tax revenues when the economy goes into recession. The Bush administration inherited budget surpluses from the Clinton administration. What turned these into deficits, even before the recession? There were three fundamental new costs—the tax cuts, the prescription-drug bill, and post-9/11 security spending (including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars). Of these the tax cuts were by far the largest, adding up to $2.3 trillion over 10 years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly half the cost of all legislation enacted from 2001 to 2007 can be attributed to the tax cuts.

More here

Advertisements

McCain’s Mistake

As Barack Obama goes through one of his most difficult periods as president, you might wonder what it would have been like if the other guy had won. We will never know, of course, but in one area, John McCain provides us with some clues. He would have tried to overthrow the government of Iran. In a speech on June 10, later published as a cover essay in The New Republic, McCain urged that we “unleash America’s full moral power” to topple the Tehran regime. The speech highlights one of the crucial failings of McCain’s world view, one in which rhetoric replaces analysis, and fantasy substitutes for foreign policy.

By now, it’s become something of a mantra among neoconservatives that we missed a chance to transform Iran a year ago. Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in The New York Times, comparesIran’s Green Movement to “what transpired behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s” and accuses Obama of being passive in the face of this historical moment. Bret Stephens, a columnist forThe Wall Street Journal, imagines that a more forceful Western response could have set off a revolution.

I have been deeply supportive of Iran’s Green Movement. I wrote glowingly about it, highlighted it on television, and showcased its advocates. But I do not think there is much evidence that it was likely to overthrow the Iranian regime. To believe that, one has to believe the government in Tehran is deeply unpopular with a majority of Iranians, holds onto power through military force alone, and is thus vulnerable to a movement that could mobilize the vast majority in Iran who despise it. None of this is entirely true.

More here

The 70-30 nation

Lexington in the economist:

THE past couple of years have not been private enterprise’s finest hour. From the collapse of Lehman Brothers to the implosion of General Motors and Chrysler to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one great firm after another that had boasted of making society richer has turned into an expensive liability for taxpayers at best or, at worst, a menace to the general prosperity or the environment. You might expect this sequence of calamities to have made people sourer towards capitalism and friendlier to the state. But in America, at least, you would be wrong. Americans remain deeply wedded to the free-enterprise system.

Even after the collapse of Wall Street and all that has followed, an overwhelming majority of Americans say in opinion polls that they prefer capitalism to socialism. Gallup found in January that 61% had a positive view of capitalism and about the same percentage had a negative view of socialism. In March last year the Pew Research Centre asked Americans whether they were better off in a free-market economy “even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time”. Seventy percent answered in the affirmative. Most Americans also say their federal income taxes are too high. Even those who favour higher taxes on the rich think the top rate should be 20% or less.

If Americans will stand behind the free-enterprise system come what may, it makes sense for Barack Obama’s opponents to portray the president as a danger to it. “We are facing a ruthless secular-socialist machine that is alien to America’s history and traditions,” bellows Newt Gingrich, the hero of the Republican victory of 1994, as he flogs his latest book (“To Save America”). The Republicans are sure to do well in November’s mid-terms.

More here

Save Taxpayer $$$: Eliminate Alternative Medicine Research

Steven Stalzberg in Forbes:

This past week, President Obama called on all federal agencies to voluntarily propose budget cuts of 5%.  Well, Mr. President, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a way for you that cut the National Institutes of Health budget without hurting biomedical research. In fact, it will help.

Here’s my proposal: save over $240 million per year in the NIH budget by cutting all funding for the two centers that fund alternative medicine research–the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). Both of them exist primarily to promote pseudoscience. For the current year, NCCAM’s budget is $128.8 million, an amount that has rapidly grown from $2 million in 1992, despite the fact that not a single “alternative” therapy supported by NCCAM has proven beneficial to health. OCCAM’s budget was $121 million in 2008 (the latest I could find) and presumably higher in 2010. That’s over $240M, not counting money these programs got from the stimulus package (and yes, they did get some stimulus funding).

Read on