Monday, February 20, 2012

Dishonorable Dishonesty at the Top

Obama's strange and deceitful definition of "fair"

You have probably heard by now the disastrous performance by new White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew on the Sunday morning talk shows last weekend.

When it was noted on CNN's “State of the Union” that the Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget for 1,019 days now, almost three years, in violation of federal law, Lew said, "You can't pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes, and you can't get 60 votes without bipartisan support. So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, [Majority Leader] Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed." Later that day, on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Lew repeated in response to the same question, "One of the things about the United States Senate that I think the American people have realized is that it takes 60, not 50, votes to pass something."

The problem is not only that it takes no more than 51 votes to pass a budget resolution under Senate rules. Indeed, it only takes a simple majority of the Senators present. The problem is that Jack Lew has served twice before as Director of OMB, so there is no doubt that he knows this.

I have discussed many times before President Obama's Marxist Saul Alinsky tactic of Calculated Deception. That is President Obama's practice of taking advantage of what he is sure the average person doesn't know, and won't be told by the Democrat Party-controlled media, to mislead the people about the truth.

Jack Lew's dishonesty on last Sunday's talk shows is a perfect example of this. In fact, it is dishonest and misleading to the point of being dishonorable. That is why Jack Lew must now resign for lying to the American people, the same way the Democrats insisted that President Nixon must resign for lying to the American people.

I bring this up here because it is a perfect illustration of the dishonorable dishonesty throughout President Obama's 2013 budget released on Monday, and what the President says and has said to the American people about his budget policies.

When President Obama was asking for our votes in 2008, he told us his budget policy would involve a "net spending cut." In fact, he said precisely that during a nationally televised presidential debate with John McCain. In 2008, federal spending totaled $2.983 trillion. But federal spending for 2012 in the budget the President just released on Monday is projected to total $3.795 trillion, an increase of over 27 percent during his first term alone, up another $193 billion from the last year. In the budget the President released on Monday, spending was projected to soar by 2022 to $5.820 trillion, the highest spending in world history. Over the next 10 years, federal spending, with all of President Obama's blather about spending cuts, will total $47 trillion... under the President's own budget!

Does President Obama understand the meaning of the words "net spending cut?" Or was he deceiving the American people in 2008 when he used those words?

Even this Pacific Ocean of red ink is based on the assumption of exploding tax increases over the next 10 years. The budget assumes that federal income tax revenues will double by 2020, federal corporate tax revenues will double by 2017, and federal payroll taxes will double by 2022.

That is because already enacted under current law for 2013 are increases in the top tax rates for virtually every major federal tax. In that year, the tax increases of Obamacare go into effect, and the Bush tax cuts expire, which Obama refuses to renew for the nation's small businesses, job creators, and investors. That is the English translation of individuals making over $200,000 a year, and couples making over $250,000 per year.

As a result, with the Bush tax cuts simply expiring, the top two income tax rates will go up by nearly 20 percent, the capital gains tax rate will soar by nearly 60 percent, the tax on dividends will nearly triple, the death tax rate will rise by nearly a third, and the Medicare payroll tax will explode by 62 percent for these targeted taxpayers.

Obama says in his budget message that these tax increases are necessary because "everyone must shoulder their fair share," and "we need an economy where everyone shoulders their fair share to put our fiscal house in order." The taxpayers targeted for these tax increases are the top 3 percent of income earners. But as the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, those top 3 percent pay more in federal income taxes than the bottom 97 percent combined! So if that is not their fair share, what would that fair share be, Comrade Obama?

President Obama is playing you with the most dishonest Big Lie in American political history with this central campaign theme that the rich don't pay their fair share of income taxes, and the middle class and working people are left to pay all of them instead. The truth is more nearly the opposite, with the rich paying nearly all of the income taxes.

The foundation of this calculated deception is the multiple taxation of capital in our tax system. The earnings from capital investment are taxed not once, but multiple times. First, by the corporate income tax, then again by the individual income tax through the tax on dividends, then if you sell the capital investment, through the capital gains tax, then when you die, by the death tax. Consequently, the 15 percent capital gains tax rate is not the only tax that Warren Buffett actually effectively pays on his investment income. This is how the rich end up paying such a large share of the income tax burden.

But Obama figures that enough of you and your friends and neighbors won't know that, and the Democrat-controlled media won't tell them. So he figures he can get away with looting the rich, as his Marxist ideology demands.

All of these Obama tax rate increases are on top of virtually the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, at nearly 40 percent counting state income taxes, which leaves American companies uncompetitive in the global economy. Even Communist China maintains a 25 percent corporate rate. In the predominantly socialist EU, the average corporate rate is even lower. In formerly socialist Canada, the corporate rate today is 16.5 percent, falling to 15 percent next year.

If President Obama's extremist left-wing rhetoric is not corrected, and he sells the nation his phony picture of reality, it is working people and the middle class that will suffer the most. That is because if we try to shift even more of the tax burden onto the nation's job creators and investors, it is working people and the middle class that will lose jobs, wages, and incomes. That is why America is suffering a capital strike, with no real, long overdue recovery, extended unemployment to rival the Depression, declining real wages and incomes, and more Americans in poverty than at any time in American history.

In fact, if President Obama's comprehensive tax rate increases are not averted, the result will be revenues falling far short of projections, or even declining further, and deficits and debt increasing even more, rather than declining as Obama wrongly projects. For over 40 years now, and possibly more, every time the capital gains tax rate has been increased, revenues have declined. Every time it has been cut, revenues have increased.

The Decline and Fall of America

Finally, the above-discussed levels of federal spending, deficits, and debt include sharp reductions in future federal defense spending. There are sharp savings from withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The President cuts missile defense, and fails to modernize our aging, outdated nuclear deterrent, while our top rivals China and Russia do. The U.S. Navy is cut back to the levels before World War I. Troops, ships, and planes are reduced, and modernizations are put on the shelf.

Yet, even with these draconian defense reductions, America still suffers the above-discussed continued explosion of federal spending, deficits and debt. The President not only fails to propose any serious entitlement reform, he scorns serious reform proposals, while our national defenses are threatened. The President's new defense strategy drops the longstanding American defense doctrine of maintaining the ability to fight two major conflicts, or two and half, at the same time. We are now only to maintain the forces to fight one major conflict. That means as soon as we are drawn into any such conflict, we are vulnerable to attack from another enemy, in fact inviting it. While Reagan gave us peace through strength, Obama is on the road to war through weakness.



Taxing Medical Progress to Death

Michelle Malkin

Two years ago this month, as public debate over Obamacare raged, former President Bill Clinton rushed to the hospital because of a heart condition. He immediately underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. It was a timely reminder about the dangers of stifling private-sector medical innovation.

No one listened. Stents don't grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers. One of the nation's top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, warned at the time that Obamacare's punitive medical device tax would lead to worker losses and research cuts. The 2.3 percent excise tax, the company said, "would be very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole. In a nutshell, it would raise costs and lead to significant job losses. It does not address the quality of care but the political scorecard of savings."

Two years later, Bill Clinton's doing just peachy. But many medical device manufacturers are suffering, and many more are preparing for the worst as the White House gears up to collect on an estimated $20 billion from the lifesaving industry. In typical Obama-transparent fashion, the Internal Revenue Service quietly released a complex thicket of medical device tax implementation rules in a Friday document dump earlier this month. Barring congressional intervention, the medical device tax will go into full effect in 2013.

Cook Medical, which manufactures products for everything from endovascular therapy, critical care medicine and general surgery, to diagnostic and interventional procedures, to bioengineered tissue replacement and regeneration, gastroenterology and endoscopy procedures, urology, and obstetrics and gynecology, has called for the levy's repeal. Cook Group chairman Stephen Ferguson noted the tax burden amounted to a whopping 55 percent of its profits.

"For a company like ours, which pays 35 percent of our net earnings in federal corporate taxes and another 4 to 5 percent in state and local corporate taxes, the excise tax translates to another payment that will consume 15 percent more of our earnings," he estimated. "This creates tremendous pressure for us to move manufacturing to Europe and other parts of the world."

According to the trade publication Mass Device, the company has already canceled plans to build a new factory in the U.S. because of the Obamacare tax burden.

Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., announced in November that it would slash 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare's taxes and mandates.

Covidien, a N.Y.-based surgical supplies manufacturer, recently announced layoffs of 200 American workers and plans to move some of its plant work to Mexico and Costa Rica, in part because of the coming tax hit.

Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., which makes defibrillators and employs some 1,800 workers in the U.S. and around the world, says the medical device tax will cost the company between $5 million and $10 million a year. Its profit in 2009 was $9.5 million.

"Running our company at close to break even would not be a sustainable position for us," CEO Richard Packer said in a public statement, "so we will be forced to look at alternatives."

Those "alternatives" include cutting payroll, cutting R and D and passing on the costs to patients, of course. Industry estimates put the tax-induced job losses at 43,000. So far, the number-crunchers at 1600 Pennsylvania are mum on the number of potential jobs -- and lives -- destroyed by the medical innovation death tax.

In fact, the Obama administration's response so far has been a flippant shrug. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose only manufacturing claims to fame are faulty tax returns and near-double-digit unemployment figures, brushed off concerns this week about the medical device tax. Obamacare's expanded access to health care, he argues blithely, will create more consumers for their products. "On balance, it is a good package for people in the health care business," he told Bloomberg News.

Fewer jobs. Fewer entrepreneurs. Fewer medical advances. Only with a gallon of self-delusion does the Obamacare medical tax medicine amount to anything other than economic and medical malpractice.



Will Presbyterians Repudiate their Church leadership’s Hate for Israel and Jews?

The disconnect between the views of the leadership of mainline Protestant churches on the Middle East and those of the rank-and-file members of their congregations has been growing in recent decades. Activists and leading clergy of liberal Protestant denominations have embraced the Palestinian cause while most of those who attend their churches are, like most Americans, warm supporters of Israel. But in the case of at least one of these churches — the Presbyterian Church USA — the gap between those who speak in the name of these institutions and those whom they claim to represent has grown to the point where communal relations are at the brink of a breakdown. Institutions connected with the Presbyterians have become a font of anti-Israel invective that has crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism.

In the course of promoting their anti-Israel policies, church leaders have engaged in rhetoric that seeks not only to delegitimize the state of Israel but also the Jewish community. The actions and statements of the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN-PCUSA) have been so egregious that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella network of Jewish community relations groups, has been forced to go public with their complaints in hopes that ordinary Presbyterians will do something about the epidemic of hate speech springing from church activists.

Even a partial list of offensive statements made by Presbyterian activists on Israel and the Jews ought to send a chill down the spines of church members who may be unaware of what is going on:
At an opening program of the IPMN-PCUSA annual conference, the Rev. Craig Hunter said “greed and injustice is a cancer at the very core of Zionism.” In a 2010 letter to church delegates, the IPMN-PCUSA falsely accused the Jewish community of intimidating Presbyterians by sending a letter-bomb to the church’s headquarters and setting fire to a church. IPMN-PCUSA tweeted an article proclaiming “Jewish power + Jewish hubris = moral catastrophe of epic proportions.” IPMN-PCUSA also has supported virulently anti-Israel resolutions including those equating Israel with apartheid and has been a vocal supporter of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanction movement. …

The IPMN-PCUSA Facebook page includes a cartoon of President Obama wearing weighty Jewish star earrings to suggest Jewish control of the American leaders, a common theme on the site. The IPMN-PCUSA has posted articles that accuse Jews of controlling Hollywood, the media, and American politics – and blaming Israel for the American housing and economic crisis. IPMN-PCUSA’s communications chair also posted her opposition to a two-state solution and the existence of a Jewish state, something which she terms “anachronistic.” The same IPMN leader, Noushin Framke, clicked “like” on the Obama cartoon with the Jewish stars and another post that Hamas should keep Israeli Gilad Shalit hostage until Palestinians are granted a right of return.

The idea that a mainstream American church would engage in this sort of abuse of Jews and the Jewish state is shameful. Moreover, this is not about church activists engaging in legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. By participating in a propaganda war against Zionism and the existence of Israel and its right of self-defense, these Presbyterian activists have crossed the line that separates criticism from delegitimization. Anyone who would deny Jews the same rights of self-determination and self-defense they would never think of questioning when it comes to any other country is engaging in bigotry. The church’s activities have nothing to do with the promotion of peace and everything to do with scapegoating Israel and the Jews.

While this has nothing to do with the beliefs, let alone the actions of the overwhelming majority of American Presbyterians, it goes without saying the responsibility for policing these institutions belongs to church members. Because Jewish community relations professionals have failed to get the church hierarchy to act on this question up until now, it is up to the rank-and-file to speak out against this behavior and see that it ends. Those Presbyterians who say they wish to live in fellowship with their Jewish neighbors are obligated to ensure their church does not engage in anti-Semitism or support an economic war on the Jewish state. On this point, there can be no middle ground. The church must repudiate these extremists who have appropriated their good name to promote a hateful cause.




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