Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guess What Your Income Tax Would Have Been in 1862

Five percent— in 1862 any American making more than 10,000 dollars a year handed only five percent of their income over to the government. Well, times have changed…a lot. The Tax Foundation gathered a list of statutory tax rates spanning from more than 150 years ago to today.

In 1862 only two brackets existed:

Today, there are seven tax brackets, with the top income earners handing almost 40 percent of their annual earnings over to the government:

These rates have fluctuated greatly over the years. The first income tax dates back to 1861, when Congress passed the Revenue Act to help pay for the expenses of the Civil War. The tax was repealed a decade later"



Media helping the Democrats Avoid the Victims

For a moment, imagine yourself back in 2006, at the height of liberal aggression about the "imperial hubris" of George W. Bush in the war on terror. The left's contempt for this man was rampant. Liberals savaged him for turning the world against this country. Keith Olbermann announced "the beginning of the end of America."

Now imagine, in that milieu, if during the Bush administration, we'd witnessed a mass shooting by an Islamist at Fort Hood. Or a terrorist bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Or a deadly terrorist attack on a consulate in Libya. Would liberals have granted Bush a pass for any of these? Or would he and his policies have been blamed?

You know how the press would have played it. The hard-news coverage would quickly give way to the analysis, and it would be brutal. Words like "fiasco" and "failure" would have dotted the news landscape.

So why, when these events occurred during the Obama years, has the press continuously disassociated the events from President Barack Obama -- except for his laudable efforts as the mourner-in-chief, healing the country from its pain?

In the Bush years, the media celebrated "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan confronting Bush about his horrendous war in Iraq, in which she lost her son Casey. But when Obama and Hillary Clinton ignore the victims or relatives of the victims from recent attacks, the media stay silent.

It's not like the media elites fail to notice. See a report from with the headline "White House Denies '09 Fort Hood Victim's Request for Meeting With Obama."

Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford was shot seven times in November 2009 when radical Islamist Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 32 more. Obama's Department of Defense continues to refuse to classify the shooting as terrorism. It's just "workplace violence." Survivors have been denied Purple Hearts and combat-related benefits afforded to victims of other terrorist attacks.

"As you may know, the President and high-ranking members of the military promised me, my family and the other Fort Hood terror attack survivors that the federal government would 'make them whole.' After more than four and one-half years, however, the government has yet to make good on this promise," Lunsford wrote to Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, a day before Obama's visit to Fort Hood after a second fatal shooting. "We believe that if the President could hear, first-hand, our plight and our mistreatment at the hands of his bureaucracy, that he would take the steps needed to set things right. Therefore, we ask for ten minutes of his time."

Lunsford didn't get it. Not only that, but ABC, CBS and NBC stayed silent on this attempt to get Obama to greet reality on Hasan's terrorism. There's no risk to Obama dismissing these survivors.

Or take Clinton, just honored for bravery for dodging a shoe at one of her $250,000-plus-expenses speeches in front of scrap-metal recyclers in Las Vegas. (It was a "ten-strike," boasted analyst Mark Shields on PBS.) Her next stop was going to be a speech at the annual Western Health Care Leadership Academy in San Diego on April 11. But she canceled her visit in the midst of planned protests, where protesters would have included Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, who died in Benghazi. Instead, Clinton appeared via satellite. A "scheduling conflict" was the excuse.

There was no coverage. The networks had no interest in Mrs. Smith or the other protesters. If you're a journalist, it's incumbent you protest Bush and the military-industrial complex at every turn. It's also imperative you bring aid and comfort to Obama and the international left. It's what they call "news."



Holder's Race Card

Jonah Goldberg

Last week, the president's lap dog blew his dog whistle.  In case you didn't know, in politics a "dog whistle" is coded language that has a superficial meaning for everybody, but also a special resonance for certain constituencies. Using dog whistles lets politicians deny they meant to say anything nasty, bigoted or controversial.

Speaking to the National Action Network the day after a testy but racially irrelevant exchange with Republican members of a House panel, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "The last five years have been defined ... by lasting reforms even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity." He continued: "If you don't believe that, you look at the way -- forget about me, forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. ... What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?"

Now, bear in mind the audience. The National Action Network is Al Sharpton's plaything, often providing the shock troops Sharpton needs for rent-a-mob protests, shakedown operations and MSNBC photo ops. Holder didn't say criticism of him and Obama is racially motivated, but the notion the audience (or the media) would take it any other way doesn't pass the laugh test.

Holder's hypocrisy is stunning given that he once famously chastised Americans as being "cowards" for not talking openly about race. Who's the coward now?

For the record, there's nothing special about the rough time Holder has received. Forget Harry Daugherty of Teapot Dome fame or John Mitchell, who went to prison. Ed Meese's critics had "Meese Is a Pig" posters printed up. Janet Reno and John Ashcroft never got cake and ice cream from opponents.

The best recent comparison is probably Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush's second attorney general, because like Holder, he was a fairly incompetent partisan loyalist with a thin skin. Gonzales was treated brutally by Democrats. Some even tried to impeach him. I don't recall Gonzales insinuating that such efforts were anti-Latino.

Holder has deserved all he's gotten. He earned his contempt of Congress citation by refusing to provide documents on the disastrous Fast and Furious operation that left an American dead from a gun the U.S. government put on the street. If anything, Holder deserves more grief, particularly from a media that seem to have forgotten his efforts to surveil journalists' phone records and name Fox News' James Rosen an unindicted co-conspirator in an espionage case.

Even inside the White House, Holder is considered too political. "Holder substitutes his political judgment for his legal judgment, and his political judgment isn't very good," says an unnamed White House official, according to the Washington Post's David Ignatius.

Holder's remarks come at a convenient time. In a widely discussed New York Magazine essay, Jonathan Chait argues that race relations have gotten worse under Obama. Chait believes that liberals have become obsessed with conservative racism as the real explanation for everything Republicans do. Meanwhile, he says conservatives have cocooned themselves in a kind of righteous victimhood, where racism is a relevant issue only when conservatives are falsely accused of it. (It's a fair point that conservatives should be more conspicuously concerned about racism.)

It is an at times brave and insightful, if not uniformly persuasive, essay. The Holder episode casts light on one of his arguments. According to Chait, Obama has steadfastly refused to make race a national issue, even as the ugly racial conversation has raged. "In almost every instance when his blackness has come to the center of public events, however, [Obama] has refused to impute racism to his critics," Chait writes.

That's largely (though not entirely) true about what the president has said himself. But it is manifestly untrue about what he has allowed to be said on his behalf. He didn't mind the racial theater congressional Democrats put on when black congressmen marched through Tea Party protests to sign Obamacare. One of those congressmen, civil rights hero John Lewis, gave a stirring speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention and suggested that a vote for the GOP amounted to "going back" to Jim Crow.

Republican presidents are routinely expected to denounce outrageous comments by members of their own party, never mind members of their Cabinet. Not Obama. His feigned aloofness is his exoneration, even as racial politics get ever more poisonous, thanks in part to his whistling lap dog.



The market or big business?  A crucial choice for the GOP

Jonah Goldberg

For years, Republicans benefited from economic growth. So did pretty much everyone else, of course. But I have something specific in mind. Politically, when the economy is booming -- or merely improving at a satisfactory clip -- the distinction between being pro-business and pro-market is blurry. The distinction is also fuzzy when the economy is shrinking or imploding.

But when the economy is simply limping along -- not good, not disastrous -- like it is now, the line is easier to see. And GOP politicians typically don't want to admit they see it.

Just to clarify, the difference between being pro-business and pro-market is categorical. A politician who is a "friend of business" is exactly that, a guy who does favors for his friends. A politician who is pro-market is a referee who will refuse to help protect his friends (or anyone else) from competition unless the competitors have broken the rules. The friend of business supports industry-specific or even business-specific loans, grants, tariffs or tax breaks. The pro-market referee opposes special treatment for anyone.

Politically, the reason the lines get blurry in good times and bad is that in a boom, the economic pie is growing fast enough that the friend and his competitor alike can prosper. In bad times, when politicians are desperate to get the economy going, no one in Washington wants to seem like an enemy of the "job creators."

But in a time when people bitterly wonder, "Is this as good as it gets?" Republicans have to decide whether European-level growth means we should have European-style policies. In Europe, big corporations are national institutions where big labor unions collect their dues -- with help from the state.

Democrats, who often look longingly at the way they do things across the pond, don't have the same dilemma as Republicans. For a century or more, progressives have believed in public-private partnerships, industrial policy, "Swopism," corporatism and other forms of picking winners and losers. The winners always promise to deliver the "jobs of tomorrow" in return for help from government today. (Solyndra is running behind on keeping its end of the deal.)

Many Republicans are rhetorically against this sort of thing, but in practice, they're for it. (Even Ronald Reagan supported trade protections for Harley-Davidson.) This is especially true at the state level, where GOP governors are willing to do anything to seduce businesses their way. Texas is a good example. Gov. Rick Perry has been heroic in keeping taxes and regulatory burdens low. But he's also helped his friends -- a lot. Few on the right in Texas care, because Texas has been doing so much better than the rest of the country.

GOP politicians can't have it both ways anymore. An economic system that simply doles out favors to established stakeholders becomes less dynamic and makes job growth less likely. (Most jobs are created by new businesses.) Politically, the longer we're in a "new normal" of lousy growth, the more the focus of politics turns to wealth redistribution. That's bad for the country and just awful politics for Republicans. In that environment, being the party of less -- less entitlement spending, less redistribution -- is a losing proposition.

Also, for the first time in years, there's an organized -- or mostly organized -- grassroots constituency for the market. Historically, the advantage of the pro-business crowd is that its members pick up the phone and call when politicians shaft them. The market, meanwhile, was like a bad Jewish son; it never called and never wrote. Now, there's an infrastructure of Tea Party-affiliated and other free-market groups forcing Republicans to stop fudging.

A big test will be on the Export-Import Bank, which is up for reauthorization this year. A bank in name only, the taxpayer-backed agency rewards big businesses in the name of maximizing exports that often don't need the help (hence its nickname, "Boeing's Bank"). In 2008, even then-Sen. Barack Obama said it was "little more than a fund for corporate welfare." The bank, however, has thrived on Obama's watch. It's even subsidizing the sale of private jets. Remember when Obama hated tax breaks for corporate jets?

Friends of the Ex-Im Bank are screaming bloody murder. That's nothing new. What is new is that the free market is on line two.



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