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Another Phony Budget Debate

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Source: http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org

By Ron Paul

 

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Another Phony Budget Debate

 

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.

The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.

As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.

I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.

These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.

If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?

Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches, and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least,  young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.

Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.

Harry Reid Tied to Medicare Fraudster Saloman Melgen

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Harry Reid Tied to Medicare Fraudster Saloman Melgen

 

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Saloman Melgen is the South Florida doctor who it was determined overbilled Medicare by $9 million in 2007-2008, and who also recently lent his private plane to Senator Menendez of New Jersey for some “vacation time” in the Dominican Republic.

The Washington Free Beacon today reveals that $700,000 found its way from Melgen to a PAC Senator Reid is associated with. I mean it would just look stupid if old Harry Reid took a stroll down to the Medicare building and just picked up a check. There always has to be a middleman, even if that middleman is a known fraudster. Can’t look too obvious.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

HUMPHRIES: Give members of Congress a million dollars a year

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

HUMPHRIES: Give members of Congress a million dollars a year

 

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Columnist Rusty Humphries responds to Congressman Moran’s complaint that $174,000/year, plus amazing healthcare, plus a fantastic pension isn’t enough for members of Congress to live on.

(From The Washington Times)
 
Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, is retiring after spending over 20 years in Congress. He thinks he and his overworked colleagues are underpaid. They get a measly $174,000 a year salary, so it’s unreasonable for us to expect them to pay for things like a house in Washington, D.C.; dinners at all those expensive restaurants; or Obamacare.
 
Well, after listening to his lively speech, he’s inspired me and changed my mind.
 
I say, Let’s give each member of Congress ONE MILLION DOLLARS a year!
 
But there’s a catch:

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
 

The US Just Can’t Stop Blowing Billions in Afghanistan

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

The US Just Can’t Stop Blowing Billions in Afghanistan

 

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We stay and will stay in a more “limited” way in Afghanistan because it is vitally important in the “grand game.” Afghanistan is the cornerstone of Asia and it is at the crossroads of the Silk Road. To the north is Putin’s Russia, to the west Iran. To the east China. To the south India. It may be inhospitable. It may be dangerous. It may be the place where historically empires have gone to die. But it is full of unexploited minerals and lots and lots of opium.

To control Asia (which is probably impossible though the British gave it a good go) one must control the craggy peaks and dusty valleys of Afghanistan. And that is why we continue to dump money down a hole in the country and will probably forever. That and if we stop things will probably get get even worse. This is why we should leave empire building to other countries. We were once a colony. We didn’t like it.

(From Vice News)
 
Afghanistan may now be a catch-22, but US donors have missed several chances to learn a lesson. Sopko pointed to a 1988 USAID report on development in Afghanistan, drawing many of the same conclusions that US officials are realizing now. And many of the mistakes made in Iraq — particularly with sub-contractors — were repeated in Afghanistan and are once again becoming the norm.
 
“I’ve seen it in Somalia, in Yemen. The system of corruption and collusion between the US government and these contractors was born in Afghanistan and is being replicated elsewhere,” Jackson said, adding that development in Afghanistan took a turn for the worse after a surge both in military presence and in misguided development projects. “In 2010 you had this massive influx of money and all these quick-impact projects, and focus on burn rates rather than results.”
 
“That’s very important for understanding why Afghanistan is such a mess now,” she added. “If you look back, it could have gone differently.”

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
 

 

Lawrence Lessig: The unstoppable walk to political reform

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Lawrence Lessig: The unstoppable walk to political reform

 

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Published by TED

Seven years ago, Internet activist Aaron Swartz convinced Lawrence Lessig to take up the fight for political reform. A year after Swartz’s tragic death, Lessig continues his campaign to free US politics from the stranglehold of corruption. In this fiery, deeply personal talk, he calls for all citizens to engage, and a offers a heartfelt reminder to never give up hope.

Image credit: TED video capture

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

 

One of the primary topics on this website since it was launched has been the extremely destructive and explosive rise of crony capitalism throughout the USA. It is crony capitalism, as opposed to free markets, that has led to the gross inequality in American society we have today. Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability.

As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. One thing that bothers me to no end is when fake Republicans focus their criticism on struggling people who need welfare or food stamps to survive. They have this absurd notion that the whole welfare system doesn’t start with the multinational corporations and Central Banks at the top. In reality, it is at the top where the cancer starts, and that’s where we should focus in order to achieve real change.

That’s where a new report from Open the Books on corporate welfare comes in. In a preview of the publication, the organization notes:

If Republicans are going to get truly serious about cutting government spending, they are going to have to snip the umbilical cord from the Treasury to corporate America.  You can’t reform welfare programs for the poor until you’ve gotten Daddy Warbucks off the dole. Voters will insist on that — as well they should.

So why hasn’t it happened? Why hasn’t the GOP pledged to end corporate welfare as we know it?

Part of the explanation is that too many have gotten confused about the difference between free-market capitalism and crony capitalism.

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And part of the problem is corporate welfare that is so well hidden from public view in the budget that no one has really measured how big this mountain of giveaway cash to the Fortune 500 really is. Finding out is like trying to break into the CIA.

Until now. Open the Books, an Illinois-based watchdog group, has been scrupulously monitoring all federal grants, loans, direct payments and insurance subsidies flowing to individuals and companies.

It’s an attempt to force federal agencies to release information on where the $4 trillion budget is really spent — and Open the Books will release a new report on corporate welfare payments to the Fortune 100 companies from 2000 to 2012.

Over that period, the 100 received $1.2 trillion in payments from the federal government.

That number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank and auto company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments and where they went are kept mostly invisible in the federal agency books.

As suspected, the biggest welfare queens in the U.S. are the super wealthy themselves, but they’d rather you focus on some single mother on welfare simply trying to survive.

I have been trying to track down the full report with no luck as of yet. If I am able to, I will update this post.

Follow Mike on Twitter.

A List Of 97 Taxes Americans Pay Every Year

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

A List Of 97 Taxes Americans Pay Every Year

 

America-Is-Broke-300x300If you are like most Americans, paying taxes is one of your pet peeves.  The deadline to file your federal taxes is coming up, and this year Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours preparing their taxes and will hand over more than four trillion dollars to federal, state and local governments.  Americans will fork over nearly 30 percent of what they earn to pay their income taxes, but that is only a small part of the story.  As you will see below, there are dozens of other taxes that Americans pay every year.  Of course not everyone pays all of these taxes, but without a doubt we are all being taxed into oblivion.  It is like death by a thousand paper cuts.  Our politicians have become extremely creative in finding ways to extract money from all of us, and most Americans don’t even realize what is being done to them.  By the time it is all said and done, a significant portion of the population ends up paying more than half of what they earn to the government.  That is fundamentally wrong, but nothing will be done about it until people start demanding change.  The following is a list of 97 taxes Americans pay every year…

#1 Air Transportation Taxes (just look at how much you were charged the last time you flew)

#2 Biodiesel Fuel Taxes

#3 Building Permit Taxes

#4 Business Registration Fees

#5 Capital Gains Taxes

#6 Cigarette Taxes

#7 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#8 Disposal Fees

#9 Dog License Taxes

#10 Drivers License Fees (another form of taxation)

#11 Employer Health Insurance Mandate Tax

#12 Employer Medicare Taxes

#13 Employer Social Security Taxes

#14 Environmental Fees

#15 Estate Taxes

#16 Excise Taxes On Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans

#17 Federal Corporate Taxes

#18 Federal Income Taxes

#19 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#20 Fishing License Taxes

#21 Flush Taxes (yes, this actually exists in some areas)

#22 Food And Beverage License Fees

#23 Franchise Business Taxes

#24 Garbage Taxes

#25 Gasoline Taxes

#26 Gift Taxes

#27 Gun Ownership Permits

#28 Hazardous Material Disposal Fees

#29 Highway Access Fees

#30 Hotel Taxes (these are becoming quite large in some areas)

#31 Hunting License Taxes

#32 Import Taxes

#33 Individual Health Insurance Mandate Taxes

#34 Inheritance Taxes

#35 Insect Control Hazardous Materials Licenses

#36 Inspection Fees

#37 Insurance Premium Taxes

#38 Interstate User Diesel Fuel Taxes

#39 Inventory Taxes

#40 IRA Early Withdrawal Taxes

#41 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#42 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#43 Library Taxes

#44 License Plate Fees

#45 Liquor Taxes

#46 Local Corporate Taxes

#47 Local Income Taxes

#48 Local School Taxes

#49 Local Unemployment Taxes

#50 Luxury Taxes

#51 Marriage License Taxes

#52 Medicare Taxes

#53 Medicare Tax Surcharge On High Earning Americans Under Obamacare

#54 Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (if you don’t buy “qualifying” health insurance under Obamacare you will have to pay an additional tax)

#55 Obamacare Surtax On Investment Income (a new 3.8% surtax on investment income)

#56 Parking Meters

#57 Passport Fees

#58 Professional Licenses And Fees (another form of taxation)

#59 Property Taxes

#60 Real Estate Taxes

#61 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#62 Registration Fees For New Businesses

#63 Toll Booth Taxes

#64 Sales Taxes

#65 Self-Employment Taxes

#66 Sewer & Water Taxes

#67 School Taxes

#68 Septic Permit Taxes

#69 Service Charge Taxes

#70 Social Security Taxes

#71 Special Assessments For Road Repairs Or Construction

#72 Sports Stadium Taxes

#73 State Corporate Taxes

#74 State Income Taxes

#75 State Park Entrance Fees

#76 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#77 Tanning Taxes (a new Obamacare tax on tanning services)

#78 Telephone 911 Service Taxes

#79 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#80 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#81 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#82 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#83 Telephone Universal Access Taxes

#84 The Alternative Minimum Tax

#85 Tire Recycling Fees

#86 Tire Taxes

#87 Tolls (another form of taxation)

#88 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#89 Use Taxes (Out of state purchases, etc.)

#90 Utility Taxes

#91 Vehicle Registration Taxes

#92 Waste Management Taxes

#93 Water Rights Fees

#94 Watercraft Registration & Licensing Fees

#95 Well Permit Fees

#96 Workers Compensation Taxes

#97 Zoning Permit Fees

Yet despite all of this oppressive taxation, our local governments, our state governments and our federal government are all absolutely drowning in debt.

When the federal income tax was originally introduced a little more than 100 years ago, most Americans were taxed at a rate of only 1 percent.

But once they get their feet in the door, the social planners always want more.

Since that time, tax rates have gone much higher and the tax code has exploded in size.

Why do we have to have the most convoluted tax system in the history of the planet?

Why can’t things be simpler?

In a previous article entitled “24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes In The United States That Will Blow Your Mind“, I listed a number of reasons why our federal income tax system has become a complete and utter abomination that is entirely out of control…

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

If it was up to me, I would abolish the income tax and shut the IRS down.

But neither major political party in the United States is even willing to consider such a thing.

So the monstrous system that we have created will continue to get even bigger and even more complicated.

We are literally being taxed into oblivion, and most Americans don’t even seem to care.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

America Needs A Better Measure Of Unemployment

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

America Needs A Better Measure Of Unemployment

 

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Indeed we do. With the Fed coming out and saying (essentially) that it has abandoned the 6.5% unemployment target for raising rates, it is high time we start using a real number. As we said last week, the unemployment rate as currently calculated is little more than a propaganda tool at this point, and not even a good one.

 

Policy makers and the public need to know what is really going on with the employment situation. The old, garbage in, garbage out axiom applies here. If the employment data is manipulated for political reasons, how can anyone trust the data. How can anyone make a business decision in confidence?

(From IBD.com)
 
The current measure of the labor force includes those who are employed, in addition to unemployed individuals who are currently available and actively looking for work.
 
To maintain unemployed status, individuals must contact employers directly, have an interview, ask friends or professional organizations about job opportunities, send out a resume or fill out an application each month.
 
Given the historically high number of long-term joblessness, it’s no surprise that the share of out-of-work people who aren’t considered active enough in their search has surged since the Great Recession.
 
This — not rising employment — is the main cause of a drop in the unemployment rate since the end of the recession.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

Spin begins in earnest for Jeb Bush presidential run

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Spin begins in earnest for Jeb Bush presidential run

 

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Basically the same party.

 

As we’ve said before, the last thing this country needs is another Clinton or Bush in the White House.

With Chris Christie hobbled (for the time being) the establishment GOP has turned its gaze toward Jeb – “I never thought people would actually let my brother be president” – Bush. Chris Christie would be a good nominee in their eyes, but how much better to have a governor who already knows (and can hire) all the people who worked in the prior Bush presidencies?

Jeb is the way the establishment gives the finger to the new breed of small government people coming up in the GOP. If the establishment can nominate their guy the Tea Party and libertarians will have no choice but to fall in line behind the big government Bush.

Seriously, how is it that in a country with 315 million people 2 families have been allowed to dominate the most important office in the land for potentially a collective quarter century.?

And now the laudatory articles start.

(From The Washington Times)
 
“If you look at the Republican field minus Jeb Bush, you have some potential stars out there, but nobody knows whether they can put together the grand effort needed to win the nomination and go on to win the White House,” he said. “With Jeb, people are immediately struck by his intellectual heft. He is a serious policymaker and you get the sense that he could go all the way.”

For the sake of the country let’s hope not.

Oh, and Jeb is a key guy behind Common Core.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

Eric Holder Gives Pass to Banking Criminals at Credit Suisse

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Eric Holder Gives Pass to Banking Criminals at Credit Suisse

 

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He gave a huge one to HSBC which laundered hundreds of millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels because if he prosecuted he said it could destabilize the financial system. To big to jail.

Now another one. Holder is retiring soon to defend banks in court (like he did before) so we shouldn’t be surprised. Credit Suisse may very well become a future client. (After a cooling off period of course, to keep things kosher.)

 

I have to say that at this late hour I am taken by how many people still think Obama’s a good guy.

(From PJMedia.com)
 
Swiss bank Credit Suisse has perpetrated a criminal enterprise on American soil by intentionally fleecing the federal government of billions of dollars in taxes, yet top political leaders at the U.S. Department of Justice refuse to pursue criminal charges against all of the bank officials engaged in the scheme.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

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