Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let the Run for the Border Begin: You have until Jan. 1, 2014 to get to the US to Avoid Prosecution

Well it looks like it is official Obama has made 5 million people de-facto American citizens by a stroke of his pen.

Obama will also press ahead with changes to the way the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces deportations, aides said.

Currently, an undocumented immigration arrested for a broken taillight would be processed by local police, who would alert ICE. ICE would launch deportation proceedings. Under the new system, ICE would only move to expel individuals who fell into certain categories: if they had been convicted of a serious offense, for example, or had ties to extremist groups, or if they crossed the border after Jan. 1, 2014.

“We’re going to focus on deporting felons, not families,” one official said at the briefing.
This will probably now backfire because this is a green-light for people to stream across the border as fast as they can. That cut off date is quick but if they can get here by then they don't have to fear being deported by ICE for years, if ever. We might see a million people at the border just in time for Christmas. 

Whoops! Obamacare Overcounted Sign-ups

Well at least they are finally admitting it.

Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said that the overcount involved about 400,000 people.
Those consumers have separate dental coverage in addition to a medical plan, and were double-counted by mistake, said Albright. They had purchased both the medical and dental plans through and state insurance markets created under the law.
It makes you wonder how much more double-counting and statistical tricks are in the number of sign-ups as well. I guess we are too "stupid" catch these sorts of errors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paul Ryan to Chair Tax Writing Committee: Now Cut My Taxes!

This is very good news for the most part.

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan has been tapped by Republican leaders to chair the tax-writing Committee on Ways and Means in the U.S. House of Representatives during the next congressional session.

Ryan, the outgoing head of the House budget panel and Ways and Means member since 2000, was recommended by the Republican Steering Committee on Tuesday for the post.

He knows his fiscal Ps and Qs so here is my wishlist for Paul Ryan and his tax committee:

1. Expand the earned income tax credit beyond $496 for people without kids. That would help quite a few millennials that have not formed families yet. That would be a massive stimulus by itself.

2. Cut corporate taxes to an average of the top 10 Industrialized countries. Then close as many industry specific loopholes and get rid of as many subsidies as you can. Companies should not be able to game the system to pay 0% tax like GE does. 

3. Allow companies to repatriate their income at some much lower rate. Maybe 15% or something. I want our multinationals to be able to move their cash from overseas and spend in in the US. This would get rid of inversions right there.

4. Remove capital gains taxes and taxes on interest for people making less than $150,000. The middle class should be able to invest in the stock market or buy bonds without Uncle Sam demanding his cut. I did all the research and took all the risk. The company I bought stock in has already paid their taxes. Why should I have to double pay this tax. This would also end the stupid tax pruning that people have to do in order to reduce their taxes.

5. Create a rental deduction. This would not be as high as a home owners interest and tax deduction but it should be higher than $0. Many younger people in America rent so this would go a long way toward helping them and encourage them to get out of their parents basements.

6. Allow people to refinance their student debt. 4.66% to 7.21% is outrageous in an era of 0% interest. Make this the prime rate plus a certain amount of basis points and that is it. The government should not be making money from student loans but they shouldn't be forgiven either.

The Far Right Pushes for Yet Another Government Shutdown

I just don't understand the thinking of the far right.

Rush Limbaugh is now telling his audience the federal government “damn well needs to be shut down” because President Obama intends to take executive actions on immigration policy. Erick Erickson is thinking along the same lines, pushing for a shutdown in a blog post, and reminding his Republican allies that their party has never actually faced adverse consequences from their previous shutdowns, so they have no incentive to back off now.
 The shutdown was a massive waste of time and this one will be too. Obama can take executive action on immigration policy no matter what the Congress does. The last time they shut down the government they wanted to get rid of Obamacare. That didn't happen and there was no end game in sight. So the GOP had to slink away and waste everyone's time and the market dropped. This is just a repeat of that sort of thinking.

The GOP shuts down the government against the wishes of their leadership and then Obama goes ahead and gives out amnesty anyway. Then what does the GOP do? Stamp their feet and jump up and down until Obama changes his mind? Cut off money to border security? It doesn't make any sense. 

What Rush and his cronies need to understand is that the best way to do immigration reform is to put a decent bipartisan immigration bill on Obama's desk and have him veto it. Then when Obama does his executive order he actually looks like an "imperial president" shunning the wishes of the Congress.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Democrat Finally Admits that the Middle Class Doesn't Care about Increasing the Minimum Wage

It is nice to see a Dem strategist understand that raising the minimum wage has nothing to do with helping the middle class.

Democrats like to talk about a “populist” agenda that rails against the wealthy and supports the middle class. This year, the centerpiece of that agenda was raising the minimum wage. But tapping their anger against the 1 percent doesn’t engender hope or help middle-class Americans get ahead. While increasing the minimum wage is extremely popular — and we should raise it — I doubt many middle-class workers aspire to a minimum-wage job. We need an economic growth and upward-mobility agenda that offers middle-class families hope that their future will be better than the recent past.
Yeah taxing the rich more and spending it on the poor does not help the middle class for the most part. Middle class workers do not want a minimum-wage job at that is the bottom line. This guy, Al From, also talks about expanding the earned income tax credit which I would like. That move alone would put many thousands in the pockets of the middle class. Adjust that tax credit to inflation and it would be a nice little chunk of change for the economy every April.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why the Dems Keep Losing the Gun Control Debate: Americans Think an Armed Home is Safer

I think this is common sense but the war on terror has changed the minds of many Americans.

Gallup recently conducted a survey on guns, and what Americans think of them. The results of the poll showed that shockingly, 63% of Americans think having a gun in the home makes the home safer. On the other side of the coin, only 30% of Americans say they feel guns make homes more dangerous, and around 6% say “it depends.”
That 30% are probably liberals that have not been around guns very much and are just reading the hype. If you get over the fear factor of owning a gun it does become a tool of protection and not some scary thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline Might Get Approved to Save Mary Landrieu's Job

I guess that is a good a reason as any to generate some jobs and get things moving again.

Long-stalled legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline got new life on Wednesday after Senate Democrats suddenly abandoned efforts to block the measure in hopes of helping endangered Sen. Mary Landrieu keep her seat in energy-rich Louisiana.

Republicans responded swiftly to Landrieu's maneuvering, scheduling a vote in the House on Thursday on an identical bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu's Republican rival in a Dec. 6 runoff.
I guess it will hit Obama's desk soon and we will see if he chooses environmentalists over his own party or not. My money is on an under bus treatment given to the green lobby. I mean they didn't help the Dems hold the Senate so they aren't worth it anymore. Jobs (especially Senator Landrieu's) trump ideology in big party politics.

It Seems Piketty Got it Wrong: They Forgot to Include Government Freebies in their Calculations

Hmm it seems that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor hasn't yawned as far as these academics think.

If that dark picture doesn’t sound like the country you lived in, that’s because it isn’t. The Piketty-Saez study looked only at pretax cash market income. It did not take into account taxes. It left out noncash compensation such as employer-provided health insurance and pension contributions. It left out Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and more than 100 other means-tested government programs. Realized capital gains were included, but not the first $500,000 from the sale of one’s home, which is tax-exempt. IRAs and 401(k)s were counted only when the money is taken out in retirement. Finally, the Piketty-Saez data are based on individual tax returns, which ignore, for any given household, the presence of multiple earners.

And now, thanks to a new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in. Economists Philip Armour and Richard V. Burkhauser of Cornell University and Jeff Larrimore of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation expanded the Piketty-Saez income measure using census data to account for all public and private in-kind benefits, taxes, Social Security payments and household size.

The result is dramatic. The bottom quintile of Americans experienced a 31% increase in income from 1979 to 2007 instead of a 33% decline that is found using a Piketty-Saez market-income measure alone. The income of the second quintile, often referred to as the working class, rose by 32%, not 0.7%. The income of the middle quintile, America’s middle class, increased by 37%, not 2.2%.

What is interesting is that the things the left out are the cornerstones of middle class living. Leaving out taxes which many Americans get back in the form of a sizable check every April 15th is an big miss in their calculations. Also the sale of a house is usually a massive transfer of wealth for many Americans who didn't turn their houses into a piggy bank. Some prudent families bought a house at reasonable rates 20 years ago and end up selling them for 10x or more gain. They kept building their home equity year after year and paid their mortgages off and suddenly they are sitting on $500K tax free. As housing recovers this kind of thing might happen again 20 years from now.

Ben Carson Might Run for President? Fox News Dumps him from Their Lineup in Anticipation

Hmm, it looks like the good doctor is going to make a run at the White House.

The scrutiny was probably inevitable after Fox dropped Carson as a contributor on Friday. The trigger there was the Baltimore physician’s plan to run an hourlong infomercial on local stations as a prelude to a possible presidential run.

I addressed the development on Sunday’s “Media Buzz”: “This was a smart move by Fox. Because a guy who is more or less running for president shouldn't be on a network payroll. Which means Fox also faces a decision about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who is openly weighing a White House run as well.”

Yeah Huckabee will get his ass whooped by Carson if they both chose to run. I mean Carson is a neuro-surgeon and can diagnose Putin as a madman and maybe provide a prescription to take care of that sort of thing. Also an actual doctor might have quite a bit of gravitas when it comes to Health Care spending and medicare reimbursements and other topics. It would be nice to have a super-smart President as well. I was told Obama was smart but the jury is still out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Paper Suggests Conservatives don't Like Climate Science because it Suggests Policies They Don't Like: Um Yeah Pretty Much

I think many Conservatives would be okay with some of what Climate Science has to say about Global Warming if it didn't include anti-growth measures in it.

So-called "solution aversion" colors conservatives' thinking about the science itself, the research found.
The researchers say they tested the theory using four different experiments.

In one experiment, two different groups of subjects across the political spectrum were given articles to read, one which talked about a government regulatory policy solution to climate change while another discussed a free market solution.
While Democrats in both groups viewed the science of climate change equally regardless of which article they read, the percentage of Republicans who believed the climate change was caused by humans was much lower among those who read about the regulatory solution. It isn't the science that is flawed (for the most part) but what the science will lead to.

I think the Conservatives viewed climate science remedies as yet another way for the government to control your life. I mean an anti-climate change measure can pretty much be used for any sort of draconian control you can think of. I mean the UN wants to extort billions from rich countries to give to poor countries to "combat climate change." I'm sure the poor countries will use that money wisely and every dollar will be accounted for by independent auditors. Yeah right.

Idiot Ted Cruz Calls Net Neutrality Obamacare for the Internet

I guess we might get some bad legislation from the know-nothing wing of the GOP.

This is an insanely cynical tactic that should worry all citizens regardless of political stripe, and it's coming from the guys at the top; Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a powerful member of the GOP in the Senate and a potential presidential candidate for 2016. Republicans just took over Congress and hold the keys to policymaking for at least the next two years. If the best they can continue to come up with is repeating "Obama is bad!" the internet is in serious trouble.

The only people that want to kill Net Neutrality are the ISPs who cannot wait to charge people depending on what they use the Internet for. So in other words if you are a gamer you will get a Gamer Fee for accessing "gamer packets" tacked onto your bill. Or if you watched lots of Netflix you will get a "Netflix streaming fee" added to your bill. That is strait-up anti-competitive and screws consumers so ISPs can make billions of extra money in fees.

What is especially galling is what idiots like Ted Cruz that want to kill Net Neutrality say they don't want to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. They attacked the since-failed Solyndra (and rightly so) as being hand-picked by the White House as a poster-child for a green company. They also attacked the Export Import bank about being the bank of Boeing.

Now they are pulling for the ISPs to be able to kidnap the Internet and hold it for ransom by charging you for what you want to do with it. That should be against the GOPs own view about the government picking and choosing winners in the economy. It will also potentially mess up businesses that use data in the Internet as well. I mean what is there to stop Comcast from charging companies "cloud access fees" or "big data processing fees?" That means everyone will have to pay more to make up for ISP greed.

Friday, November 07, 2014

#BanBlackFriday Or Why I Will Never Buy Anything on That Date Again

I was talking to my coworkers at lunch time about Sears opening at 6PM on Thanksgiving because Eddie Lampert is crazy and the company is nearly bankrupt. This got me thinking why should we play ball with these retailers that force their people to come in on a holiday and be away from their family? I think it isn't fair that they have to come in and miss Thanksgiving dinner.

Then we couple this with the fact that Jdimytai Damour a Wal-mart clerk died during a Black Friday stampede in 2008 and we have the recipe to avoid this terrible day. So I will not buy a single thing at a department store on Black Friday no matter how good the sales are. A cheap flat-screen TV is not worth a mans life or be the reason behind forcing some clerk to have to come in and miss Thanksgiving dinner.

Sears has broke this camels back and I hope other people will not buy from a department store on that day as well. I mean if you really want to buy something wait until cyber-Monday and let Amazon get your business. No one will have to get trampled and hopefully they will let their employees have Thanksgiving off so they can have dinner with their families.

Why the Dems Didn't Appeal to the Middle Class: The Middle Class Does not Make Minimum Wage

I was reading this postmortem on the midterms and this part jumped out at me.

Some Democrats felt that the party didn’t offer enough obvious relief to middle class voters worried about their job and stagnant wages, a broad group Obama targeted relentlessly in his 2012 campaign.

“I’m a strong believer in raising the minimum wage and it needs to happen,” Democratic strategist Greg Greene told msnbc. “That said it’s not something people necessarily identify with when they see themselves as middle class. That in itself was not enough.”

This is the exact reason why some people in the middle class don't line up for the Dems. If you are middle class you do not want to be making the minimum wage at any time after you got out of high school or college. If you are making the minimum wage chances are you cannot be called "middle class." So when the Dems want to raise it then the middle class shrugs their shoulders because that rhetoric does not effect them.

Also attacking the rich does not resonate with middle class voters as much as the Dems think. I mean most middle class people would love to be upper middle class or rich and aspire to that goal. You won't be a billionaire but you will be comfortable in your old age. Many billionaires got there because of hard work and a knowledge set that many in the middle class cannot follow. Not everyone can be Steve Jobs and not many would want to.

So when the Dems go after the rich and give freebies to the poor they attack what the middle class aspire to while giving something to the class they no longer want to be. So raising the minimum wage would help some other guy and an 80% tax on the wealthy might just hurt the middle class in the long run.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Senate Democrats' Campaign Committee gives up Landrieu for Dead

Well it seems that the some of the big money men are jumping off one of the last Democratic Senate ships still afloat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee initially had reserved $1.8 million in television advertising for after Tuesday's first round of voting. On Thursday, the DSCC dumped the bookings in the state's big cities.

I like this idea by Cassidy who is running against her.

Cassidy, meanwhile, attended an anti-abortion event slamming Landrieu for her support of abortion rights. He agreed to participate in one of the six debates Landrieu had proposed — on Dec. 1 — but threw in a twist: Cassidy said he'd agree to another debate date for every time Landrieu campaigns in Louisiana with the unpopular President Barack Obama.

I'm sure Obama is gassing up Air Force 1 and heading down there at once but the Landrieu people will tell them that the runways are totally full. She should toss caution to the wind though and have Obama hang around down on the bayou for the hell of it.

GOP Gets Smart and Rejects Tea Party Maneuvering on Debt Ceiling

The GOP is finally getting smart when it comes to the Tea Party.

Just days after their historic midterm victories, the Republican congressional leadership is sending out signals to the caucus that infighting and gridlock will not be tolerated.
According to Politico, incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested he will not go along with conservative calls to use the debt ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, an insistence by tea party members which triggered the government shutdown last year. 
It seems that they will be picking the low hanging fruit with Obama as well.

And in his victory speech Tuesday night, he made it clear he would also be extending the olive branch to President Barack Obama, saying the GOP has a "duty" to work with the White House on issues they agree on.
"I'm pretty familiar with our conference including the new members who are coming in," McConnell said, according to Politico. "The vast majority of them don't feel they were sent to Washington to fight all the time."

House Speaker John Boehner is telling colleagues he plans to be a "responsible leader," and that the party needs to be unified to take advantage of its political dominance, Politico reported.

So do the Asian trade deal, ISIS war-powers authorization, create a way for companies to pull money from overseas at a lower tax rate. Then they should send a Keystone XL pipeline bill through and have Obama veto it if he has to. After that stuff is done then work on some sort of immigration reform before Obama just executive orders amnesty. If Obama vetoes the legislation then does his own thing he looks even more like an out-of-touch dictator then he already does.

Monday, November 03, 2014

It Seems that Midterms are Good for the Market: Stocks are Positive 86% of the Time Since 1928

That would be nice and cheerful if we go up 16% from here.

Since 1950, the S&P 500 jumped 16%, on average, in the six months following midterms. The market was green following all 16 of them, points out Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. 

Since 1928, the market advanced 7%, on average, and it’s been positive 86% of the time in the three months following midterms, notes Barclays Capital strategist Jonathan Glionna.

Why is this? Markets hate uncertainty, and elections remove uncertainty, says Doll. It doesn’t matter which party wins. 
I already think a nice Santa Clause rally is baked into this market unless Ebola gets very bad or we have an escalation (or a big-time terrorist attack) in the war with ISIS. You add low gas prices to this equation and it is like nearly every American gets a raise of a few percent going into the holidays. Hopefully, they will spend this money and feel a little richer and more confidant because of it.

What would be interesting is if the GOP lets Obama win a few like a free-trade agreement with Asia and maybe some tax reform before they go to war over immigration reform. The GOP wants a few wins to run on in 2016 and Obama probably would like a nice roaring economy to make us forget the last 6 years of malaise. Freer trade and tax reform would go a long way to accomplishing those goals. 

It Seems Americans are Saving More and Not Getting so Deeply in Debt

I guess one good thing came out of the Great Recession. Americans are gun-shy when it comes to debt and are actually saving some of their hard earned cash.

“Household Debt” is a combination of your mortgage payments plus the required payments you have to make on “consumer” debt- including credit card accounts- each quarter.  This amount is divided by your quarterly disposable (after income tax) income to find the percent or “ratio” of debt-to-income.

Henry points out that the Household Debt Service rate is the lowest it’s been since the Fed began measuring it.

They first measured it in 1980 so debt at 30 year lows which is awesome. Americans are also socking away the money for a rainy day.

In addition to reducing our reliance on debt. Henry points to another positive factor:  we’re saving more.  “In the mid-80s the personal saving rate peaked at 10%.  And then from there on it declined to 2% as the use of credit continued to expand.”   Again, it’s no coincidence that we sank to that all-time low in saving around 2005-2007-- just before the recession hit.
Since then, according to Henry, the personal savings has been rising.  It reached 6.7% in June 2009- more than twice the rate of December 2007.  By the end of the second quarter of this year it had declined to 5.6%.  None-the-less, Henry maintains that Americans’  “balance sheets have improved even though they’re saving less than [immediately] after the recession.”

It would be great to have a generation that values thrift and swears off most debt going forward. I mean the Millennials will be very wary of debt after they have to pay off $25K in tuition for a major that sometimes never pays them back. It would be hard to see that same person rack up $25k more worth of consumer debt after they have paid off that mountain.