Paul Krugman: Well, it seems as if a number of people in the media have decided that (President) Obama was fibbing when he said that some millionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries – because, as the usual suspects triumphantly declare, on average millionaires pay higher average taxes than middle-income Americans.
This is, of course, stupid: the operative word is SOME.
And we’re not talking about one or two exceptional guys, either … If you look at the numbers since 2004, you’ll see that in a typical year between 30 and 40 percent of those super-high-income players paid an average tax rate of less than 15 percent; most of them paid less than 20 percent.
…. what becomes clear is that the Obama/Buffet claim is absolutely, totally true.
So why the attack? Probably because it’s such an effective line. And we can’t have populism that actually strikes a chord with the public, can we?
Aw bless, our old buddy Mark Knoller – who’s not even trying any more to be impartial – is not happy with the President’s shocking proposal that the rich pay the same tax rate as the middle class.
He’s tired of hearing about Warren Buffett and his secretary, so he has a solution: in this Twitter exchange with a right-winger, he suggests Buffett pay his secretary in stock, thereby reducing her tax – and then they’ll both shut up.
Yep, that will sure solve the tax inequality issue for the whole of America.
It’s funny, CNN fired Chez Pazienza in 2008 for having a personal blog and contributing opinion pieces to The Huffington Post.
Meanwhile, Knoller regularly expresses his Teabagger-esque views on tax on Twitter, but that’s okay for the CBS White House Correspondent whose job it is to report impartially on the administration?
You know, impartial reports like this:
MediaMatters (August 2011): CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller whitewashed former President Bush’s role in creating $1.2 trillion in deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, instead blaming President Obama for every penny of debt increase since “the day Mr. Obama took office.” But the Congressional Budget Office had already projected $1.2 trillion in deficit before Obama took office, based entirely on Bush’s actions and economic conditions.
Greg Sargent: Beltway head-in-sand-moment of the day: David Brooks is very, very upset with Obama for aggressively articulating his tax-the-rich vision, and signaling he won’t budge from it, in the face of Republicans who are aggressively articulating their no-tax-hikes-at-all-costs vision and signaling they won’t budge from it. That’s silly enough on its own. But then Brooks gives us this:
“He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.“
Brooks must have missed all those polls that show solid public support for tax hikes on the wealthy, particularly the ones that show solid support for high end tax hikes among independents.
Washington Post: When President Obama unveils his deficit-reduction plan this morning in the Rose Garden, the proposal sure to draw the most attention is his call for people making $1 million or more to pay more in taxes.
And there are (smart) politics everywhere in it. Here’s why.
1. Polling: The numbers on taxing the wealthy are very clear. In a July Washington Post/ABC poll, 72 percent of those tested supported raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more as a means of reducing the debt …. In our 50-50 political world, those numbers are as close as you can get to a political slam dunk.
2. Populism: Obama is an awkward populist, at best, but if ever there was a time when populism could sell, it’s now….
3. Middle class: These earners are, without question, the swing vote of the 2012 presidential election …. and at a time when many members of the middle class are feeling more and more squeezed economically, the idea of getting the wealthy to pay more will seem to many of them like a political no-brainer.
…. Make no mistake: President Obama has picked a political fight on the most solid ground on which he has to stand at this turbulent time. Winning it would help turn around his political fortunes as the calendar turns to 2012.
Warren Buffett says he’s absolutely “fine” with President Obama calling the new plan to establish a minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year the “Buffett Rule.”
….. the billionaire told the FOX Business Network the administration “asked me if they could use my name (on it) and I said, ‘Sure. It’s what I believe.'”
Buffett has long argued that the wealthiest Americans tend to pay a smaller portion of their income in federal taxes than middle-income earners because some millionaires and billionaires often get much of their income from capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than basic wages.
Buffett has argued that the “billionaire-friendly Congress” has coddled the wealthy and that that practice should end.
…. When asked if he’s heard complaints or gotten friendly jabs from his wealthy friends about the Buffett Rule, Buffett quipped:
“Well, I’ve employed a food taster, but other than that…”
Steve Benen: …. About a month ago, Warren Buffett made a strong case in support of raising taxes on those who enjoy enormous wealth …. It looks President Obama is inclined to agree: “… on Monday he will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers …”
Everything we’ve seen from Obama this month suggests this White House has chosen a new posture when dealing with the GOP. The introduction of the American Jobs Act was a pleasant, progressive surprise; the White House’s reluctance to start making concessions was clearly a step in the right direction; word that Social Security is off the table is just what the left wanted to hear; and support for the “Buffett Rule” suggests Obama and his team aren’t afraid to draw contrasts with unpopular, hard-right congressional Republicans.
…. I’d bet the debt-ceiling fiasco changed Obama’s entire approach rather dramatically. The president very likely assumed that if he worked in good faith, offered reasonable concessions, and demonstrated a commitment to compromise and common ground, Republicans would respond in kind. The summer offered a painful lesson – those assumptions were wrong. GOP officials have rewritten the rules.
With those lessons in mind, the president is now taking a tougher line. Good for him – and for us.
NYT: President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
…. the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule”, in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
… The Obama proposal has little chance of becoming law unless Republican lawmakers bend. But by focusing on the wealthiest Americans, the president is sharpening the contrast between Republicans and Democrats with a theme he can carry into his bid for re-election in 2012.
It could also reassure Democrats who have feared that Mr. Obama would agree to changes in programs like Medicare without forcing Republicans to compromise on taxes.
NY Post: Following reports that President Obama phoned Warren Buffett from vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to discuss the economy, The “Oracle of Omaha” is hosting a fund-raiser for Obama’s re-election, billed as an “economic forum”.
Tickets for the event at New York’s Four Seasons restaurant on Sept. 30 start at $10,000 a head, with VIP tickets a budget-boosting $35,800.
Reuters: Warren Buffett will invest $5 billion in Bank of America, stepping in to shore up the company in the same way he helped prop up Goldman Sachs and General Electric during the financial crisis.
Bank of America shares rose 15 percent to $8.03 in early trading, erasing a large part of the stock’s August losses.
The President and First Lady’s fundraising schedule for New York next month:
Dinner with the President – Hosted by Roger Altman, Andi and Tom Bernstein, Michael Granoff, Jane Hartley and Ralph Schlosstein, Charles Myers, Pilar Crespi and Stephen Robert
Gala Dinner with the President and First Lady – with a special performance by Alicia Keys
Lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Economic Forum Dinner with Warren Buffett and moderator Austan Goolsbee
James Warren (The Atlantic): From his community organizing days to the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama has always put pragmatic deal-making above ideology, even when it angered allies
As President Obama is pilloried by the left, including by bloggers and editorial writers, for supposedly selling them out during debt ceiling negotiations, a reality check is desperately needed.
Get over it, guys and gals, and remember whom you’re fuming over: a deal-making community organizer.
Recognize this man? In a showdown with ideological enemies, he fashioned compromises which made some Democratic allies apoplectic. Republicans weren’t happy, either, with what he wrought but grudgingly realized there were few alternatives.
Throughout he exhibited a preternatural calm, always seeking some common ground among disparate interests as if compromise was a goal in and of itself, not any diminution of principle as some Democrats thought.
Yes, that’s our president, the man at the center of the improbable Debt Debate of 2011. But it was also State Senator Barack Obama a decade ago. The equally rancorous issue back then was the death penalty and the setting was the Illinois legislature. Not much about him has changed.
“His ideological inclinations are liberal but, as far as being a politician, he’s about getting things done. He was always pragmatic and about getting things done,” said Peter Baroni, a Republican attorney-law professor-lobbyist in Chicago who had a bird’s eye view of Obama while serving as legal counsel to Republicans in the Illinois Senate and to its Judiciary Committee.
Wonkette: Evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren, whom you may remember as the official evangelical homophobe schlub selected to give the invocation at (President) Obama’s inauguration, thought fit to weigh in on the debt ceiling debate. How does Jesus feel about taxes, Rick?
Half of America isn’t paying taxes! Which half, the corporations? General Electric? Exxon Mobil? Citigroup? No, probably he means “the poors,” the full half of America that doesn’t earn enough income to pay federal income taxes, but who do pay myriad other taxes for things like eating, wearing clothes and driving vehicles. Let them be, Rick Warren, they aren’t getting into heaven anyway. Jesus doesn’t love them, or they’d have millions of dollars from book sales, like Rick Warren.
(Warren removed the Tweet from his account)
Drumsnwhistles: This tweet is appalling. Odious. Have you fallen down the rabbit hole so far you have forgotten Matthew 25:31-46? Here, let me quote it for you, and for readers who may not be familiar with it…..
President Obama meets with Warren Buffett, the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, in the Oval Office, July 18. (Pete Souza)
I think we can guess that that ‘quiet’ schedule might just get busy in the afternoon….
I wonder will Fox cover Murdoch and Brooks’ appearances tomorrow (Tuesday) in front of a British parliament committee? (Listed times at CNN are EDT):
A few days ago I laughed at the idea of Murdoch’s hideous empire being brought down …. now I’m not so sure. This story just gets stranger and stranger. There’s great coverage of the whole sordid affair at The Guardian.
Elizabeth Warren: This is a big week for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today, the President will announce his intent to nominate Richard Cordray to serve as its first Director. On Thursday, the CFPB makes its transition from a start-up to a real, live agency with the authority to write rules and to supervise the activities of America’s largest banks.
Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB.
…. Our mission is clear: No one should be tricked in any financial transaction. Prices and risks should be clear. People should be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons. Fine print should be mowed down, not used to hide nasty surprises. And, everyone – even trillion dollar banks – should follow the law…..
President Barack Obama announces Richard Cordray as his nominee to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rose Garden, July 18. Obama was joined by Elizabeth Warren, Special Advisor on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Ezra Klein: There’s a fair amount of disappointment over the White House’s decision to formally nominate Richard Cordray rather than Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau….
I don’t really understand this. Whoever is nominated to lead the CFPB is going to spend the next year of his life being filibustered by Republicans …. so the question isn’t who you want leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. It’s who you want spending his or her time being stopped from leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. And it’s not clear that the answer to that question is “Elizabeth Warren.”
Warren, after all, has another option that she appears to be taking seriously: challenging Scott Brown in the 2012 electionm … if she wants to do that, she can’t spend the next year being blocked from leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…
…. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general with a great reputation in consumer-protection circles and Warren’s blessing, doesn’t have anything to run for until Ohio’s governorship opens in 2014. By all accounts, he’s a good choice to lead the agency now, if he can somehow get past the Republicans, and spending a few years publicly fighting to protect consumers is unlikely to hurt him back home.
… given the information we have now, it seems like a fairly smart way to deploy the talents and preserve the future options of the various consumer protectors whom Republicans plan to filibuster.
Reuters: Billionaire Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy is “coming back” and does not need more stimulus, despite an uneven recovery that mirrors the fortunes of businesses at his company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
…Speaking on CNBC television, Buffett maintained his “enormous respect” for the efforts of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to move the economy forward.
He said improvement in the business environment is likely in future months to be reflected by a decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, probably to the low 7 percent range by the November 2012 elections from 9 percent now.
…”The economy is coming back,” Buffett said. “There is a resiliency to the American system,” he added. “It does work. It sputters from time to time, it will sputter from time to time, but you don’t want to get worried.”
BBC: The billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, has urged Americans to ignore “prophets of doom”, and believe that the country’s “best days lie ahead”.
In an upbeat annual letter to the shareholders of his investment firm, Mr Buffett said he was itching to make more large acquisitions. The 26-page missive is seen as an authoritative guide to the state of the world’s biggest economy.
He is one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential investors – as such, his opinion is closely followed.
Despite the American economy struggling to emerge from the recession following the financial crisis, Mr Buffett believes the time is now right to make some major investments. In his annual letter to his Berkshire Hathaway investors, he said his trigger finger was now itchy to invest in new projects, using some of the fund’s 38bn dollars in cash reserves. The news that Mr Buffett is seeking substantial new opportunities will be welcomed by many global investors.