August 13th, 2004

lung

Tapped: TAX CUTS -- EVERYONE WINS!

From Tapped (tapped_xml), here:
http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2004/08/index.html#003516

There's a surprisingly good New York Times article detailing the shocking news that the Bush tax cuts -- I'll bet you can guess it -- favor the wealthy. It goes a bit astray at the end:

But the report also gave Republicans support for their contention that tax reduction had brought some benefit to people in almost all income categories. People with the bottom fifth of income, for example, averaging earnings of only $16,620, saw their effective tax rate drop to 5.2 percent from 6.7. Yet because lower- and many middle-income families had been paying very little federal income tax in the first place, those in that bottom fifth of earnings received an average tax cut of only $250.

"It doesn't matter who you are, the report shows that you are better off now than you were before the tax cuts,'' said a House Republican aide. "It's showing that everybody's tax burden has gone down as a result of the tax cuts.'"

The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 reduced tax rates for people in all income brackets.

That's fact-esque, but it leaves out the millions of Americans who, before the tax cut, already didn't pay any income tax. Those people still pay pretty hefty payroll taxes, and the Republican-passed bill only helps out some of them, and only helps out any of them because of provisions that were put in at the insistence of the Democrats. The tax shares dispute has been rendered somewhat irrelevant by the Kerry campaign's decision to advocate the repeal only of provisions that only help people making over $200,000 per year (it's important to note that the "middle class tax cuts" in the bill also apply to the rich, so that even under the Kerry plan a wealthy person would pay less tax than he did during the Clinton years -- when, as you may recall, the nation's crushing tax burden stifled economic growth and continued to do so until Bush took office and launched the current boom), but that's no problem for the president who can always make up some new mumbo-jumbo to fit the circumstances.
lung

Julia Child - dead!

Julia Child died. She was 91.

If I was Robert A. Heinlein, I'd recommend we eat her corpse, but I'm not, so I'll just post links to the news about it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/13/dining/13CND-CHILD.html
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ny-bc-ny--child-excerpts0813aug13,0,2252583.story
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aBEstYDnTJkA&refer=us
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/features/entertainment/wabc_081304_entertainmentsstory_child.html
http://www.gothamist.com/food/archives/2004/08/13/goodbye_julia_and_thanks.php

(Gothamist actually had 3 separate posts about it within minutes of each other. That's a little much, I think.)
lung

CBO: Bush tax cuts not so good for middle class

The CBO - or Congressional Budget Office (note lack of party affiliation) - released a study today finding the wealthy Americans (the top 20%) pay a smaller chunk of the nation's taxes with Bush's tax cuts - but taxpayers earning $51k-75k actually end up paying a larger chunk of the taxes. Hmmm...

Republicans are dismissing the report, calling it "the Democrat-requested report." "The CBO answers the questions they are asked," said Terry Holt, a Bush campaign spokesman.

But... well, I'll let the Washington Post say it:

"The question posed was a standard request for analysis of the type members on both sides of the aisle routinely make of the CBO. In this case the ranking Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the House and Senate budget committees and the Joint Economic Committee asked Holtz-Eakin -- the former chief economist of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers -- to estimate the distribution of the tax cuts among income levels, and compare that to tax levels if none of the cuts were passed."

...

"Are the rich paying their fair share?" asked one GOP aide. "Yeah. They're paying more."

But to Democrats, the conclusion was clear. For the bottom 20 percent of households, the combined Bush tax cuts averaged $250 each. The middle 20 percent received $1,090, while the top 1 percent garnered $78,460, said Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee who analyzed the report.

The tax cuts this year will boost the income of millionaires by 10.1 percent, while middle-income families see a boost of 2.3 percent, the Democrats said."


Hmmm. So everyone saved money, but the rich saved a larger % of money than the poor. Trickle down economics, I guess.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61178-2004Aug12.html
(http://www.bugmenot.com/ to get an anonymous login.)
lung

Porter Goss: I suck!

For those of you that haven't heard, President George W. Bush recently nominated Porter Goss, Congressman from Florida, for the post of CIA director.

Bush on Goss:

"He knows the CIA inside and out" and "He's the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history."

Here are Goss's own words, from March:

"It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50's to approximately the early 70's. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services office and yes I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day: 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have."

Who'd he tell that to? Amusingly enough - Michael Moore's film crew!

http://news.lycos.com/news/story.asp?section=Politics&storyId=906349

If you don't believe me, Moore actually posted the segment of the interview where Goss admits that he'd be a terrible CIA Director: http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latestnews/

Update: In the interest of fairness, I'll say this. Goss was talking about being an agent, but I still feel some of the same issues are relevant to either post, and I've got some actual concerns about his appropriateness for the role. This post, however, was intended mostly as humor, not as actual evidence of his capacity for taking on the role. I thought it would've been fairly obvious, but it apparently wasn't, so I'm stating it explicitly here. Want to know why? Here are a few links to get you started:

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=express&s=strohm081204
http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/levi/20040813.htm
http://atrios.blogspot.com/2004_08_08_atrios_archive.html#109223556266840581
http://www.mattgunn.com/#cantgetciajob081104