Friday, November 30, 2012
CAMBRIDGE – The United States may be headed for a recession in 2013. Even if the country avoids going over the “fiscal cliff,” a poorly designed political compromise that cuts the deficit too quickly could push an already weak economy into recession. But a gradual phase-in of an overall cap on tax deductions and exclusions (so-called tax expenditures), combined with reform of entitlement spending, could achieve the long-run fiscal consolidation that America needs without risking a new recession.
Every year he says the rich pay too little, and less than the middle class. Every year conservative think tanks and pundits go to work tearing the reasoning to pieces, and every year Mr. Buffett ignores their reasoning.
Maybe it’s time for us to consider the idea that the usually very rational Buffett is in this case not reasoning at all, but simply emoting. That by adopting the Buffett Rule as the new operating principle of American tax reform, we’re not tapping into the best that his higher brain functions have to offer, but instead taking his own private psycho-drama of paternal conflict and hard coding it into the law of the land.
You see, Mr. Buffett is the son of Howard Buffett, the Ron Paul of the WWII generation. Howard Buffett ran for Congress in 1942 as a harsh critic of the New Deal, and surprisingly, he won. He was an ardent libertarian, friend of Murray Rothbard, and an entrepreneur who built his own stock brokerage firm. He gave gold jewelry as gifts to the women in his life, not principally for adornment purposes, but as an investment against paper money. The Buffetts were committed Christians, members of a conservative Presbyterian Church.
Buffett rebelled against his father. According to Roger Lowenstein’s biography, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist”, if memory serves me correctly, Warren actually visited his sick father in the hospital to announce his shift to liberalism and to the Democratic party, a sure and cruel blow to his father, a four term Congressman who had lost his seat.
His psychodrama, our money. --TS
LONDON—After an exhaustive examination of British press ethics, a U.K. judge issued a withering assessment of some media practices and urged Parliament to pass a law creating a new voluntary regulatory body for the country's newspapers.
Dealing with reality of Obamacare | deal, premiums, government - Opinion - The Orange County Register
So how can such a system have survived for so long? Repression and fear alone do not explain it. In fact, free-market behavior, whatever its benefits, is not hard-wired into human brains, especially not when it seems allied with selfishness and corruption in undermining noble ideals like cooperation, fairness, and equality.
When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco COST +1.89% co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?
Taxes are for the little people. --TS
Perhaps the most damning anecdote -- told by French academic Gérard Prunier and confirmed by New York Times journalist Howard French -- was of a private converation Rice had after her first trip to Central Africa around this time: "Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we [i.e., the United States] have to do is look the other way."
Seems like that's kind of her motto -- look the other way. --TS
That seems to be true everywhere — except Utah. There, Gov. Gary Herbert is trying to carve out a completely new option: Building a health insurance exchange that is near certainly out of compliance with the federal law, and seeing how the Obama administration responds.
Talks that had been at a standstill may now crumble, thanks to the Geithner-Nabors proposal. The president is boxing in the Republicans—offering them a deal they cannot accept, a deal they can't even be seen to be treating seriously. Mr. Boehner is legitimately interested in a bargain that will set the country on sounder footing. Yet the most immediate outcome of such an open slap from the White House will be to make even those Republicans who were willing to cut a deal harden their positions. Someone get the White House a copy of "Negotiating Tactics for Dummies."
Then again, the most frightening aspect of the White House proposal is that it wasn't an error. Perhaps the proposal was thoroughly calculated. This suggests a president who doesn't care about the outcome of the cliff negotiations—who thinks that he wins politically no matter what. He's betting that either the GOP will be far more responsible than he is and do anything to avert a crisis, or that the cliff gives him the tax hikes his partisans are demanding. Win-win, save for the enormous pain to average families across the country.
The Republicans will have to contemplate how to deal with such an unserious offer. But in presenting his demands, the president has now made very clear that there is only one side that is working in good faith.
I don't see how going over the cliff is avoidable (or likely to be avoided). But I could be missing something. Some of this could be kabuki. It seems much more driven by politics, particularly a desire to inflict maximum harm on the GOP, rather than by any coherent public policy. If, for example, deficits aren't that big a problem, then why is it so important to tax the "rich"? --TS