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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 17, 2011 12:14 PM. The previous post in this blog was They'll be 'doggone. The next post in this blog is Three 'dogs a-woofing. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

All bozos on this bus

The Congress of the United States has turned into a clown show that's no longer funny. Now they're passing tax laws that last only two months. There's little that hurts business and finance more than uncertainty, but that's all the toupees of Capitol Hill are capable of these days.

If you had people working for you in your business and they behaved like this, you'd promptly fire them.

Comments (20)

This is actually a temporary suspension of an obligaton to contribute to the social security trust fund -- the more temporary the better, because the suspension makes for Social Insecurity. I would be more prone to fire people who look for ways to welch on obligations to contribute to retirement plans.

the suspension makes for Social Insecurity

Is that so? I thought that (a) the FICA shortfall was to be made up by contributions into the trust fund from the general fund, and (b) those contributions were to be "paid for" in the sense that there would be offsetting general fund expenditure cuts or revenues. Is that wrong?

offsetting general fund expenditure cuts

General fund? What a joke. When we're borrowing $1.3 trillion per year the general fund strategy is nothing but an accounting gimmick. An essential feature of fiscal discipline is lining up tax and fee authorities with their intended object (witness the commentary on the use of water and sewer revenues on this blog). Employees should make continuous and consistent contributions to their own retirement -- not that that point hasn't been made in spades in other contexts at other times on this blog.

Whether you're making good tax law or bad, jerking the public around every two months is not acceptable.

I agree. They should not do two month tax laws.

But hasn't the Senate punted on a yearly budget the last two years? I might be wrong, but I had heard that Harry Reid did not want to look bad the last election cycle, so he just did not pass a budget back in 2010. Or 2011. No doubt he will blow off 2012 as well. Would want to look bad during an election year. Or off year.

This is absolutely correct. A consistent tax law that doesn't change over time is probably more important than lowering taxes in stimulating economic growth and development.

This policy of "temporary" tax changes is just a killer.

Congress needs to be totally replaced. These jerks, both Rs and Ds, are supposed to be working for all of us but they have not done so for a long time.

Perhaps the next auction will produce a congress that looks out for what is best for the US?

c'mon folks. The real impetus for all this? They just want to go home for the holidays. Screw the public whom they are supposed to represent.

Looks like a politically motivated jerk,

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argued that Democrats will “be in the driver’s seat” when Congress revisits the payroll tax cut debate in January, when the holiday season will be over, Obama will deliver his State of the Union address and the presidential campaign will be in full swing.

“We’ll be looking at the economy – do the Republicans want the economy to tank, or do they want it to keep going up? ... That’s what the issue is,” he said, previewing the Democratic message. “The Republicans basically want to defeat Obama so badly that they’re willing to let the economy go down the tubes to do that.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/senate-democrats-see-short-term-loss-long-term-gain-in-payroll-tax-deal/2011/12/16/gIQADeKRzO_blog.html

"General fund? What a joke"

This argument, such as it is, applies to any kind of fiscal stimulus. With the economy stagnant, and unemployment high, fiscal stimulus is needed. This is not a partisan position, but basic macroeconomics, applied even by Republicans, at least when they are in the driver's seat. A FICA tax reduction puts money directly in the pockets of those who are likely to spend it, and if the employer portion is cut, it makes hiring cheaper. A general fund reimbursement, even if it raises the deficit, keeps the trust fund surplus going. Stimulus could be financed by increases in upper income tax brackets, without much negative impact on consumer spending or hiring, but politics currently precludes that. The exit path for large federal general fund deficits involves, primarily, GDP growth, full employment, health care reform and modest inflation.

I hate to spoil you Christmas Allan L, but there is no SS trust fund surplus. Social Security contribution were moved out of a "Social Security Trust Fund" and into the general fund by the dem's in the Lyndon Johnson administration. Please explain this to us. If a reduction in the payroll tax "puts money directly in the pocket of those who are likely to spent it" would not the same be true for a reduction in the withholding tax?

This policy of "temporary" tax changes is just a killer.

This along with many policies detrimental to our constitution, our rights and our country as we knew it.

Remember Hugh's long list?
Click on various links, for much extended reading for the weekend.

http://my.firedoglake.com/edwardteller/2011/07/15/is-it-time-for-obamas-scroll/

Remember, the Social Security Trust Fund is within a lockbox filled with IOUs.

I just hope my 401K is not filled with similar assets.

OK, if the social security trust fund is to be ignored, then social security is no more solvent or insolvent than the Department of Defense. You guys can have it either way, but not both ways.

And Mike, you could do worse than investing in obligations that carry the full faith and credit of the United States — a country that prints its own money and so can't run out.

Sen. Danger, Third Party.

The auction system by which candidates are elected produces a congress which behaves exactly as expected.

Allan, the DOD budget is appropriated and funded by congress and approved by the president on an ongoing basis, SS isn't. As Mike said the payroll taxes collected are diverted to the general fund and replaced by IOU's. This was done by your Lib buddies to hide the amount they were over spending. I also noticed you failed to answer my question, but this is typical of lib's when they don't have an answer.

This was done by your Lib buddies to hide the amount they were over spending.

Pretty presumptuous of you to put labels on people you don't know. I overlooked your question because it seems kind of silly. Of course, as far as employees are concerned, a reduction in withholding tax puts cash in their pockets; but without a change in the underlying federal tax liability, the benefit wouldn't last long. What's the point of that?

And the distinction you draw with respect to the timing of Congress's action on defense budgets vs. social security benefits, it is irrelevant to your willful misinterpretation of the accounting.

Oh, and you're sort of overlooking the fact that, until George W. Bush took office in 2001, we had an endless prospect of budget surpluses with no need to borrow from social security. In fact, you may remember that Gore campaigned on a promise not to touch FICA surpluses. That's where the silly "lockbox" metaphor came from. What Bush did, with the help of the Congress through a budget resolution, was shovel the FICA surpluses, collected from working people, into the pockets of the wealthy through the famous "temporary" tax cuts.


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