January 10, 2013
President Barack Hussein Obama made the rich paying their fair share of taxes the focal point of his campaign. But the question that I have not been able to find the answer to is: Now, after the tax increase, are the rich paying their fair share?
Obama raised taxes on the rich; was that enough? The White House press office has not responded to that question. I have read both that now the rich, according to Obama, were paying their fair share, and that the rich were not yet paying their fair share and taxes needed to be increased more on the rich.
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Now that we have been over the fiscal cliff and then pulled back to what is supposed to be safety by increasing taxes on the rich and giving a tax break to everyone else, a lot folks are shocked that their paychecks are smaller. Or, I should say, a lot of folks who make less than $450,000 a year are shocked to find that their paychecks are smaller.
Although most Americans reportedly received a tax cut in the fiscal cliff deal, paychecks went down. In 2011, a 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax was enacted. This was done to put more money in people's pockets with the hope of getting the economy going, but that 2 percent reduction was allowed to expire. So payroll deductions went up 2 percent causing most paychecks to go down.
One might assume from that action that the Obama administration is no longer interested in improving the economy or for people having more money in their pockets.
The government giveth and the government taketh away.
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It looks like our leaders in Washington are going to have just long enough to go home, take a shower and change clothes before the next fiscal crisis, which is going to be about raising the debt ceiling that is currently at $16.4 trillion.
Obama has said that he is not negotiating and the Republicans say he has lost his mind if he thinks they are going to raise the debt ceiling without getting some spending cuts.
Obama has a point. Every time the Republicans have gotten up to the edge and looked over the fiscal cliff they have run away screaming and given Obama what he has wanted.
If this time the Republicans actually put on their big boy pants and are ready to negotiate, they have to be willing to go over the cliff. But to convince Obama that this time they are not going to get scared and cave in they probably will have to put a stop on borrowing money for a while. Certainly the federal government can rearrange payments so that not being able to borrow $1 trillion right away is not going to put the government up for sale.
The first order of business will be that Obama will decide that the men and women in the armed forces cannot be paid. Then they will probably run out of money to buy bullets for the troops in Afghanistan. But I'll bet the federal budget against a doughnut that no matter how bad it gets the federal government will not run out of money to fuel up and fly Air Force One and Air Force Two.
Speaking of air travel, wouldn't it be great if the federal government ran out of money to pay all the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guards, or at least the funds to pay the electric bills on the naked body scanners? Air travel would increase overnight.
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Good news for North Carolinians who live in the northern portion of the state, but bad news for the North Carolina state government, is the proposal in Virginia to eliminate the state gas tax. The tax is currently 17.5 cents, compared to 37.5 in North Carolina. And if Virginia lowers its gas prices by an additional 17.5 cents, then it may be worth a drive to Virginia to fill up.
It might not be a good time to be opening a gas station in Eden, Stoneville or Norlina.
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Former Gov. Bev "Dumpling" Perdue proved in her last week in office that not only was she a lousy governor, she's not a very nice person either.
Perdue had said she would make a decision on the clemency request for Janet Danahey before leaving office. She did make that decision, and her decision was to do nothing.
To make a decision regarding clemency was her right as governor and I don't disagree with the outcome. What proved she was a lousy governor and not a good person is that she didn't announce her decision.
In 2002, Danahey started a fire in the Campus Walk Apartments that killed four people. She started the fire on purpose, but said she had no idea that dousing a couch in lighter fluid and lighting it would catch the building on fire.
Perdue was under a lot of pressure from both sides – those who think Danahey has served long enough and those who think she needs to serve her full life sentence without parole. A one-sentence statement would have prevented all of those involved from being on pins and needles right up until Gov. Pat McCrory took the oath. Perdue knew that whatever she decided would be controversial. But she was getting paid to make those decisions and take the heat.
Fortunately for the State of North Carolina, Perdue is no longer holding any office of importance and the best thing for the state would be for Perdue to retire from public life. But somehow these bad pennies have a habit of turning up again and again.
Since, so far, Perdue – unlike her predecessor former Gov. Mike Easley – has not been convicted of any felonies, she may not go down as the worst governor in the last 50 years. But it will still be a close call.
A political system that puts a political hack like Perdue and a crook like Easley in the governor's mansion is broken. Maybe McCrory and the Republican legislature can fix things because the North Carolina political system needs serious repair.
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There is an excellent example of why the federal government is currently borrowing $1 trillion a year to cover its out-of-control spending: Greensboro is desperately trying to spend $5 million that it received from the federal government to make houses more energy efficient.
Basically, the grant is supposed to be used to insulate buildings, fix windows and make repairs that will make the buildings more air tight, except Greensboro can't seem to spend the money.
Since 2010, when the program started, Greensboro has spent $2.4 million. Now Greensboro says that it can spend the other $2.6, if not before the fast approaching May deadline, then shortly after.
Does anyone think that last $2.6 million will be well spent? Furthermore, everyone in Greensboro is eligible for money regardless of their income level. If Obama is so worried about the rich not paying their fair share, why is he giving the rich a rebate for fixing up their homes and businesses – something they would do anyway?
It is true that $5 million is a drop in the bucket of the federal budget, or not even a drop in the bucket. But all those tiny particles together fill the bucket. All you have to do is multiply that by every city and town in the country and then by every federal program.
There are so many programs. The federal government spends billions on public transportation from buses to trains and subways. The federal government paid 80 percent of the cost of The J. Douglas Galyon Depot, which is the renovated bus and train station, as well as 80 percent of the outrageously expensive new bus maintenance building, and 80 percent of the cost of every bus out there on the streets. ...continued on page 2