[FoRK] Dilemma

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Jul 14 18:01:21 PDT 2009

I started out thinking these were good points, until... I read one 
article on the subject.

Jeff Bone wrote:
> Well, the central dilemma of the Obama administration is shaping up to 
> be the same one as plagued the Bush administration:  is the man an 
> absolute idiot (albeit  a much more eloquent one) or a colossal 
> hypocrite?
> From Obama's speech yesterday in Ghana:
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/11/AR2009071101327_pf.html 
> "No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 
> percent off the top..."
> I suppose a dogged literalist might think he forgot to include "only."

Are you implying that the US "skims" 20% of gross revenue on all 
business revenue?  Really?  "Skimming" means taking a chunk of gross 
receipts.  The mob guy stops by Friday night and dips into the till for 
a handful.

Is that why some ad I saw for Mother Jones at the post office yesterday 
(misleadingly) points out that "61% of corporations pay no tax"?  Some 
counties do have a gross receipts tax.  The most I've seen is 1%.  
California has an $800 minimum corporate tax, which is kind of painful 
and unfair to small business.  (It is the most clear barrier to entry 
for creating a small business that I've seen in the US.)  Sales tax 
maybe gets to 9% some places.  But nothing like "skimming 20%".  EU has 
the VAT, but that still is only on the marginal increase on value, not 
the gross receipts.

So, how is Obama being an idiot or hypocrite here?  I would raise the 
same point.
> Sigh.
> jb
> PS - for all of you keeping score out there re:  my economic indicator 
> predictions and program cost-projections from last summer...  how you 
> feeling about all that *now*, chumps?

You predicted that the US Federal Government would spend less than $196B 
on stimulus this year?  Because that is the most that will be spent.  
And you do realize that $288B of the $787B total was "spent" on tax 
cuts, right?  Are you asking about our feelings on those?

SF Chronicle:
> The record-breaking $787 billion fiscal stimulus package that Congress 
> passed in February is not breaking records on the job front. In 
> California, with 11.5 percent unemployment, it has done little more 
> than prevent layoffs of state workers.
> In response, Democrats who sold the stimulus as a way to cap the 
> national unemployment rate at 8 percent are scrambling to explain why 
> hundreds of thousands of jobs disappear each month.
> To arrive next year
> None of this should be a surprise. Only a small fraction of the 
> stimulus has even been spent, so it is not shocking that it has yet to 
> show results. By the end of this year, less than a quarter of the 
> money will be out the door. As was widely noted in February, the bulk 
> of the $787 billion will arrive next year.

FACT CHECK: GOP joins murky math on stimulus jobs
> (07-10) 18:07 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --
> House Republicans on Friday declared the nation's economic stimulus 
> efforts a "dismal failure." But the convoluted math they used to 
> disparage the recovery is as murky and meaningless as the White House 
> formula championing the stimulus.
> Led by the senior Republican on the House Transportation and 
> Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., committee members 
> argued simultaneously that the government was spending too much money 
> and not spending it fast enough.
> They argued that projects are mired in red tape, that the slow pace of 
> transportation spending is to blame for rising unemployment, and that 
> the stimulus was not targeted to areas that needed jobs the most.
> MICA SAID: Transportation money is slow to get out because of "red 
> tape" slowing things down.
> THE FACTS: Republicans are correct that only a small percentage of the 
> $48 billion in transportation money has been spent. But red tape is a 
> red herring. In fact, stimulus projects have to be ready to begin 
> quickly. Projects that have yet to clear permitting, environmental 
> review or other bureaucratic hurdles won't get funded because they 
> won't meet the law's deadlines.
> REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART, R-FLA., SAID: "There is a new definition for 
> dismal failure: Stimulus. This stimulus."
> THE FACTS: The argument is based on the idea that unemployment keeps 
> going up despite the transportation spending. That's a non-sequitur. 
> The $48 billion in transportation money represents just 6 percent of 
> the total stimulus. A far greater share of stimulus money, $288 
> billion, was spent on tax cuts, and conservatives would never accept 
> the argument that rising unemployment proves that tax cuts don't work.
> The fact is, Republicans don't need to create mathematical 
> head-scratchers to criticize the stimulus. Since President Barack 
> Obama signed the stimulus into effect in February, the nation has lost 
> more than 2 million jobs and unemployment has climbed ever higher. The 
> administration's claims that the law has created or saved 150,000 jobs 
> is based on a misused formula and the number cannot be verified.
> Whether it's today or in 2012, voters can judge the Obama 
> administration on real job numbers, not rosy White House estimates or 
> gloomy Republican numbers.


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