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Seed Newsvine

FactCheck.org does it again. In their analysis of the Fair Tax proposal they pay close attention to the numbers and the spin placed on those numbers by Huckabee, Tancredo and Hunter. Some of what they have to say is reprinted below:

Americans for Fair Taxation offers the following plain-language interpretation of H.R. 25:

Americans for Fair Taxation: A 23-percent (of the tax-inclusive sales price) sales tax is imposed on all retail sales for personal consumption of new goods and services.

It is the parenthetical that is important, for it hides the real truth of the tax rate.

First consider the way in which sales tax is normally figured. A consumer good that carries a $100 price tag might be subject to a 5 percent sales tax. That means that the final bill for the item is $105. The 5 percent figure is the amount of tax that is charged on the original purchase price. But now suppose that instead of pricing the item at $100, the shop owner simply priced the item at $105, then sent $5 directly to the state. The $105 price would be a tax-inclusive sales price. But $5 is just 4.8 percent of $105. That 4.8 percent number, however, is relatively meaningless. You are still paying exactly the same 5 percent tax on the item.

The 23 percent number in H.R. 25 is the equivalent of the 4.8 percent in the previous example. To calculate the real rate of the sales tax, we have to determine the original purchase price of an item. We can begin with the same $100 item, keeping in mind that a price tag that reads $100 has sales tax already built in. If our tax rate is 23 percent of the tax-inclusive sales price, then of the $100 final price, $23 of those dollars will be for taxes, meaning that the original pre-tax price of the item is $77. To get $23 in taxes on a $77 item, one must impose a 30 percent tax. In other words, a 23 percent sales tax on the tax-inclusive sales price is equivalent to a 30 percent tax on the actual price of the item.

FairTax proponents object to the 30 percent number, claiming that critics use the larger number to frighten people. Americans for Fair Taxation claims that it uses the tax-inclusive number to make it easier to compare the FairTax to the income tax that it will replace (since most of us think of income tax rates on an inclusive basis). But we are not accustomed to thinking of sales taxes inclusively. The result is that many FairTax supporters (about 15 percent of those who wrote to us, for example) do not understand that the 23 percent figure is tax inclusive.

Our analysis of the FairTax used a figure of 34 percent as the basic exclusive tax rate. One e-mailer complained that our number was at least 10 percentage points “higher than [the FairTax] is” because we calculated it as an addition to retail prices. But our 34 percent number is not 10 percentage points higher than the legislation. A 34 percent exclusive number is equivalent to a 25 percent tax inclusive rate – only 2 percentage points higher than the FairTax bill. We think that, intentional or not, the use of the tax-inclusive 23 percent rate has misled a lot of FairTax proponents.

clipped from www.factcheck.org
In our recent article on the second GOP debate, we called out Gov. Mike Huckabee as well as Reps. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter for their support of the FairTax. We wrote that the bipartisan Advisory Panel on Tax Reform had “calculated that a sales tax would have to be set at 34 percent of retail sales prices to bring in the same revenue as the taxes it would replace, meaning that an automobile with a retail price of $10,000 would cost $13,400 including the new sales tax.” A number of readers pointed out that H.R. 25, the specific bill mentioned by Gov. Huckabee, calls for a 23 percent retail sales tax and not the 34 percent used by the Advisory Panel on Tax Reform. That 23 percent number, however, is misleading and based on some extremely optimistic assumptions. We found that while there are several good economic arguments for the FairTax, unless you earn more than $200,000 per year, fairness is not one of them.

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Seed Newsvine

Okay, so I support Barak Obama. That being said, my bias out in the open, I believe he is the only viable candidate that makes sense on ending the Iraq War. With a White House out of control, refusing compromise with the loyal opposition on matters of the war, and with the death toll of American soldiers ever rising, a voice of reason is needed. Obama’s tack is to garner enough votes to override any presidential veto since compromise on a bill is not likely.The power shift in Congress came as a result of the American voter’s disenchantment with the war. The time has come to put an end to this mismanaged fiasco. But this White House looks and acts more and more like the Nixon White House in its efforts to “end” the war by waging even more war. Enough is enough. Support Obama’s “16 vote” campaign and help us get out of Iraq.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The volunteers were wearing Barack Obama buttons and handing out literature about the Democratic candidate for president, but the explicit message the canvassers were peddling Saturday as they went door-to-door here was about ending the war in Iraq.
First, they asked that voters sign a petition to end the war, specifically calling on their U.S. senators to part ways with the president and move for the withdrawal of troops.
Only after that did they hand out fliers promoting Obama, whom some volunteers went on to describe as the strongest anti-war candidate in the Democratic field—a mantle the other candidates aren’t ready to concede.
Obama has taken his war opposition to a new level in recent days, launching what some are calling his “16 votes” campaign urging that number of senators to vote to override President Bush’s recent veto of a bill to re-deploy troops.
Obama’s anti-war message fused so much with his presidential campaign that it was hard to differentiate

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Seed Newsvine

George W. Bush wants to hold every school child in the United States accountable for learning and every teacher in the public sector accountable for teaching what must be taught. Yet in his own behavior as President, accountability seems not to be an issue.After vetoing the Democratic Iraq war funding bill, the Democrats in the House of Representatives are working on a new bill that would fund the war effort fully through July. At that time the Bush administration must account to the people’s representatives and demonstrate real progress or changed strategy that will lead to real progress in Iraq or face the reality of not having any more money to fund this disastrous war. The administration’s response is to insist that Bush will veto this bill as well.

Let’s hold little children to the fire by making them accountable to some misguided set of standards, but when it comes to the lives of American soldiers fighting on a battlefield created by the policies of this administration the White House wants no part of being accountable to the American people. This attitude is an egregious breach of the use of power and must not be tolerated by the American people.

Mr. Bush must step up and accept responsibility for his failed policy. He must step up and be held accountable for his policies, decisions and actions. It seems he is unwilling to do so.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday said they would press ahead with a new Iraq funding bill, despite a White House veto threat and a cold Senate reaction to a bill that would dole out combat funds in pieces and force a July vote on withdrawing troops.
“The House bill is going to change,” promised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.
White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters President George W. Bush would veto the House bill if it reached his desk.
Under the bill, which is not expected to become law, Bush would get a $42.8 billion down payment. Then, after getting White House war progress reports in July, Congress would cast votes late that month on whether to release an additional $52.8 billion to continue fighting in Iraq through September, or whether to use the money to withdraw most of the troops by the end of this year.

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Seed Newsvine

When Bush breaks out the veto pen he does so objecting to what he calls an artificial withdrawal timetable. But what is your plan Mr. President? For the past four years you have insisted that you have a strategy for victory in Iraq and the conflict just deepens. For four years you have insisted that we are winning the war and the death toll continues to rise. For four years you have insisted that the war in Iraq is the front line of the global war on terror but you have presented only rhetoric to support your claim.The time has come for you extend your hand to the Congress and work out a reasonable compromise that contains a withdrawal strategy. The Iraqi government must now step up and take control of their own country. Only Iraqis can solve the Iraq problem that you created in your over zealous desire to invade that nation. Only Iraqis can ease the religious conflict that is a curse on that nation, a curse resulting from your lies and hubris. Not another American life need be lost over this venture and now only you have the power to end what you started. Bring our men and women home. End this conflict sooner rather than later.

clipped from www.cnn.com
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Four years after declaring victory in Iraq in a much-ballyhooed speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier, President Bush prepared to veto a war-spending bill that calls for pulling American combat troops out of the now-unpopular conflict.
Before sending the bill to the president Tuesday afternoon, Democratic congressional leaders urged Bush to sign the bill and begin winding down the war.
“A veto means denying our troops the resources and the strategy they need,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. “After more than four years of a failed policy, it’s time for Iraq to take responsibility for its own future.”
The spending bill, which Congress passed last week, funds military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it also calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning in October, with the goal of getting all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq by the end of March 2008.

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Seed Newsvine

With the war in Iraq raging on without an end in site, gas prices at over $3.00 per gallon, and scandals plaguing the White House is it any wonder that Bush’s approval rating is falling? This lame duck president acts as if he has no responsibility to the electorate, supports those that benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us, and continues to send Americans to fight and die in the quagmire of Iraq.The only saving grace for Bush is that the Congressional approval rating was a whopping 27% (35% for Democrats and 22% for Republicans.)

What is clear is that no one very much likes our government. What I think is not liked is the partisan politics played out in 30 second sound bites that amount to nothing more than shouting matches. Civility in politics has gone the way of the dodo bird. We are all diminished by that fact.

clipped from online.wsj.com

President Bush’s approval rating slipped to new lows in the most recent Harris Interactive survey, but he’s not alone: For the first time since the series began, all of the political figures and institutions included in the survey have negative performance ratings.

Of the 1,001 American adults polled online April 20-23, only 28% had a positive view of Mr. Bush’s job performance, down from 32% in February and from a high of 88% in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The current rating is his weakest showing since his inauguration.

Those polled gave Congress an approval rating of 27%, with the Democrats as a group pulling in 35% approval, compared with 22% for Republicans.

When asked which two issues the government should address first, 30% of poll respondents said the war and 13% said Iraq. Domestic concerns rounded out the top spots, with 15% of those polled mentioning health care and 10% pointing to the economy.

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Seed Newsvine

The debate is an ancient one. Where does sovereignty rest? Is the sovereign concept embedded in the voice and actions of the leader(s) (the crown) of nation-states or does sovereignty rest in the voice of the people and/or the elected representatives of the people.The Bush White House opts, it seems to me, for the former. As President, Bush acts as if he is “The Sovereign.” In terms that Carl Schmitt, a problematic German political philosopher and one that has been strangely adopted by both the right and the left, proposes: “that people will only be responsible for what they are if the reality of death and conflict remain present.” In Schmitt’s view, the sovereign is the agent of state control over the lives of citizens even to the extent of control over life and death. Schmitt’s posture, adopted by Giorgio Agamben, places sovereign power in a state of exception so that life itself, under the control of the sovereign, becomes bare–not subject to sacrifice yet able to be killed without the killer charged with or guilty of homicide. Not only is the sovereign, in these terms, above the law, he is the law. The sovereign holds power because he wears the crown which grants him the power of life and death over all of the subjects of his sovereign power.

As Bush prepares to veto the legislation funding troops in Iraq that contains a non-binding withdrawal timetable, Bush places himself in the position of agent of control over life and death without regard to the will of the electorate. While the Constitution of the United States affords the executive with the power of the veto pen, that power in itself creates the exception and fuels the debate as to where sovereignty rests. The checks and balances embedded in the Constitution act as a check on both imperial sovereignty and on popular sovereignty often making for a cumbersome political exchange.

Bush no longer enjoys a rubber-stamp Congress. The present Congress was elected as an expression of the electorate’s frustration with the war in Iraq. The Congress is acting as the elected voice of the electorate, placing the Congress on the other side of the debate–that sovereignty rests on the voice of the people and is expressed through their elected representatives.

As Americans the stakes here are quite high. The choice is really between the absolute power of the executive and the combined power of the people to self-govern. What is looming is a constitutional crisis, something that George W. Bush has engaged in more than once. Personally, I feel much safer not trusting absolute power to the King, especially to George W. Bush, who, over and over, has demonstrated poor judgment in office. But Bush isn’t alone on this score. During the Watergate scandal while prosecuting a very unpopular war, Richard Nixon plunged the nation into a similar Constitutional crisis over issues of executive privilege–an issue of power and control.

Just as an aside, it is ironic that “Democrats said the bill was on track to arrive on the president’s desk on Tuesday, the anniversary of Bush’s announcement aboard the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.

“The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on,” Bush said on May 1, 2003, in front of a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner.”

Perhaps Mr. Bush needs to rethink his posture on Iraq; perhaps listening to the people for a change might be invigorating.

clipped from news.yahoo.com
WASHINGTON –
President Bush
next week is expected to receive, and swiftly reject, legislation ordering U.S. troops to begin coming home from
Iraq
this fall. The veto could fall on the fourth anniversary of the president’s Iraq “victory” speech.
The House on a 218-208 vote Wednesday passed a $124.2 billion supplemental spending bill that contains the troop withdrawal timetable. The Senate was expected to follow suit Thursday.
The legislation is the first binding challenge on the war that Democrats have managed to execute since they took control of both houses of Congress in January.

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Seed Newsvine

Another case of a PERSON WITH A GUN KILLING PEOPLE WITHOUT GUNS. One has to wonder whether David Howard Thurm woke up in the morning with homicide on his mind, whether he went to his perfectly legal locked gun safe, removed his revolver from the perfectly legal gun safe, removed the appropriate trigger lock, and went on his shooting spree with his perfectly legal handgun.What possible excuse for this behavior will the unconditional Second Amendment gun nuts be able to produce that doesn’t ring with sanctimony? Oh, sure, guns don’t kill people…You can’t control what people might do with a gun…Regulate gun ownership and the criminals will still get their hands on guns. None of this rings with the absolute truth that had David Howard Thurm not had ready access to a revolver, a weapon that has, as its primary purpose, the function to kill or maim another human being, Laura Schoellmann would still be alive.

Schoellmann is the real hero in this story. She chose to protect her co-workers by assuring that they reached safety at the risk of her own life. Her selfless sacrifice, her commitment to the well being of others is the ultimate ethical act. David Howard Thurm, on the other hand, took his own life in the cowardly act of refusing to face responsibility for his actions. I wonder if he was a card carrying member of the National Rifle Association? I wonder how often he attended the Church of his choosing?

Come on Congress, the time for real gun control is NOW!

clipped from news.yahoo.com
HOUSTON – A man facing eviction from a luxury apartment complex shot and killed the manager and then himself after writing an e-mail to friends saying he had died, police said. At least two other people were injured.
Police said the gunman first shot a neighbor through his door, then reloaded his revolver and stormed the complex’s office, shooting the manager and pistol-whipping a man trying to serve the eviction notice, police said.
Frantic residents called the office to warn workers that a gunman was on his way to them. The manager, identified by her employer as Laura Schoellmann, warned co-workers to get out, and police credited her with saving lives before she was killed.

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