While Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has brushed aside a video of himself arguing that Obamacare subsidies are only allowable in state-run exchanges as a “speak-o” – or verbal typo – a second audio tape has now emerged of Gruber making the very same comments yet again.
“That is really the ultimate threat – will people understand that gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens,” Gruber says in the audio clip, resurfaced by Morgan Richmond and John Sexton. “So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to do to set it up.”
Gruber made the comments in a public appearance at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in January 2012. Gruber’s argument in the clip is even stronger that only state-run exchanges will be given premium tax credit subsidies.
At issue is a phrase written repeatedly in the Affordable Care Act that allows premium tax credit subsidies only for exchanges “established by the state.” Two appeals courts split earlier this week on whether the phrase makes subsidies in the 36 states that didn’t create their own exchanges illegal. Gruber, a chief author of the law, has repeatedly called the cases “nutty.”
But the audio recording is the second to emerge this week that shows that before the lawsuits were brought against the federal exchanges subsidies, Gruber appeared to believe that only states that ran their own exchanges would receive the payments.
In response, Gruber said his comments were a “just a speak-o – you know, like a typo.”
Could the IRS do anything to make itself more unpopular? Apparently, things are far from over with the agency’s targeting of conservative political groups.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch and released yesterday indicate that the Obama administration lied when it tried to pin the scandal on IRS employees in an Ohio branch office. In fact, the Washington, D.C., office of the IRS was coordinating with the employees to hold up tea party groups’ applications for nonprofit status and subject them to extra scrutiny.
At the heart of the controversy is Lois Lerner, who was head of the division that approved nonprofit applications at the time.
“This latest revelation by Judicial Watch showing that the IRS targeting of conservative organizations was being run by its Washington office demonstrates that the House acted correctly when it held Lois Lerner in contempt,” said Heritage legal expert Hans von Spakovsky.
The House voted last week to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about the IRS scandal. But it’s up to Attorney General Eric Holder to take any action – the first step of which would be forcing her to testify – and that hasn’t happened.
Von Spakovsky said:
Lerner claimed that this problem originated in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, so it is pretty clear she was misleading the public and congressional investigators. The contempt citation needs to be enforced and if the Justice Department refuses to do so, it will be another example of unethical behavior by a law enforcement agency that has repeatedly failed to adhere to its duty to enforce the law on an objective, nonpartisan basis.
In other words, the odds aren’t great that Lerner will face real consequences.
But perhaps the worst news is that the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to change the rules for political activism – permanently.
In a new paper, von Spakovsky details how the administration has proposed rules for the IRS that “appear to be an attempt to implement the ‘inappropriate criteria’ used by the IRS to target tea party and other conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status.”
Turning the IRS’s targeting of these organizations into actual rules, he explains, would:
* ignore Supreme Court precedents and the Internal Revenue Code;
* fail to provide clear guidance to citizens and organizations attempting to comply with the Code and accompanying regulations; and
* threaten to restrict or violate the First Amendment rights of Americans.
The IRS scandal has become a bipartisan concern, as evidenced by a number of Democrats voting to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress and voting to appoint a special counsel to investigate the scandal.
But the administration’s effort to rewrite the rules for political activity is an even more serious threat that must be stopped.
Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.
Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.
Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.
The basic principle behind hydrogen fuel cells is fairly simple: Hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons to generate electricity and then combined with oxygen to form water as a by-product. Mainstream deployment of fuel-cell vehicles, though, has proved to be complex. Compared with liquid fuels, hydrogen is tough to transport and store. And without a meaningful number of vehicles on the road, there’s been no incentive to build hydrogen fuel infrastructure. Now new initiatives in California and across the U.S. are pushing for a long-awaited expansion of the refueling network. And with the debut of three promising hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles from Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota, consumers will have new options beginning in 2014. Are we finally seeing the dawn of the hydrogen age? Not so fast.
The current hydrogen push has less to do with consumer demand than with government incentives that treat fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) as equal to or better than electric vehicles. In California the combination of 300-mile range and fast refueling gives fuel cells the maximum available zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits. That makes it easy for a manufacturer to meet the state’s ZEV mandate with fewer cars. On the federal level, both FCVs and EVs get an EPA credit multiplier of 2.0 beginning in 2017, which means that sales of either type of car confer a disproportionate benefit on the ledger for an automaker’s entire fleet. In response, manufacturers have formed several high-profile partnerships, including Ford/Daimler/Renault-Nissan, BMW/Toyota, and GM/Honda to develop the vehicles. On the fueling side, a recent infusion of $20 million of funding per year has expanded the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s plan to 100 statewide refueling stations. The Department of Energy’s H2USA organization wants to use California’s efforts as a blueprint for the rest of the nation.
CAN I BUY A FUEL-CELL CAR?
In the past, fuel-cell vehicles have only been available in the hundreds. The three new FCVs slated for production this year and next will increase the volume to thousands, but they will be available primarily in California, where most of the country’s hydrogen stations exist. According to Alan Baum, an automotive analyst at Baum and Associates, even if the stations proliferate, fuel-cell vehicles, like EVs, won’t dominate the market. “It’s not going to be a widespread technology, and for that matter it doesn’t need to be,” he says. “We’re doing an all-hands-on-deck strategy.”
ARE THE PRACTICAL?
Not according to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who says fuel cells are more of a marketing ploy than a realistic solution. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn agrees: “Knowing all the problems we have with charging [EVs], where is the hydrogen infrastructure?” Both men have a bias toward electric vehicles, but the infrastructure issue is a big one. With the current cost of a hydrogen filling station at more than $1 million, neither the government nor the corporate world has any plans for a rapid expansion of the filling network. “We’ve got electricity everywhere,” Baum says. “Putting in 240-volt charging units requires some effort and expense, but it’s not game changing. Putting in hydrogen is.”
WHERE DOES THE POWER COME FROM?
Here’s the abridged version: Compressed hydrogen from the storage tank (A) is stripped of its electrons in the fuel-cell stack (B), creating electricity. A power-control unit (C) orchestrates the flow of energy from the stack to the battery (D), which powers the electric motor that moves the car. The battery ensures full power during acceleration until the fuel cell reaches peak voltage. Got all that?
ARE THEY SAFE?
Yes. Stringent requirements established by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) ensure that the technology is safe. Automakers are required to build robust hydrogen storage tanks that not only hold the fuel at up to 10,000 psi but also withstand arcane-sounding trials such as “bonfire” and “gunshot” tests by the DOT. Tanks are usually made of several layers of carbon fiber wrapped around aluminum or polyethylene liners, and many are also protected by external layers of steel. Regulations covering PRDs (pressure-relief devices) govern both temperatures and pressures at which gas is released, typically well below what is standard for safe operating conditions.
HOW GREEN ARE FUEL CELLS?
It depends on where you look. The only tailpipe emission from an FCV is water, but the process of creating hydrogen fuel – just like that of formulating gasoline or generating current for an electric vehicle – has an environmental impact. More than 90 percent of hydrogen today is created using a natural-gas-reforming process involving steam and methane, which reduces CO2 emissions from “well to wheel” by approximately 60 percent, compared with the process of creating gasoline. So, carbon dioxide is still released into the atmosphere – it just happens before the liquid hydrogen gets to your tank. Incentives and mandates encourage a cleaner hydrogen-creation process: The state of California requires that 30 percent of H2 supplied for transportation come from renewable sources, which can include wind, solar, and biomass material.
WHAT ABOUT REFUELING?
One advantage of FCVs is that they can travel farther and restore range faster than most current EVs. Refueling is simple: Once a nozzle with a snap collar is securely mated and locked to your car, the transfer of hydrogen begins with a brief hissing sound, followed by a 3- to 5- minute fill-up. However, it takes considerably longer for a filling station to restore the pressure required to service the next vehicle, so current setups can only refuel six or so cars per hour.
SO, IS HYDROGEN HAPPENING?
“When you have several major carmakers saying we’re going to invest in this, that’s significant,” Baum says. But vehicles are just one piece of the puzzle. Every other player in the hydrogen supply chain, such as the service station industry, needs to invest heavily. Until then, refueling options and vehicle choices will remain extremely limited, with no guarantee of expansion. Which is to say that hydrogen-fuel-cell cars will be a minor footnote in terms of overall vehicle sales for the foreseeable future. For all but the earliest of adopters, hydrogen as a prominent fuel alternative remains somewhere on the horizon.
For the second time in two years, an Ohio man has been charged with public indecency for allegedly “having sexual relations with a rubber pool float,” police report.
Edwin Tobergta, 34, was indicted today in connection with last month’s incident, which reportedly occurred outside his home in Hamilton, a southwestern Ohio city.
According to a Hamilton Police Department report, Tobergta “stepped out of his back door, naked and was having sexual relations with a rubber pool float.” Investigators added that Tobergta’s alleged encounter with the item “occurred in front of several children who saw his genitals and his actions with the float. The children were under the age of 10 and it occurred in the afternoon during the daylight hours.”
Pictured in the above mug shot, Tobergta is being held in the Butler County jail in lieu of $25,000 on a felony public indecency charge.
In August 2011, Tobergta was arrested after a witness reported seeing him having sex with a pink blow-up pool raft early one Sunday morning. Tobergta, whose pants were at his ankles, was trysting with the raft in an alley, not a swimming pool.
When a witness yelled at Tobergta, he reportedly threw “a pink object over the fence,” reported cops, who added that, “A pink raft was located in the back yard” of a neighboring home.
Today’s felony indictment of Tobergta notes that the defendant has previously been convicted on three or more occasions of public indecency.
Via Fox Nation, newly released statistics show that illegal immigrant infiltration along the U.S.-Mexico border is increasing markedly despite recent statements to the contrary by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:
“I can tell you having worked that border for 20 years, it is more secure now than it has ever been. Illegal apprehensions are at 40-year lows,” Napolitano told reporters this week in Houston.
But figures released Thursday by Customs and Border Protection to Fox News tell a different story.
Arrests are actually up 13 percent compared with the same time last year. The number was 170,223 in 2012, and is 192,298 this year.
Indeed, the U.S.-Mexico border has steadily become less safe under the present administration, which, rather than securing the border to protect the lives of American citizens, is pushing an amnesty bill that will reward millions of foreign criminals:
The numbers back up anecdotal claims that Texas is seeing a marked surge in traffic. The increase comes as Congress prepares to debate immigration legislation, which in its draft form is expected to include a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already here. Some have expressed concern this provision could entice illegal immigrants to cross over.
Meanwhile, rather than carrying out its constitutionally mandated duty to protect our borders, the Obama Administration prefers to target those whom they deem a true threat to the homeland: practitioners of Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism.
On Election Day, the State Department invited a top economic analyst to hold a briefing for foreign reporters about the U.S. economy. The analyst’s message was clear: the U.S. is getting downgraded again.
Kathy Bostjancic, director of Macroeconomic Analysis for the Conference Board, said bluntly, “We’re going to get downgraded.”
In 2011, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. debt to AA+ from AAA, after Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion. Analysts have said another downgrade would cause investors to lose more confidence in U.S. Treasury bills, which would put the world into a greater state of economic uncertainty.
Bostanjic said she felt the U.S. would get downgraded because those on both sides of the aisle will refuse to go through with sequestration cuts during the lame-duck session of Congress.
“In terms of the downgrade, there is a concern – I mean, to me, it seems the odds of us getting downgraded again are very high, because I don’t see either side, Republicans or Democrats, in favor of the sequestration of spending,” Bostjancic said. “I think the reading agencies are standing ready, probably to downgrade us.”
Bostjancic said there was ” very little support to see” sequestration go through. She predicted Republicans and Democrats would agree to take sequestration off the table but not find an agreement on how to offset that in the budget and, as a consequence, the U.S. would receive another downgrade.
She went on to tell the foreign reporters that “investors may be impacted” if U.S. Treasury bills are downgraded but “it’s probably not a low enough change in the rating that they then therefore can’t buy Treasury bills.”
“It may be the case that some before could only buy double-A or triple-A assets; there may be some negative impact,” Bostjancic said.
Ratings firm Egan-Jones cut its credit rating on the U.S. government to “AA-” from “AA,” citing its opinion that quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve would hurt the U.S. economy and the country’s credit quality.
The Fed on Thursday said it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until it saw a sustained upturn in the weak jobs market. (Read more: Fed’s ‘QE Infinity’ – Four Things That Could Go Wrong)
In its downgrade, the firm said that issuing more currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing mortgage-backed securities does little to raise the U.S.’s real gross domestic product, but reduces the value of the dollar.
In turn, this increases the cost of commodities, which will pressure the profitability of businesses and increase the costs of consumers thereby reducing consumer purchasing power, the firm said.
In April, Egan-Jones cuts the U.S. credit rating to “AA” from “AA+” with a negative watch, citing a lack of progress in cutting the mounting federal debt.
Moody’s Investors Service [MCO 44.68 0.15 (+0.34%)] currently rates the United States Aaa, Fitch rates the country AAA, and Standard & Poor’s rates the country AA-plus. All three of those ratings have a negative outlook.
Painful as it may be, please take two minutes out of your life to peruse the following list of “accomplishments” touted by an Obama campaign website making its case for his re-election.
The huge voter surge in 2008 elected Barack Obama, the first African American president. In the face of non-stop opposition, he pushed through:
Affordable Health Care Act extends coverage to 35 million uninsured people, outlaws denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and extends until age 26 coverage of children under their parents [sic] plans.
Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for equal pay for women.
Stabilized the economy with $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that saved or created 3 million jobs. Invested billions in clean energy jobs, saved the auto industry.
Unemployment benefits for millions of workers despite Republican threats to shut down the government. Obama was forced to yield on Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that he wanted to terminate.
Appointed two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the first Latina woman, who support the rights of working people.
Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess-appointment to name the director over Republican opposition.
Created a new food safety agency to protect people from food-borne illness.
Ended profit-grab by private banks on students [sic] loans, reestablishing Federal control on these loans and used the savings to extend loans to more students.
Doubled the funding for Pell Grants to $32 billion, increasing size of the grant $819 to a maximum of $5,500.
Ended the war in Iraq and moved toward ending the war in Afghanistan.
Dull, isn’t it? It’s dull because you have heard it all before. The Democratic National Convention resounded with these talking points all week long. Obama and his surrogates have recited them all for months, years.
And from which “Obama 2012″ website did I copy and paste this dreadful resume of progressive policy and executive overreach?
Actually, I copied it from the website of the Communist Party USA. Their homepage features a headline article, “Why Vote?” This article offers the above list of Obama’s achievements, prefaced by a warning:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many others, died for a most precious human right, the right to vote. Now, the same racists who denied Black voters ballot rights in the 1960s are trying to keep voters from the polls in 2012.
In the old days, they called it a “poll tax.” They rode at night and wore white sheets. Today, they wear expensive suits. But they still steal elections by cutting off early voting, by imposing photo ID requirements that poor voters can’t afford. It’s called “voter suppression.”
It will take a fight to defeat these dirty tricks. Voter suppression tactics violate the letter and spirit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Everything from sit-ins to mass rallies on state capitol steps are called for.
This is not the first time the CPUSA has officially supported Obama, of course. Alternative media voices have been trying to break through the MSM soundproofing on this matter for some time. (Examples here and here.) The wording of this year’s endorsement is particularly full-throated, however, which in itself ought to be disturbing to anyone still on the fence about the nature of the man, his party, and his policies. And while the extreme race-baiting language used in the endorsement is more in keeping with the rhetorical tone of the Weather Underground or MSNBC than with that of “respectable” Democrat sources, is its point any different in principle from many things we hear from elected Democrats every day?
Nevertheless, we must not allow the extreme rhetoric in which the endorsement is couched to distract us from a more fundamental issue, which is this: the CPUSA endorses Barack Obama on the very same grounds – even in the same words – that Obama uses in defense of himself.
If a communist were operating under the official umbrella of the Democratic Party, and were thus forced to use Democrat talking points rather than speak his own radical mind, we would interpret this as typical leftist cynicism and subterfuge. But this time the words appear on the CPUSA’s own website. These are the words the official voice of international communism in America is choosing to use to explain its reasoning to its own target audience. No one visiting the CPUSA site is confused about the nature of the organization. The website’s slogan is “Radical Ideas. Real Politics.” The Party’s prominently displayed self-description appears just under the Obama endorsement:
A better and peaceful world is possible – a world where people and nature come before profits. That’s socialism. That’s our vision. We are the Communist Party USA.
The homepage includes links to their sister site, “People’s World,” featuring articles with titles such as “Romney-Ryan white skin strategy” and a policy statement from Party leader Sam Webb: “Defeating the Rightwing on the Road to Socialism.”
In short, while communist propaganda is by definition a pack of lies, the CPUSA is refreshingly up-front about one thing: their primary and defining purpose is to achieve communism in the United States of America. In pursuit of that defining purpose, they have for years thrown their lot in with the Democratic Party, and they are now very strongly advocating for Barack Obama in particular.
The point here is not to accuse Obama of guilt by association. The endorsement of communists does not prove him a communist.
The interesting question, however, is this: why does the CPUSA, in speaking to its own members, urge them to support Obama by citing the very policies and decisions that Obama himself is most proud of?
The answer is as unavoidable as it is straightforward: the Communist Party regards Barack Obama’s signature achievements and defining principles as consistent with, and conducive to, its own defining goal – namely, the establishment of a socialist workers’ state in America. And of course, as America’s official defenders of the Marxist flame, they certainly know whereof they speak. Their belief is quite correct, and conservatives ought to be happy to help them make their case.
ObamaCare is an important step on the path to the full denial of the individual’s right to self-preservation.
Equal pay legislation grants the government the power to determine the value of “commodities,” including labor, and thereby directly undermines the foundations of the free market, voluntarism, and private property.
“Investing billions” in “jobs,” “saving the auto industry,” and the “new food safety agency” advance the goal of “workers'” (aka government’s) control of the means of production.
“Unemployment benefits for millions of workers” [insert own joke here].
The “rights of workers” advanced by Obama’s two female Supreme Court appointments are perfectly in line with the slogan the CPUSA loaned to the Democrats on day one of the latter’s convention: “Progress for People,” where “people,” like “workers,” is a time-honored “code word” for the proletariat.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, resulting from the Dodd-Frank legislation, and constructed by Elizabeth “Cherokee” Warren, is a practical step toward Marxism’s key goal of eliminating private banking.
In sum, the Communist Party loves the same Obama policies and accomplishments that the Democratic Party establishment loves, that the mainstream media loves, that the unions love, and that Charles Schumer, Jennifer Granholm, Harry Reid, and Dick Durbin love. They want more of the same. The CPUSA sees what most of us see, and what the Democratic Party would somehow like to keep its permanent underclass – um, that is, its voter base – from seeing: the Obama agenda is driving America “forward” on “the Road to Socialism.” The only difference is that the communists are honest enough to spell it out.
The Obama campaign is unlikely to trumpet this particular ringing endorsement between now and Election Day. That’s no reason for the rest of the world to remain quiet about it. On the contrary, this deserves to be shouted from the rooftops.
Communists for Obama!
Stacey Carreras, 26, and Eric Estrada, 30, were arrested Wednesday after their four young children tested positive for cocaine.
According to Las Cruces Police, an investigation was launched after Child Protective Services learned that the couple’s children, ages 1, 2, 5 and 8, had all tested positive for cocaine in the past.
A CPS report that was generated in late March raised new concerns that the couple was engaged in drug use and that their children might have been exposed to their drug use. A new round of drug tests was ordered for the children – and each child tested positive for cocaine.
Carreras and Estrada were booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center and charged with four counts of negligent child abuse. Bail was set at $25,000 each.
In early 2011, Barack Obama received a report from the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission he himself launched that outlined a series of significant cuts and new taxes that would have at least lowered the rate at which the country added to its debt. Obama ignored the report completely and instead proposed a budget with nearly $1.5 trillion in deficit spending, with no serious attempts to cut spending. It was so embarrassing that Republicans had to force the Democrat-controlled Senate in May 2011 to bring it up for a vote, where it failed unanimously, 0-97.
Before taking up their own budget plan for next year, House Republicans pushed a version of President Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget to the floor for a vote, and it was it was unanimously defeated, 414-0.
Republicans have opposed Obama’s budget all year, criticizing its tax increases on the wealthy and saying it lacks sufficient spending cuts. …
GOP lawmakers forced the vote on Obama’s plan as a tactical move aiming at embarrassing Democrats. The Democrats have defended Obama’s budget priorities, but they largely voted “no” Wednesday night.
Republicans said Democrats were afraid to vote for Obama’s proposed tax increases and extra spending for energy and welfare. Democrats said Republicans had forced a vote on a version of Obama’s budget that contained only its numbers, not the policies he would use to achieve them.
That’s an interesting excuse. Budgets are all about the numbers. If the President wants to keep proposing massive deficits, increased spending, and higher taxes, those policies are the numbers. Democrats are just embarrassed that the numbers add up to old-school tax-and-spend policies, and that they didn’t have a chance to obfuscate by declaring that Republicans are engaging in a war on left-handed Basque women who use marshmallow Schnapps for medicinal purposes.
This is the second year in a row that Obama’s budget couldn’t win a single Democratic vote in Congress. In parliamentary systems, that would be a vote of no confidence and the party would be looking for new leadership. Perhaps it’s time for the country to do what Democrats won’t do for themselves and look for leadership who can produce rational numbers in budgets, or at least budgets that can win a vote from its own party.
White House officials have unveiled a taxpayers’ “Federal Tax Receipt” website to goose publicity for a week of presidential speeches on the deficit, but the online receipt hides the president’s deficit spending and conceals the growing national debt.
The site, for example, shows that a family of three earning $50,000 in 2010 paid only $19 for interest on the national debt. But interest payments actually cost the nation $197 billion in 2010, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s roughly $657 per person, or $1,971 for a family of three, or 104 times what the White House website shows.
This week, “the president will be heading across the country talking directly about his vision for how we reduce our deficit, create jobs and grow the economy,” Dan Pfeiffer, the White House’s communications director, said in a Friday press conference to announce the website and speeches
The plan for the week’s campaign includes interviews with regional media, town-hall events in northern Virginia on Tuesday and in Nevada on Thursday, plus a moderated question-and-answer session on Wednesday from Facebook’s California headquarters. The Facebook event is expected to reach many younger voters, whose support for Obama has recently plunged to 29 percent, according to a recent Pew poll. Virginia and Nevada are swing states that are important to the president’s 2012 reelection campaign.
The town-hall events, Pfeiffer said, will be headlined, “Shared Responsibility, Shared Prosperity.”
The webpage, at whitehouse.gov/taxreceipt, allows people to plug in their tax payments to see how their income taxes are spent among up to 34 accounts, such as “health care,” housing assistance” or “atomic energy defense activities.”
The site obscures President Obama’s use of borrowed funds, which amounted to $1,293 billion in 2010. That federal deficit was a third of the $3,552 billion spent by the federal government, and about 50 percent more than was paid in taxes.
The webpage hides the deficit by allocating Social Security and Medicare taxes entirely to those entitlement programs. In practice, those taxes are commingled with income, corporate and excise taxes, and are used to pay entitlement programs and the various discretionary programs, such as defense and education. The separation “is a little misleading,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a left-of-center advocacy group. “They are [separate] in law; they are not in fact,” he said.
The choice to separate the taxes skews the numbers. For example, the website offers the example of a family with one child and $50,000 in income. The family pays $3,100 in Social Security taxes, $725 in Medicare taxes and only $260 in income taxes, the website says. The site reserves the Social Security and Medicare for those two entitlements, and then uses the family’s incomes taxes of $260 to pay for the federal government’s other 34 spending categories. For example, according to the website, national security got 26 percent of the family’s income-tax dollars in 2010. and NASA got 0.7 percent.
The site “doesn’t give you a true sense of government’s cost … [because income] taxes don’t cover the cost,” said Nick Kasprak, an tax analyst at the Tax Foundation, a right-of-center advocacy group. The full cost isn’t even covered by all three types of taxes because the government is borrowing more than $1,000 billion a year, he said.
When asked about these choices, Brian Deese, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, said interest payments are shown on one of the final lines. “The net interest figure on the receipt reflects … what is borrowed,” he said, adding “I don’t think there was any effort to avoid that reality.”
The second-to-last line of the online receipt does show 7.4 percent of the family’s income taxes, or $19, being used to pay the interest on existing debts owed by the federal government.
But in 2010, $197 billion was paid out as interest to debt-holders using funds from Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes and income taxes. That’s roughly $656 per person, or $1,971 for a family of three. That total is 103 times the number shown by the White House website.
The site also shows a family with two children and an income of $80,000 paying $285 on federal interest payments, and a single parent with one child and an income of $35,000 paying $39 on interest payments. In reality, the first family’s share of national interest payments is nine times larger than shown, and the single parent’s share is 33 times larger than the site acknowledges.
Interest payments are expected to rise sharply in the next few years in step with interest rates and the growing national debt, now $14,300 billion. “Once interest rates come back, these costs will go up, a lot,” said Williams.
Deese did not answer when asked if White House officials would upgrade the site to show more information.
A White House press release announcing the new website contained a statement from the president declaring that “The American people deserve to know exactly how and where their tax dollars are being spent. The first official taxpayer receipt will give American families the ability to see exactly where their tax dollars are going. This new tool reflects our commitment to changing the way Washington works and making government more accountable to America’s families.”
The website include a small link, titled “Behind the Numbers,” which does a little clarification, including the 2010 deficit of $1,293 billion. “Federal government spending has exceeded the revenue it collects since 2002. This shortfall between revenues and spending is known as the budget deficit, and in 2010 it was $1.293 trillion. Learn more about President Obama’s plan to reduce the budget deficit at WhiteHouse.gov.”
Officials unveiled the website to raise publicity for a series of fiscal-policy events by the president next week, which were timed to come after his Wednesday deficit speed at George Washington University. During the speech, he slammed the GOP’s deficit-cutting plan, authored by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, and touted his own framework for cutting spending by $2,000 billion and raising taxes by $1,000 billion over the next 12 years.
Under current projections, the federal government will spend up to $60,000 billion over the next 12 years, of which up to$13,000 billion will be borrowed funds. When the new debt is added to existing debt, it will amount to roughly $87,000 per person.
White House officials say the high spending will spur the economy, but Republicans argue that younger voters will have an undue responsibility to pay for the debt used to spur the hoped-for prosperity. The president’s speech was applauded by most Democratic activists, and criticized by most Republicans as inadequate. The speech, Ryan said, “was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our countries fiscal challenges.”