Households earning more than $350,000 paid 20 percent of the nation’s taxes in 2010, 1.37 times their share of total income, while in 1980, those households paid taxes equaling 1.56 times their share of income. The change was larger before the recession, which reduced investment income, as in past recessions.
Gov. Walker's Flagship Jobs Agency "Lost Track" of Millions of Dollars
The state agency lost track of so much money because of gross incompetence.
The new agency never designated staff or created a department to keep tabs on repayment of its portfolio of hundreds of taxpayer-funded loans totaling $69 million.
Above all, being a Democrat means having compassion for others.
It means putting government to work to help the people who need it. It means using all available tools to provide good health care and education, job opportunities, safe neighborhoods, a healthy environment, a promising future. It means standing up for people who have been kept down. It means taking care of the mentally ill, of seniors, of vulnerable children, of veterans–and making sure all people are treated with respect and dignity.
--George McGovern, What It Means to Be a Democrat
This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.
--Charles Pierce, Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward, Candidate for Vice President of the United States.
Here are the questions voters should be encouraged to ask in 2012: Should government focus directly on innovative approaches to creating good jobs in a new economy? Or should it be relegated to a position of powerlessness in which its only option is to concede ever more benefits to those — including the financial wizards at Bain — who are already doing very well indeed?
--E.J. Dionne in his column: E.J. Dionne Jr.: Mitt Romney’s Bain problem - The Washington Post (via bohemiansouth)
According to new Census data, 6 temporary government programs, initiated in 2009 (before this happened), kept nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010. These effects are separate from the poverty reduction that resulted from measures preventing a deeper economic downturn with a greater loss of jobs. Specifically:
- Expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) kept 1.6 million people out of poverty.
- The Making Work Pay tax credit, which expired at the end of 2010, kept another 1.5 million people out of poverty.
- Expansions in the duration and level of unemployment insurance benefits kept 3.4 million people out of poverty.
- Expansions in SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps) kept 1.0 million people out of poverty.
Check out all of the analysis here.
Five Things You Might Not Know About Public Employees
1. Education is by far the largest category of state and local government employment.
2. Outside of education, the public workforce has shrunk as a share of the population over the last three decades.
3. Public-sector workers earn less than their private-sector counterparts. See chart.
4. Public-sector workers also earn less than their private-sector counterparts when one counts both wages and benefits.
5. Labor costs make up a significant share (about 44%) of state and local spending. This reflects the fact that providing services is the primary business of states as well as school districts, cities, counties, and other local governments.
Learn more here.
A shift that could change the electoral landscape is underway – the tightening of restrictions on who can vote and how Americans can vote. Going into the 2012 elections, there will be millions of Americans who will find that since 2008, there are new barriers that could prevent them from voting. Overall, legislators introduced and passed the following measures:
Photo ID laws. The number of states with laws requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification has quadrupled in 2011.
Proof of citizenship laws. The number of states with such a requirement has more than doubled.
Making voter registration harder. At least thirteen states introduced bills to end highly popular Election Day and same-day voter registration, limit voter registration mobilization efforts, and reduce other registration opportunities.
Reducing early and absentee days. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia succeeded in enacting bills reducing early voting.
Making it harder to restore voting rights. Two states—Florida and Iowa—reversed prior executive actions that made it easier for citizens with past felony convictions to restore their voting rights, affecting hundreds of thousands of voters. In effect, both states now permanently disenfranchise most citizens with past felony convictions.
The New Resentment of the Poor
Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax.
Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”
This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.
Economically, reducing the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit — which would be required if everyone paid income taxes — makes no sense at a time of high unemployment. The credits, which only go to working people, have always been a strong incentive to work, as even some conservative economists say, and have increased the labor force while reducing the welfare rolls.
The moral argument would have been obvious before this polarized year. Nearly 90 percent of the families that paid no income tax make less than $40,000, most much less. The real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes. The two tax credits lifted 7.2 million people out of poverty in 2009, including four million children. At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.
-The New York Times. Without a doubt, this is the best editorial I have read all year. Read the entire piece here.
Walker's Controversial Appointee to Veterans Affairs Board
Earlier this year, while most of the state was focused on his union-busting efforts, Scott Walker quietly took control of the power to directly appoint the head of the Veterans Affairs Board.
With this new authority, Walker appointed John Scocos, a man who had already been fired from this position in 2009. Scocos is also currently suing the board members and the agency, seeking $500,000 in damages.
As a result of this controversial appointment, Peter Moran, the Vice Chairman of the Board and a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, resigned today.
Harsh state judicial campaigns financed by ever larger amounts of special interest money are eating away at public faith in judicial impartiality. There are few places where the spectacle is more shameful than Wisconsin, where over-the-top campaigning, self-interested rulings, and a complete breakdown of courthouse collegiality and ethics is destroying trust in its Supreme Court.
--The New York Times, A Study in Judicial Dysfunction. A must-read.