Open left has a list of things that they find horrible with the Catfood Commission’s leaked memo:
1. Raises the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 69.
2. Cuts Social Security benefits.
3. Ends the mortgage tax deduction.
4. Ends the tax deduction for workers’ health benefits.
5. Freezes salaries for federal workers for 3 years.
6. Establishes co-pays for veterans at VA health services.
7. Raises fees to visit the national parks and the Smithsonian.
8. Merges the Small Business Administration into an agency (Commerce) that has always prioritized helping bigger businesses, and cuts their budget.
9. Eliminates the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
To be honest, I’m actually ok with some of those changes. I don’t mind cutting the mortgage tax deduction- I have no idea why renters should get screwed, and I’m ok with the governmen getting out of the business of incentivizing home ownership. Obviously, with the events of the past few years and the chaos currently in the housing market, this would have to be approached delicately, but overall, kill it. I am A-OK with that.
I’m ok with ending the tax deduction for worker’s health benefits. That is one of the reason we have the screwed up system we have- it is cheaper for companies to provide health benefits than pay, so we have people wed to a job for benefits. Likewise, the actual costs of health care are hidden from the consumer, so people don’t understand how much money the health care industry is taking from the economy every year (and from their take home). Obviously I am over-simplifying things, but, again, I would be ok with this.
I’m ok with freezing salaries for federal workers for three years.
I’m ok with raising fees for the parks and the Smithsonian. Why shouldn’t people pay a nominal fee to go on vacation?
Not entirely sure what the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools does, but if closing it will stop all the idiotic DARE stuff and help wind down the drug war, go for it.
And I don’t know enough about the Small Business Adminstration to make any remarks, but my gut instinct is to just kill it to piss off the Chamber of Commerce. I’m petty and ill-informed like that.
Of course, the problem is I am not willing to do ANY of this stuff until we let the Bush tax cuts expire, and deal with tax policy.
Are federal workers generally overpaid relative to their job functions? What are the related costs to visiting national parks or the Smithsonian?
I tend to agree with the ones you’ve mentioned- the housing tax deduction is nuts, and getting rid of the health care deduction was considered something that would be a huge benefit in funding health care for a large part of the HCR debate. But without knowing the numbers behind federal pay and park/museum fees, it’s hard to say.
It seems like removing the mortgage tax deduction would end up raising rents as landlords would then be paying more in real dollars and would just pass that cost along to their tenants.
I’m a homeowner, and I’d miss the mortgage tax deduction. We’d definitely have to tighten our belts more. But then, I agree. Why does Uncle Sam care whether I own a home and why is he incentivizing it? It lowers my tax liability by over $2k, though, and that would burn. Doubling the child tax credit would offset it, so how do we add that to the list?
All you need to know about the Catfood Commission’s “draft recommendations”:
1. Lowers taxes for millionaires
2. Lowers taxes for corporations
3. Cuts Social Security
The rest is all smokescreen.
This isn’t going to happen because President
Black JesusObama is going to bend over and grab his ankles like a $5 whore and take it up the ass when he makes a “bipartisan compromise” to extend both sets of tax cuts for two years. this will in effect make the over 250K cuts permanent.
Then he’s going to take a victory lap and try to convince everyone that getting ass-raped is a victory. Anyone with half a brain and a sense of justice will recognize that he got fucked because he didn’t stand up for what he believed in or said because he is spineless.
Here’s what’s wrong with ending the mortgage interest deduction–a lot of us bought houses in order to obtain that deduction and need it in order to balance the books or get a little ahead each year. Without that deduction, we go down a deep red-inked hole.
It is not fair to entice people to make a 30-year investment on the basis of a tax structure and then change it. At the very least, grandfather existing deductions, and phase the new ones in.
Of course, if we eliminate it and no one ever buys a house again (I don’t know when my children will be able to afford that mortgage interest without a deduction), and the economy crashes again (home-buying is connected to a LOT of other consumer activity) and we go into another deep trough, I suppose you will blame it on Bush.
Plus, apartment dwellers are inefficient jerks, who leave lights on and let the water run and generally waste resources because it doesn’t affect them directly. Many have no incentive to keep their property nice and are irresponsible and let it get crappy. So I am OK with the government discouraging people from renting. Let them all go condo!
The mortgage interest deduction is as deeply embedded into our economy as Social Security, and will be just as easy to get rid of.
I’m actually with Digby on this one:
I’m actually with Digby on this one:
@MattR: As far as I know, mortage tax deductions only apply to your first and second home. So that would mean the landlord is raising rents on propery that wasn’t incentived in the first place to offset the increase on their own primary residence. I don’t see that working well in practice.
Suggest you wait for Obama to betray you before you accuse him of betraying you.
This is incorrect.
Long Version: The mortgage deduction that is being referred to is the itemized mortgage interest deduction on Schedule A, Itemized deductions. Someone who rents a home to a renter does not report that interest there. He reports it on Schedule E. He basically reports a little income statement for the rental property and any mortgage expense part of the expenses of maintaining the property
Short Version: They’re only talking about getting rid of the deduction for the mortgage interest you pay on the home that you own and live in.
Are these in addition to putting Defense cuts on the table? Ag subsidies? Corporate taxes? Oil/energy subsidies?
Taking these in isolation suggests that all of the “sacrifice” comes from the middle and lower classes.
So I assume that by “dealing with tax policy” you mean getting gazillionaires to pay more and taxing Wall St bonus money and so on.
I’m philosophically with you on the mortgage tax deduction, though it would have to be phased out with a looooong horizon; people quite reasonably make home purchases now with the assumption that they will realize that savings. It would be unfair in the extreme – and counter-productive to our economy – to price people out of the houses they have already purchased.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that this seems a lot less painful to consider now that we’re in a period with low rates and which have been low for a long, long time. The “front-loading” nature of home loan interest means that it doesn’t take a whole lot of an increase to drive the amount of interest you’re paying – particularly in the first 7 years – up very high. If rates find their way back to closer to 10% this could make a much larger difference in the ability of lower income folks to afford a home.
A thousand times yes on removing the health insurance deduction.
Freezing federal salaries I assume means they’ll stop being indexed for inflation, which seems pretty damned unfair in the current environment. It’s not like these people are getting mad increases regardless; last year they got no increase because there was no increase in the CPI. To say we’re going to freeze wages regardless of what happens is a pretty ugly screwing for people who already earn below private wages (despite claims to the contrary). It’s bad for our nation to drive people able to get other higher-paying work out of public service and into the private sector.
As far as the Smithsonian etc… you can certainly make the argument that we’ve already paid those fees.
Have you been to a park lately? The fees are beyond nominal. $35 dollars a night for tent camping in a state park in California.
National parks aren’t that bad but not “nominal” any more. Even national forest campgrounds are often $20.
Lee from NC
“I’m ok with ending the tax deduction for worker’s health benefits.”
This would literally kill me. I have a chronic health condition that would kill me if not for the healthcare provided by my employer. Which would definitely end if there was no benefit to my employer for providing it and they could dump me on some exchange somewhere.
The whole thing is a red herring. Take the “raise fees for public parks argument.” Sure, whatever. I never visit those places anyway. It might make sense to charge more for visiting the Washington Monument. I don’t know. I doubt seriously that demand for those visits is such that it or larger payments for all our public parks, can make a dent in the deficit. It costs a lot of money to maintain those things and keep them open but charging fees is just a way of trying to pay for those things specifically. There won’t be any money left over towards the deficit. And it will prevent the poor and middle class from using these sites–and all in order to protect wealthy people (who don’t need to go to public parks and who don’t care about an extra five bucks fee if they do) from paying taxes. Charging more fees is just a way of *refusing to raise taxes* to pay for the stuff we want.
Or how about the “freeze federal workers” pay–why? These are just stop gaps that don’t make any sense. The big budget busters are medicare/medicaid and the tax cuts for millionaires. Deal with that and the other stuff is just in the noise.
The National Parks are public property, theoretically already paid for with tax dollars. They should be open to everybody, and not just those who can afford to pay.
How about a two-year wage freeze and a steep wage cut for the Senate and House?
John - A Motley Moose
Do landlords get a mortgage tax deduction? I thought that was only for a primary residence or second home? Landlords get to deduct expenses against rental income. This wouldn’t change that so renters wouldn’t be affected.
Taxing “Cadillac plans” is something I’d definitely like to see. The sooner we can break the tie between employment and health care, the better. If for no other reason than it discourages entrepreneurship.
I’m hesitant to fix salaries for the next 3 years when we have no idea what inflation will be like 2 years from now. What if inflation jumps to 10% because of QE?
I see no reason why the SBA shouldn’t be a department in the Commerce dept.
Why isn’t the Safe and Drug-free program part of the Education dept?
I’m open to arguments for and against fees for museums and parks.
No fees for the Smithsonians. Those are educational, not vacations.
I agree some of this stuff isnt necessarily bad. Most of it is a drop in the bucket though. We need to cut defense before anyone even considers cutting Social Security. But nobody should be scared of people throwing around a bunch of ideas, we can beat the bad ones down pretty easily.
@WyldPirate: How did that job interview go today?
Cause I would sure want you on my team!
No, Feds are underpaid compared to their private industry counterparts. Both my husband and I are Feds and I would make approx. 15-20K more in private industry and he would make about 40K more – even in this depressed economy. The scientists make about 2/3rds to half of what they could make if they were working in the private sector. Why most people work for the government in exchange for the lower salaries is the job security. If you can do the job, even if you are RIFed, you go to the top of the line in a job hunt when applying for jobs in other Fed agencies. The whole deal with my husband is that it’s harder for him to find a job in private industry at his age and level of expertise/education at the age of 60, whereas in the gov’t, age discrimination literally does not exist.
Most of the scientists I work with like the atmosphere of research in a government institution. There is the free flow of information that is not seen in private industry. They like that their hard work and findings are disseminated to any institution (private or government) that wants them. Even though their field is highly politicized (climate science, especially carbon/greenhouse gases) they prefer it to the cut-throat crap that exists in private industry – that all research must equate to a certain return on investment.
To claim that you would like to see Fed workers take such a monetary hit is really a strike against those in the middle class income bracket. In my division – even the chief – makes much less than $250K/year. Certainly, certain agencies have personnel that earn more (if their budget is supplemented with outside agency funds, e.g. a private aerospace firm adding big bucks to NASA projects), but ours is indicative of the norm.
The stance is also one made from complete ignorance as to what most government employees make.
Medicare, Schmedicare. I found something REALLY interesting:
Fascinatin’ high-speed pics here.
Sorry, just couldn’t wait for an open thread.
@David Hunt: Thanks for that info. How do corporate landlords fit in? I assume they still get to deduct the interest on any loans as one of their business’s expense.
@AnnaN: How does your retirement plan match up with what you would get in the private sector?
John - A Motley Moose
@WyldPirate: You’ve always been annoying, but you’ve really gone over the top the last few days. Serious question – have you changed your meds lately or gone off them?
I agree with you about the mortgage deduction. They could disallow the deduction for second homes immediately and phase in first home deductions. The two man commission report on rate changes were less progressive than I would like though. The democratic party will not make changes social security and the republican party will not make changes to deductions. IMO the commission report is dead on arrival.
um, the sba is actually useful to non-multinational corporations, such as the proverbial mom and pop shops. the us chamber of commerce would be delighted to see it go. (not that the chamber’s feelings should matter! at all! put down the tea!)
Dang you to heck, WordPress. And your sucky editing/paragraph functions.
At the risk of stating the obvious, all of the commission’s recommendations take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich via continuing the upper bracket tax cuts and proposing additional tax cuts.
Okay with the ending the mortgage tax deduction, but …
Ending the deduction for employee health benefits? How about ending the antiquated, dysfunctional system of employer provided health insurance and establishing a public insurance system like every other civilised nation?
Freezing salaries of federal workers? Federal salaries are tied to the CPI. With nearly zero inflation they’re practically frozen already. But why pick on federal employees? Have you fallen for the Republican trope that all civil servants are lazy and overpaid? Where’s the data? How about freezing salaries for multi-millionaires with a 90 percent tax on all income above, say, $20 million? That’s what we had in the 1950s and early 1960s and it seemed to work fine then.
Raising the fees for national parks and the Smithsonian? Give me a break. This is just pandering to the I Hate Government crowd. The cost of operating national parks and museums is minuscule, and, after all, they’re owned by the public, so why not make them free so *all* of the public can benefit from them?
“I’m ok with raising fees for the parks and the Smithsonian. Why shouldn’t people pay a nominal fee to go on vacation?”
Um, what does that have to do with *raising* the fee? It’s not nominal enough for you?
And like or dislike some, the bad ones are much more bad than those things are good. Raising the retirement age? No fucking way. and lowering taxes on the wealthy astronomically? Fuck me.
@ Wyld Pirate
What is with your homophobic Rushbo-inspired Obama anal rape theme? You really are a Republican aren’t you?
Landlords definitely get a tax deduction for their mortgages. It’s a cost of their business, deductible generally on Sched E or on their LLC or partnership if that’s how they own the property. Sometimes a small time landlord will take out a second to buy a rental and take that interest on Sched A (itemized) especially if he’s losing money on the rental and can’t take the loss.
And the immediate problem with eliminating the mortgage deduction is it will reduce home prices further – people can simply afford to pay less without the deduction. The government is subsidizing a portion of your mortgage payment by allowing the deduction. End the subsidy, and you’ll pay less for the same home.
He’s boxed in already. He’s afraid to get accused of killing the middle class cut (he essentially said that when he got his public shaming on Nov 3 after the electoral beatdown).
He’ll cave. He’ll cave w/o demanding offsets. If he stands pat and lets them both expire, he’ll get blamed for raising taxes on everyone. He isn’t going to do that. Then he’ll get blamed for adding 140 billion extra by the Rethugs to the deficit. The Rethugs will get away with it, too.
Except all the recommendations you’re willing to go with will hurt the poor and middle class the most. You may not like the mortgage deduction, but it’s the only way a lot of folks can afford a mortgage payment. I agree with those that have said that it’s shouldn’t be allowed for a second home.
This whole thing is a wealth grab for the very wealthy. Why should income and corporate taxes be lowered dramatically for the wealthy while social security and medicare are slashed?
That’s the bottom line for all this, the middle and working class are made to suffer while the wealthy benefit greatly. It’s nothing short of brazen theft.
This is most definitely petty and ill-informed.
I largely agree with John.
If I was king, I would move this entire country to the left, but we do live in a country of mixed ideals, and if I need to give up some of my Sacred Cows for the overall common good, so be it.
But if the assholes in Washington want me to simply give up my Sacred Cows so that they can keep their tax breaks for their donors, fuck them. Fuck them long and hard. I’ll fight that to the end.
Eliminating the mortgage tax credit now is suicidal. So all of those underwater homeowners that are making their payments in good faith should now start paying taxes on top of that? That tax credit is keeping a lof of those people alive right now.
I’m all for simplifying the tax code, but I’m not sure this is the right time for that trick. Once the housing situation is unsorted, swapping out things like the mortgage interest credit and a lot of those other nickel/dime credits for a single individual deduction would be a good idea. The wealthy benefit more from itemized deductions, so just get rid of them. Put in an individual deduction, a dependent deduction, and eliminate a lot of the odds and ends.
You don’t want to eliminate all of the health insurance deduction. Right now, that’s pretty much holding the entire existing health care system together. ACA eliminated the deduction at the top of the range, but until we get some kind of single payer system, we need that in place.
#2 is a lie. Only the wealthiest of social security recipients will see a cut; the poorest will actually see an increase.
Gosh, I can’t imagine why no one takes you seriously when you make such cogent, fact-filled arguments to support your points.
Where the heck do you live where apartment dwellers don’t pay their own electricity bills? I’ve never lived in an apartment with free electricity. Ever. Plus we pay for our gas for the heater, water heater, and stove.
Where are these magical “free utilities” apartment buildings and how can I move into one?
That deduction applies to individuals personal residence. I think all businesses always can deduct %.
But Cole, the catfood commission will let the Bush tax cuts expire. Then they’ll replace those cuts with cuts that might have even made Bush a little uneasy.
Seriously, how the fuck does a “deficit commission” whose headline recommendation is cutting taxes not get laughed out of public discourse entirely? And you were right yesterday; that bullshit about eliminating deductions is garbage. If they were serious about deficit reduction, they’d eliminate the deductions with no change in the tax rate until the debt is paid down to a reasonable level. All their recommendations will achieve is that the deductions that are most popular among the aristocracy will be put back in, one by one, with conspicuously no mention of raising the rates back to where they are now. Why the fucking fuck does every goddamn policy recommendation to do anything in this country ultimately boil down to “CUT TAXES FOR RICH PEOPLE”?
I would be OK with getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction for second homes, and making it a requirement to stay in the property for an extended period of time to discourage flipping. The 8K tax credit that my husband and I got when we bought our home works this way.
I understand the “mobile workforce” argument, but I also think it ‘s key to encourage the kind of community investment that comes from long-term homeownership. Not to mention, to avoid gentrification.
@John – A Motley Moose:
Just wait and see. Obama is going to cave. He’s boxed in.
He looks detached as fuck and weak as hell. People and animals both abhor weakness in their leaders. He absolutely reeks of weakness.
Here’s the problem with getting rid of the mortgage interest tax credit. Home owners vote.
Likewise with worker’s benefits deductions. Folks with benefits vote.
Cutting these incentives wouldn’t be seen as fixing a tax glitch. They’d just be seen as beating up on the middle class. Now, if you want to phase them out and replace them with a more egalitarian across the board credit you might get some more support. But even a small change would take a phenomenal political will.
The only will that exists in Washington right now is to cater to the elites and grind down the rest of us.
This I agree with. The businesses impacted by the Small Business Administration couldn’t get the Chamber of Commerce to piss on them if they were on fire. Closing up the SBA hurts people we should be trying to help and helps the monopoly capitalists who are busy flushing the country down the drain.
Not my fault you choose to ignore them. They;’re in the post; you simply don’t like how they are presented.
Wait and see.
I don’t know. Without actual numbers – we don’t actually know you – I don’t get this. You’re both still comfortable, I assume. If your wages were frozen for three years – mine were in private industry for the last two years and I know I make a lot less than you – would I feel bad? No. I wouldn’t. Mine were frozen because our little team only made 3.5 million a year instead of 4 million during the recession, and the corporation that owns the corporation that I work for only made a gazillion instead of a mega-gazillion. A freeze on yours would actually accomplish something for the country.
Plenty of places do that. And it’s not free, obviously, it affects the rent. I don’t agree with the idiot characterization of renters, though.
John - A Motley Moose
@WyldPirate: I said nothing about Obama. I wondered why you seem to have gone off the deep-end lately. Lack of sleep? Change in medication? Bad breakup? Just letting your inner-child out?
@AnnaN wrote: No, Feds are underpaid compared to their private industry counterparts.
Well, some are and some are not.
For many federal jobs there is not much of a private sector equivalent. Regulators, for example. Chemists at the FDA don’t really do lab work; they are admin types…paper pushers with advanced degrees.
And the fed benefits are pretty good. As is the job security.
I have a feeling the folks who caretake the plants, etc on the mall do better than your average lawn service person. I mean, there’s a reason that most of private sector guys are Mexican.
I’m with Open Left on this list.
The list seems to be made up of actions that would cause pain [a little or a lot] to a few or a bunch of people, and not do a darn thing towards curing the deficit.
SS and Medicare are separate from the current deficit. They may be heading for trouble but aren’t there yet. Therefore, any deficit we have cannot be blamed on SS and Medicare.
The rest of those suggestions would have a miniscule impact on the deficit. [How much do you think we could raise in admission fees to the Smithsonian?] Implementing them would be mean spirited as well as ineffective.
Back to the drawing board.
[John, you can do better than this.]
If the deduction goes away, house prices will go down to compensate. Most people look first at the payment they can afford and then shop for houses that meet their budget. If the interest deduction goes away, it will hurt everyone’s ability to buy about equally, so prices will tend to decline to compensate. There will be some differences at the margins- new homes will tend to be a bit smaller and less expensively furnished to meet the new, smaller budgets- but the overall impact on the housing market will be relatively small. The people who will be hurt the most are existing home owners, whose houses will lose value without seeing their mortgage payments drop by the same amount.
So is the ass-rape going to be presented live on C-SPAN, or will that be pay-per-view? You also forgot to tell us who’s going to do the honors from the Republican side.
Hey, you’re the one claiming that your entire post is completely factual, so I’m assuming you’re talking about an actual, live, on-camera ass-rape of the president. If not, then STFU you fucking asshole and stop making rape jokes.
@LT: Yeah, genius, it would accomplish a bunch of hedge fund managers not having to pay any more in taxes. I’d rather have NIH scientists getting compensated for their good work, for example.
Nice philosophy: I didn’t get a raise so fuck everyone else.
You’re on the wrong blog.
WyldPirate, this anal fixation is getting a bit out of hand.
WHY do you people keep engaging with this bottom feeding pond scum?
The Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. have free admissions, the Gustave Heye Center (American Indian collection) in NYC is free; however the Cooper-Hewitt (National Design Museum) in NYC has an admission fee ($15.00, free to members).
Any fees that are imposed on the Museums however should go to the maintenance needs of the Museums only, which are years behind in fixing structural problems and for which their budgets have been cut for many years. It’s shameful how we treat these Museums.
If you couldn’t figure out he likely didn’t know what he was talking about from his name alone did you read the part of his post where he completely misunderstands how being a landlord actually works?
Wait, so because you got cheated by your employer so your CEO could have an extra million in his bonus, you think that federal employees should also get cheated so you feel better about your employer taking money from your paycheck and putting it into his own? Really?
Jesus, no wonder we can’t get anything done in this country. “Harrison Bergeron,” here we come, only it will be coming from the right.
That’s a key aspect for a lot of folks in the US.
I’m not going to be missing any meals regardless of what is decided. Yes, I’d prefer to keep the mortgage interest deduction but, really, it’s gravy.
We are ALL pretty much still comfortable in this country. And clueless as well. Because some of us actually think that 3 bathrooms are necessary for life…along with gym memberships and flashy phones. Oh, well.
What the fuck does that first part mean? Hedge fund managers would have to pay taxes anymore if there was a fed wage freeze? Please explain. And in this country, right now, if someone’s making $200,000 combined in a family, or even $150,000 – I am not going to weep for them if their wages are frozen for three years. Not a tear. Does that make a bad person? Okay.
And I’m always on the wrong fucking blog.
This is where the crux lies.
Individually, there ARE some good things in here. The problem is, in the larger scope, it’s still being floated in a way that continues to preserve the sacred cows of ‘lower taxes’ and ‘wealthy are the producers, and give us jobs out of the goodness of their own heart’.
Yeah, and just before anyone else mentions it Canada doesn’t have a mortgage interest deduction and for all practical purposes has the same home ownership rate as the US. Year after year.
Sadly because of geography there isn’t another easy economic peer to compare to (although AUS might be interesting)
People often misstate that the mortgage interest deduction is a wealth transfer from renters to home owners. I don’t think that’s true – most of it is a wealth transfer from tax payers on the broad scale to contractors, home builders etc.
So, you would rather stiff a bunch of federal employees because they are better off than the “average lawn service guy” in order to make them all equally worse off? And this is your real concern while google, goldman sachs and all the hedge fund bandits pay nothing in taxes-it is no wonder that the tea partiers got elected.
I think it is also very mean spirited to raise entrance fees on the Smithsonian and parks. It is rather like taxing the same people twice. These are free so that people who are not necessarily well off can use them, and are already paid through taxes from ordinary people. Besides, this and the freeze on federal employee salaries will result in less than peanuts in savings. These are just a sideshow and a gratuitous swipe against ordinary people [and may I say, mostly supported by pettiness and jealousy].
A thousand times yes on removing the health insurance deduction.
I’m sorry but this is massively unfair and once again transfers the burden to the middle to lower class.
I haven’t read the actual document and I’m unsure exactly what they mean… either 1) they are taking away health care as a deductable expense or 2) they are taking away any health care an employee pays as nontaxable income (like FSA or a 401(k) deduction) or 3) both things are happening.
I work for a small company and our health care expense is the second highest expense outside of payroll (yes we pay more for healthcare than we do in rent). If that expense is non-deductable why would we even carry it? In that case the whole cost gets transferred to the employee – or in other words the middle class.
Just like the interest being non-deductable it’s just another way to hurt an already struggling middle-lower class.
To cover your family on our plan it’s anywhere from $900-$2,400 a month… it’s so unfair to tax that when there are no other choices. It would be different if we could just go to another provider… but it won’t make much of a difference. We are at the mercy of Anthem Blue Cross – and they have NO mercy at all.
Fuck that, seriously. Until the tax cuts for the fucking super rich are jacked back up to before Reagan and the DoD makes some major concessions and Wall Street actually pays it’s fairshare… all that other stuff is off the table, IMHO.
I was referring to another one down thread.
However, you’re fucking stupid for making that assumption you dumb fuck. You know good and goddamned well it was meant as analogy however crude it was. Now run along now and go fuck yourself, you melodramatic piece of shit.
The proposal is to freeze the wages of federal workers so hedge fund managers can continue to pay the ridiculously low capital gains tax on their earnings rather than having to pay normal income tax rates like the rest of us do.
You’re basically taking money from federal workers and handing it to hedge fund managers with a smile.
Cheated? Implementing a wage freeze in order to balance a budget is cheating employees? And do you see no difference between a private corporation’s money and the fed’s? Do you honestly?
Forget the morality of people making X money getting a pay freeze (though, don’t forget that not all federal employees are paid at the level you’re throwing out there). Consider, rather, the question of whether or not a pay freeze would accomplish much.
The main drumbeat from every sane economist in the country has been that we’re short on demand. For all the various remedies to that ill, reducing real worker compensation is one of the very worst you can imagine. Yeah, a pay freeze will help balance the books a little, but it would be pretty regressive and give the economy a nice little kick in the sack to boot.
You’re like the new Will Rogers.
Count me in on the crowd who is very offended by the rape allusions.
As for the list, not, also. It’s a sucky list, does nothing about the situation of poor, lower & middle class peeps except put them in an even more precarious financial situation. It doesn’t address the deficit – or cancels out any effect – not to mention adding $5 trillion-billion more in padding for the ultra and not so ultra rich. [OK, so that’s an exaggeration.]
@Chyron HR: Keep encouraging this scumbag.
Yes, you propose that a vote on our tax system is exactly like being raped on live national television and I’m the one being melodramatic?
Here’s an idea: maybe people wouldn’t think you were an offensive asshole who’s deliberately trying to piss people off if you didn’t make offensive jokes and then get all upset and whiny when people point out that rape jokes are offensive.
I am completely unaware of this and how it works. I was responding to this post, and the commenter about a wage freeze. Like most things, there seems to be more to it.
I am for government doing for people what they cannot do for themselves/ to include policies that promote the general welfare of the nation. There are many examples of this, and some are debatable for sure
But as a democracy pragmatist, I am most for the government creating antidotes for those things that have historically bedeviled democracies. And foremost. creating and maintaining a favorable political climate conducive to a thriving and potent middle class.
This is the chief antidote against autocracy, and is really not ideological, or shouldn’t be. It is recognizing structural dangers to longevity for any democracy, and can take many forms, some of which are found in the above list, or that could be achieved in a more efficient and equitable way for all concerned. The details of which are worked out through our legislative and political processes. A commission is just a blueprint, and suggestion, and that is all it is for any consequence. Though I acknowledge it can sometimes be a political cover to do some really bad stuff. I do not see that in this case, for a report that doesn’t become viable unless 14 of 18 commission votes in the affirmative makes it so.
And I am for creating a healthy business sector as well, so long as it exists for the betterment of the greater good, ie middle class, but also balanced with conditions made viable for competition and growth, and profit on a reasonable basis.
It should be obvious that the past 30 years have left the republic in a state of unbalance favoring the wealthy class at the detriment of the middle and lower ones, where the lower ones should always have a net to catch them from falling through the cracks of a compassionate society, that I will not take no for an answer to, at the very least.
The details of this arrangement, or balance of parts is always up for debate, and usually arrived at by people much smarter than me.
@Mnemosyne: Oh that will change this fuckers mind.
The premise is that without the employer tax deduction on health care everyone would eventually end up being in the individual market (as I am and have been for over a decade) and, with the new protections would only be priced at age, family size and smoking preference. Then as more people were in the market and the costs of their health care weren’t 1) subsidized by non-corporate employees such as myself and 2) more transparent there would be more public outrage about health care costs.
What kind of sheltered life have you been leading? As a renter for more than 30 years now, I’ve always cared about “resources” because I either get the bills for electric, heating, and water directly or the costs have been included in my rent. And I care about the property because the landlord can bill me for damages when I move out. In fact, my experience is that it is always the landlord who lets the property go to shit, because they’re too cheap to keep up their investment.
As for raising the age to qualify for Social Security, this will never work until older people are able to keep their jobs and not be pushed aside for younger workers. If you can guarantee job security for them, then this won’t be a problem, providing their job doesn’t involve physical labor, and then it’s just absurd to think 60+year olds can do much in the way of heavy lifting.
Whose wages were frozen — yours or the CEOs? Did your CEO get a bonus last year? If he did, congratulations — that’s where your raise went. Talk to him if you’re upset about it instead of taking it out on federal employees.
A private corporation can do whatever they want with their money, including handing it all out as bonuses to their executives and then pleading poverty when their employees want a raise. That’s their privilege.
However, turning around and deciding that because your employer took that surplus money and put it in his own pocket that means you should get to take money out of a federal employee’s pocket in retaliation is just childish.
Well, that makes perfect sense. And in responding to that commenter about that I ignored my own advice – that the bad parts are much worse than any of the good parts good.
No. General comparisons between Federal and private sector employees are not apples-to-apples. The Federal workforce tends to entail much more white-collar positions, dragging the average up. And when you compare jobs to jobs on an individual basis, its a mixed bag: Some Federal workers make more than their private sector counterparts in similar occupations, while some make less.
You do realize that fact is not something you have to wait and see if it’s true. That would be a projection, or even a theory. Telling us to wait and see if your sex fantasy prophecy about Obama will come true is not a presented fact.
If I made $300,000 a year and said it would it be childish? Anyway, I’ll concede. Explaining what my emotions on the subject would be is irrelevant.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
Rather than argue every point I’ll pick one. This is a regressive tax. Some regressive taxes serve a social purpose, like the gas tax, but this one serves absolutely no conceivable social good. I have a hard time understanding why they even wasted time mentioning this relative pittance of public expenditure, other than they hate the idea of science and nature being made accessible to the general public.
Oh, I know it won’t. Eventually he’ll manage to cross a line like Brick Oven Bill did and get himself banned and then he’ll whine about how none of us have a sense of humor just because he compared a vote on taxation to Obama raping and dismembering a blue-eyed little girl. It’s funny ’cause it’s true!
@Mnemosyne: I guess I just think it would be easier to just ignore his punk ass but that ain’t happenin so fire for effect.
What’s all the fuss about. It is a whole lot easier for the Republican House to shut the whole government down and blame Obama. Then when they are back in charge they will adopt Cheney’s Deficits Don’t Matter mantra.
All this other stuff is too complicated for FOX anchors.
I think Balloon Juice needs a deficit reduction manifesto. If those morons can put something together, so can we.
1. Turn off FICA taxes at$50k and turn them back on over $250k. (I don’t really care what the numbers are as long as people making income actually pay FICA for all of it)
2. Reduce taxes for those making less than $250k
3. Raise taxes for those making more than $250k
4. Lower fees for going to things like the Smithsonian.
5. Ponies for everyone.
I’m late to this thread, but I’m in complete agreement with Cole on this one.
@LT: there seems to be more to it.
Yes, there’s more to each idea or problem. But the Republicans (and some Democrats) like short, simple answers that fit a bumper sticker or a sound bite.
Even more so, actually, given that the median salary of a federal employee is much lower than $300,000.
Here’s my thought: blaming the government has become reflexive. Consciously or unconsciously, a lot of people have bought into Reagan’s “government is always the problem mentality.” So when they hear that, say, a scientist at the CDC makes $100,000 a year, they don’t think about whether or not that specific job at the CDC is worth that amount, and whether or not an equivalent job at a private company would pay more (it would, by the way).
They just see “government waste.” No matter what it is or what that employee does. And that kind of mentality is what’s preventing us from getting a 21st century infrastructure for this country, because high-speed rail is characterized as “government waste.”
@EIGRP: What if I want a second pony?
Believe it or not, I have actually had sensible, rational conversations with WyldPirate. But they never, ever have anything to do with current events, because once he decides he’s being attacked, he can’t stop himself from doubling down on the assholery.
Safe and Drug Free Schools is total, complete bullshit…cut it!! Years ago I was on the Board of an organization funded under this and the thing that drove me away was when they went to bat to protest the fact that people in a neighborhood adjacent to a high school (actually, my neighborhood) wanted to prevent h.s. kids from parking their BMWs and Acuras in that neighborhood…like, access to parking is going to keep kids off drugs…wtf?
But this is a staple of both right-wing and (would-be) left-wing criticism of Obama. “I’m mad now because I am sure he is going to do this thing that is similar to something else I remember him doing, because he’s just the kind of person who would do the thing he might do, and I’m already worried about how in the future he will have been about to do another one of the bad things that he has been likely to do.”
And then when you roll it all back it turns out that the whole thing is based upon how his friend from Hawaii may have been a Communist, or that Donnie McClurkin sang at a fundraiser.
@Mnemosyne: I’ll take your word for it.
@Spiffy McBang: You’re gonna have to wait for the Pony Reconciliation Act and a ruling from the parliamentarian.
I said nothing about a vote. I was referring to Obama’s backpedaling. I’m pissed as hell at it because he is getting used over and over again.
But if you want to talk about votes, let’s do that.
The Bush tax cuts will either be extended in part or in whole in the lame duck session. I don’t think the dems have the stones after their ass kicking to vote no on either the middle class cuts or the rich. But let’s say the Dems sack up in the lame duck session and stand the ground with the President. we’re on to the new Congress in january.
The Rethugs first bill in the new Congress will the tax cuts. It will fly through. In the Senate, both Manchin and Coons said they will vote for both. Lieberman will fold and other Dems will as well because they don’t want to be seen raising taxes on struggling middle class tax payers. The bill can pass on a simple majority vote as that’s how at least one of the Bush tax cuts passed. It will pass early in the next congress with both cuts intact and no concessions made for the 70Bn/year budget hole.
It goes to Obama’s desk. He doesn’t have the stones to break out his veto pen. He can’t knock heads in the Senate because he couldn’t even do that when he had 59 and 60 votes so he suree as fuck can’t get it done now.
Obama is boxed in. If he vetoes, he gets blamed for raising taxes and it would hurt middle class people bad now. If he passed both, he gets blamed for the 70 Bn/year hole in the deficit.
The Rethugs are not going to compromise. Obama is going to get punked–again.
Obama loses either way
Never assume that anything anyone writes here is NOT full of snark and sarcasm.
Edit: I just got my edit button back after losing it for a couple of weeks. So I will recraft the above sentiment to be devoid of negatives.
Always assume that anything anyone writes here is full of snark and/or sarcasm.
@FlipYrWhig: Goddamn- FUCK OBAMA, I’M VOTING TEA PARTY IN 2012! FREE MARKET PONIES FOR EVERYONE!
(who can afford them, which means I’m going to steal yours. sucker!)
Sorry, still not seeing any facts in there, just speculation about what you think might happen based on reading the tea leaves and your interpretation of current events.
If you want to say, “This is what I think will happen,” that’s fine, but your speculations about what might happen are not actually facts and there’s no use in getting pissed off at people who point that out.
@WyldPirate: I actually think the scenario you describe makes a lot of sense. What I don’t understand is how you think Obama can prevent it from happening, or could have, if not for his backpedaling and various other epithets. Because the way you describe it, we’ve got a Senate that actually does back a policy that goes beyond what the president wants. And it was true in the session before the election too, which is why the “decoupling” idea wasn’t appealing to many Democratic politicians. At what point could this chain of events have been stopped–let alone by Obama?
#1: make FICA taxes progressive. no cap, and vary the percentage. poor people pay little, rich people pay a lot more. no cap == no need to change it with inflation.
#2: raise the retirement age to 68 by, i dunno, 2040.
#3: reform end-of-life care so we’re not spending $1million a pop keeping some half-dead 95-year-old fossil on life support for 6 months while his kids figure out how to come to grips with it.
i’m not sure i understand. is there some way to explain it using a rape analogy?
That’s a good point ruemara and you’re right.
I didn’t say they were facts–I said “they” were in my post I was fired up and wasn’t paying attention to that part when I answered Mnemosyne.
thanks for the correction.
@chopper: #4 extend jurisdiction of “death panels” to enforce “death tax” and confiscate the estates of sickly millionaires.
Who ever gets rid of the mortgage interest deduction will feel my wrath. I will vote for any Palin-like monster I have to in order to punish those responsible. (This is not hyperbole)
There are about 75 million Americans who feel the same way.
The President and his commission should remember this.
that’s not bad either.
I think it could have been passed like Obama wanted to BEFORE the election. There was discussion about doing it, I would imagine that the Dems in Congress raised enough hell that it was tabled. The Dems didn’t have the sack for it and Obama doesn’t terrorize the Congress like the Bush administration did.
It’s out of Obama’s hands now. I don’t think there is any way in hell he gets what he wanted initially now. His language has already changed to compromise.
So technically, perhaps you’re right in that it’s not his “fault”. That doesn’t matter though because perception and reality are different. The perception will be that Obama is weak and that he got rolled by the Rethugs.
Cole, your Republican is showing again.
But… it couldn’t. Democratic Senators didn’t want to do it that way, presumably because of fear it would harm their electoral prospects–and Bob Somerby has been pointing out (in the course of his jihad against Rachel Maddow, alas) that even liberal Democrats were leery of “decoupling.”
And maybe they weren’t wrong. DKos has a poll out that says that
@Ailuridae: Canada doesn’t have an estate tax either. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
@Softail: National parks aren’t that bad but not “nominal” any more. Even national forest campgrounds are often $20.
Eh, what? I was in Yosemite this summer and the fees were $5/per person/per night at the backpackers camp and free camping in the wilderness (although you could only do that if you paid $10 for a permit, but you only do that once per trip). Its pretty nominal given that the backpackers camp has a bathroom and is staffed by rangers who answer questions and chase away bears.
Just Some Fuckhead
Yeah, because if yer one of the lucky duckies who can actually come out of this decession with your house, you should be whacked good.
@Just Some Fuckhead: Exactly. I’m never going to see my social security contributions; medicare will be a shell of its former self when I’m old and decrepit, but at least I can keep my effective mortgage payment from going up 30% and bankrupting me this year.
We think a lot of transfers from poor to rich here, but let’s not forget transfers from young to old…
Perhaps you’re right. I would submit, though, that politicians do things all the time that the public doesn’t approve of. If I recall correctly, the polling wasn’t in favor of us going to war in Iraq.
This is the thing that kills the Dems and pisses me off no end. They don’t stand for their principles. The vacillate. They stick their fingers in the wind. I can’t stand that and i don’t think most Americans can stand that either.
It’s not like the Rethugs are any better. they’re even more hypocritical than the Dems. they just lie about it better and shift the blame. That was Rove’s genius. Blame your opponent for the very thing you’re doing.
It’s like a kid farting in class and everyone starts laughing when the kid that farted blames the kid he’s sitting next to.
Actually, LT, examining your emotions surrounding the formulation of your opinions may be highly relevant. As mnemosyne @94 pointed out, many of the members of our society have had their logical processes rewired – largely by an appeal to baser emotions, in my opinion – to be irrationally prejudiced against the potential value to society of communal efforts; i.e., nothing good EVER comes of “The Government”. By extension, all of those involved in the processes of government are thereby dehumanized and made easy targets of scorn and disapprobation. (I am employed at the Camden, NJ library of the Rutgers Law School; believe me, I am well acquainted with the demonization of state and other public workers by our ever-so-charming Governor Christie.)
In my college days, a black friend of mine exposed me to a wise folk saying from his community, “You don’t have to put a lid on a basket of crabs.” I was puzzled until he unpacked this for me. Whenever a crab starts to clamber out of the basket, the other crabs reach up – and spitefully – pull it right back down from whence it came. Nobody’s gonna improve their lot and get out of that basket on THEIR watch, by damn.
How many times do we see the same mentality displayed towards unionized workers? “Those SOBs sure got some nerve with their wages, and benefits, and stuff! Why, look at the shit I’ve gotta eat. Hrumph!” And how often are these feelings expressed towards workers in industries or services with whose products the complainers have NO contact, and consequently which have NO financial impact on the complainers? How many fingers and toes ya got?
How do we explain these utterly irrational hatreds other than by an understanding that they are driven by emotional factors? Reason has little or nothing to do with it. The REAL manipulators among the rich and powerful get a pass, but the ones closer in status and power get the back of the hand.
That’s how they play ya. Get past your rational faculties, manipulate you on the emotional level, and divide and conquer.
Suck It Up!
you say you know the difference, you say you know all of these factors, but if he caves, you will still go around the internets crying betrayal.
@Jasper: And the immediate problem with eliminating the mortgage deduction is it will reduce home prices further
That would be a good thing. Having home prices go down means that people will be spending less of their income on housing. In other words, we’ll increase the supply of affordable housing dramatically. That is great!
It is true that some people will be screwed over, but buying a house is a very risky financial commitment; people who did so knew the risks. And realistically, there’s no way the deduction is going away unless it is phased out gradually over many years.
I think you seriously misunderstand where the terror came from during the Bush administration. It may have been administered on the basis of what Bush (or, rather, Cheney) wanted, but it was people like Tom “the Hammer” DeLay and Bill Frist who enforced what the Republicans wanted within the caucus.
Not to mention that the Republicans were perfectly happy breaking the law to get what they wanted — remember how they got the Medicare bill passed by threatening to de-fund one House member’s son’s campaign? That’s not mere political hardball. That’s actually illegal. But they knew Alberto Gonzales wasn’t going to prosecute them for it, so they did it anyway.
@Just Some Fuckhead: Yeah, because if yer one of the lucky duckies who can actually come out of this decession with your house, you should be whacked good.
Just to be clear, many homeowners get no significant benefit from the deduction. You only can use it if you itemize and lots of people don’t itemize.
Here’s a compromise proposal though: the government could save a huge amount of money if the deduction was capped. Right now, the more money your house costs, the bigger the deduction you get. Which is great for people that live in expensive areas on the coasts, but doesn’t do much for most people who have smaller mortgages. The only way I can see the going forward is as a cap so that you can only deduct interest up to $300K of a mortgage for example.
@Mnemosyne: This, fucking this.
We can do better than this as a country or we’re going to get Palined.
My view is that the conservative Democrats in the Senate often act as a bloc, and they have a lot of power internally to the institution, but they express that power externally by carping and sniping and pooh-poohing at the mainstream-to-liberal Democrats. But it’s a hostage situation. They’re hard to back down because they actually don’t mind running on how they bucked their party–which is also why “arm-twisting” and the “bully pulpit” and the other neo-LBJ strategies progressive people crave just don’t work.
I think the upper limit of down-the-line progressive Democrats we’ll ever see in the Senate is probably, like, 40. The upper limit of hardcore conservatives in the Senate is probably 45. The conservative-Democrat-plus-less-conservative-Republican contingent would top out at maybe 25 (almost entirely Democrats, but, if you’re feeling generous, this year’s model will be Snowe, Collins, Brown, and maybe Kirk). If everything is subject to filibuster, progressives will have to come close to running the table in that middle group to get anything passed, and conservatives will have to get like half. That middle group _likes it that way_.
Just Some Fuckhead
Everyone knows tax cuts = more revenue.
John - A Motley Moose
@Mark: Simply stating that Canada doesn’t have an estate tax is a bit misleading. Canada has all sorts of other taxes on estates, like capital gains and sales taxes. The estate also pays income taxes on retirement savings.
To the OP:
John Cole, your blog is so damn busy that it’s generally impossible to reply to you in direct fashion, but I agree with you on each of these things. Thanks.
No, I haven’t read the thread; why do you ask?
Seriously, when did this country become a crab bucket?
“My employer did me wrong, so everyone else should suffer too!”
Just Some Fuckhead
@Turbulence: No, no compromise needed. We’re happy to save the country with our small contribution even though our businesses are going to expire by March at the latest if the economy doesn’t turn around.
I like the idea of exterminating the poor and middle classes first so our overlords don’t feel like they sacrificed in vain.
Backpackers camp costs are different from campground costs. Campgrounds are where the vast majority of people camp. They run around $18-30 per night, depending on the popularity of the national park. Plus there is an admission fee for the park itself, $20 per car, unless you have a parks pass. It adds up.
It is telling that, in 2009 & 10, when the National parks had 3 free weekends (no admission fee) per summer, those were by FAR the busiest weekends of the year. So people were willing to put up with crazy crowding to save $20. Raising the fees will probably cause a net loss of income.
jake the snake
Somebody contact Larry Niven to novelize the Firebagger-Obot wars. It could be his follow up the the Human-Kzin war series.
Social Security is fine. No really. And small tweaks (that would be immensely popular) can alter it such that paying out full benefits on an infinite horizon is doable.
I have no idea what the reference to the estate tax is supposed to mean. I don’t speak conservanut so help me out.
To those who asked – our Federal benefits are good but nothing jaw droppingly great. Health insurance rates are good – we pay less than 3K/yr and have a 6K deductible (family as opposed to single coverage).
Feds get good rates because its a very large employee pool and a variety of plans to choose from. However, I do know coworkers who have been shafted on coverage and “need” determinations with their insurance plans. We do have an on-site RN that you can see for a variety of common ailments and flu shots but I think a lot of forward-thinking companies have that as well.
Retirement is a 50% match up to my 10% contribution.
The problem that I have with people crying for the freeze on Fed salaries is that the hue comes more from a punitive stance (makes those damn lazy Feds pay for their enormous salaries!). I really don’t have a problem paying taxes and wouldn’t give a shit if my pay check was taxed at 45% as long as there was a guarantee attached to it that I would never lose my house if I had a catastrophic health crisis, or if i didn’t have to worry about paying for necessities in my old age. I don’t have, and won’t ever have kids, but I also vote for the mill levies around here that go to schooling. I hope I won’t ever need long-term psychiatric care, but I recognize that others do. I like infrastructure. I may never use some services for which I am taxed, but I happily pay my taxes so that we, as a society, have a safety net.
I am also not going to apologize that my education, attitude and good damn luck has resulted in a stable career in these crappy economic times. Regardless, of how you feel about that, Federal wages ARE less than the private sector for similar/same positions AND a 3 year wage freeze is too drastic.
It just is.
I never understood why The Smithsonian museums were free. A couple bucks each at least. I would even say free for DC children.
@AnnaN: I agree with AnnaN. Federal employees should not be penalized just because they work for the Federal Government. It makes them easy targets. It doesn’t make it right.
I saw an article a whole back that contradicts most of what you said about Fed employee pay.
Federal pay ahead of private industry:
I’m a scientist that’s looking for a job. Most of the Fed jobs I have applied for pay pretty damned good. Better than most in academia. Better than most in industry as well.
Sounds to me like you’re doing a lot of sniveling over nothing…..
Err, thank FSM there haven’t been several debunkings of that article. No surprise that the firebagger with sodomy fantasies is actually a conservatroll.
In short, when you adjust for the pay of people with comparable educational qualifications who have a bachelor’s or beyond federal employees make substantially less even accounting for benefits than their private sector counterparts.
Look. I attacked no one, But i will now. You can go straight to fucking hell and shove the firebagger shit so far up your idiot ass that you gag on it you stupid fuck.
I think what your saying is bullshit at least in my field. In fact i know it fucking is because the benes are way better because i have a number of friends that work for the feds. So at least in my area I know you are fucking clueless.
You need to tax the filthy rich to the hilt. Barry Oilbomber is fucking us all with his evil austerity plans. These evil cat food plans only effect regular people not the vile capitalist pigs. They are the enemy! Never forget this. This is a class war and it must be waged against the vile elite who are destroying all of our lives. Wake up America!
I have to say I was wrong about the benefits – I accidentally left out leave pay. For annual and sick, we do earn more after six years in the position than private sector.
Sorry WyldPirate, you are incorrect. Federal pay is capped at $155.5K unless you are in the SES class – which is limited. Most of the physicists I work with won’t make more than that even though they could easily earn twice as much. As for your claim that Fed jobs pay better than academia, that’s simply not true – our post docs make much less than Asst. Profs at universities.
In addition, the data of the study you cited is flawed as the government has an antiquated way of describing a job titles that really doesn’t transfer correctly. My first position? Automated Office Assistant. My actual duties: web site design, build, upkeep and internet security protocol. And i was paid much less than those people in the private sector. But, if you simply took my label as office asst. and compared it to other asst. on salary.com, then yes, it would look as if my salary was a waste of tax payer monies. Budget analysts earn MUCH less in the government than in the PS. The title of “secretary” is a catch all for anyone who’s duties are program manager on up to high level exec. assistants. A government title of secretary does NOT mean someone who answers phones, takes dictation and keeps calendars. I’ve switched on over to contracting. With my MBA, I have to start at the lowest level of specialist and cannot make more than 72K BY LAW; an amount at which I will not earn to start. It will take me four years to go up a level in contracting at which point I will be capped at 95K. Even with a law degree, I have to slowly work my way through the ranks, regardless of my abilities because it’s the law. The salary numbers are deceiving as they do not depict the reality. My boss is a world renowned and recognized physicist who could easily command 4-5 times what he is making in the private sector. Feds are not fat cats.
And as for my sniveling? Does that attitude come through in your job interviews or only from the anonymous safety of the internet?
So you are going to argue anecdotally from your observations from a couple of friends rather than with the hard data. You’re a pretty shitty scientist, huh?
Referring to someone as sniveling isn’t attacking them? You write stupid shit when you are completely unaware of the underlying facts, people correct you and you double down by getting angry and no less ignorant. Its pretty simple – if you don’t want people pointing out you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about stop commenting on shit you are completely clueless on.
You’re too intellectually lazy to actually understand this but here’s a start anyway
well, in my area it’s totally wrong. private sector work pays far better, and the benefits are just as good if not better.
tho it might not make sense to you without some sort of mention of something being shoved up someone’s ass.
Yes, please. Anyone who has been to Great Smoky Mountains NP knows how ridiculously crowded the damn thing gets in the summer, probably because there’s no fee for entering it. Make it $15 for a 3-day pass, or something, and watch the crowds shrink overnight. I’ll still pay the fee, and everyone else can go spend their money at Dollywood.
I understood dropping the mortgage interest tax deduction applied only to second homes and homes worth over $500,000.
As a scientist, any analysis of the difference between average and median and how those two things can give you very different numbers?
It’s nonsense to freeze federal salaries without also freezing the amount of money the federal agencies spend on private contractors.
As a contractor that works for a nonprofit that only works for the federal government, there’s a huge rot that has happened – there are lots of functions that should be done by civil servants that are done by private contractors (e.g. in some cases the likes of me.)
Can somebody explain why Obama created this commission in the first place or why he named people like Knowles/Simpson to head it. What a catostropic blunder!
The federal government subsidizes landlords to buy single family homes. Landlords write off their mortgage interest. In addition, they get to write off fictional “depreciation” expenses of houses, something a homeowner can’t. When a family goes to buy a home, they compete to buy it against their prospective landlords. If the government only subsidizes landlords then the wealthy can outbid the middle class for home ownership.
@Sasha: While I’m normally not one to defend attacks on Obama like this, it appears from the WH that they are apparently willing to “compromise” by just a 2 year extension on all of the tax cuts.
And most National Parks have entry fees on top of camping or lodging fees. I don’t mind paying, but I suspect this is just to make the Rs happy by raising user fees on stuff so as to keep taxes for the common good lower. It makes the park service less popular if the fees go up and hence easier to cut in the long run. And the service is under funded already.
Blue Dogs wanted him to in exchange for their vote on the stimulus and his budget.
John - A Motley Moose
I finally got around to installing Cleek’s pie filter. Now all wyldpirate’s comments make more sense. Whatever text he enters shows as ***I am a fucking idiot***
Regarding federal employee pay, comparisons to private sector pay are nuanced and need to be made between specific jobs and geographic areas. Fact Check
Regarding the chairmans mark reducing federal employment and freezing pay, most old timers are used to bearing the brunt of budget problems usually every 4 or 8 years. Almost every president does it. I don’t think it is effective for anything but the short term. To compete for qualified workers, the government still needs to offer competitive wages. When the pay freeze is over, so are the short term savings.
Reducing the size of the work force will only be effective if the work is eliminated. Agencies are funded to accomplish specific work. Full time equivilents becomes a target. If you reduce the number of employees with out reducing the work, the agencies just find other ways to accomplish their targets. The cost remains the same, based on how much work Congress asks for or can be persuaded to provide.
Overall, the chairman’s mark looks like more of a small government initiative than a budget deficit reduction. See Kevin Drum’s fine post on the debit commission. Picking government employees for reductions will only get you so much for a short time and then what?
Let’s just all agree to repay the debt with a pay-per-view event. Alan Simpson being repeatedly cock punched by an octogenarian midget.
Wow, a lot of self-serving reasons why the other guy should get screwed, but why are we talking first about how middle and lower level wage earners should get screwed?
Just for the record, my own self-serving sacred cow: everyone casually is ready to give up the health insurance deduction. Why? Isn’t health insurance (now more than ever) a huge baseline expense (akin to deductible medical expenses), a necessity whose expense should be free of taxation? And if you’re around the 25% bracket and are now getting away with murder paying through the nose – but tax free! – your $13K on your family policy, how are you going to like the government tacking on another $3K in taxes?
And just for the record, my own let’s-screw-the-other guy proposal: How about all those deductions for children? Why are we paying for those (yeah, my kid is over 18 now).
To tell you the truth, I’d just as soon see all the Bush tax cuts expire. It’d be a whole lot cheaper for me than the health insurance deduction going away.
So yeah, let’s all fight first about distributing the pain among the peasants. (I know the post said it’s premature, but hey, it’s too late once you’ve conceded reasonableness. The Republicans never do.)
The right-wing objects to Bush’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools because the man currently in charge of it is openly gay. If he were not, it would not be on the list.
If the Catfood Commission were serious about the budget, instead of ideology, their first recommendation would be to establish a universal health care system with no for-profit insurance companies.
However, in the US, among the Wingers, ideology trumps everything. No amount of human suffering could make a dent in the ideological bubble of the American Right. As long as tax cuts are more important than fiscal sanity, nothing is going to get us out of the hole we’re in.
After reading the second sentence, I understood how you could write the first.
And it may explain why people continue to vote in ways that are devastating for the poor and disabled.
So, the solution to our fiscal problems has to come from someone else. No question about it, you’re with the majority there.
In fact, I think you can all agree that the answer is to solve the problem by going after the poor. After all, you vote, and most of them don’t.
So, here’s the list you really want to see:
1. Eliminate Medicaid.
2. Eliminate Earned Income Tax Credits.
3. Eliminate Social Security disability payments.
4. Hell, eliminate anything and everything that might benefit anyone making less than $15,000/yr. (More for families.)
Now, of course, that isn’t going to solve our fiscal woes, but maybe it will allow you to keep your mortgage tax deduction. Sleep well.
@WyldPirate: My job involves – and has involved for well over a decade – regular (as in at minimum weekly, more often daily) interaction with public agency employers (municipal, state and federal). These have been professional, technical and managerial workers – that is, I’m not talking about the front desk clerks & customer service reps.
On average, I’d say anywhere from 75%-80% of these workers are overpaid. And not just from a comparing job descriptions perspective – but from a qualitative one. 9 times out of 10, when dealing with these folks, I’m the smartest person in the room (and believe me, I certainly don’t think of myself as some sort of genius). Now, these folks are not morons or idiots – but at the same time, they aren’t the cream of the crop either. I can – and regularly do – run circles around these folks. (and thank goodness, because I get well paid for being able to.)
The cream are elsewhere – in the private sector, with NGOs, in academia. If they were the cream, they wouldn’t be working in a system that primarily rewards seniority & politics, as opposed to things like talent, creativity, ingenuity, or self-motivation. And yes Virginia, the private and NGO sectors do primarily reward on the basis on producing outcomes. We do eat what we kill.
But we don’t need the cream in these positions – the bureaucratic system doesn’t really make room for creativity or paradigm busting ideas. Heck, you don’t even get rewarded for saving your agency money, because that just means the legislative branch gives you less the next year.
And at the end of the day, we probably don’t need the best. Consistent, regular,predictable, inside-the-box implementation of regulations and programs, free of corruption, is probably what we most want. And for that, we don’t need the top of the class.
As such, there’s really no need to pay top or competitive salaries. Middle of the road will do just fine – especially when these workers get lower pay in exchange for a job that it almost impossible to be fired from. I don’t *want* the government being competitive for top talent – the top talent – and the money – would be just wasted there anyways.
I’m not going to go thru the previous 162 comments to make sure that this hasn’t already been mentioned but…
I would love for the admission fee to national parks to be raised but only for all the dayum furriners that overrun the places every summer and create all the maintenance problems with their euro-ness and their strong currencies. They can afford it! I often find that when I go to other third world countries they have a higher fee for Amurikans to visit their stuff. Why doesn’t Rush get on this?
My retirement plan is suicide. That is all.
@aimai: I am so totally late to this thread, but, hey, I work nights.
But, really, this. “What aimai said” has become my go-to response in just about all of these threads anyway.
Also, I agree with those that say it’s kind of fucked to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for those that considered that very deduction when they chose to leave rental-world and bought homes in the first place. 30 years, that’s a long time over which one can get screwed.
Also also, and I realize this is kind of anecdotal and maybe a little bit silly, but I lived in Europe for a long while and when my Euro friends visit and I take them to DC (I insist), they’re always blown away by that whole “these museums are free” thing. I’ve just always been so proud of that. Giving that up is like, I dunno, giving up a point of American pride, I guess. Maybe it’s just me. I’m OK with it just being me.
There’s also the whole part where none of this is going to happen anyway, so why are we getting all worked up about it? I mean, if the Catfood Commission’s #1 recommendation doesn’t include raising taxes on the likes of Lebron James, for fuck’s sake, I’m not down with anything that comes after and I doubt the rest of the people will be either. The entire thing should be laughed out of the room if a tiny little 3% tax increase is off the table from the get-go. Let’s get real here.
What people should realize is that a lot of the Federal jobs are clerical or administrative at best. How they’re paid depends on the grade and step they are. The majority are not making $300K. A lot are not even making $50K. So that lack of a raise for Federal employee you’re saying should happen, would most likely be for a lower grade position. And if theyr’e in the DC metro area (MD/DC/VA or even WV) the salaries would even be less because they don’t get the same raises that those in other Federal offices get since too many would be getting them.
Is it fair for a Grade 3 making $25K or less to not get raises for three years because CEOs cheated people in the private sector? I admit, I no longer have a spouse in the Federal government so I don’t know what the salaries are now, but I’m sure the clerical positions of Grade 3 to Grade 5 couldn’t have gone up that much.
i’m also wondering exactly what they mean – freeze pay as in no COLAs? not a huge issue, as inflation is currently so low it makes no real difference. freeze pay as in no raises at all, you’re really screwing people over. i as well as everyone at my office get yearly step increases, and more importantly every year you get a merit-based opportunity to move up a GS level on the general schedule (accepting a larger workload in the process) until you hit the highest level for your job description (which i’m at right now).
freezing all pay would cock up the whole place and any other gubbermint office that follows any merit/production-based system like that. my pay is about as high as it’s going to get for sure, but that’s because i’ve been here for 12 years. lots of new hires would totally get the shaft.
Wow, John really must love the O when he sees fit to actually defend the Catfood Commission that Our Fearless Leader created. Yes, let’s inflict pain on people in the middle of the biggest financial crisis since the Depression. Why not?
@Sasha: Well since he has already done it almost numerous times, it does seem kind of silly to wait and see if he preforms to expectations again.
@goblue72: Jesus are you stupid. And egotistical, to boot.
AC in BC
Socialist Canada has no mortgage interest deduction, but also exempts gain from one’s home from taxes. Not coincidentally Canada escaped the housing market implosion because we didn’t use our homes as ATMs.
Oh, and home ownership rates in the two countries are virtually the same. So much for incentivizing home ownership.