I’d forgotten that for months now Charlie Gibson has been asserting that $200,000 is a solid middle-class income, blissfully unaware that just 3.4 percent of U.S. households have an income of $200,000 or more. You could be richer than 96 percent of your fellow citizens, but still just folks to Gibson. Obviously that’s not on a par with being bad at bowling or anything on the “out of touch” scale, but it’s still disappointing to learn that even our salt of the earth working class multimillionaire television news personalities aren’t utterly infallible.
Our guest blogger is Robert Gordon, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Tonight Charlie Gibson channeled cocktail-napkin economics to argue, with the certainty that usually comes only from religion, that cutting capital gains taxes raises revenue.
As Jason Furman explains here, and as Len Burman explains here, the best evidence suggests otherwise. Cutting these taxes may lead to a temporary spike in revenue, because people sell stock to realize gains while rates are low. But over the long term, the biggest owners of stock—the wealthiest Americans—will mostly save what they will save, regardless of fluctuations in the rate.
The Congressional Budget Office notes that “the potentially large difference between the long- and short-term sensitivity of realizations to tax rates can mislead observers into assuming a greater permanent responsiveness than actually exists.”
Charlie Gibson tonight misled millions of observers of a presidential debate.
… even if we win the White House this year, it’s only a matter of time before the eco-freaks cripple this country’s economy thanks to McCain’s maverick streak. And this jerk will get rich(er) off it.
The last sentence is, of course, followed by a picture of Al Gore.
I love the smell of CO2 in the morning. It smells like American innovation and wealth.
Wow! CO2 is the new napalm.
And Gore’s Law strikes again — twice!
Earlier today, ThinkProgress reported that in his promise to “veto every bill with earmarks,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may also eliminate aid to Israel. According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S. aid to Israel is considered an earmark. Politico’s Ben Smith received an e-mailed response from McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers:
Senator McCain will bring wasteful spending under control, and he will ensure America remains committed to the security of Israel, including maintaining America’s assistance levels.
Smith notes, “That’s one thing about spending cuts: Much harder when you get to the details.”
I had thought the Clinton campaign couldn’t sink any lower, but thus far she’s really just been giving us the full GOP. Listening to her talk about Barack Obama is like reading a Weekly Standard blog post. The lame excuse that she’s making this and that outrageous smear because the Republicans will do it later is pathetic. Maybe they will. But she’s the one doing it now.
I don’t expect much from the debates, but 30 minutes and counting without a single reference to anything even vaguely related to public policy.
UPDATE: Still no policy at 45 minutes.
UPDATE: Okay, good. Now they’re asking about Iraq — seems like the kind of third-tier issue I’d wait an hour to ask about!
As Pope Calls For Treating Immigrants With ‘Dignity,’ Bush Administration Carries Out Raids In Five States
Pope Benedict XVI has been a vocal supporter of U.S. immigrants, regardless of their legal status. On his flight between Rome and Washington yesterday, the pope made clear that discussing the treatment of Latino immigrants would be a priority during his meeting with President Bush. AFP reports:
The United States must do “everything possible to fight…all forms of violence so that immigrants may lead dignified lives,” the pope said when asked if he would address the issue of Latin American immigrants with the US leader.
The White House viewed the pope’s visit as very important. In a rare gesture, the President and his family even traveled to Andrews Air Force Base to greet the pope as his plane arrived.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration also chose today to carry out immigration raids, arresting more than 280 undocumented workers employed at Pilgrim’s Pride plants in five states. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), several — but not all — of the immigrants were suspected of identity theft or document fraud. According to a Justice Department press release:
For those arrested solely on immigration violations, that information will assist ICE in making decisions about whether to detain the individual or permit a conditional humanitarian release. Similarly, the information will be provided to the relevant U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state social services agencies so they are fully informed about humanitarian-related issues that may arise in the individual cases being handled through the criminal justice system. Those being prosecuted on criminal charges will be remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and housed at various facilities near the arrest sites.
It’s no wonder that the pope is concerned about the treatment of immigrants. At a recent House hearing, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) noted that children at immigrant detention facilities have reportedly been “put in cells alone for hours, awakened in the middle of the night with flashlights in their faces and threatened with being permanently separated from their parents.”
Under the Bush administration, deportations have increased sharply. In the last fiscal year ending Sept. 30, ICE deported 280,000 people, a 44 percent jump from the previous year. The Bush administration has also come under intense fire from lawmakers and immigration activists for carrying out politically motivated raids against immigrants who criticize the White House’s policies.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition responds to the raids:
There is a fundamental disconnect between our nation’s moral belief that all human beings should be treated with dignity and the implementation of our nation’s broken immigration system. For the President to put at risk the sanctity and safety of immigrant families by conducting yet another round of harsh immigration raids flies in the face of the Pope’s call for humane treatment of all people.
How is it that Charlie Gibson is challenging the candidates with reference to a constitutional provision that was overridden by Amendment XII over 200 years ago? I’ve seen a lot of dumb TV news stunts over the years, but that really takes the cake.
Our guest blogger is Peter Juul, a national security consultant at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
For the last five-plus years, America’s foreign policy and national security strategy have been subordinated to a fixation on the tactical problems in Iraq. Pressing strategic problems – the unfinished war in Afghanistan, North Korea’s nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and others – have been given inadequate resources, inadequate attention, or both. The U.S. Army is suffering unprecedented strain on its personnel and equipment.
Despite these grave and growing strategic problems, war supporters continue to advocate a tactical argument for an open-ended military commitment to Iraq under the misleading label of “strategic patience.”
In fact, there is nothing strategically wise about maintaining an indefinite military presence in Iraq in the hopes that Iraq’s major political problems will somehow magically be solved. As has been seen in Basra, Iraqis remain all too willing to settle their internal political disputes through violence. Rather, maintaining “strategic patience” in Iraq will lead to a strategic blunder of great proportions.
Continuing to keep 140,000 American has a number of detrimental strategic effects:
– Afghanistan continues to be under-resourced. As Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has noted, “having forces in Iraq don’t – at the level they are at – don’t allow us to fill the need we have in Afghanistan.”
– Iran’s regional position continues to be enhanced. Contrary to the administration’s description, Iran’s best ally in Iraq isn’t Muqtada al-Sadr’s fickle militia, it’s the American-supported Iraqi government – a government dominated by parties with extensive links to Tehran.
– American military readiness continues to erode. Outgoing Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “…our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it. If unaddressed, this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the all-volunteer force and degrades the Army’s ability to make a timely response to other contingencies.”
– Al Qaeda continues to derive propaganda benefits from a continued American military presence in Iraq, while continuing to operate largely unmolested in its safe-haven on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
America needs to rectify these existing strategic problems, not exacerbate them through “strategic patience.” What the United States needs is not more of the same in Iraq, but rather a strategic reset of its policy to set its strategic priorities straight.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who famously got up close and personal with President Bush at the 2007 State of the Union, is having difficulty retaining staff members in her congressional office. The Hill reports that “ten of the 14 people” she “hired early last year have left” her office. “The casualty list includes two chiefs of staff, a district director, a press secretary, two legislative assistants, a staff assistant, a caseworker, an outreach and grants coordinator and a district scheduler.” A third chief of staff “rescinded his decision to take the position prior” to being officially placed on the payroll.