Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
First, a reminder:
Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
May 28, 2009
It’s significant news, but since it didn’t make upper income taxpayers look like greedy tax avoiders, it predictably was not given prominent play in some of the nation’s news media.
The news, as reported at the bottom of Page 4 of one newspaper: A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office revealed that as President Obama promises tax cuts for most Americas but tax increases for those with the highest incomes, the federal income tax burden is already hovering near the lowest level in three decades for all but the wealthiest Americans.
I repeat: “For all but the wealthiest Americans.”
This is the class which for some years now, including especially during Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency, we have been hearing described as the principal beneficiaries of the so-called “Bush tax bill” which Obama has pledged to change in a way that frees even more Americans from paying any federal income taxes at all while increasing the tax burden on the 5% of Americans with the highest incomes.
Congressional Budget Office figures for 2006, the most recent year for which information is available, showed that the average family paid barely 9% of its income in federal taxes in 2006.
Middleclass families, to whom President Obama has promised even more tax relief, fared especially well, according to the CBO. The middle fifth of taxpayers, who earned an average of $60,000 per household in 2006, paid just 3% of federal income tax that year, down from a high of 8.3% in 1981.
The news story pointed out that under President Obama’s plan for cutting taxes for those making less than $250,000 a year, “more people are likely to pay no income taxes at all.” In 2006, according to Internal Revenue Service statistics, about 49 million households—a third of all filers—owed no federal income tax after taking their credits and deductions.
This year, with the of new tax breaks in Obama’s stimulus package, about 65 million households—or 49% of all filers—are likely to owe no income taxes, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
An obvious question:
How can the nation pay for all the new welfare programs contemplated in Obama’s $3.6 trillion 10-year budget plan while freeing 65 million households—nearly half of the total which file tax returns—from paying any federal income taxes at all?
One obvious answer: It can’t be done without massively increasing the annual Federal deficit. There isn’t enough income in the Obama-targeted top 5% of income taxpayers to give tax relief—in 49 million cases, total tax relief—to 95% of those who file federal income tax returns.
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A recent news story reminds us how blessed the Midlands area is to have Creighton University located in Omaha.
The story reported that Creighton has the prospect—although the final figures, of course, won’t be known until next fall—of having its first freshman class of more than 1,000 students.
That news reminds, us, too, that the Rev. John P. Schlegel’s presidency has served Creighton superbly well.
“We are deeply gratified that in these challenging economic times, parents and students alike see value in investing in a Creighton education,” Father Schlegel said.
Of special significance to the Midlands is the fact that while Creighton plays a national role, drawing students from as far as Hawaii, the prospective incoming class next fall includes 250 students from the Omaha area and also 240 from Iowa, Kansas or South Dakota, indicating Creighton’s special importance to this entire Midlands area.
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Enough “hard news” commentary for today.
I’m turning now to some pieces which I wrote recently but set aside in favor of comment on some breaking news story or other. I hope you’ll find the following two items haven’t spoiled by having been in temporary storage.
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The continuing “popular vote versus Electoral College vote” debate tends to overlook the fact that the Founding Fathers did not create a popular-vote democracy. They created a republic, in which ultimate power rests with the people but that power is exercised through elected representatives.
The Founding Fathers gave individual states a strong voice in central government in various ways, including through the Electoral College and by allocating two Senate seats to each state no matter what that state’s population is. This fundamental principle has scarcely been mentioned in the continuing promotion of a popular vote for the presidential election to replace the Electoral College.
We should not lightly abandon a principle which has served this country well for more than 200 years - - a principle which holds that the tyranny of the majority, as it is sometimes described, should not allow the big to simply brush aside the small.
Expanding further on the fact that we live not in a pure democracy but in a representative republic: There is no initiative petition provision for the people to force a vote directly on any act of Congress or an amendment to the Federal Constitution.
Unfortunately, the principle that complex governmental policy decisions are best left to elected representatives who have the time and resources to give careful study to those issues has too often been negated by “weather vane” officeholders overly influenced by which way they believe the public opinion winds are blowing.
This has become a particularly troublesome pattern in the current era when public opinion polls, many of them carelessly worded or intentionally worded so as to produce a predictable result, influence if not dominate public consideration of significant issues. For this unfortunate circumstance, the nation’s news media bear perhaps the heaviest responsibility.
It is significant, I think, that in the long reach of history, the most honored public figures are frequently not those who best reflect the current mood of the public but those with the courage to stand against prevailing public opinion. In this connection, there is a splendid Nebraska example.
Senator George W. Norris, certainly one of the most respected figures in Nebraska political history, was included in John F. Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage,” because he was one of a handful of members of the House of Representatives who voted against America’s entry into World War I.
Whether or not you agreed with Norris—I don’t—it was a memorable, courageous stand.
* * *
Some nuggets from a recent browse through Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations:
From Mark Twain: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
Also from Mark Twain, especially good advice for journalists: “A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper, the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.”
Samuel Butler, nineteenth century British author: “A virtue, to be serviceable, must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner but more durable metal.”
Also from Samuel Butler in an article on the subject of “Titles and Subjects,” again good advice for any writer: “The Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s classic epic poem) would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.”
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