May 06, 2011 12:08 am ET
On May 5, Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party cosponsored the first debate of the presidential primary season, featuring Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), pizza magnate Herman Cain, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), and former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NM). The campaign kickoff, however, didn't produce many exciting moments. Aside from the civil libertarian flavor provided by Paul and Johnson, the candidates mostly stuck to Republican talking points on issues like foreign policy, gas prices, and health care costs that have already been debunked.
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM: If you look at what President Obama has done right in foreign policy, it has always been a continuation of the Bush policies. He's gone right by keeping Gitmo open, he's done right finishing the job in Iraq, he's done right by trying to win in Afghanistan. Those were existing policies that were in place. The decision he made with Osama bin Laden was a tactical decision, it wasn't a strategic decision. The strategic decision was made already by President Bush to go after him.
December 2001: Bin Laden Escapes At Tora Bora, Afghanistan. As reported by the Daily Mail: "According to some intelligence reports, Bin Laden had been hiding in Tora Bora since around November 17, when he and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri had slipped out of the nearby city of Jalalabad. However, the CIA was close behind and, thanks to informers, by early December the Americans were confident Bin Laden was hiding in his mountain lair. What happened next - the Battle of Tora Bora and Bin Laden's subsequent escape - has become the stuff of legend. [...]Although the ceasefire lasted only a few hours, some suggest this was enough of a window for Bin Laden to make his escape. On the afternoon of December 14, the Americans were once again able to hear Bin Laden on a military radio, but this time his speech sounded pre-recorded. It seemed as though Bin Laden had fled, most likely to Pakistan, where he could not be touched. However, it is claimed in the newly-leaked files that the Al Qaeda leader headed back north into Afghanistan, and was escorted by 40 or 50 fighters provided by a Pakistani militant called Maulawi Nur Muhammad." [Daily Mail, 4/30/11, emphasis added]
Original Accounts That American Soldiers Were Given The Green Light To Hunt Bin Laden From Cave To Cave Proved False. As reported by the Daily Mail: "According to most accounts, Tora Bora was assaulted by hundreds of American and British Special Forces, who fought cave-to-cave in battles straight out of a war movie. There were reports of Victoria Crosses about to be awarded, and hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters being shot by lantern-jawed SAS and troops from Delta Force - a secretive counter-terrorism unit which is part of the U.S. Special Operations Force. Unfortunately, unlike in the movies, the villain managed to slip away, and Bin Laden was reported to have escaped to Pakistan, just as he had planned. Except that's not what happened at all. This week, new files leaked from the U.S. military tell a very different story. The intelligence reports, compiled by officials at Guantanamo Bay, suggest that the real series of events was remarkably different from what was reported around the world at the time. [...] What emerges is that in all, no more than 80 British and American (and possibly German) Special Forces were involved, and these played only a supporting role to the Afghan forces which carried out the bulk of the attacks. [...]But perhaps the biggest obstacle for the coalition forces was the lack of American and British manpower on the ground. Although the Americans were happy to commit their airforce, the politicians and top brass had decided U.S. involvement in Afghanistan should be 'light-footed', a tactic that seems hard to believe a decade later. Whether that was sensible is still a matter of debate among experts." [Daily Mail, 4/30/11, emphasis added]
Bush Administration Could Have Captured Bin Laden At Tora Bora But "Fail[ed] To Commit U.S. Ground Troops To Hunt Him." As reported by the Washington Post: "The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge. Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. [...] A common view among those interviewed outside the U.S. Central Command is that Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the war's operational commander, misjudged the interests of putative Afghan allies and let pass the best chance to capture or kill al Qaeda's leader." [Washington Post, 4/17/02, emphasis added]
In Early 2002, President Bush Stopped Emphasizing The Importance Of Capturing Bin Laden "Dead Or Alive." As reported by the Washington Post: "Another change since Tora Bora, with no immediate prospect of finding bin Laden, is that President Bush has stopped proclaiming the goal of taking him 'dead or alive' and now avoids previous references to the al Qaeda founder as public enemy number one. [...] 'Terror is bigger than one person,' Bush said March 14. 'He's a person that's now been marginalized.' The president said bin Laden had 'met his match' and 'may even be dead,' and added: 'I truly am not that concerned about him.'" [Washington Post, 4/17/02, emphasis added]
March 13, 2002: President Bush Tells Press "I Just Don't Spend That Much Time On" Bin Laden. At a press conference on March 13, 2002, President Bush had the following exchange with reporters:
Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.
Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did. [President Bush Press Conference, 3/13/02, emphasis added]
March 13, 2002: President Bush Tells Press That "I Truly Am Not That Concerned About" Bin Laden. At a press conference on March 13, 2002, President Bush had the following exchange with reporters:
Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban. [President Bush Press Conference, 3/13/02, emphasis added]
The CIA Closed It's Bin Laden-Hunting Unit, "Alec Station," In Late 2005. As reported by the New York Times: "The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said. The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice 'dead or alive.'" [New York Times, 7/4/06]
Opened In 1996, "Alec Station" Was Closed Five Years After President Bush's "Dead Or Alive" Pledge On Bin Laden. As reported by The Guardian UK: "Nearly five years after George Bush vowed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice 'dead or alive', it's the end of the line for the CIA's Alec Station, the unit dedicated to the hunt for the al-Qaida leader. The unit, named after the son of a counter-terror official, was disbanded last year, it emerged this week, and its agents reassigned in what intelligence officials described as a recognition of the changing nature of al-Qaida. 'The reorganisation just reflects the understanding that the Islamic jihadist movement continues to diversify,' an intelligence official said. Alec Station was founded in 1996, taking its name from the son of Michael Scheuer, the unit's former director. Its two dozen members worked in rented premises outside the CIA headquarters." [The Guardian, 7/4/06]
Former Director Of CIA's "Alec Station" Bin Laden-Hunting Unit: Team Was Understaffed, "No Systematic Effort To Groom Al-Qaeda Expertise" In Staff "Since [9/11]." In a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, former Alec Station director Michael Scheuer wrote: "In the CIA's core, U.S.-based Bin Laden operational unit today there are fewer Directorate of Operations officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than there were on 11 September 2001. There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September ... The excellent management team now running operations against al-Qaeda has made repeated, detailed, and on-paper pleas for more officers to work against the al-Qaeda-and have done so for years, not weeks or months-but have been ignored ..." [Scheuer Letter, 2004, via Atlantic Monthly]
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM: We had an opportunity 18 months ago to topple a regime [in Iran] that is a sworn enemy, that is at war with this country, is funding terrorist attacks against our troops and in the Middle East, and the President of the United States sided with the mullahs instead of the demonstrators.
Obama At Press Conference, June 15, 2009: "The Iranian People And Their Voices Should Be Heard And Respected." At a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President Obama said:
Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran. And I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football -- or discussions with the United States.
Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process -- free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected. And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they're, rightfully, troubled. [...]
We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we'll see where it takes us. But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we've seen on the television over the last few days. And what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching.
And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected. [Obama Statement, 6/15/09, emphasis added]
Obama Statement On Iran, June 20, 2009: "The Iranian Government Must Understand That The World Is Watching." In a statement, President Obama said: "The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights. As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion. Martin Luther King once said - 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples' belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness." [Obama Statement, 6/20/09]
Obama At Press Conference, June 23, 2009: Iranian Regime Must "Heed The Will" Of Protestors Who "Are On The Right Side Of History." At a press conference, President Obama said:
First, I'd like to say a few words about the situation in Iran. The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.
I've made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran's affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.
[...]This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they - and only they - will choose.
The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That's precisely what's happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests [sic] of justice. Despite the Iranian government's efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we've watched what the Iranian people are doing.
This is what we've witnessed. We've seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We've seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we've seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we've experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion. That's what Iran's own people are calling for, and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. [Obama Statement, 6/23/09, emphasis added]
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM: The fact is that what we've found is that some of this information that we found out that led to Osama bin Laden actually came from some of these enhanced interrogation techniques.
Identity Of Bin Laden's Personal Courier Was "Key Break" In Hunt For Al Qaeda Leader. From the Associated Press: "When one of Osama bin Laden's most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world's most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden's personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt." [Associated Press, 5/3/11, via WHEC.com]
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "Did Not Reveal The Names" That Led To Courier "While Being Subjected To The Simulated Drowning Technique Known As Waterboarding." As reported by the Associated Press: "[Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic." [Associated Press, 5/3/11, emphasis added, via WHEC.com]
Despite Repeated Waterboarding, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed Lied To Interrogators About Courier's Identity. From the New York Times: "But a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden's trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment - including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times - repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier's identity. [...] In 2002 and 2003, interrogators first heard about a Qaeda courier who used the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, but his name was just one tidbit in heaps of uncorroborated claims. [...] According to an American official familiar with his interrogation, Mr. Mohammed was first asked about Mr. Kuwaiti in the fall of 2003, months after the waterboarding. He acknowledged having known him but said the courier was 'retired' and of little significance." [New York Times, 5/3/11]
Chair Of Senate Intelligence Committee: "To The Best Of Our Knowledge...None Of It Came As A Result Of Harsh Interrogation Practices." As reported by Talking Points Memo: "More and more evidence suggests a key piece of intelligence -- the first link in the chain of information that led U.S. intelligence officials to Osama bin Laden -- wasn't tortured out of its source. And, indeed, that torture actually failed to produce it. 'To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices,' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a wide-ranging press conference." [Talking Points Memo, 5/3/11]
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "Idea That We Caught Bin Laden Because Of Waterboarding...Is A Misstatement." As reported by Talking Points Memo: "Not all Republicans are claiming that bin Laden's killing vindicates torture. At a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stood apart from his colleagues in the GOP. 'This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement,' he said. 'This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work.'" [Talking Points Memo, 5/3/11, emphasis added]
FMR. GOV. GARY JOHNSON: So we have the highest corporate income tax in the world right now. Let's abolish it.
Effective Tax Rates Are Lower Than Statutory Rates. In its 2009 report on global taxation, the World Bank wrote: "The key point to recognise is that it is not simply the statutory rate of corporate income tax that is important here, but also the effective tax rate for current corporate income tax, taking into account all the additions and deductions to profit before tax that tax rules may require." ["Paying Taxes 2009: The Global Picture," World Bank, 11/10/08]
American Companies Pay Lower Effective Tax Rate Than German, Canadian, Chinese, Italian, And Other Companies. In its 2009 report on global taxation, the World Bank wrote:
As noted in Chapter 1, reducing the statutory rate of corporate income tax has been the most popular government tax reform in the period. However in most of the economies, the case study company does not pay corporate income tax at the statutory rate on its profit before tax, since the tax rules require adjustments to be made to this in order to calculate taxable profits. A common example is to substitute tax depreciation for commercial amortisation of assets.
The effective rate of current corporate income tax can be defined as the actual rate of corporate income tax paid as a percentage of profit before tax. Figure 2.7 compares this effective rate with the statutory rate of corporate income tax for the G8 and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies, and shows that the two are often not the same... ["Paying Taxes 2009: The Global Picture," World Bank, 11/10/08; in-text citation removed for clarity]
CBPP: U.S. Corporations Pay Lower Taxes Than Average For Developed Economies. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: "The U.S. corporate tax burden is smaller than average for developed countries. Corporations in 19 of the member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development paid 16.1 percent of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, on average, while corporations in the United States paid 13.4 percent." [CBPP.org, 10/27/08; in-text citation removed for clarity]
2009: General Electric Earned A $1.1 Billion Tax CREDIT Despite $10.3 BILLION In Pre-Tax Income. According to Forbes: "As you work on your taxes this month, here's something to raise your hackles: Some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do--that is, if they pay taxes at all. The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion. Avoiding taxes is nothing new for General Electric. In 2008 its effective tax rate was 5.3%; in 2007 it was 15%. The marginal U.S. corporate rate is 35%." [Forbes, 4/1/10]
FMR. GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: It's gonna make health care costs worse, not better.
FactCheck.org: "Premiums Have Been Rising Well Before The Law, And Were Expected To Rise Without It." According to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org: "As we've written before, rising medical costs are the primary driver of increasing premiums, and that's according to insurance companies and state insurance commissions. In fact, the CBO has said the law won't have much of an impact on premium costs for most Americans, compared with what premiums would have been without the law. (Premiums have been rising well before the law, and were expected to rise without it.) Those on the individual market - persons who buy their own insurance - will see an average increase of 10 percent to 13 percent, but more than half of those individuals will get subsidies that reduce their out-of-pocket costs substantially. And the increase in premiums will be due to an increase in benefits in those plans." [FactCheck.org, 1/27/11]
Affordable Care Act Insures 34 Million New People With 1 Percent Health Care Spending Increase. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
First, be clear about what's being estimated. The Congressional Budget Office's estimates look at the deficit. CMS is looking at total national health expenditures. This often confuses people into thinking that there's conflict between the two sets of numbers when there isn't: CBO says that federal spending is going to go up to pay for the coverage expansion, but that savings and revenue will go up by even more, leading to a net reduction in the federal deficit. CMS is looking only at the spending side. And here's what it finds: In 2019, implementation of the Affordable Care Act will reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 34 million people and increase nation health expenditures by 1 percent. One percent... So that's the bottom line of the report: We're covering 34 million people and come 2019, spending is expected to be one percentage point -- and falling - above what it would've been if we'd done nothing. [Washington Post, 4/23/10, emphasis added]
After One-Time Spending Increase In 2014, Costs Grow More Slowly Than They Would Without Reform. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
[W]e're covering about 10 percent of the country and increasing spending growth by 0.2 percent. Seems like a good deal to me. But it's actually a better deal than that. Here's what the cost curve -- or maybe I should say cost line -- looks like:
What you're seeing here isn't the cost curve bending up. It's a one-time increase in the level of spending. That's the big jump in 2014, the year the exchanges and subsidies come online. So when you compare 2014 to 2013, spending growth seems like it's gone up a bunch. But by 2016, we're back to normal. In fact, we're better than normal [according to a September CMS report]: "For 2015-19, national health spending is now projected to increase 6.7 percent per year, on average -- slightly less than the 6.8 percent average annual growth rate projected in February 2010."
In other words, 2014 is a one-time increase in spending level as we get 30 million new people covered. After 2014, costs grow more slowly than they would without the health-care reform bill. [Washington Post, 9/10/10, emphasis added]
PAWLENTY: I was governor for the state of Minnesota for eight years, over two-year budget cycles. Every budget during my time as governor was balanced and the last one of those two-year budgets ends this coming summer on June 30th and it's going to end up in the black. Now, when they talk about this projected deficit coming up in the next two years after that, it assumes a 25 percent or so increase in state spending. That's outrageous. If they live within their means there would be no deficit at all. And by the way, the Democrats in Minnesota wanted more spending. So, this idea that there's a deficit and I left it in Minnesota is not accurate. This two year budget cycle ends in the black this summer, and the two years after that is a projection, and it's based on preposterous assumptions.
Pawlenty Faces A "Growing Chorus Of Criticism Back Home" For "One Of The Worst" National Deficits. According to NPR: "But he's facing an organized and growing chorus of criticism back home, where he left office in January with approval ratings south of 50 percent and a state budget deficit projected at $5 billion. The former governor has repeatedly blamed Democrats in the Legislature for the deficit, one of the worst in the nation." [NPR, 4/25/11]
Former Republican Governor Blames Pawlenty For State Budget Woes, Describing His Policies As "Gimmicks" And "Deficit Heaven." Longtime Minnesota Republican Gov. Arne Carlson has become one of Pawlenty's harshest budget critics. According to MinnPost.com:
Gimmicks replaced the reforms of the Carlson years, Carlson said. Tobacco settlement money was used as a one-time budget-balancing fix. School funding aid was shifted. Federal stimulus money was used.
"Under Tim Pawlenty, it became deficit heaven," said Carlson. "All the things we did were undone. Now, what bothers me is you get these holier-than-thou attitudes. Oh, we're all to blame. But that's just not true. There's one person who has the power to insist on a balanced budget. That's the chief executive officer, the governor."
CNN: Pawlenty "Left Office Earlier This Year With A $6 Billion Deficit And Higher Unemployment Than When He Became Governor." According to CNN: "The two-term governor of Minnesota touts himself as a fiscal conservative and standing up to the state's unions and special interests. In the early years of his tenure the state had budget surpluses. With the effects of the recession still being felt, he left office earlier this year with a $6 billion deficit and higher unemployment than when he became governor." [CNN, 3/21/11]
Federal Stimulus Money Allowed For Slight Surplus In 2009. As MinnPost.com reported: "A revised budget forecast released this morning shows that the deficit has grown from $4.8 billion to about $6.3 billion. But because of federal stimulus money, directed mostly to Medical Assistance, the projected budget deficit is forecast to be $4.57 billion for the 2010-11 biennium. The one bit of good news is that thanks to stimulus money, there will be a slight - $200 million - surplus at the end of 2009, meaning there should be no need for another round of unallotments for the current biennium." [MinnPost.com, 3/3/09, emphasis added]
Pawlenty's "Temporary Fix" For A Balanced Budget "Relied Heavily On One-Time Federal Stimulus Money." According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR):
When Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the DFL-controlled Legislature balanced the budget last spring, they relied heavily on one-time federal stimulus money and delayed payments to school districts.
That temporary fix continues to hold and even resulted in a $399 million surplus on the current bottom line, meaning Minnesota will not have to borrow money in the short term to pay its bills.
But the financial picture beginning in fiscal 2012 looks grim for Pawlenty's successor and the new GOP legislative majority. Steve Sviggum, the newly installed commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, described its as "unfinished business." [MPR, 12/2/10, emphasis added]
Fox: Pawlenty's "Faux-Surplus" Deceiving Because Of Delayed Payments. According to local Fox 21 news:
Minnesota faces a nearly $7 billion deficit about starting July 2011, according to state projections. Local lawmakers say more than half of that shortfall comes from delayed payments to K-12 school.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty ended his term as governor with a $400 million surplus. But, that amount is deceiving because going into next year the state owes $4 billion in payments to schools, lawmakers said.
Local legislatures say they blame "band-aid" fixes to big problems for the sky-rocketing budget. But, now the problems are too big to ignore.
Pawlently's faux-surplus will be directly applied to the 2011-2012 deficit. So, legislators will focus on a number around $6.2 billion. [Fox21Online.com, 12/2/10, emphasis added]
HERMAN CAIN: The one thing that the president can do is to establish a real energy independence plan. We have all of the resources we need right here in this country to establish energy independence if we had the leadership. Now the things - the dynamics that impact the price of oil and ultimately the price of gasoline - getting it out of the ground, refinery and distribution, and speculators. If the world market believed that we were serious about energy independence and we were going to utilize all of our existing resources, the speculators would stop speculating up and they would speculate down until we get our own oil out of the ground.
Due To "Globally Integrated Nature Of The World Oil Market" Drilling In America Would "Not Have A Large Impact On Prices" Long Term. According to Richard Newell, Administrator of the Energy Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy: "Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements. Given the increasing importance of OPEC supply in the global oil supply-demand balance, another key issue is how OPEC production would respond to any increase in non-OPEC supply, potentially offsetting any direct price effect." [EIA.DOE.gov, 3/17/11]
Drilling In ANWR Would See Peak Oil Production Around 2030 But Would Only Lower Prices By "Perhaps About One Percent." According to Richard Newell, Administrator of the Energy Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy: "Based on this timetable and the assumption that the largest ANWR fields would be the first to go into production, peak ANWR oil production could occur around 2030 at about 700,000 to 800,000 barrels per day. In this scenario, the greatest impact on crude oil prices could occur 9 around peak ANWR production with oil prices projected to be perhaps about one percent lower as a result." [EIA.DOE.gov, 3/17/11]
EIA Study Concludes That "Gas Prices Might Drop A Whopping 3 Cents A Gallon" If Areas Currently Closed To Drilling Were Opened. According to CNN:
According to a 2009 study from the government's Energy Information Administration, opening up waters that are currently closed to drilling off the East Coast, West Coast and the west coast of Florida would yield an extra 500,000 barrels a day by 2030.
The world currently consumes 89 million barrels a day, and by then would likely be using over 100 million barrels.
After OPEC got done adjusting its production to reflect the increased American output, gas prices might drop a whopping 3 cents a gallon, the study said. [CNN.com, 4/25/11]
Increased Drilling Will Benefit Highest Earners But "Will Have Hardly Any Impact On Gas And Oil Prices." According to CNN:
The problem is this: While increased oil and gas drilling in the United States may create good-paying jobs, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower the trade deficit, it will have hardly any impact on gas and oil prices.
That's because the amount of extra oil that could be produced from more drilling in this country is tiny compared to what the world consumes.
Plus, any extra oil the country did produce would likely be quickly offset by a cut in OPEC production. [CNN.com, 4/25/11, internal citations removed]
At 100 Percent Production, "We Probably Couldn't Produce Enough To Affect The World Price Of Oil." According to Ken Green, resident scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, "producing 100 percent of our oil" in the U.S. still would not significantly affect the price of oil. From the New York Times:
"The world price is the world price," Green said. "Even if we were producing 100 percent of our oil," he said, if prices increase because of a shortage in China or India, "our price would go up to the same thing.
"We probably couldn't produce enough to affect the world price of oil," Green added. "People don't understand that."
BRET BAIER (CO-HOST): According to the experts, the practical effect of a Fair Tax would be a cut for the tax wealthy and a tax increase for the middle class.
HERMAN CAIN: Well, Chris, with all due respect, your experts are dead wrong, because I have studied the Fair Tax for a long time. First of all, it - the law has already been - it is 23 percent. Let's not leave out the most important part. It replaces all federal income tax that's being taken out of people's checks, it replaces the payroll tax that's being taken out of people's checks. That's the part that people often forget to miss. Now, depending on how you define a windfall for the rich, it's also a bonanza for the not-so-rich. Because of the prebate. Every family deserves to get a prebate to offset taxes that would be paid on essential goods and services. That levels the playing field, in my opinion, and especially gives the not-so-rich an advantage that they don't have today under our current system. So, yes. I strongly support totally replacing the current code with the Fair Tax.
Former Reagan Adviser Bruce Bartlett: 23 Percent Figure Is "A Ruse." According to former President Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett in a report for Tax Analysts: "...I think it is reasonable to conclude that the FairTax's emphasis on the 23 percent tax-inclusive rate rather than the 30 percent tax-exclusive rate is a ruse designed solely to increase support for the proposal above what would be the case if it were generally known that the more appropriate rate assumption is 30 percent. This conclusion is reinforced by other deceptions inherent in the FairTax proposal." [Tax Analysts, 12/24/07]
Fair Tax Levy Is Actually 30 Percent. According to Businessweek:
"The FairTax is like the sales taxes that many U.S. states charge, though
critics contend that the way it is calculated makes it actually a 30 percent
levy, not 23 percent. The 23 percent rate is set at a level designed to raise
the same amount of revenue as the taxes it would replace. Yet it assumes full
compliance. If experience is any guide, that's too optimistic: The current tax
code, even with safeguards such as W-2 forms and automatic withholding by
employers, leaks roughly $300 billion a year due to avoidance and
evasion." [Businessweek, 4/7/11]
FactCheck.org: 23 Percent Fair Tax Figure Is Equivalent To 30 Percent "On The Actual Price Of The Item." According to an analysis of the 2007 FairTax bill by the nonpartisan FactCheck.org:
First consider the way in which sales tax is normally figured. A consumer good that carries a $100 price tag might be subject to a 5 percent sales tax. That means that the final bill for the item is $105. The 5 percent figure is the amount of tax that is charged on the original purchase price. But now suppose that instead of pricing the item at $100, the shop owner simply priced the item at $105, then sent $5 directly to the state. The $105 price would be a tax-inclusive sales price. But $5 is just 4.8 percent of $105. That 4.8 percent number, however, is relatively meaningless. You are still paying exactly the same 5 percent tax on the item.
The 23 percent number in H.R. 25 is the equivalent of the 4.8 percent in the previous example. To calculate the real rate of the sales tax, we have to determine the original purchase price of an item. We can begin with the same $100 item, keeping in mind that a price tag that reads $100 has sales tax already built in. If our tax rate is 23 percent of the tax-inclusive sales price, then of the $100 final price, $23 of those dollars will be for taxes, meaning that the original pre-tax price of the item is $77. To get $23 in taxes on a $77 item, one must impose a 30 percent tax. In other words, a 23 percent sales tax on the tax-inclusive sales price is equivalent to a 30 percent tax on the actual price of the item. [FactCheck.org, 5/31/07, emphasis added]
CNN: "On Its Own, A National Sales Tax Would Be Extremely Regressive." According to CNN: "On its own, a national sales tax would be extremely regressive - that is, it would tax everyone who spent everything they earned (and that's a lot of us) at 23% of their income, while those who made enough money to set some aside would, in effect, pay a lower overall rate." [CNN, 2/21/08]
Businessweek: "The Fair Tax Would Weigh Heavier On Lower-Income Households." According to Businessweek: "The FairTax would weigh heavier on lower-income households, because they spend a larger proportion of what they earn. That's why Woodall's proposal calls for a 'prebate,' a monthly advance rebate that covers the cost of the tax up to the federal poverty level. Compared with the current system, the FairTax would be a boon to the highest earners, who spend a relatively low share of their income each year and would no longer have to pay taxes on capital gains." [Businessweek, 4/7/11]
FactCheck.org: Fair Tax Would 'Make The Tax Code Less Fair.' According to a FactCheck.org analysis of 2007 Fair Tax legislation: "It will collect more money from those earning between $15,000 and $200,000 per year and less from those earning more than $200,000 per year. It is possible that the FairTax would make most people better off, but much of that gain would be a direct result of making the tax code less fair." [FactCheck.org, 5/31/07]
Under Fair Tax, Workers Currently Paying Less Than 23 Percent Of Income In Taxes Are Worse Off. According to former President Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett in a report for Tax Analysts: "But what if the worker is now paying less than 23 percent of his income in federal taxes? In this case, he is clearly worse off. The prices of the things he buys will rise by more than his income rises from the elimination of income and payroll taxes. Conversely, if one is wealthy and in a tax bracket above 23 percent, that person would be much better off. His income and payroll taxes would fall by much more than the prices of goods and services he consumes would rise." [Tax Analysts, 12/24/07]
CNN: Under Fair Tax Scenarios, "Burden Of Taxes In Any Given Year Likely Shifts To Lower Earners." According to CNN: "'Fair' is a value judgment, but a lot of people won't think this admittedly lurid scenario sounds fair at all: Let's say a hedge fund manager has a good year and earns $1 billion. If he can somehow manage to scrape by spending, say, $100 million, the other $900 million is tax free. He'll have paid about 2% of his income in taxes that year. If those who can afford to save a large chunk of their income pay less, the burden of taxes in any given year likely shifts to lower earners." [CNN, 2/21/08]
Rebate Would Cause "Administrative Nightmares" And Not Prevent Transfer Of Tax Burden Away From Wealthy. From the New York Times:
Like any tax on consumption, the biggest burden, comparatively, would fall on the poor. To help compensate for this, the plan would provide a monthly check from the government to every American household, rich and poor alike. The rebate amount would be set to equal what a household living at the poverty level would pay in taxes, leaving some of the poor better off and cushioning the proposal's impact on the middle class.
But, apart from the administrative nightmares associated with giving every household a rebate, it would still not prevent transferring a substantial part of the current tax burden from those with annual incomes above $200,000, who tend to save a large part of their income rather than spending it, to those earning less.
"Even with the rebate counted the way FairTax supporters want it calculated," said Bruce Bartlett, a conservative tax analyst and policy maker in the Reagan administration who has emerged as one of the proposal's most powerful critics, "there would be an enormous shift in the tax burden from the wealthy to those with lower and middle incomes." [New York Times, 1/6/08, emphasis added]
FactCheck.org: Despite Rebate, Tax Burden On Everyone Earning $15,000 - $200,000 Would Increase. According to FactCheck.org: "With the prebate program in effect, those earning less than $15,000 per year would see their share of the federal tax burden drop from -0.7 percent to -6.3 percent. Of course, if the poorest Americans are paying less under the FairTax plan, then someone else pays more. As it turns out, according to the Treasury Department, 'someone else' is everybody earning between $15,000 and $200,000 per year. ... Those in the highest and the lowest brackets will see their share decrease, while everyone else will see their share of taxes increase." [FactCheck.org, 5/31/07]
Bartlett: Fair Tax Rebate Program "Would Constitute A National Welfare Program With A Flat Payment For Every American Regardless Of Need" — And That's "Absurd." According to former President Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett in an report for Tax Analysts: "There is no income or consumption test for the rebate. It would go equally to those with zero income and those who buy nothing in the course of a month, as well as to billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. In effect, it would constitute a national welfare program with a flat payment for every American regardless of need. [...] In any case, there is essentially no relationship between the rebate and the cost of living or raising children. It's absurd to think that a single parent with three children needs to spend no more than a childless couple to achieve the same level of poverty - which is what the rebate is based on." [Tax Analysts, 12/24/07]
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