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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The Secret Service had 11 of its members' security clearances disqualified for allegedly bringing prostitutes to their hotel (CNN):

- The Buffett Rule (as expected) did not receive enough votes to avoid dying off in the Senate (Fox News):

- Accused murder George Zimmerman's defense team has asked for a new judge (ABC News):

- Suspected Norway killer Anders Breivik has shown no remorse and has even said he would kill again (Norway):

*** Be sure to vote in the new weekly LME "Buffet Rule" poll on the left ***       


  1. Oh lookie, I found truth through obama's lies:

    The Senate measure would raise $47 billion over the coming decade, barely enough to notice against the roughly $7 trillion in budget deficits expected over that period.

    Administration officials have conceded that by itself it would do little to trim those shortfalls, instead emphasizing its fairness.
    "The administration believes that continuing to allow some of the wealthiest Americans to use special tax breaks to avoid paying their fair share simply cannot be justified," the White House said in a written statement.

    People making $1 million or more annually paid an average effective rate of 25 percent last year in federal income and payroll taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a Washington group that studies taxes. Those earning $50,000 to $75,000 paid an average effective rate of 12 percent, the group said.

  2. Since RKen started it, and I never realized I could do this, I like the idea of sharing news links are important and discussion worth to me.

    Here is one:

    What does this article say? It says that most Americans are airheads and believe whatever the media tells them. There is nothing more false in the world than what this article claims (all information shows that the wealthy pay a far greater rate in taxes) yet most people believe the tax system helps the wealthy?

    Poor, poor American airheads. Fools we all are.

  3. I like the updates, by the way.

    The "recent comments" on the right will help me keep track of who said what instead of having to go into individual posts.

    The PayPal donation is convenient, too. IMHO, it's a better way to support this than the ads. This gives people a choice and if it helps go towards the maintenance of this blog, it's right up as a voluntary donation. Keep it up!

    1. Wait! And I didn't know there was a store! So cool!

    2. I like the recent comments thing too, but how often does it update. I see my previous comment, but neither of Anna's came up? Just thought I'd let you know.

  4. Good morning!

    I had to add this:

    It's a well-written, well thought, looks at ALL sides (read it for yourself) argument about reforming the tax code. It was written by one of my favorite senators, Mr. Tom Coburn. I've used his report on government waste in this blog. Check it out:

    Unfortunately, many of the posts on CNN's blog are empty, attack-laden blurbs. I wish there was a real, fundamental debate about this. Good day to all!

    1. Good morning LME!

      I certainly couldn't agree more with major tax reform. Our current system is far past being a convoluted mess.

      That article was a very good one too, in addressing the faults on both sides of the isle that lead to our impasse on this issue.

      One quote I excerpt I wanted to comment on though:
      "First, liberals like to argue that taxing the rich will solve our debt and deficit issues. They ignore one major problem. There simply are not enough rich people to tax to make a difference"

      I have never seen any meaningful liberal argue that taxing the rich would solve our debt and deficit issues. This always comes across as a blatant strawman argument to me; no different from a liberal trying to say "conservatives argue that cutting Planned Parenthood will solve our debt and deficit issues." It's silly.

      The whole premise of the Buffet Rule is the 'fair share' argument, not a 'solve our debt crisis' one. I wish people would focus more on arguing against the 'fair share' idea than argue against the built-up strawman of it not solving debt issues.

    2. RKen - good morning to you, too!

      I have to respectfully disagree about no "meaningful" liberals claiming this will help financially. I'm not trying to be a jerk (I just have to save time), but I have to cite what I wrote about when this came up before:

      I would say I have to respectfully disagree with you. Obama absolutely has said that he wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to close the deficit:

      "President Obama will propose that people earning more than $1 million a year pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class earners to help reduce the soaring budget deficit, according to administration officials."

      Another example (one of many):

      I'd argue that Obama IS a meaningful liberal, and that his administration comprises many of them. :-) Either way, it WAS being touted as a way to stop "soaring deficits," but I think many Americans hit the pause button and thought, "wait a minute, how much will this REALLY help?"

      Copying anonymous' comment above: "The Senate measure would raise $47 billion over the coming decade, barely enough to notice against the roughly $7 trillion in budget deficits expected over that period."

      I think Americans got a whiff of this and Obama realized he had to change his tone from one of budget/deficit helper to one of "fairness." Again, he and his admin did say this. Regardless, it's still extremely small, and to tout "millionaires and billionaires pay lower tax rates than the middle class" as an overall theme is simply silly considering how small of a percentage this is. He is making the case that it's the norm and it's not.

      Hope all is well.

    3. Hi LME,

      You're using different words and arguing a different point. :)

      I said no meaningful liberal has argued that "taxing the rich would _solve_ our debt and deficit issues."

      I didn't say that no liberal has argued that it would help. Of course, any money would help. If I wrote the IRS a check for $1, it would help. But for me to say my $1 check would _solve_ our debt/deficit issue, is silly. And likewise, no one said that taxing the rich would solve it.

      That's the point I'm arguing.

    4. I'm sorry, I cannot just simply agree and look at the words. To me, this is being played as very sleazy.

      You're technically right. It's also like catching someone with something that is true, but not a big deal... For instance, if I approached Obama and said, "hey, you keep advertising this over and over and over and over that millionaires pay lower tax rates than the middle class" sure, he can say "I'm not lying, technically some (a very small "some) do." It's the same with it "helping" the budget. Obama doesn't say "it will SOLVE the budget", but again, with the way this is being touted, over and over and over and over and over again, if I went to him and say "hey, Obama, you broadcast this Buffett rule thing as a "help" to the budget, but it really wouldn't help much at all..." if he came back with, "well, you know, a $1 helps so technically I'm not lying" I would find his answers extremely sleazy.

      To hear people continuously refute calls that they're not being truthful with "well, technically" is to me, a big "come on" moment. All that being said, with such a small percentage of millionaires that do pay lower tax rates than the middle class, AND such a small amount of help this actually does (again, both not lies, but statistically small amounts) RELATIVE to the amounts of time being spend and broadcast (by many means) by the president, to me, this is nothing but an attempt to distract and divide. I'm not sure how people don't see it this way.

    5. What I pointed out though, is exactly the problem I have with the partisan attitudes people express in these discussions. Which is why I brought this up.

      I’m not debating whether or not it can be viewed as a “gotcha” play on semantics.

      My problem is that people attempt to dismiss the arguments of the other side by exaggerating or flat-out lying about (and jumping to their own conclusions in) what they're trying to say, and for this topic whether or not something meets anyone else’s 100% subjective definition of ‘helping’ is completely irrelevant to the fact that no one asserted that it would “100% solve the debt issue.” Helping and solve are completely different, but people love to jump to put words in the mouths of others to dismiss their view rather than address what they actually say.

      This is done in the example I highlighted in the article, and it is also done on both sides.


      Repub: I want privatize parts of Medicare, to help alleviate the strain on our budget.
      Dem: Repubs want to completely throw out your Medicare/SS benefits and leave you to fend for yourself! I instead propose we adjust our tax structure to make it more sustainable.
      Repub: Dems want to tax you into oblivion and make government bigger! I instead propose we privatize parks of medicare….etcetc

      Another Ex:

      Dem: I want to reduce our military budget by 30%, to fall more in line with national military spending of other countries.
      Repub: Dems want to jeopardize our national security and let the terrorists win! I instead propose we cut spending from social programs.
      Dems: Repubs want to leave the poor to die! I instead propose we reduce military by 30%... Etcetcetcetc

      Or, how many times have you heard a liberal yell “conservatives only want tax cuts for/care about the rich! They want to let you die! They want to keep people stupid to vote for them! They want to control who you have sex with!”? Every time you hear it, don’t you roll your eyes? Because no practical conservative has ever said or truly wanted that.

      Now, keep that thought in mind, and you know exactly how I feel, and how I roll my eyes, when conservatives argue “liberals think taxing the rich will solve all the problems! Liberals want freebies for everything! Liberals want to just live off the system!”

      Both sides do it, in countless examples. And the example I quoted is one as well.

      All of which, only distracts from the points one side makes and leads to getting no where but arguing in circles as each side never actually addresses the points the other side makes, and instead constantly beats on a straw man.

      It doesn’t solve any problems, it’s not productive, it wastes time, it dumbs America down as people flock around these mindless and cheap talking points, and the end it doesn’t help anyone.

    6. RKen - Your points are very good. Probably the MOST important thing I take from them is that you're self-admittedly middle road though left leaning but you know that the GOP doesn't want to end medicare, SS, etc.

      What I am saying, however, is that yes, this was (and still is, but it's more an issue of "fairness" right now), at one point, touted as a budget HELP. I do understand that. BUT, what I'm saying is that for how much it's being broadcast, the level of push and attention it's being given is wayyyyyyyyyyy more than its help value or its "fairness" adjustment value. It's subjective, yes, but I don't see how anyone can possibly see the need to broadcast it the way Obama does for such a small thing. That's what I'm saying. I understand no one said it's a fix, and I understand no one is saying it's the only help. I'm say, basically, "geez, for what it improves on both sides of the Buffett Rule argument, it's really not that big of a deal.... at all. Why is so much attention being given to it."

      Sadly, I think the divide comes when SO MANY people believe this junk. I just want to ask the question, "are Americans really brainwashed?" You've seen the stats, you've seen the figures, and you know how miniscule the problems are. We are really on the same page. It's not me over-exaggerating Obama's argument... it's me saying HE is over-exaggerating fact. Additionally, regardless of his intention, I can't get around him saying it would help as much as he did. Again, technically, you are right; $1 helps. But the made-up broadcast time-to-help ratio is wayyyyyyyyy out of whack.

      But yes, you have made some great points here as far as rhetoric, and on that, I completely agree with you!

    7. Yeah, I definitely understand your concern on this, and as before I agree with you in that this topic gets far more attention than it truly deserves. Particularly when we bring light to how small of an effect it has on the budget.

      Needless to say though, it seems to be a major part of the political atmosphere to waste so much time on these non-issues... which is frustrating from both sides. I frankly could go without hearing about the Buffet Rule ever again, but at the same time that wasn't as bad/annoying/ridiculous to me as the whole birth certificate nonsense.

    8. I definitely agree with you on this entire post. It IS distracting and frustrating, too.

      And yes, you do have a checkmate argument there: the birth certificate issue, I hate to be harsh to my fellow GOP here... is just. frickin'. dumb. Period.

      If people in my party want to take issue with me on that, I'm ready and willing to hear it... but it is my view, and I just think it was a waste of time. Maybe the left and the right can meet one day and say, "you know, I'll bury the Buffett rule stuff if you drop the birther crap."

      I won't hold my breath :-) Always good discussing the issues with you, RKen!

  5. Obama could easily have put his money where his mouth is regarding the Buffett Rule. With the amount of tax he paid, he is getting a $24,000 REFUND. That brought his tax rate down to 20.5% from about 23.5%. If he REALLY cared, he could have stroked a check to the Treasury (oh trust me, they'd have taken it) for the $24,000 AND whatever additional amount is needed to bring his final rate up to 30%. He didn't. He could have easily said, "as the president, I want to lead by example." He didn't.

    Romney 2012

    1. In all fairness, his income wasn't over the $1m barrier to qualify for the 'Buffet Rule' last year any way.

      Also, you can still deduct donations to charity from the minimum of 30%.

      And with him donating $172,000 to charity last year, his actual tax rate even if Buffet Rule was law, and even if it applied to his $789,000 income that year, would still be at the absolute most 23%. Which ironically enough is actually what he paid, before the refund (which brings him to the 20.5%).