Posts Tagged ‘Bush tax cuts’

Captain Rick: 2012 is drawing to a close with no congressional deal in sight, which means the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ will happen automatically, by law, on January 1, 2013. The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ is a combination of the expiration of temporary tax cuts and spending extensions and other spending cuts from laws passed previously. In total, it reduces half of Americas deficit ($600 billion per year…approximately $7 trillion over the next 10 years). Previous laws allowed America’s staggering national debt to be raised to keep the U.S Government running in exchange for the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ if the congressional appointed ‘super committee’ did not produce a better solution. No agreeable alternative solution was found, as appears likely with current negotiations…so America will most likely witness the ‘Fiscal Cliff’, by law, on January 1, 2013.

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‘Fiscal Cliff’ Solution Scenarios:

Scenario of Congress agreeing to stop, postpone or ‘water down’ (lower) the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Captain Rick’s chances of this happening: Near 0%

Captain Rick’s rating for such action: “F” (FLUNK)

Captain Rick’s prognosis: While this is what is being portrayed by the news media as the best solution, it is mathematically impossible and fiscally irresponsible…because America’s National Debt Clock continues to tick. Its just a short time before America will need to raise the debt ceiling again, because it spends $1.2 trillion more per year than it receives in revenue. That will foster ‘Fiscal Cliff 2’…perhaps twice as high as ‘Fiscal Cliff 1’. Keep in mind that even if America were to balance its budget (a far off dream), it would be left with its staggering debt of $16.2 trillion and its annual interest of $258 billion, the 5th largest U.S. expenditure of tax revenue. This money is paid to America’s debt holders…the largest being Japan and China.

Scenario of America going over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Captain Rick’s chances of this happening: Near 100%

Captain Rick’s rating for such action: “B” (Best possible current solution, but America can and must do much better in the future)

Captain Rick’s prognosis: As horrible as the news media has made the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ sound, it is Americas best hope to get ‘back on track’ to prosperity. Yes, it might mean a small drop in GDP and small rise in unemployment…but that is far better than a large drop in GDP and large increase in unemployment and possible recession or even depression a few years from now if America does not confront its extremely serious debt problem ‘head on’ NOW.

Captain Rick’s hope for the future of America

Once we go over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ and begin to realize the shock of it all, our Congress needs to ‘come to bat’ for America and produce constructive legislation to fix a few urgent, very serious problems like the Medicare ‘Doc Fix’. Historically congress provides for a periodic ‘cost of living’ adjustment for reimbursement to Medicare doctors. This years adjustment has been stopped by the ‘Fiscal Cliff’. If this is not fixed, eventually many doctors might stop seeing Medicare patients, leaving them without a doctor. Congress will also need to begin serious reform to its entitlement programs…Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and federal pensions, which have expenditures growing at astronomical speed in comparison to tax revenue. The U.S. fiscal problem is monumental and deserves our immediate attention now, in an effort to ward off significant fiscal failure of the U.S. with a ripple effect to the entire world in years to come.

View Captain Rick’s entire FISCAL CLIFF Course 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

Captain Rick: In Lesson 4 we examine the Chemistry of the “Fiscal Cliff”… the composition of the $600 billion of tax revenue increases and spending cuts that will automatically take place by law on January 1, 2013, unless the U.S. Congress agrees to revised legislation and President Obama signs it into law before then. Agreement does not appear to be very likely as the two sides are currently far apart. The Democrats are for minimizing spending cuts and maximizing tax revenue increases, while the Republicans are for the opposite.

As large as $600 billion sounds … we learned in the “Fiscal Cliff” Math of Lesson 2 … it will only eliminate half of America’s deficit (the extra amount that is spends every year over that which it receives in revenue). In simple terms, it would take two “Fiscal Cliffs” to fix America’s deficit problem. That would balance the budget but do nothing to reduce America’s staggering $16 trillion national debt (the accumulation of all of deficit spending in past years). Even with the “Fiscal Cliff” spending cuts and tax revenue increases, Americas National Debt will continue to grow by $600 billion a year.

Congress and the President are currently trying to find ways to agree to cut the size of the “Fiscal Cliff” spending cuts and tax increases … ways to “water it down” and “kick the can” down the road for future generations to solve the U.S. Debt Crisis. It would require over 26 “Fiscal Cliffs” to eliminate the U.S. National Debt. In perspective, the “Fiscal Cliff” more closely resembles the slope of an ant hill.

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“Fiscal Cliff” Spending Cuts that take effect on January 1, 2013

Defense will be cut $55 billion in 2013 from projected levels of discretionary defense spending. That translates into at least a 10% cut to every program, project and activity that’s not explicitly exempt.

Non-defense will be cut $55 billion in 2013 from projected levels of nondefense spending, which includes things like education, Medicaid, food inspections and air travel safety. Budget experts estimate the cuts will result in at least an 8% cut to programs, projects and activities. These cuts include:

Medicare Doc Fix expires. Payment to care providers will drop 2%.

Unemployment benefits extension expires. Unemployment benefits will revert back to the old norm of 26 weeks, down form the current 99. That means workers who lose their jobs after July 1, 2012, will only receive up to 26 weeks in state unemployment benefits, down from as many as 99 weeks in state and federal benefits that had been available until recently. By one estimate, more than 2 million claimants will lose their benefits by January.

“Fiscal Cliff” Tax Revenue Increases

Bush era tax cuts will end on December 31, 2012. As a result:

Income tax rates: Rise to 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6%, up from 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35%.

Capital gains rate: Rises to 20% from 15% for most filers.

PEP/Pease limitations: Restored. High-income households may not be able to take some itemized deductions and personal exemptions in full.

Child tax credit: Falls to $500 per child from $1,000. The refundable portion also reduced.

American Opportunity Tax Credit: Expires. The lesser value HOPE tax credit for college tuition is reinstated. Several smaller education tax benefits also expire.

Earned Income Tax Credit: Expansion of eligibility for the credit expires.

Marriage penalty relief: Expires. Effectively that means a low- or middle-income two-earner couple will owe more to the IRS than they would if they were single making the same income.

Estate tax: Parameters revert to pre-2001 levels. The exemption level falls to $1 million from $5 million; and the top tax rate on taxable estates rises to 55%, up from 35%. AMT patch

Expired already for 2012. Income exempt from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2012 — for which taxpayers will file returns next year — falls to $33,750 for individuals and $45,000 for married couples. That’s down from $50,600 and $78,750, respectively, if the exemption amounts had been adjusted for inflation. As a result more than 30 million people will be hit by the so-called “wealth” tax, up from 4 million to date.

Obama’s Payroll tax holiday expires. The Social Security tax rate reverts to 6.2%, up from 4.2%, on the first $110,100 in wages. Effectively, someone making $50,000 will pay another $1,000 in payroll taxes next year;  someone making $150,000 will pay $2,425 more.

Some budget experts count as part of the fiscal cliff the onset of a new Medicare surtax on high-income households under health reform. They include:

A 0.9% surtax will apply to wages on earned income over $200,000 ($250,000 if married). That’s on top of the 1.45% Medicare currently owed on all wages. Those making between $200,000 and $500,000, for instance, will only pay about $633 extra while households making $1 million or more would pay another $11,242.

A 3.8% Medicare surtax will also apply for the first time to at least a portion of high-income households’ investment income.

How the “Fiscal Cliff” could effect America’s citizens

The top 1% of households, which have incomes above $506,210, would face an increase of $121,000. Within that group, the top 0.1% — those making more than $2.66 million — would get hit with a tax hike of nearly $634,000.

By contrast, households making up to $20,113 would see a $412 average increase. That may simply represent a smaller refund to those households, many of which have very little if any federal income tax liability to begin with.

Households in the middle — with total incomes between $39,790 and $64,484 — can expect a roughly $2,000 increase.

Captain Rick’s closing thoughts …

The sacrifices presented by the “Fiscal Cliff” for Americans are small in comparison to the positive effects towards solving America’s monumental debt crisis for the benefit of our generations to come. Many of the “Fiscal Cliff” elements originate from the expiration of very fiscally irresponsible previous tax cuts by Bush and Obama … ones that should have never been implemented in the first place. Giving them up is a “no-brainer”.  We should all hope that the U.S. Congress goes home early for the holidays and does not do anything to “water down” the fiscally intelligent “wheels-in-motion” that the “Fiscal Cliff” will automatically bestow on January 1, 2013.

View Captain Rick’s entire FISCAL CLIFF Course 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

Captain Rick: The term “Fiscal Cliff” was coined by Ben Bernanke, 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his testimony before the House in February 2012. President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in August of 2011. It provided that if the joint selected “Super Committee” did not produce bipartisan legislation, across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases would take place on January 2, 2013. That committee was not able to reach agreement and thus $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases will take place in January 2013, unless congress and the president agree to a compromise. As of this date, a compromise seems unlikely. And that is good…because anything congress does to water down the “Fiscal Cliff” will haunt us all for years to come. I welcome you to follow this continuing story as I present why the “Fiscal Cliff” could have been better labeled as the “Fiscal Slope” to better economic times. In the mean time, I present the history of the “Fiscal Cliff”:

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Fiscal Cliff Historic Timeline

March 23, 2010: President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of this law’s provisions is to impose new taxes on families making $250,000 per year or more starting in 2013.

December 17, 2010: Obama signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, patching the AMT through 2011 and extending the Bush tax cuts to the end of 2012.

August 2, 2011: The President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. This act provided that, if the Joint Select Committee did not produce bipartisan legislation, across-the-board spending cuts would take effect on January 2, 2013. The Budget Control Act of 2011 was enacted due to the failure of the 111th Congress to pass a Federal Budget and therefore as a compromise to resolve a dispute concerning the public debt ceiling. Deficit spending previously appropriated by Congress was bringing the federal government’s total debt close to the statutory ceiling. Republicans in Congress refused to approve an increase in the ceiling unless there were deep spending cuts in order to come closer to a balanced budget and reduce the amount of national debt that was accruing. The Budget Control Act included an immediate increase in the debt ceiling. It also provided for automatic spending cuts to begin on January 2, 2013. The year-over-year changes for fiscal years 2012–2013 include a 19.63% increase in tax revenue and 0.25% reduction in spending. These changes would return tax revenue to approximately its historical average of 18% GDP, while continuing to spend at dollar levels held approximately the same since 2009. Some major programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal pay (including military pay and pensions), and veterans’ benefits, are exempted from the spending cuts. Spending for federal agencies and cabinet departments would be reduced through broad, shallow cuts referred to as budget sequestration.

February 22, 2012: Obama signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extended the following provisions until December 31, 2012: the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut, federal unemployment benefits and the freeze on Medicare physician payments.

February 29, 2012: Ben Bernanke popularized the term “fiscal cliff” in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

July 3, 2012: IMF head Lagarde warned that the threat of “going over the fiscal cliff” could weaken the US economy. The IMF also reduced its projection for US growth in 2013 from 2.4 to 2.25 percent of GDP.

July 17, 2012: Bernanke pushed Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, warning that a failure to do so will further dampen the sluggish economic recovery.

July 25, 2012: the U.S. Senate voted 51–48 to pass a bill supporting the President’s tax proposal which extended cuts for most taxpayers, while rejecting the Republican proposal of extending the tax cuts for all 45–54.

August 1, 2012: The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the President’s tax proposal, 170–257.

July 31, 2012: Reid and Boehner agreed on a continuing resolution that would pay for the day-to-day running of the government until the end of March 2013. This does not affect the fiscal cliff or the debt-ceiling.

August 7, 2012: Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which directed his administration to detail in 30 days how they plan to implement the automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act.

September 14, 2012: Obama released his 400-page document detailing cuts: http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/pdfs_edit/091412cc1.pdf

October 22, 2012: At the third of three presidential debates, Obama says sequestration will not happen.

November 16, 2012: US leaders announced that they met to discuss the fiscal cliff and perhaps develop an approach that would be ready to present the week of November 26, 2012.

November 30, 2012: Obama is supporting an undeclared amount of spending cuts, $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over ten years, and cuts of $400 billion from Medicare and other benefit programs over a decade. Also, Obama wants to include “an extension of the 2 percentage point payroll tax cut” and spend “at least $50 billion” in 2013 “to boost the economy.”

Captain Rick: Obama’s desire to extend the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut is very wrong! Thankfully the “Fiscal Cliff” will kill this very stupid and reckless tax cut that has been raiding Social Security funds for the past several years.

December 2012: The U.S. Congress and President Obama remain in a stalemate…and that is good…because anything congress does to water down the “Fiscal Cliff” will haunt America for decades to come.

I welcome you to follow this continuing story as I present why the “Fiscal Cliff” could have been better labeled … the “Fiscal Slope” to better economic times.