Obama’s New Tax Increase

Obama has tried numerous strategies to try to gain favor and/or bad mouth Mitt Romney in the past months.  It is has been mildly impressive that they have a new attack every week that is completely random, usually not true, but very distracting.  However, last week President Obama got back on what appears to be one of his key messages, that the rich people need to pay their “fair share” and actually presented a policy stance: raising taxes on the “wealthy.”

President Obama said that the Bush tax cuts need to expire for those making more than $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals.  His proposal is a one year extension, just enough to get him through the election.  One of his main arguments was that he wants to return to the same tax rates as the Clinton era.

However, in 2001 (Clinton’s last year as President), the federal budget was $1.9 trillion.  In 2011, President Obama’s federal spending was $3.6 trillion.  In ten years, our government has nearly doubled in size and the President’s tax plan does not get us close to a balanced budget.  Further, I feel his tax plan of increasing taxes on small businesses will be a job killer.  A small tax increase can take away the revenue needed to pay someone’s salary.

The Republicans and Mitt Romney argue that tax cuts are the key to recovery, based on what Reagan did.  The reason it worked for Reagan is that he brought tax rates down by over 40 percentage points, which is a big change that did spur economic growth.  However, all of the Republican proposals I have seen have been less than 5% points, which will not be significant enough to catapult our economy.  As much as I believe in tax cuts, we need to get our spending house in order before we get too aggressive with cuts.  If we cut taxes too much before reducing spending, it could hurt our deficit so much, that it will slow economic growth instead of spur it.

As I have always said, this blog is about solutions.  There are a lot of things I would do such as repeal Obamacare and cut spending drastically.  However, I would go after two things first that are a little less political and could have the biggest initial impact for our economy.  The first thing we need to do is gain some stability, so I would try to get permanent income tax rates versus continually extending Bush tax cuts one year at a time.  Permanency gives stability to small businesses, thus allowing them to plan and hire.  Because this would not be easy, here’s my compromise: make the Bush tax rates permanent, but close loop holes.  The rates keep taxes low, but closing loop holes increases revenues, making both parties happy.  While Republicans may argue that closing loop holes are a net tax increase, I have a different opinion altogether.  Loop holes are, in my mind, unintended tax breaks that lawyers took advantage of, which is not congruent with the original intent of Congress when the code was created.

The second thing I would do is permanently cut the corporate tax rate in half.  Right now, the United States has the highest corporate tax in the world.  Our corporate tax revenue is only 8% of the U.S. total revenues (approx. $180 billion), so it’s impact financially for the government would be small, but the impact for the businesses would be large.  Cutting the rate in half does three key things:

  • It reduces the cost of doing business in the United States, helping jobs come back home from overseas.
  • It increases the ability to hire people and reduce unemployment.  Further, when the money goes to individuals’ income vs. corporate income, it will still be taxed, thus roughly breaking even on net revenue.
  • Last, this concentrated radical change would be just big enough to spur change in our economy.  The tax cut would essentially increase the profitability of every corporation in the United States and help the stock market as well.

The key to problem solving is to start with high impact, low effort solutions (i.e. my two ideas).  Afterwards, you look for high impact, high effort solutions (i.e. solving social security and healthcare).  The two simple ideas I proposed would be easy to understand, quickly implemented, and highly effective in spurring economic growth.

The Election Begins: Obama vs. Romney

After months of being dormant on the blogosphere, I am back.  Bored and confused by the primaries, the Republicans finally have a candidate to go against President Obama.  Although there are a plethora of topics I’d love to dive into, I thought I’d start with framing up the 2012 Presidential Election.  So far, I’ve heard this election is about the women vote, the independent vote, the hispanic vote, the swing states vote, the religious conservative vote, and just about every other option.  So which group is it?  The truth is that it cannot be about one group of people, it is about what candidate do you trust to improve our country.

A few comments on the aforementioned groups:

  • Women vote – I believe both candidates underestimate the diversity of thought among women.  To put all women in a group and say they have a collective set of key issues is vastly misplaced and demeaning in my view.  Like men, women have a variety of views and issues.
  • Independent vote – most believe independents are people right in the middle.  The truth is, most have strong views on the left and strong views on the right that leave them conflicted – for example, they may be socially liberal but pro-life.  The candidates who spend time arguing their points versus bad mouthing their opponent will convince independents to vote for the strong view on that candidate’s side.
  • Hispanic vote – a large majority of Hispanics are Catholic and have a lot of conservative principles.  However, Republican have not typically come alongside Hispanic voters.  Bush carried 45% of Hispanic votes vs. McCain only getting 31%.  Romney is in the drivers seat on this one.
  • Swing State votes – these 12 states will ultimately decide the election, but their key issues are quite diverse.  Because of their diversity, there ends up being little difference between a general election campaign and a 12 state campaign.  The only real difference is that they will have more visits in these states.  With today’s 24-7 media coverage, it doesn’t really matter where presidential candidates stop because even if they were in your home town, you probably wouldn’t see the events live anyway.  The only interaction you’d have is waiting in traffic longer.  On a side note, I do think this could affect Romney’s VP choice.
  • Religious conservative vote – Even though Romney has flip flopped on some religious conservative stances, he has aligned with their views and will still be much closer to their views than President Obama.  Like other sects of the population, although they have viewpoints they are passionate about, they will look to the candidate that they feels gives the United States the best chance at success.

In 2004, Democrats hated Bush with a passion.  I believe Republicans disapprove of Obama’s leadership in a similar fashion in 2012.  Many Republicans are counting on that passion to win the election.  However, like in 2004, you cannot win an election based on hatred of the other candidate.  People do not vote against a candidate in the booth, they vote for a candidate in the booth.  If they are not mildly excited about the direction that candidate is going to attempt to steer the country towards, they will not show up to vote for their candidate–this is especially true with independents.

If you ask people today what John Kerry’s top issues were, they’ll rarely be able to tell you because his campaign focused on Bush bashing rather than casting a vision.  You can see the power of casting a vision by looking at the 2008 Obama campaign, which casted a vision of Republicans and Democrats holding hands, Washington working together to cut deficit spending, and more.

President Obama’s strategy this time around appears to be one of divide and conquer.  He is trying to divide the country and get enough sects of the population to support him in order to get a majority.  He does this by alienating groups and demonizing Romney.  For example, he’s willing to lose the “rich” group if he gets the middle and poor class by calling Romney a rich person not in touch with the American people.

For Romney to win, he needs to focus on casting a clear vision of where he wants to bring America.  It will take a lot of discipline to stay on message and use every opportunity he has to share his vision, especially with the onslaught of distractions and attacks from the Obama campaign.  I personally believe Obama has been worse than Jimmy Carter because Carter’s failures didn’t cost $5 trillion in four years.  Although Ronald Reagan pointed out factual information that showed Carter’s shortcomings, the main reason Reagan beat Carter was because of the positive vision he cast for the United States that rallied people on both sides of the aisle.

It is going to be a very close election…should be fun!