Proposed Federal Pay Increase Nothing to Scream About

Jan 6, 2012, 1:52 pm EDT

How does $375 more a year sound?

That’s what the average federal worker will get in 2013 should a proposed 0.5% federal pay increase make its way through Congress. According to the Office of Management & Budget, the White House plans to put the proposal in its 2013 budget, and approval would end a three-year pay freeze enacted by President Barack Obama.

While no one’s coughing at more money in a down economy, let’s not make a mountain out of this molehill. Among things that should be immediately pointed out about this 0.5% increase: Read 

What Obama Slipped by Us on New Year’s Eve

Jan 6, 2012, 11:33 am EDT

Pay close attention. This is how it happens…

President Obama found a moment of reduced visibility, in an unwatched hour on New Year’s Eve, to sign the latest assault on the Fifth Amendment. In signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 on New Year’s Eve, Obama knew the nation’s attention would be diverted by revelry, football, New Year’s Day and a Monday national holiday. 

In case you haven’t heard, the National Defense Authorization Act allows the government to detain people indefinitely — yes, it includes American citizens who can be taken even on our native soil and imprisoned — merely on the basis of accusations.  Read 

The Holes in Rick Santorum’s Tax Plan

Jan 6, 2012, 7:30 am EDT

When describing his plan to jump-start the U.S. economy, the website of GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum waxes poetic when it speaks of his vision “to restore America’s greatness through promotion of freedom and opportunity for all.” Unfortunately, many experts argue it won’t do anything of the sort.

Like the other Republican candidates, the former Pennsylvania senator, whose strong second-place showing in Iowa rocked the party’s political Establishment, believes taxes are too high and government is too big. Santorum is calling for two-tiered tax rate system on personal income taxes and wants to slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 17.5%, to make U.S. business more competitive globally.

Other highlights of his plan include eliminating the corporate income tax for manufacturers. In addition, he calls for ending the so-called marriage penalty and for tripling the personal deduction for each child. The fact that Santorum is a father of seven and a foe of abortion might explain that unusual proposal. Read 

Michele Bachmann’s Presidential Run Fizzles — What’s Next?

Jan 5, 2012, 12:07 pm EDT

Although the Iowa caucuses delivered a major setback to three of the most socially conservative GOP candidates — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich — only Bachmann read the tea leaves and decided to get out of the presidential race altogether.

What happened to her candidacy, and what — if any — impact will her departure have on the nomination process?

Michele Bachmann, an Iowa native, announced her presidential campaign in her hometown of Waterloo. She made the case that she was a favorite of the Tea Party and would work to repeal Obama’s health care legislation and cut federal spending. While she was the frontrunner in Iowa for most of the summer and won the Ames straw poll in August, her star fell dramatically throughout the fall, and she ended her bid for president after getting a mere 5% of the votes in Iowa. Read 

We Are the World’s Richest 1%

Jan 5, 2012, 9:11 am EDT

Some debated whether Wall Street — and not corporate headquarters or even the White House — was the best place to protest “the 1%.”

As it turns out, you could have plopped your picket sign down just about anywhere in the country and been fine.

World Bank economist Branko Milanovic took a look at the world’s richest people in his book The Haves and the Have-Nots, and at least as of the most recent data available (2005), almost half the richest 1% live in the United States. The threshold: $34,000 per person in a household. Translation: If you got a job out of college with anything better than a philosophy degree, you’re living the global dream. Read 

After Iowa: The Caucus Yields a Three-Way Tie

Jan 4, 2012, 11:39 am EDT

The Republican Party is being pulled apart in three directions at once. Eventually, it will be up to voters to decide if this muddled mess provides America a real alternative to Barack Obama.

Although Mitt Romney technically won the Iowa contest last night, I agree with Ron Paul that the results were substantively a three-way tie. (Michelle Bachmann, who came in a distant sixth, announced that she’s ending her campaign.) Rick Santorum lost by a mere 8 votes, and Paul amassed an impressive third-place finish. In fact, Paul received double the number of votes he got four years ago, while Romney’s numbers didn’t budge.

The strange thing is, the policy differences between Romney, Santorum and Paul are so substantial that it’s hard to believe these top three candidates are even in the same party. Read 

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