These are my links for April 12th through April 13th:
- Obama Family Tax Shelter – First family transfers wealth, avoids taxes – President Obama and his wife, Michele, gave a total of $48,000 in tax-free gifts to their daughters, according to tax records made public on Friday.
The president and his wife separately gave each daughter a $12,000 gift under a section of the federal tax code that exempts such donations from federal taxes.
There is nothing illegal about the president’s taking advantage of this tax shelter, but it does raise eyebrows given that he has lamented the myriad tax exemptions used by the wealthy—“millionaires and billionaires” like himself—to pay less in taxes. He has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to reform the byzantine tax code.
The Obama’s tax return indicates that the gifts, likely for their daughter’s college educations, began in 2007, when the maximum exemptible amount was $24,000 per couple. The maximum exemption has since increased to $26,000 per couple.
The Obamas paid a total federal tax rate of 20.5 percent on a gross adjusted income $789,674, which would typically fall within the top federal rate of 35 percent. According to an analysis of the president’s tax return, he may have paid a lower rate than his secretary despite making more than eight times as much money as she did.
His most recent tax proposal—the so-called “Buffett Rule”—would increase taxes on about 4,000 millionaires and raise about $4.7 billion in new revenue per year, enough to cover about 0.4 percent of the projected budget deficit in 2012. Though the rule would apparently not hit the president himself.
- Obama Releases Taxes, Does Not Qualify for Buffett Rule – President Obama earned $789,674 in 2011, the White House announced on Friday. However, with this income, he does not even qualify for the so-called Buffett Rule that he has promoted relentlessly and the Senate will take up on Monday.
The Buffett Rule calls for those making over $1 million a year to pay a minimum tax rate, named after billionaire Warren Buffett. The president did earn over $1 million in previous years–$1.7 million in 2010 and $5.5 million in 2009.
The president paid $162,074 in taxes with an effective federal income tax rate of 20.5 percent, according to the returns.
The release, four days before Tuesday’s tax deadline, capped a week in which the president repeatedly spoke about the obligation of the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. It also provided Obama’s campaign the opportunity to once again jab Republican Mitt Romney for his refusal to release more information on his tax-paying history.
The Obamas adjusted gross income was their lowest income since 2004 when he wrote his best-selling memoir, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.” This was the first year since 2006 that the Obama family income dipped below $1 million. In 2010, his adjusted gross income was $1.7 million; in 2009, it was $5.5 million.
- Human Rights Campaign Quietly Removes Illegally Obtained Tax Information from Website – Following the release yesterday of proof by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the source of leaked confidential donor information, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) removed from its website all reference to NOM’s un-redacted 2008 1099 tax form, which it had previously posted. The action by the Human Rights Campaign comes within a day of NOM’s attorneys contacting them and demanding they remove the material is a clear indication of the seriousness of the criminal activity that has occurred.
“They now realize that they have done something tremendously wrong here or they would not have removed the references,” NOM President Brian Brown said today. “A felony has been committed and the Treasury Department must investigate who within the IRS has committed it, and whether people with the Obama Administration or the HRC are co-conspirators in the criminal release of our confidential tax return. We demand that federal authorities immediately launch an investigation into this crime. This is not a routine leak of some obscure document. We’re talking about someone in the Obama Administration’s IRS releasing to a group headed by President Obama’s national co-chair the private tax return containing confidential donor information of their main opponent. This is reminiscent of Watergate, and the American people are entitled to know the truth of what has occurred.”
- NC Dem official sexually harrassed staffer; Party fears credibility ‘doomed’ – A former North Carolina Democratic Party staffer was sexually harassed by a party official, made a financial settlement with the party and signed a non-disclosure agreement to keep the incident quiet.
“If this hits the media, the Democratic Party, our candidates, and our credibility are doomed in this election,” reads one email exchange between state Democratic leaders.
An email chain between those Democratic leaders, obtained by The Daily Caller, indicates the executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jay Parmley, and the alleged sexual harassment victim both signed non-disclosure agreements.
The email chain does not make clear who was guilty of the harassment, the status of that individual’s employment with the Democratic Party or the identity of the victim.
State Democratic Party spokesman Walton Robinson did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment on the matter.
- Statement by ALEC in Response to the Outpouring of Support in Wake of Intimidation Campaign Against Its Members – Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), issued the following statement today in response to the support the organization has received in response to the intimidation campaign against its members:
“Over the last 24 hours, ALEC has been inundated with letters of support from elected officials, community leaders and concerned citizens in response to the intimidation campaign launched by a coalition of extreme liberal activists committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda.
“I am thankful for the support and want to take this opportunity to remind people what we are facing:
“First, the people now attacking ALEC and its members are the same people who have always pushed for big-government solutions. Our support for free markets and limited government stands in stark contrast to their state-dependent utopia. This is not about one piece of legislation. This is an attempt to silence our organization and it has been going on for more than a year.
“Second, ALEC is one of America’s premier ideas laboratories when it comes to advocating free market reforms. We are a target because our opponents believe they have the opportunity to attack an effective, successful organization that promotes free-market, limited government policies that they disagree with. We work to promote the Freedom of Choice in Health Care initiative against ObamaCare’s individual mandate. We support fair tax policies and tort reform. This is an all-out intimidation campaign designed to promote government-based solutions rather than the free-market principles that we have seen work.
“Finally, now more than ever, America needs organizations like ALEC to foster the discussion and debate of policy differences in an open, transparent way and not fall back on bullying, intimidation and threats.”
- What’s Color of Change hiding about itself? – Coca Cola executives who recently decided to stop supporting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) did so in response to demands from an obscure left-wing activist group, Color of Change (COC). So were executives of giant candy-maker Mars, Inc. when they announced a similar decision earlier today.
That is why Color of Change may be the most powerful group in America you’ve never heard about.
The demand that Coke, Mars and other corporate donors stop making contributions to ALEC – a long-established conservative legislative group that researches and writes model legislation that is often adopted by state legislatures – is only the latest COC campaign to hit a nerve.
Previous COC successes include pushing advertisers on Glenn Beck’s Fox News Show to withdraw their ads, a campaign that played a role in the cable news and opinion network’a decision to drop the controversial production in June 2011.
Others who have felt the wrath of COC include now-former MSNBC opinion analyst Patrick Buchanan, Fox Business News anchor Eric Bolling, Lou Dobbs when he was on CNN, and the late Andrew Breitbart.
- Video, Social Boost US Mobile Content Consumption – eMarketer – RT @katieharbath: 42.6% of mobile phone users will log in to social net sites via mobile at least monthly by 2014 -
- Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » @Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-04-13 – @Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-04-13
- Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » President 2012 Poll Watch: Mitt Romney 46 Vs. Barack Obama 44% – President 2012 Poll Watch: Mitt Romney 46 Vs. Barack Obama 44%
- Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » Video: President Obama Throws Democratic Party Consultant Hillary Rosen Under the Bus – Video: President Obama Throws Democratic Party Consultant Hillary Rosen Under the Bus
- Axelrod expresses no qualms at targeting Rosen, a ‘friend’ – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs – RT @PoliticalTicker: Axelrod expresses no qualms at targeting Rosen, a ‘friend’ -
- Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » The Morning Flap: April 12, 2012 – The Morning Flap: April 12, 2012
- Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » Video: Charles Manson Parole Hearing – Parole Denied – Video: Charles Manson Parole Hearing – Parole Denied
- 72% of Americans Follow Local News Closely – Nearly three quarters of Americans (72%) report following local news closely “most of the time, whether or not something important is happening.” Local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need.
One-third of local news enthusiasts (32%) say it would have a major impact on them if their local newspaper no longer existed, compared with just 19% of those less interested in local news. Most likely to report a major impact if their newspaper disappeared are local news followers age 40 and older (35%), though even among younger local news followers 26% say losing the local paper would have a major impact on them.
Local news enthusiasts are more likely than others to prefer newspapers for almost all of 16 topics that were asked about in a survey, with the exception of weather and breaking news. Three-in-ten or more local news enthusiasts prefer newspapers for following crime, local politics, community events, or arts and culture. About one-quarter prefer newspapers when seeking information about local schools, taxes, government activity, other local business, and housing issues. Two-in-ten primarily use newspapers for following restaurants, job openings, or local zoning issues.
While this seems to be positive news for local newspapers, in many cases the reliance on newspapers is heaviest among local news enthusiasts age 40 and older, while younger local news followers rely more heavily on other sources. Specifically, among local news enthusiasts under age 40, the internet is the preferred source for eight of the 16 topics asked about, including:
Local restaurants, clubs and bars
Other local businesses
Schools and education
Arts and cultural events
Community or neighborhood events
- Barrett & Falk Won’t Say How They Would Have Balanced Wisconsin’s Budget – Democrats have hammered Wisconsin governor Scott Walker over the past year for cutting nearly one billion dollars in state aid to school districts as part of his plan to close the state’s $3.6 billion deficit. Democratic anger with Walker’s budget cuts is a huge reason why Walker is facing a recall election on June 5. But the two leading Democrats vying to replace Walker, Dane county executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, were unwilling to say Wednesday night how they would have balanced the budget or even how much they would have cut from the state’s education budget.
“Education is the top funding priority for the state budget,” Falk said at a Democratic candidate forum in Madison on Wednesday night. “I do not support public dollars for private school vouchers.”
But when asked how much state aid to local school districts should have been cut in last year’s budget, Falk told THE WEEKLY STANDARD: “Well, nobody’s going to answer that, needless to say. But I have a track record as county executive what I’ve done, which was shared sacrifice.”
During follow-up questioning, Falk refused to give even a ballpark figure of how much education funding she would have cut:
- COMMENTARY: Dis-United Wisconsin? – Finally, the stage is set for the June 5 production of the one-show-only recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.
There is one problem — one the scriptwriters camping in the capitol rotunda a year ago and the producers in their union halls and party offices forgot: the all-important casting of the candidates who will take over the governor’s job if Walker is indeed recalled.
The auditions are proving a messy affair for all involved.
Wisconsin’s largest teacher’s union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, and the state chapters of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, had settled on former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
Then Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stepped up, crowding Falk for the spotlight. To add insult to his last-second entrance, Barrett — who lost to Walker 52-46 for governor in 2010 — has been racking up major endorsements from such party establishment types as former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-District 7, and former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.
Some are calling the Falk-Barrett showdown evidence of a Democratic Civil War, but that’s only if you include Internet videos as the modern-day equivalent of cannon fire. No, what’s going on right now is more like the beginning of a four-week knife fight. The winner will not just take on Walker in June. He or she and his or her backers will run the Democratic Party in the Badger State.
AFSCME never wanted Barrett as a candidate, reportedly telling him not to run in a meeting between the mayor and various union leaders. It’s also furious with Barrett for deploying the very reforms Walker made available through Act 10 — making changes in City of Milwaukee employee health-care and pension contributions without having to have them collectively bargained. In doing so, he helped cut $25 million from Milwaukee’s budget over the past year, all without raising taxes.
- Obama on Why Michelle Was a Working Mom (at $316K Per Year): ‘We Didn’t Have the Luxury for Her Not to Work’ – Speaking Friday at what the administration called “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy,” President Barack Obama said that after his two daughters were born, he and his wife—both Harvard Law School graduates—could not afford the “luxury” of having her stay home with the children.
In 2005, when Obama began serving in the U.S. Senate (and his daughters turned 4 and 7), he and his wife were earning a combined annual income of $479,062. Barack Obama was paid a salary of $162,100 by the U.S. taxpayers, and Michelle Obama was paid $316,962 to handle community affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.