14 October 2008

And, I'm Back (UPDATED)

Though I still don't have internet in my flat, I will be able gain interweb access while at "uni" (Brit-slang for school or class) briefly each day. This will limit me to fewer & shorter posts until the BT bureaucracy deigns to grant us flat-based access.

Since I was last plugged in (I'm w/o BlackBerry access too), the national trackers have moved towards John McCain while the Battle Ground and state-by-state analysis looks solid for Obama. Lets hope previous trends--where trackers were the early indicator, followed by state polling--hold and things move back to the 1-2 point status quo difference.

In case there were any question, I'm part of the righ-wing blogosphere that thinks McCain/Palin should attack Obama on the Ayers/Wright/Fannie-gate front whenever and wherever possible. I thought he should do this before he was behind and believe it even more now. For whatever reason (hope, change, etc.) a majority of Americans have chosen, at the moment, to support Barack Obama, the single most liberal candidate for President since George McGovern, at least.

Most of his liberal programs and associations and worldviews are cloaked in the aforementioned airy rhetoric. Part of the reason we know so little is because the media has not done its job in vetting The One. The other half of the fault lies with McCain who, since the end of the convention, has not done an adequate job educating the public.

He can lose this campaign and blame the press all he wants and there will be a lot of truth there. But he will also have to look at himself: Given the opportunity to take the fight to Barack Obama over Bill Ayers and Fannie-gate, John McCain mostly took a pass.

Instead, he filled in with me-too economic populism that neither appealed to independents/moderates (because Obama does a better job of selling it) nor to his conservative base. Seemingly, John McCain has done his best to kill the enthusiasm Sarah Palin brought to his campaign.

I'm not going to write a post-mortem with over 3 weeks left to go, because I think--I know--this thing can still change. If/when Americans wake up and realize that voting for Obama represents a radical change, not only for the prosperous Bush years they claim to hate, but from the entirety of American history, I think they will come home to the safe, moderate choice--John McCain.

UPDATE 5:17pm BDT: Reader Morgan H. sent me this WSJ article about the Obama tax plan and writes, "I found the McGovern reference quite timely." From that article:
For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase "tax credit." Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals:

- A $500 tax credit ($1,000 a couple) to "make work pay" that phases out at income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.

- A $4,000 tax credit for college tuition.

- A 10% mortgage interest tax credit (on top of the existing mortgage interest deduction and other housing subsidies).

- A "savings" tax credit of 50% up to $1,000.

- An expansion of the earned-income tax credit that would allow single workers to receive as much as $555 a year, up from $175 now, and give these workers up to $1,110 if they are paying child support.

- A child care credit of 50% up to $6,000 of expenses a year.

- A "clean car" tax credit of up to $7,000 on the purchase of certain vehicles.

Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare," or in George McGovern's 1972 campaign a "Demogrant." Mr. Obama's genius is to call it a tax cut.

The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.

The total annual expenditures on refundable "tax credits" would rise over the next 10 years by $647 billion to $1.054 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. This means that the tax-credit welfare state would soon cost four times actual cash welfare. By redefining such income payments as "tax credits," the Obama campaign also redefines them away as a tax share of GDP. Presto, the federal tax burden looks much smaller than it really is.


There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.