Posts filed under “Politics”

Tax Increases Ahead


Today, apparently, is Taxing Friday.

Since linking to a WSJ article yesterday (“View From the Right: Tax Increases Ahead“), several readers have written asking me to republish the full piece.

I do not imagine the WSJ attorneys would take too kindly to that; However, I can (under Fair Use laws) include a short excerpt:

“There are deep differences between right and left on how big the federal government should be and how it should tax the people. And then there are pesky fiscal facts that can’t be wished away. It’s not just tax-and-spend liberals and Democratic presidential candidates who see something unsustainable about President Bush’s tax-less, spend-more budgets. It’s also some analysts on the right.

Mr. Bartlett, 52 years old, is one. He spent a decade on Republican staffs on Capitol Hill — including a stint helping then-Rep. Jack Kemp of New York draft a precursor to the 1981 Reagan tax cut. He worked at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. He worked in the Reagan White House and later in the first Bush Treasury, where he was a quiet dissenter when it backed deficit-shrinking tax increases. He now writes commentary twice a week from a perch at the National Center for Policy Analysis, another conservative think tank.

Mr. Bartlett hasn’t lost his supply-side faith. He still believes lower taxes are keys to a strong economy. “I’m not advocating tax increases,” Mr. Bartlett says, a bit defensively. “I’m predicting them.”

Good stuff. Its always better to face reality than to just wish it away. Hope and prayer are not legitimate investment strategies.

Here’s another surprising angle on this issue:

“Republicans will find cutting spending hard. They don’t want to cut spending on defense or homeland security. They don’t have the courage to significantly restrain spending on Medicare or Social Security. “The stage hasn’t been set for it, and they are sensitive to being cast as the bad guys,” Mr. Bartlett says. Everything else, from federal highway aid to rangers at Yellowstone, accounts for less than $1 of every $5 the government spends. The notion that tax cuts will “starve the beast” of government by forcing spending cuts simply has been proved false, Mr. Bartlett says.

So his bet for next year or the year after: A tax increase of more than $100 billion a year. That’s a lot of money. Rolling back the Bush tax cuts for taxpayers with incomes above $200,000, as Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. John Kerry proposes, yields just $25 billion a year.

There’s ample precedent. Ronald Reagan agreed to tax increases in almost every year after his 1981 tax cut. “Those who think a Republican Congress will never raise taxes, take a look in Virginia where a Republican legislature — a group that is probably more conservative than the Republican Congress — is raising taxes,” Mr. Bartlett says.”

Not a pretty thought, but probably realistic.

If anyone desperately wants to see the full article, I can probably legally email it to a limited number of people (if I done manually). Send your requests to: britholtz at maxim grp dot com.

View From the Right: Tax Increases Ahead
WSJ, February 19, 2004,,SB107714710806633229,00.html

Category: Finance, Politics

Tax me if you can!

Category: Finance, Politics

It’s not whether the Medals matter or not


Today’s New York Times has an OpEd titled “The Medals Don’t Matter.” It’s by Jake Tapper, who is a well regarded ABC News Correspondent (formerly of Salon). The article reaches the conclusion that voters do not care about the military service of their Presidential candidates.

To reach this feat of logical deduction, Jake focused primarily on the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections (and the 2000 GOP primary), and the Military Service of each candidate.

There are many, many analytical errors in his approach, sample size being the most obvious. But let’s focus instead on a very common logic error which seems to catch most people unaware:

Controlling for a single variable instead of many when analyzing complex systems.

I would be oversimplifying the situation were I to call this error, well, a mere oversimplification. But that’s what lay at the heart of this fallacy: Taking an extremely complex and dynamic issue — who won the Presidency and why — and then boiling it down to a single, and in this small sample, mostly minor issue. The author might as well have based it upon how many letters were in the men’s first and last names.

Presidential victories are the result of a far more nuanced and multi-faceted set of factors. This issue deserves to be examined in far greater depth . . .

Read More

Category: Media, Politics, War/Defense

Why the president’s record matters

Category: Politics, War/Defense

More on Job Creation

Category: Finance, Politics

Greenspan Goes to Disneyland!

Category: Finance, Media, Politics

The Capital Spectator

Category: Finance, Media, Politics

Category: Current Affairs, Finance, Politics

Apolitical Fed ?

Category: Finance, Politics

Iowa and Prediction Markets

Markets are not God. To many people, this statement is a form of economic blasphemy. I suggest those people should get over it. In the past, I’ve challenged the issue of how “predictive” markets actually are. I note that many people read what they want into short term jags and twists, despite the obvious limitations…Read More

Category: Finance, Politics