Few in PA Would Be Affected by Ending High-income Tax Cuts

By Sharon Ward, Third and State

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is out today with a new analysis finding that President Obama’s plan to end federal tax cuts for high-income earners would have very little impact on taxpayers in most Pennsylvania counties.

In over half of the state’s 67 counties, fewer than 1 in 100 residents (that’s 1%) would pay the higher marginal tax rate on income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples.

In most counties, only a small number of individuals are affected. In 24 counties, fewer than 200 high-income earners would pay the higher rate. Almost two-thirds of the top earners who would be impacted reside in just six Pennsylvania counties.

Map 1. Percentage of Taxpayers in Each PA County with Incomes Over $250,000

Map 2. Number of Taxpayers in Each PA County with Incomes Over $250,000

Under President Obama’s plan, families earning over $250,000 would keep other tax breaks on the first $250,000 of income, including a lower bottom tax rate and preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividends – a savings of $12,112 per taxpayer. The top tax rates would be restored to those in effect in the 1990s when the nation added 23 million jobs.

The PBPC county estimates are based on 2010 taxable income data published by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. You can read more about the estimates and analysis here.

Toomey Gets It Wrong, Again

Sen. Pat Toomey got it wrong again this week when he told reporters “This is a spending problem, a structural spending problem, and that’s what needs to be fixed.”

He was talking about deficit reduction and the impending “fiscal cliff,” a situation created by Republicans like Sen. Toomey when they refused to approve paying for the trillions of debt they created.  Conservatives spent like drunken sailors on wars of choice, tax cuts for the rich and corporate welfare then refused to pay the bill without holding the rest of us hostage.  Now the situation they crafted is looming and they still won’t accept responsibility for their failed policies.  

The issue isn’t spending, what caused the deficit are three things:  two wars put on credit, massive tax cuts for the rich and failed economic and regulatory policies which crashed the global economy.  The Great Recession diminished tax revenues as eight million people lost their jobs and 7 million of them their homes.  This was the direct result of Republicans refusals to regulate Wall Street, tax the rich and pay for their wars.  Spending really has nothing to do with it.  In fact economics requires us to be spending more to put folks back to work so they can begin paying taxes again and raise revenues.

Republicans are insisting on raising revenues only by ending deductions and reducing the formula for cost of living increases.  This insidious “reform” would hurt those receiving VA benefits, disability payments, Social Security, welfare, food stamps and other social safety net benefits designed to lift them out of poverty, keep them warm in winter and feed their kids.  It would throw more Americans into poverty and increase hunger.  This is what they want to do instead of taxing the richest 1%.  It’s beyond insidious, it’s inhumane.


Occupy Philadelphia

Today was the first day of Occupy Philadelphia which was held on City Hall Plaza and attracted a large number of people.  They were throughout the plaza and nothing was organized or orchestrated.  There were no speakers other than sometimes someone would stand on a wall and shout something to the gathering.  This is very organic, grassroots and attracted various people from and with various causes.  A small street band played music which attracted the largest crowd but most people walked around, held their signs and chatted with one another.  I saw Sherrie Cohen, Sharif Street, Rick Smith of The Rick Smith Show and his engineer Brett Banditelli, Joe “The Nerd” Ferraro and others.  A large group gathered along Broad Street with signs and banners attracting many honks from passing vehicles in support.  Police stood silently and bored along the edge near City Hall as nothing of any consequence to them was happening.  All the while two helicopters hovered overhead taking pictures for their news organizations.

This is a hodgepodge video I took around the plaza.  The first part isn’t work safe for language:

This interview is with a young man unable to find a job:

These two young people held signs decrying the Bush tax cuts and the lack of jobs created by the failed policy:

These three men from Teamsters Local 929 had a lot to say:

More pictures and video are under the fold:

Joanne had a lot to say about bankers:

These students are saddled with onerous student loans:


News & Notes June 6, 2011

I lost my cat Linus last night so I apologize for not getting back to blogging until now.  He was the inspiration for the cat mascot on the blog.  

Anthony Weiner owned up to texting lewd pictures of himself to young women.  So is Weiner-Gate finally over?

Meanwhile important stuff like Justice Clarence Thomas lying on his financial disclosure statements then lying yet again is lost, not to be found on CNN.

My friend Steve Crockett was profiled on OpEd News for his collegiate activist work.

What’s worse than getting something totally wrong like Paul Revere’s famous ride?  Denying you got it wrong when the entire nation knows you got it moronically wrong.  No silver for you!

The Bush tax cuts for the rich turn ten tomorrow.  They continue bankrupting us but Republicans refuse to repeal them.  In Pennsylvania here’s what they’ve meant:  average tax cut for the poorest 60% is $469 and for the richest 1% $65,480.

Allentown is laying off 265 teachers and Bethlehem is losing 56.  Why are we cutting teachers and not football coaches?

The nuclear plant in Limerick is having more difficulties.

Easton Mayor Sal Panto signed a bill recognizing same sex relationships. “It is my honor to sign this law in the same spot as the declaration of independence was read, hopefully the State legislature will pass this to give equal civil rights to everyone in Pennsylvania.”

Al Qaeda is urging its supporters to use gun shows in the U.S. to stock up on automatic weapons:  

America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?

PennEnvironment won a big case against GenOn with a $5 million settlement for polluting the Conemaugh River.

The Voter ID law which will disenfranchise thousands of Pennsylvanians should come up for a vote this week and the Pennsylvania Alliance of Retired Americans is urging for its defeat.  From their press release:

“The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans strongly opposes House Bill 934, because it will disenfranchise Pennsylvania seniors, thereby compromising the legitimacy of the elections themselves.

I hope the Representatives and Senators who are not standing with us here today stop and think whether it’s worth denying so many seniors the right to vote, while creating difficult hurdles for many more, just to combat fraud that no one can prove is going on in the first place.  To seniors, this is an issue of respect – respect for the rights of our generation.  The Alliance for Retired Americans will make sure our members and all seniors know which representatives showed us respect, and which did not.”

The Obama Hostage Crisis

Is it time for another hostage crisis countdown?  There are 21 days remaining in this one as the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire at midnight December 31st.  I wrote a couple weeks ago how the Republicans were holding the country hostage for the tax cuts.  I was wrong because Barack Obama is the actual hostage.  He was pathetic this week broadcasting his desperate plea for release.  Like any hostage whose (political) life is at risk he pleaded with us to free him by capitulating to his captors.  

We all know you never capitulate to hostage takers because they’ll always come back for more.  This is the case with Senate Republicans especially.  The one year “temporary” extension of unemployment insurance ends before the tax cuts for the rich and we all know nothing in Washington is temporary.  Any extension of the cuts for the richest 2% means making them permanent.  They have decided to take the President hostage in order to get their massive give away for the rich.

How do we free the President?  Senator Bernie Sanders is trying by standing in the well of the Senate yesterday for eight hours explaining to the country why honorable men do not give in to hostage takers.  He is one of the bravest souls around by standing up to these bullies and saying no.  

If Barack Obama is so desperate to escape his hostages he has one obvious option:  resignation.  There’s an old saying “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”  Obama obviously has no tolerance for heat and whenever the tough gets going he runs.  Its time for the President to admit he’s in over his head and turn his office over to Joe Biden.

Republicans Hold Jobless Hostage For the Rich

The real Republican agenda was exposed yesterday when they released a letter the GOP Senate delegation signed agreeing to hold all pending legislation hostage for their tax cuts to the richest Americans.  They will not allow any legislation to move forward until they get their way just like a five year old screaming in Toys R Us until they get their toy.

No sooner did the GOP leadership leave the Slurpee Summit then they reneged on any sort of bipartisanship.  A clueless Barack Obama is Charlie Brown to the Republican’s Lucy as they, once again, yanked the football and made him look like a fool.  He is a fool for continuing to believe they have the country’s interests at heart, that they actually want to cut the deficit or that that they can be trusted.

Didn’t the entire GOP team campaign on deficit reduction this year?  Didn’t they also cry for job creation?  Anyone who believed those claims was also a fool.  The Republicans created the massive federal debt and thinking they’d cut the deficit means being on acid.  This party exists for the rich and the rich are the people are funded those hundreds of millions worth of ads all fall.  Wall Street executives wrote $20 million checks to the likes of Crossroads GPS and the other Republican front groups just for this sort of stand:  tax cuts for the rich trump everything else.

As 2 million Americans lose their unemployment benefits and another 5 million stand to do the same next year what is the number one policy agenda item for the GOP?  Extend the tax cuts for the richest 2% of the country.  Never mind they’re responsible for $700 billion of the deficit these hypocrites demand the unemployment benefits be paid for but not the tax cuts.  Allowing them to expire will pay for the checks to those Wall Street threw out of work yet Wall Street will still get their massive tax cuts.  Working people get screwed so the rich can benefit.

Now explain to me why you voted Republican this year?  Yes, you’re Charlie Brown falling on your butt too.