Archive for December 2012

CMB Music: Robert Burns – “Auld Lang Syne”   1 comment

Happy New Year! 🙂

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Tentative Fiscal Cliff Deal In The Works   Leave a comment

We may not have to go over the fiscal cliff after all….according to reports, a tentative deal has been reached. The major points to the agreement are as follows(all quotes are from the Think Progress article, 2nd link above):

  1. Tax rate adjustments. The deal would extend all of the Bush tax cuts for incomes below $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families, while reinstating the Clinton-era 39.6 percent tax rate for income above those thresholds. It will also push the capital gains rate on investment income back to 20 percent for income above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families. President Obama had asked for an extension of rates only for incomes below $250,000.
  2. Stimulus tax credits. Three tax credits expanded as part of the stimulus will be extended for one year as part of the compromise. The America’s Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit collectively benefit nearly 20 million Americans each year, and extending them was a priority for Obama and Democrats. Republicans allowed all three to expire in tax legislation earlier this year.
  3. Payroll tax cuts. The payroll tax cut would expire as part of this compromise. The payroll tax cut, which benefits all wage-earning workers, is the most damaging piece of the “fiscal cliff” according to the Congressional Budget Office. Republicans have opposed extending the payroll tax cut in the past; many Democrats opposed its extension over fears that it would undermine Social Security, which it helps fund.
  4. Unemployment insurance benefits. The federal unemployment insurance program would be extended for one year under this deal. Without an extension, more than 2 million would lose benefits at the beginning of 2013, while another million would lose them in the early part of the year.
  5. Estate tax. The estate tax was set to revert to its Clinton-era levels, where it was taxed at 55 percent after a $1 million exemption. This deal would set the exemption at $5 million and tax at a 40 percent rate after that — at a cost of $375 billion over 10 years compared to the Clinton level.
  6. Miscellaneous. The deal would also include a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax and a one-year “doc fix,” which would prevent cuts in provider payments through Medicare. It also extends certain corporate tax provisions for another year.

The key to this deal is that, by all appearances, they decided to split the tax half of the fiscal cliff from the spending half, opting to defer the sequestration debate for another day; in addition, it also appears they have put off debate on debt ceiling increases, which raises that possible specter down the road. But, and this is the but…if this is the agreement that gets America away from the fiscal edge, then it appears that while both sides bent some, Republicans bent further over to the center than did the Democrats in coming to this potential agreement.

 

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Happy New Year!   1 comment

From Western North Carolina, here’s wishing everyone a happy, joyous and festive New Year’s holiday and a successful 2013…..HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Doctors: SecState Clinton Under Observation For Blood Clot In Head   Leave a comment

While its’ usually never a good thing to be in the hospital, take this as a sign of good news….quoting MSN Politics:

Doctors treating Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a blood clot say the clot formed in her head but they stress that they are confident she will make a full recovery.

Clinton suffered a the clot in a vein between her brain and skull behind her right ear, her doctors said in a statement released by the State Department.

In an update Monday on Clinton’s condition, her doctors say the blood clot did not result in a stroke, or neurological damage, adding that “she is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family and her staff.”

Clinton’s doctors say that to help dissolve the clot, they are treating her with blood thinners. They say she will be released once the medication dose has been established.The blood clot stemmed from a concussion Clinton sustained while battling a stomach virus.

Here’s wishing Secretary Clinton a speedy recovery!

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

…And Away We Go….   1 comment

….over the fiscal cliff, if news reports are to be believed. Apparently Speaker Boehner has nothing better to do than get drunk and perfect his artificial tan while America goes sailing over the fiscal cliff. If that’s the case, then why in the hell should Democrats’ negotiate over anything in the fiscal cliff package?

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self – A 20th Anniversary Special   1 comment

Quoting Youtube….”In 1992, Jeremiah McDonald recorded a tape for the future him. He wanted to learn about what had happened to his beloved pets, if there had been any cool inventions, and whether he had pursued his dream of being an animator. In 2012, the 32 year old Jeremiah discovered the tape and interviewed…himself.”

Hilarious…simply hilarious.

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Both Sides “Absurdly Close” On Fiscal Cliff Agreement   Leave a comment

According to reports, there might just be a deal in the works to avoid going off the fiscal cliff….the outlines of the current proposal are as follows:

  1. The threshold for the top tax rate would be set at $450k for couples instead of $250k. This would be a big Democratic concession; most Dems’ wanted to keep the threshold for the top rate at a quarter-million while Republicans were looking for $550k.
  2. Capital gains & dividend tax rates would increase to 20 percent on households over a quarter-million, with an equal reduction in household deductions. The first concession came at a price for Republicans, though: in exchange for the higher individual income threshold, they gave up a lower investment tax rate in turn. It’s still a tax cut, though, as those affected will see upwards of 35-40% in tax savings over current rates.
  3. In addition to #2, the Alternative Minimum Tax would be raised to protect middle-class families long-term. No information on how this would work, but this is a big thing; at present, more and more people fall under the AMT rules instead of the standard tax rules, so anything that shelters them from the AMT is a good thing.
  4. In terms of spending, both sides would agree to delay the sequester until 2015. Costing $200 billion total, it would hurt discretionary spending but would avoid defense cuts that Republicans were cringing at.
  5. In exchange for #4, unemployment benefits would be extended for one additional year and adjustments to Medicare(i.e. the Medicare doc fix) would be postponed until a later date. While Republicans want offsetting cuts to the UEI part, the fact that they’re even willing to allow UEI extensions(considering their past intransigence on the subject) is a major give on their end.

For what it’s worth, it’s not the prettiest bargain I’ve seen…but it does seem workable. The only question is whether they can get it to avoid damaging the economy more than it has been at present.

 

Posted December 31, 2012 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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