Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama unveils plans to cut US deficit


I generally don't bother posting about super obvious news like this.  However, after reading the proposal I was rather surprised.  As always, I recommend you simply read the source documents first hand:

It's very readable, and broken up into four sections (jobs, savings, health, tax).  Each section is filled with a few dozen ideas to accomplish that goal.  Each of those with a paragraph or two giving more detail.  In other words, it lends itself to skimming.  A word of caution: the pdf bookmarks seem to have been created by some sort of 'cat playing with laser pointer dot on keyboard' system, so steer clear of them.

Since you won't read it, I'll go over some of my favorite parts.  First, it mentions some of my biggest pet peeves, farm and oil subsidies.  Second, it mentions selling off the vast property holdings of the US.  I'd be amazed if either of these ever come to fruition.  

On the taxes side it deals with two of the loopholes I'm aware of that allow the top 1% to pay so little taxes.  First, is the capital gains tax.  If you aren't aware interest from investments isn't taxed as income.  Rather it is all taxed at the same flat rate, which I think is currently 15%.  It is common for the very rich to get most of their income as interest on investments, so they end up paying only 15%.  Second, is depreciation of assets.  That allows the rich to deduct the loss of value of things from their income.  However, it oddly only addresses depreciation with respect to airplanes, and then only says the schedule should be increased from 5 years to 7.  Frankly, I have no idea if what actual effect that would have, and I don't know why it's not being more generally applied.  Although I think the capital gains tax is more important.

Two major savings items that don't seem to be mentioned are reducing the size of the military, and increasing age of eligibility for social security.

While it's not perfect, it's far better than anything I would have expected to see proposed by a traditional politician.  In my opinion one of the following must be true:
  • It is only being proposed because the president knows it has no chance to pass, and it will garner him some general goodwill (see I tried).
  • There are even deeper loopholes that the rich actually use to protect their income from taxes.
  • Will end up passing, but stripped down to the point that it represents the worst of both worlds (see health care bill).
  • My view of US politics is overly cynical.

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