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- Sen. Inhofe (R-OK): “In the months and years ahead, the Defense Department will be confronted with significant challenges from budget issues to Afghanistan policy. … I am aware of the serious concerns about some of [Hagel’s] policy positions, his record, and some of his comments that have been publicly reported. I will be seeking clarification from him about these concerns as his nomination proceeds.” source
- Sen. McCain (R-AZ): ”I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee.” source
- Rep. Cantor (R-VA): “Recent reporting has made clear that Senator Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East all.” source
- Barney Frank: “With the attack coming out of the right, I hope he gets confirmed.” source
Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax.
Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”
This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.
Economically, reducing the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit — which would be required if everyone paid income taxes — makes no sense at a time of high unemployment. The credits, which only go to working people, have always been a strong incentive to work, as even some conservative economists say, and have increased the labor force while reducing the welfare rolls.
The moral argument would have been obvious before this polarized year. Nearly 90 percent of the families that paid no income tax make less than $40,000, most much less. The real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes. The two tax credits lifted 7.2 million people out of poverty in 2009, including four million children. At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.
-The New York Times. Without a doubt, this is the best editorial I have read all year. Read the entire piece here.
According to MSNBC’s Luke Russert, in a GOP conference meeting this morning Rep. Eric Cantor scolded some of his stubborn Republican colleagues and told them:
“I know the definite vote [on the GOP deficit plan] today sucks. But stop whining, stop grumbling, get out there and support the Speaker and support his proposal.”
Meanwhile, The Hill is reporting that the “White House issued a terse veto threat against the House GOP plan” this afternoon:
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of the amendment in the nature of a substitute to S. 627,” the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP). “If S. 627 is presented to the President, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.”
Economists have said that failing to raise the debt ceiling could be catastrophic for the U.S. economy, but at least one lawmaker stands to gain financially if the country defaults on its debts.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) latest financial disclosure statement indicates that he owns up to $15,000 of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20 Year Treasury EFT, a fund that will likely skyrocket as U.S. debt becomes less desirable.
“If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors would start fleeing U.S. Treasuries,” Motley Fool’s Matt Koppenheffer told Salon. “Yields would rise, prices would fall, and the Proshares ETF should do very well. It would spike.” “Cantor’s involvement in the fund and negotiations is not ideal,” he added. “I don’t think someone negotiating the debt ceiling should be invested in this kind of an ultra-short… It looks pretty bad.”