Some rich people accuse Obama of class warfare while they praise the bipartisan deficit commission. Do they realize that the latter raises taxes more on the top 0.1%?
Pop quiz, hotshot. Which fiscal cliff plan raises taxes on the rich more, President Obama's or Bowles-Simpson?
The answer is ... both. Obama's plan increases taxes more on the top 1 percent, but Bowles-Simpson increases taxes more on the top 0.1 percent. The chart below breaks down the top-end tax increases in the Obama
and Bowles-Simpson plans over the next ten years. There's $1.36 trillion
in new revenue for Obama and $1.253 trillion for Bowles-Simpson from
the top 1 percent, versus $753.6 billion in new revenue for Obama and
$834.6 billion for Bowles-Simpson from the top 0.1 percent. That's the
difference between class warfare and super-class warfare.*
Here's a quick refresher on what the Obama and Bowles-Simpson plans would do for high earners. The president's plan would bring back the Clinton-era level rates of 36 and 39.6 percent for the top two brackets -- kicking in at incomes of $250,000 and $398,350, respectively -- and limit the value of their tax deductions to 28 percent. (Remember, deductions are currently worth more to higher earners because of their higher tax brackets). Then it would raise the capital gains tax from 15 to 20 percent -- which is really a 23.8 percent rate when you include the Obamacare surtax -- and tax dividends as ordinary income. Add it all up, and it's roughly $1.6 trillion in new revenue over the next decade, all from the top 2 percent of households.
Bowles-Simpson raises far more in overall taxes, but it raises about as much from the wealthy. Nearly half of the $2.6 trillion it would bring in over a decade would come from the top 1 percent, and it does that while cutting the top marginal rate to 28 percent. It's not magic. It's fundamental tax reform. (This is the part where you mutter something about lowering rates and broadening the base). Bowles-Simpson would pare or eliminate nearly every tax expenditure. They would turn the mortgage interest and charitable deductions into 12 percent credits so they wouldn't be worth more to richer households, phase out the employer healthcare exemption entirely by 2038, end the tax-free status of municipal bonds, limit tax-preferred retirement contributions and, oh, get rid of everything else. That's a lot of base-broadening, but the big change, at least when it comes to progressivity, is their plan to tax capital gains and dividends as ordinary income -- in other words, at 28 percent. That's quite a tax hike for the top 0.1 percent, who earned half of all capital gains in 2011. But there's a caveat. This assumes that Bowles-Simpson actually could end the exclusion of capital gains at death, which would do a lot for progressivity and revenues, but is towards the "not" end of the politically possible spectrum. This is how you get a plan that's more HENRY (high-earner-not-rich-yet) friendly, and less plutocrat friendly.
Now, there are plenty of reasons for CEOs to like Bowles-Simpson despite its higher taxes. It cuts entitlements how they like to cut entitlements. In other words, it raises the retirement age and uses less generous measures of inflation when it calculates benefits -- never mind that Social Security isn't a driver of long-term deficits. It also raises taxes significantly on the middle class, which the rich might like because it doesn't make them feel like they're being singled out.
But it shows how little anybody knows what's actually in Bowles-Simpson that Obama's plan to tax the rich is seen as soaking them and Bowles-Simpson is not, despite raising almost as much money from the top 1 percent -- and doing it more progressively! What's the matter with the Upper East Side? Maybe Fix the Debt needs to fix its false consciousness? Or at least realize that Obama doesn't want to punish success any more than a pair of swashbuckling centrists do.
Defining common cultural literacy for an increasingly diverse nation.
Is the culture war over?
That seems an absurd question. This is an age when Confederate monuments still stand; when white-privilege denialism is surging on social media; when legislators and educators in Arizona and Texas propose banning ethnic studies in public schools and assign textbooks euphemizing the slave trade; when fear of Hispanic and Asian immigrants remains strong enough to prevent immigration reform in Congress; when the simple assertion that #BlackLivesMatter cannot be accepted by all but is instead contested petulantly by many non-blacks as divisive, even discriminatory.
And that’s looking only at race. Add gender, guns, gays, and God to the mix and the culture war seems to be raging along quite nicely.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?
1. Youngstown, U.S.A.
The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977.
For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.
Former Senator Jim Webb is the fifth Democrat to enter the race—and by far the most conservative one.
In a different era’s Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination. He’s a war hero and former Navy secretary, but he has been an outspoken opponent of recent military interventions. He’s a former senator from Virginia, a purple state. He has a strong populist streak, could appeal to working-class white voters, and might even have crossover appeal from his days as a member of the Reagan administration.
In today’s leftward drifting Democratic Party, however, it’s hard to see Webb—who declared his candidacy Thursday—getting very far. As surprising as Bernie Sanders’s rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does. The Virginian is progressive on a few major issues, including the military and campaign spending, but he’s far to the center or even right on others: He's against affirmative action, supports gun rights, and is a defender of coal. During the George W. Bush administration, Democrats loved to have him as a foil to the White House. It’s hard to imagine the national electorate will cotton to him in the same way. Webb’s statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw. (At 69, he’s also older than Hillary Clinton, whose age has been a topic of debate, though still younger than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.)
People labeled “smart” at a young age don’t deal well with being wrong. Life grows stagnant.
At whatever agesmart people develop the idea that they are smart, they also tend to develop vulnerability around relinquishing that label. So the difference between telling a kid “You did a great job” and “You are smart” isn’t subtle. That is, at least, according to one growing movement in education and parenting that advocates for retirement of “the S word.”
The idea is that when we praise kids for being smart, those kids think: Oh good, I'm smart. And then later, when those kids mess up, which they will, they think: Oh no, I'm not smart after all. People will think I’m not smart after all. And that’s the worst. That’s a risk to avoid, they learn.“Smart” kids stand to become especially averse to making mistakes, which are critical to learning and succeeding.
A European heat wave, lightning over California, a building made of 8,500 beer bottles, shrimp fishing on horseback in Belgium, the first-ever White House Campout, mine detection rats in Cambodia, and much more.
A European heat wave, lightning over California, a building made of 8,500 beer bottles, cosplay in Paris, shrimp fishing on horseback in Belgium, the first-ever White House Campout, mine detection rats in Cambodia, a train wreck in Pakistan, an airshow over St. Petersburg, Russia, and much more.
Many veterans are suffering from a condition similar to, but distinct from, PTSD: moral injury, in which the ethical transgressions of war can leave service members traumatized.
Amy Amidon has listened to war stories on a daily basis for almost a decade.
As a clinical psychologist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, she works with a multi-week residential program called OASIS, or Overcoming Adversity and Stress Injury Support, for soldiers who have recently returned from deployments. Grief and fear dominate the majority of the conversations in OASIS: Amidon regularly hears participants talk about improvised explosive devices claiming the lives of close friends; about flashbacks of airstrikes pounding cities to rubble; about days spent in 120-degree desert heat, playing hide and seek with a Taliban enemy. Many veterans in the program are there seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals. I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants.”
If the U.S. and Iran conclude a nuclear deal next week, the Islamic Republic stands to gain billions of dollars in eventual sanctions relief. But money isn’t the most important reason the Iranian leadership may be set to shake hands with its historic enemy after 18 months of negotiations.
“One of the most important reasons Iran is signing this deal, in my opinion ... is not actually sanctions,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “It’s ISIS. There is actually support for this deal within the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, because their day job is right now fighting ISIS, and they need the United States, particularly in Iraq, on the right side of that fight.”