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More Sid and Hannity

Salon’s David Talbot interviews Sidney Blumenthal. Earlier, I remarked with some surprise that Hannity gave Sid a fair and balanced hearing on his show. (Contrast this to the SCLM’s treatment of late–see the Daily Howler, 5/18, 5/19, 5/20, and 5/21). In any event, here’s Sidney recounting his time on Hannity’s show:

TALBOT: Why did you decide to go on Hannity’s show? A lot of liberals boycott Fox because they feel they’re just used as chum for the sharks.

BLUMENTHAL: Hannity’s is the second biggest radio show after Limbaugh and he’s the second biggest cable TV pundit after O’Reilly; I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to him before. But I was glad to go toe to toe. I didn’t find him mean-spirited. He tried to ask slanted questions that pushed me back on my heels, but I felt fine firing back — and he let me speak. In fact he just asked me to go on his TV show this week.

The rest of the interview is pretty good too.


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Regressive Tax Cuts

I found some numbers at ArgMax that are taken from a Brookings report on the distribution of savings from the Senate’s version of the tax cut, and figured I’d make a nice picture (click to enlarge):

The picture somewhat exaggerates the top-heaviness of the benefits because the bins widen as you move right. Still, it’s quite regressive: for example, the $75k-$100k group has roughly double the income that the $40k-$50k group has but their tax savings ($1,597) are 3.6 times larger. This is what happens when you finance dividend tax cuts by shaving cuts for married couples and small businesses.


UPDATE: This is a great example of why you should be suspicious when the administration continually and virtually exclusively talks about the “average benefit”–which is around $1000 for this proposal. In this instance, anybody making less than $75,000 per year doesn’t come close to getting the average benefit.

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Latest Missive from Nigeria

This one contained a small math error (maybe they should join Stephen Moore’s Club for Growth) that presents me with an opportunity to make an extra $3 million:

Regarding the allocation of money you describe, which I quote here:

(1) 18% for you as the account owner
(2) 62% for I and my colleagues
(3) 10% will be set aside to defray all incidental

It appears that 10% of the money is not allocated, can I have it?

This is my first time answering one of these, I’m curious to see what they say.


UPDATE: I’ll give them points for politeness and a prompt reply: the missing 10% goes to charity (click here for the full response–names and numbers deleted to protect the stupid).

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Slow Loading

Mine, and many other BlogSpot blogs seem to be loading slowly, if at all. I find that it’s more reliable to load Angry Bear with the “www” typed in than without, though either way should work. For other BlogSpot blogs, if using the “www” doesn’t work, then trying without seems to help–and vice-versa.


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More from Buffet

I generally trust people a bit more when they are advocating something that will cost them money, because I can infer that they are making an argument about what they think is right. Most strong advocates of the dividend tax cut are wealthy and stand to disproportionately benefit (here’s a nice example using the Bush cabinet). Similarly, it makes sense for the non-wealthy to oppose it because the lost revenue will, either now or in the future, likely come out of their pockets when general tax rates and fees are raised. What’s more interesing is when the wealthy oppose the dividend tax cut (or previously, the estate tax elimination). So it’s imporant when a wealthy person, who is also one of the most successful businessmen in the past 30 years (paralleled only by Gates and Welch), pipes up against the cut. This from CNN:

Through his 31 percent ownership of [Berkshire Hathaway], Buffett said he would receive an additional $310 million in income that would reduce his tax rate from about 30 percent to 3 percent, while his office secretary would still have a tax rate of about 30 percent.

“The 3 percent overall federal tax rate I would pay — if a Berkshire dividend were to be tax free — seems a bit light,” Buffett wrote.

Instead of the Senate’s tax cut plan, Buffett proposed that it provide tax reductions to those who need and will spend the money in the form of a Social Security tax “holiday” or a tax rebate to lower-income people.


P.S. NEW AB contest: who will be the first Righty to say, “if Buffet wants to pay more in taxes, he’s free to give it to the government, just don’t make me do it too”. As wealthy as Buffet is, acting alone, he couldn’t make more than a small dent in the budget deficit.

UPDATE: We have a winner: Matt Stoller identifies Grover Norquist on 5/5/03 as saying,

“If the president’s tax relief plan really is unjust, then Mr. Buffett should be ready and willing to sign a Pledge to his shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway and to every American he harangues that he won’t accept that relief once it becomes law”.

Matt S. blogged about this way back on 5/10/03, but if I get more quotes, I’ll add them to the list…Stephen Moore? Grover also made this stupid statement, “Buffett is so fabulously wealthy he doesn’t remember that half of Americans are stockholders and all will benefit from the president’s plan”–actually, it’s not really stupid, but rather intentionally disingenous. Over half of Americans do have stock, but the vast majority of those hold their stock in 401k’s, Roths, and Traditional IRAs, and so get nothing from the dividend tax cut.

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Sid and Hannity

I Just heard about ten minutes of Sidney Blumenthal on Sean Hannity’s radio show, and now I have to give credit where it’s due…to Sean Hannity! First, for booking Blumenthal, and second for, in my judgment, giving Blumenthal plenty of time, not interrupting excessively, admitting when Blumenthal had a point, and overall giving a very fair hearing with mostly even-handed give and take.

That said, I got tired of sitting in my car and went inside, so I didn’t hear it all. But the part I did hear was, dare I say, fair and balanced.


P.S. Read Blumenthal’s book.

UPDATE: Contrast my assessment of Hannity to CNN’s Judy Woodruff interviewing Blumenthal last night (transcript here; analysis here).

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Hey, There are Books and Links to Your Right

First anger. Yes, tomorrow is the long anticipated TCW-day; get the inside story from a Clinton Administration insider, Sidney Blumenthal. The story some call “The Story the Press Doesn’t Want You to Know“.

Then insight. Read The Gifts of Athena, a book on the history of technology and the evolution of the knowledge economy. The author, esteemed Economic Historian Joel Mokyr, traces the origins of and explanations for the dramatic acceleration in the production, diffusion, and implementation of new knowledge over the last 200 years. I just got this today, so I can’t directly attest to the quality. But his previous book, The Lever of Riches, was a great look at innovation and technological progress in Europe. Mokyr is an economist by training and at heart, but he’s a great writer who uses the economic way of thinking (but, in his books, without formal economics) to bring new insights into the history of knowledge and technology.

Then fear. Orwell’s classic 1984 was re-released about two weeks ago, with a new forward (Thomas Pynchon) and afterward (Erich Fromm). If, like me, you haven’t read this since high school, it might be time to for a re-reading. For those inclined to slippery slope paranoia, think PATRIOT Act (and the contemplated PATRIOT II), and then read James Wolcott’s piece in the current issue of Vanity Fair (not online).


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The Economic News Sucks Today

Look for a rate cut if all this stuff keeps happening. Note to Republicans: I mean “look for an interest rate cut”, not another “tax rate cut”. This on top of already bad news on jobs and bankruptcies.


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