Corporate CEOs Unveil Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Entitlements and Endless Fracking

In July, I pointed out that Obama’s second term agenda was to cut Medicare, Social Security, and/or Medicaid. And here comes the cavalry to make that a reality. This passage is from Politico’s Morning Money, which is a newsletter that spans the nexus between financial services lobbyists in DC and the financial sector in New York.

COMING POST-ELECTION: CEOs TO PUSH ON FISCAL CLIFF – In multiple conversations recently, top corporate executives have indicated to M.M. that following the election (and no matter the outcome) they will push hard for a broad tax and spending deal in Washington that will take the threat of the fiscal cliff off the table even if it means significant new revenues. The executives have said their efforts could help offer cover to Republicans afraid of signing onto any deal that might anger hard-core tea party leaders or anti-tax advocates such as Grover Norquist. “We don’t really care if our taxes go up a little if we can just get this done and take this threat away from the economy,” one top executive at a Fortune 100 company told MM this week.

These executives say either an Obama II or Romney administration could enlist them to sell a deal both inside and outside the Beltway. They all suggest the final package will look something like Simpson-Bowles. And many believe that coupled with a recovering housing market, a domestic energy boom and a lessening threat from Europe, a functional Washington could finally open the door to a significant economic expansion that would cut the jobless rate and slice into short term deficits and long-term debt.

So that’s the plan for 2013.

Simpson-Bowles includes cuts to Social Security, cuts to Medicare, and cuts to corporate taxes. As Obama puts it, he doesn’t want to “cut entitlements in any way that would hurt vulnerable populations.” In other words, certain types of cuts, like means-testing, or cuts for the middle class, are coming. And then there’s the fracking boom, which can significantly crimp water supplies. Interestingly, Simpson-Bowles also includes ending tax breaks for charity, the mortgage interest tax deduction, and the tax deduction for employer provided health care. The wealthy like these tax breaks for a variety of reasons, so it seems unlikely they’ll be included in the final bill. It’s unclear if the plan can work. The problem with any recovery is that oil prices, already at pre-recession levels during a time when demand is slumping, will spike if employment goes back up. Fracking is meant to keep the price of oil dampened even if there’s an increase in demand.

There’s a lot of risk here. Let’s say that boosting the housing market by restricting supply doesn’t work. Or that the fracking boom doesn’t pan out the way that CEOs think it will. Or that Europe isn’t contained. Or any number of other possible problems come to pass, such as crop failures, climate shocks, a Chinese slowdown, a pandemic, a supply chain shock, etc. Then we may be heading to what’s going on in Spain and Greece, which is massive protests and an authoritarian crackdown in response to brutal austerity. And if the plan works, then we’ll get there eventually, it’ll just take a few more years. As Obama put it, according to Bob Woodward, “I’m a blue dog. I want fiscal restraint and order.”

It’s still the liquidation of society versus the global labor revival.

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About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.


  1. Siggy

    Matt, It’s all about the fiat money and subjugation by appeasement where the instrument of appeasement is welfare.

    1. YankeeFrank

      If the welfare you are referring to is energy company welfare, military corporate welfare and corporate welfare by the trillions for wall street then yes, welfare is the problem. Otherwise, give it a rest.

      1. Carol Sterritt

        One thing I think most of us on this forum can agree on: one thing the coming “new Administration” will not be about is anything related to democracy. Fracking is not something that the majority of Americans want.

        The Federal Government has “elected representatives’ that are bought and paid for, so nothing there will happen to stop it. The individual states don’t know how to stop it. It is ironic that I could face more in penalties for feeding the wildlife in my neighborhood, than frackers face for ruining the eco-system in a 500,000 acre site.

        1. mac

          I doubt most folks even know what “tracking” is except what rabble rousers
          Therefore they have no real idea if they “want” it or not.
          Those who declare what the “people want” are usually like carny barkers.

          1. bulfinch

            Anyone who can refer to the masses as both “folks” and “rabble” in the same breath is probably insincere, at best.

          2. Mike S.

            anyone who would mistake ‘fracking’ for ‘tracking’ is tro||ing, that or mentally defective

  2. Jill

    CEO’s tell lies all the time. Washington is not functional and it will not suddenly become functional under Obama or Romney.

    Any nation who executes all the wars of empire that this one does is not going to be stable. It’s going to need money for the war contractors. It will get that money from the poor and middle class. It will get that money from financial fraud, one of which is to hype the idea that the housing market is “fixed”.

    US energy goes into the global market, and thus will not make us energy independent. If we wanted to be energy independent we would have a massive conservation program allied with alternative energy. If the USG wanted to employ people we would have the WPA. If the USG wanted stability it would not be in a constant state of war and hyping the police state.

    Yes, ss will be cut, but it won’t be targeted at people who can afford those cuts. It will be targeted at those people least able to fight the cuts-the working poor, working and middle class.

    There is no better prediction of future behavior than past behavior and we have yet to see any “sacrifices” from the wealthy. Why should they? No one in USG will or has ask it from them.

    1. Carla

      Seems to me Washington is highly functional and serves its masters exceedingly well. Too bad that the masters are so stunningly aligned against the best interests of the American people. This has been true for a long time, of course. The difference is merely of degree and ostentation: the masters no longer see a need to moderate their stance in public. They know they can rob the people blind with impunity, and so they do.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Carla;
        The problem with that strategy is that the ‘powerless’ and disenfranchised will, sooner or later, fight back with the only effective tools at their disposal.
        I wonder, has Mssr. Pinguid had an installment about Peasant Revolts yet? Amazonian Horsewomen are all fine and good, but civilization wasn’t developed by itinerant hunter gatherers.
        Yoiks and away!

  3. lk

    CEOs want a tax and spending deal so they can get lower corporate tax rates, which means higher profits. The Dems should at least get something in return!

    1. Strangely Enough

      The Dems get to call themselves fiscally responsible the next time they renew the Bush/Obama tax cuts and raise the Pentagon budget.

      Sweet deal…

  4. Systemic Disorder

    I find it difficult to believe that top executives will accept that their “taxes go up a little.” The wealthy would much rather loan governments money than pay taxes — if “stability” were what they cared about, we’d have a more rational taxation system.

    In whatever form, more and deeper austerity is what is on offer for the U.S. The toll around Europe is surely grim and we see the same pattern in country after country: What is new is that the traditional neoliberal attacks have moved from developing countries to the smaller and more vulnerable among the advanced capitalist countries.

    Inevitably, the furious nature of these neoliberal attacks will spread to the larger countries. The U.S. is not Greece or Spain; not only having its own currency that it can control (and devalue) but also have the world’s reserve currency gives it far more cushion than the vulnerable states on the eurozone southern rim.

    Intensified U.S. neoliberalism will take U.S. forms. Social Security is a big, fat juicy target that Wall Street would love to get its hands on, and represents the last secure piece of the safety net. The Cato Institute wrote years ago: “Social Security is the soft underbelly of the welfare state. If you can jab your spear through that, you can undermine the whole welfare state.” We had better believe them.

    1. Bert_S

      “Social Security is the soft underbelly of the welfare state. If you can jab your spear through that, you can undermine the whole welfare state.” We had better believe them.
      I’d rather ask the Cato people if they have been paying their payroll taxes. Maybe we have more Turbo Timmies on our hands.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Oh, no these CEOs are just fine with it, but only because of this: by an exquisite coincidence the march of privatization will pick up pace, so the taxes lost will be quickly replaced, and then some.

      Vital, inescapable needs of society wherever possible will be privatized, and in the bargain the uppity peasants will be neutered. Think Arne Duncan and the charter school “movement”, and you can see how corporations have their revenues enhanced, while teachers’ unions will be brought to heel. Now, envisage this privatization extending its tentacles into all manner of areas. The government abandons the field in fact, while ostensibly merely making possible “economies” through out-sourcing of its responsibilities.

      And here’s the sweet part: we will probably see an expansion of the paradigm established in the so-called health reform, namely obligatory participation in a private market enforced by the taxing power of the government. As services defined as vital and mandatory are out-sourced, citizens will be compelled to purchase those services, or the IRS will be invoked to penalize them should they be non-compliant. Into the veal pen, mother fuckers, or you’re toast. The biggest possible stick will be brandished in the face of the citizenry to ensure participation.

      If attempts to escape this sort of compulsion result in damage to one’s credit rating, well, considering that employers are increasingly checking this before hiring, welcome to your new abode underneath the overpass.

      And as a bonus to our political class, complaints about service will no longer be their concern. Take your beefs to the privatized monopolies or cartels who have been given rights to your bank accounts rather in the manner of the granting of grazing, logging, or mining rights on public lands. This, of course, only makes inescapably clear what is already the case: the true constituency of the political class are the only “people” who count; i.e., corporations. All us meat puppets are “consumers” without any recourse other than to purchase in the market. Citizens no more, and valued only insofar as we are good little consumers.

      Sound appealing to you?

      1. Systemic Disorder

        “And here’s the sweet part: we will probably see an expansion of the paradigm established in the so-called health reform, namely obligatory participation in a private market enforced by the taxing power of the government.”

        And that is why Obama’s health care “reform” was cooked up by the Heritage Foundation.

  5. sd

    ….many believe that coupled with a recovering housing market, a domestic energy boom and a lessening threat from Europe, a functional Washington could finally open the door to a significant economic expansion that would cut the jobless rate and slice into short term deficits and long-term debt.

    Based on what? Where exactly do they expect this “economic expansion” to magically apparate from? Wall Street has become so enamored of its ability to create money out of thin air that it now actually believes that the real world must work that way too.

    Consumers do not appear without jobs – jobs that pay a living wage.

  6. Jill

    Matt, I really do think this Political stuff is propaganda, for reasons others say above. Here are three realities that will not change after this election.

    1. wars of empire
    2. expansion of the police state
    3. lack of the rule of law

    There is no need to guess about what these realities result in. It’s why I am so frustrated that anyone would support any person who will not stop these horrific policies. A society is not going to function well at all as long as these policies are in place. They aren’t just immoral policies, although they certainly are that, they are completely antithetical to any form of good society. No amount of BS put out by propaganda machines can erase the consequences of these policies.

    1. Don Druid

      As the article explains, another guarantee is that no matter who wins this election, social spending will contract in favor of private creditors.

  7. citalopram

    Good, cut it all. Maybe that will serve to mobilize people when they go a little hungry? Let’s push austerity into high gear and get it over with.

  8. Dan Kervick

    Here’s my plan for early November:

    Nov. 6: Vote to help defeat the Republican Party, the reactionary champions of most of the vile, stupid and backward trends in modern America.

    Nov. 7: Redeploy and go to war against the decadent and corrupt Democratic Party built by the Clintons, Obama, Rubin, Bowles and the rest of them.

    Solidarity, equality, democracy, full employment, progress.

    It’s really time now for a new party, with a stridently egalitarian, vigorously progressive, aggressively pro-work and pro-worker, anti-Wall Street agenda.

    1. Aquifer

      Yoo, hoo, Dan, we already have such a 3rd party – so we can go after the Dems and the Reps at the same time – no need to reinvent the wheel – just get on board, time’s a’wastin’ ….

  9. David Lentini

    About Obama being a “blue dog”, I think the quote in the article is even worse:

    [Bob Woodward]: Well, [Obama’s] very, very smart. But there’s a “divided man” quality to him. He tells people, “I’m a blue dog. I want fiscal restraint and order.” At the same time, as he told me, “I don’t want to cut entitlements in any way that would hurt vulnerable populations.” So, there isn’t the quality of, “This is how we’re going to do it.” When I was in the Navy in the ‘60s an executive officer had a plaque in his office that said, “He who does not know to which port he is sailing has no favorable wind.” Sometimes it is not clear whether Obama is sailing to the fiscal restraint port – or to the “protect-the-entitlements-at-all-costs” port.

    He’s the bipartisan trying to sail in opposite directions. Romney lies to everyone, but his 47% speech shows he knows himself. Obama lies to himself by seeking to bridge an infinite gap.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Lentini;
      True. This is a case where a little research into a persons psychology pays big dividends.
      The maxim you mention shows that Obama and his handlers are violating the first rule of Strategy; have a clear and easily identifiable goal. That is, if they really are populist Democrats.
      Your comment made me recall Shakespeares line from Hamlet; “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Do any of this modern crop of politicos have a Self?

      1. Yalt

        So analysis has led us to conclude that one of the following must be true:

        1. Obama and his handlers are political morons with no concept of strategy.

        2. Obama and his handlers are psychologically defective and do not have any sense of self.

        3. Obama and his handlers are not populist Democrats.

        Which of these seems most likely?

        That they do not choose to share their clear and identifiable goals with their voters does not in any way demonstrate that they have none.

        1. Jonny

          Yalt, you forgot:

          4. Obama and his handlers are savvy political operatives who say what they think will improve their odds of re-election and legislative success.

  10. Tom

    The most powerful tool any government has is it’s taxing authority – fact.
    The end user pays all taxes – corporations pay none…the end consumer pays all taxes – fact.
    Money is a commodity, invented to help people by facilitating transactions. It is not wealth in itself. Wealth is natural resources, water, food, land, education, skill, spirit, ingenuity, art. – fact.

    Gambling on derivatives, from lending for currency and commodity speculation, and from making takeover loans and other predatory financial practices, gambling schemes fueling the international carry trade (computer-driven interest rate and currency arbitrage, financial gambles on collateralized debt obligations (CDOs, “weapons of mass financial destruction” in Warren Buffett’s terminology)-casino capitalism- has no linkage to the production-and-consumption economy. they are extractive. – fact.

    Privatization of the commons will increase consumer costs and, will trick the consumer into thinking he is paying lower taxes (remember – the end user/consumer pays all taxes) – fact.

    If, however, a man’s income is not made in producing wealth and employing labor, but is due to speculation, the case is altogether different. The speculator as a speculator, whether his holdings be mineral lands, forests, power sites, agricultural lands, city lots, gambling on derivatives, ,lending for currency and commodity speculation, making takeover loans and other predatory financial practices, gambling schemes fueling the international carry trade (computer-driven interest rate and currency arbitrage, financial gambles on collateralized debt obligations (CDOs, “weapons of mass financial destruction” in Warren Buffett’s terminology)casino capitalism, employs no labor and produces no wealth. He adds nothing to the riches of the country, but merely takes toll from those who do employ labor and produce wealth.
    If part of the speculator’s income – no matter how large a part – be taken in taxation, it will not decrease employment or lessen the production of wealth. Whereas, if the producer’s income be taxed it will tend to limit employment and stop the production of wealth. – Fact

    Tax the crap out of the incomes and profits made out of thin air in a speculative extractive fashion. Hell, a 90% tax would still leave a heck of an incentive to continue these practises but, at least the harm done to our economy, infrastructure, competitiveness etal would be captured back for the public good.

    It is not the wickedness of predatory wealth, but the weakness of progressive economics which keeps special privilege in the saddle in the United States.

    1. Aquifer

      Tom – I like your analysis and argument, as i understand it ; tax unearned income – money making money, instead of earned income – people making things, or, “tax stocks, not socks” in a nutshell… Am i close?

      But what is happening is that folks pension plans, over the years have become more and more entangled with the stock market so that when one talks about taxing that, as in FTT, the argument is made that this will hurt the little guy by dinging their pensions. Now aside from how much truth, if any, there is to that – it “sounds true”, to the point where folks who defend such a tax are quickly put in a defensive position.

      That this alignment of Main Street’s interests with Wall Street’s interests has been quietly accruing over the years is no accident, it seems to me … And now we are seeing the final blow – privatization of SS would leave folks pensions totally in the hands of Wall Street …..

      Seems to me what pensions should do is invest in US bonds, treasuries, whatever they are called with the yield on such investments guaranteed by the Gov’t at a sufficient rate to “keep up with the times” and get out of Wall Street altogether – In other words one’s “401k” would go into such bonds instead of stocks – I suppose one could call it a voluntary buy in of SS (in addition to the basic SS we have now)

      That we are going the other way, as i said, is no accident ….. folks will tend to support, and not ding, those people/things who they perceive their interests are aligned with – so an increasing dependence on Wall Street for their pensions will definitely put a damper on any real attempt to get support to rein WS in, once this link has been pointed out to folks …..

      So this privatizing of SS is not JUST about feeding those bucks to WS, but about making folks more dependent on WS, a dependency kept under the radar until it needs to be pulled out …..

      Seems to me the argument about the “dangers of being dependent on the gov’t” should be countered much more vociferously by pointing out the dangers of being dependent on WS – the recent “crash” has been proof positive ….

      Is it better to depend on a democratic social contract for one’s well being, or a Darwinian amoral market? You could argue “Neither, it is best to just depend on yourself”, but methinks it wouldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be too hard to point out the short comings of that approach ….

      1. Aquifer

        ” …… go into such bonds instead of stocks …” Maybe, to better reflect my intent, it should say “go into public instruments of guaranteed financial return instead of private instruments Of risky return” as I am sure folks could easily point out that I am, most probably, using the wrong terms to describe various financial instruments …

  11. wbgonne

    Obama is an evil pig and that’s really all I have to say. But I’ll add this:

    Drone bombs, unending wars, chronic unemployment, record income disparity, unregulated fracking, more deepwater drilling than Bush, a corporatist health insurance bill that does nothing for real people, assault on medical marijuana in defiance of explicit campaign promises, attacks on our civil liberties, tax cuts for the Rich, fascistic secrecy and information control, refusing to prosecute the banksters whose greed wrecked the world economy, systematic deregulation of everything (Cass Sunstein’s job description), undermining unions and workers at every turn, doing nothing to alter our catastrophic course on global warming and generally serving the plutocrats at the expense of the American People in every regard. And Now Obama is BRAGGING that he is coming after the already meager American social safety net next; this at a time of record income disparity, soaring poverty and chronic, structural unemployment. And partisan Democrats will wring their hands and mutter how much better the Democratic catfood tastes than the Republican catfood would.

    The politics of fear is bringing us everything we fear. Vote to break the corporatist monopoly on America. Vote for real hope and real change. Vote for Jill Stein.

    1. Agent Dent

      Could not have said it better! All liberals and progressives should drop Obama like a bad habit and vote for Jill Stein.

      Yves, who are you supporting?

  12. steve from virginia

    What happens when the lies run out?

    At some point reality cannot be denied any longer. It has its own agenda that it adheres to without regard to transient desires of establishment. Politico who?

    When reality dictates that entire countries go broke (Greece, Spain, who else?) what will matter is who failed, who is responsible and can the survivors get their hands on them.

    The bosses congratulate themselves over their propaganda ‘successes’ the same way Wile E. Coyote pats himself on the back over his ability to hover. The assume the future is like the past, that they have maneuvered past the pitfalls in the road. They don’t understand, in the terms of human lifetimes, it really is different this time.

    The amounts of unconventional petroleum produced are minor compared to current supplies of conventional crude, a few hundred thousand additional barrels per day vs 19mbpd of non-remunerative consumption.

    Most Americans don’t care, they like the lies, they prefer them to a scalding truth which states that supplies of affordable petroleum are already depleted.

    Marginal fuel costs must be met with (expensive) credit, use of the fuel cannot pay for the fuel. Crude + credit = bankruptcy … spreading across Europe, to Japan and China. The US is on the tallest mast on a sinking ship. We do indeed still have some fuel (capital) to destroy for the benefit of the bosses.

    The first step is to step aside from the propaganda altogether. Throw away the TV and never look back, get rid of the car. The car is the gateway to ‘harder stuff’: more extreme lies and frauds. If big business can sell you a car they know you will buy anything.

  13. Home for Wayward Trout

    Collecting Social Security always seems so far off that I never really figure out what is in it for me. But my rough guess is that I should collect somewhere North of $25k per year and I assume that my wife would get the same.
    Reagan’s improvements to Social Security mean that we each miss out on 2 years of payments (start collecting at 67 instead of 65). Is there something wrong with my arithmetic or did Reagan’s SS changes cost me >$100k?
    Are Obama’s improvements to SS going to enhance my wealth in a similar way?
    This seems pretty simple to me so I must be doing something wrong.

    1. Carol Sterritt

      I see it the same way that you do. Luckily my spouse and I are in a field (Writing and publishing) where we can work until we are 80, if need be. But I was amazed to find out that by filing jointly, I didn’t pay anything into the Social Security funds for the last four years. The IRS tax advisor told me it didn’t make any difference whether we filed singly or jointly – never mentioned that filing jointly means you aren’t paying into your own portion of Social Security.

      It is also very sad for many people that they must wait until they are 67. Some people will be without work for ten years, by that point. After all, if you become unemployed between your fiftieth and sixtieth birthday, the mandated health insurance means that companies will usually choose to not hire you, as they can hire someone younger for a third the cost. So the 50 to 67 year old will have to live on charity, General Assistance and food stamps, and possibly they won’t survive. other people, like yourhousehold, is missing out on the two full years of monies! In your case, depending on how the two of you ahve paid in, it’s at least 50K and possibly 100k worth of dollars.

      1. sleepy

        I have never heard that income tax filing status had anything to do with social security.

        Regardless of whether you are required to file an income tax return at all, or choose to file jointly or separately, the social security payroll tax has nothing to do with your income tax. Assuming you worked for wages, those payroll taxes have already been sent in by your employer and credited to your ss account.

        Are the two of you self-employed perhaps, and you allocated all the “business” income to your husband for some reason when you paid your quarterly self-employment payroll tax? That would cut out your ss. But that’s not the same as filing an income tax return jointly or separately.

        1. Norcal_Steve

          ‘payroll tax’ is paid as ‘self-employment tax’ on self-employment income. You pay the whole thing as you have no employer to withhold 12 from you and pay 1/2 for you. I’ve never been in the situation i will be in for 2012 when both my wife and I will have self-employment income, but I imagine that the allocation of the self-employment tax depends on how you identify on the business income schedule whose income it is. If all in one spouses name then it’s all his/her income, but I’m sure there is a way to declare e.g. that each of you is a sole proprietor of your own business such that the SS aka self-employment tax is attributed to the individual who earned the income. Note that if you are fortunate enough that your combined income exceeded the SS tax ceiling, then by declaring it all as one spouse’s income, you’d get some SS tax relief at the expense of all the income being attributed to the one spouse. Also note that if you don’t like the way it’s been reported it’s probably not too late to go back and refile with no change in amount due (other than the case of exceeding ss max for one person) but to equitably distribute the SS tax credit.
          Of course if your spouse has more than twice your SS lifetime credits, you’re probably better off letting him take all the credit as you get SS benefits at the larger of yours or 1/2 of the spouses.

        2. Yves Smith

          No, their advisor probably has them taking their income out of the company as royalties, not payroll. Royalties are not subject to payroll tax. They could also show a profit (if an S corp) and have that be another income source.

          You can’t take too much that way (not showing any payroll) without running an audit red flag. The filing separately may have enabled them to do that.

          1. Norcal_Steve

            “The IRS tax advisor told me it didn’t make any difference whether we filed singly or jointly – never mentioned that filing jointly means you aren’t paying into your own portion of Social Security.”

            Yves, what you say makes sense – I don’t know about anything but simple self-employment. But OTOH, unless I’m missing something that is not how the OP described it. He/she talked about filing jointly as being the cause of not paying into the OP’s own SS. What you’re suggesting Yves, I believe is not treating the income as earned income at all, if at least not in a way that is subject to SS, unless I’m wrong. If that is the case it would be ignorant to cry about not getting SS credits when you are not paying any SS tax at all. If you’re avoiding SS tax, fine, but you should not cry about not getting credited for it! With all due respect, the OP does not seem to understand the basics of issue, either way.

      2. avg John

        Assuming your income is not all treated as royalty income, as Yves has said, and you both have business income, I would suggest you each attach a Schedule – C (income from a business) to your tax return. Just make sure the checks you receive for your services are made out to the spouse that has earned that particular source of income and write up and execute an agreement with your spouse that you agree to split office expenses between you, regardless of whose name the billing is under (authorize them to bind you to any contract). Allocate the expenses based on your share of the total business income to figure profit and your SS Tax.

        Of course you could form a small corporation and hire yourselves as employees and pay taxes that way. But you would pay a higher payroll tax rate than self-employed (a couple of percent%). And of course there are the additional reporting requirements and bookkeeping chores, as well as the legal expenses setting up and maintaining a corporation (you have to follow the letter of the law).

        Of course if you were to become a giant global corporation you could set up HQ in the Cayman Islands and dodge your tax responsibility entirely, and pay yourselves salaries from your local branch to qualify yourself for SS.

        1. avg John

          I forgot to mention, there are some special rules, reporting requirements, and deductions for writers and performing artists. Your accountant is probably aware of them. If not have them look into them and explain them to you clearly so you know how to organize your affairs to your best advantage.

  14. figaro

    Whom does the 1% want to win? My suspicions:

    If Obama wins and he continues gas/food price inflation, TPers will grow very angry.

    If Romney wins and he continues gas/food price inflation, TPers will tolerate it.

    If Obama wins and he cuts programs, D’s and TP’s will grow angry but tolerate it.

    If Romney wins and he cuts programs, ditto.

    So, the 1% can win either way. If O wins, then there will be cuts. If R wins, then he can cut programs and continue inflating. But, even though an R win looks like a double-win, I think the 1% would really benefit more from another 4 years of O. By having a “D” cut the programs, the KochBros will get what they want while simultaneously giving the “other team” a bad name.

    1. Don Druid

      Note that the Economist (and thus, one assumes, its backers in European capital) offers a full-throated endorsement of Obama and denunciation of Romney, which bolsters your argument.

  15. Joe

    I find it hilarious that corporate CEO’s say they don’t mind if their taxes go up a little bit. It’s not like they are actually going to pay any tax increase any way. They hide most of their income in a complex labyrinth of offshore shell corporations and secret accounts. They could give a shit if they were taxed at 90%. They won’t pay it. Heads, you lose, tails, they win.

  16. be'emet

    cute, but the gorilla in the room is always the estate tax. for the OPOOP One Percent Of One Percent), nothing else really matters.

  17. charles leseau

    Hmm…wonder if people will get a return for what they’ve already paid into these programs – HA, er..HHAHAHAHAHAA!

  18. Jim

    Two things.

    (i) After last night’s debate, Obama’s reelection is far from a sure thing. And Obama has been very careful not to introduce any substantial regressive taxes during his first term. Would Romney spearhead an effort to introduce a gasoline tax hike or VAT, knowing that it would hurt his reelection?

    (ii) If I have to choose between fracking and a VAT, I choose fracking.

    1. skippy

      False choice thingo.

      Skippy… BTW… diminishing of future potential or everyone plays tax man? One is transitory the other is not, pick your poison (literally), but, nice framing anywho.

    2. Don Druid

      “Would Romney spearhead an effort to introduce a gasoline tax hike or VAT, knowing that it would hurt his reelection?”

      Rhetorical as fuck question, I hope!

  19. Hugh

    Obama has always been gunning for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. A little history from something I wrote elsewhere:

    In February 2009, only a few weeks into his Administration, there was a conference backed by the White House with Pete Peterson connections on “reforming” entitlements and cutting deficits. Then the Great Obamacare Debate intervened.

    On January 19, 2010, Vice President Biden and Democratic Congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), together with Obama’s OMB director Peter Orszag agreed to establish an 18 member panel ostensibly to cut government deficits. The true purpose is to slash entitlements (Medicare and Social Security), a policy that Orszag has long advocated.”


    On January 26, 2010, the Senate killed this atrocious idea 46-53 (60 votes needed) in an unusual bipartisan vote.

    On February 18, 2010, Obama went ahead and formed by executive order a deficit commission on his own (Bowles-Simpson aka the Cat Food Commission). It was supposed to come up with recommendations to balance the federal budget, minus interest payments, by 2015. Its real purpose to serve as a vehicle to slash Social Security and Medicare was made clear in the following:

    the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending

    Far from being timid or cautious, Obama never gives up on an issue he cares about. The problem for the rest of us is that the only issues Obama cares about are neoliberal, corporatist, and neocon ones.

    1. Home for Wayward Trout

      Progressives need to start framing the debate in terms of $$ which is the only way most people can understand arithmetic.

      Reagan’s legacy is not that he cut taxes. Reagan’s legacy is that he took $30k to $60k away from every working person in Social Security benefits.

      The public needs to be told that Obama is trying to do the same thing.

  20. Don Druid

    “They all suggest the final package will look something like Simpson-Bowles. And many believe that coupled with a recovering housing market, a domestic energy boom and a lessening threat from Europe, a functional Washington could finally”

    At this point in the passage, we are so far into the realm of business-executive cuddly-bubbly-what’s-good-for-GE-is-good-for-Earth fantasy that these C-suite clowns might as well suggest their support for genies and magic wishing rings.

    There’s always the nuclear option: reorganize the system so these living inefficiencies earn their bread painting landscapes, managing databases or baking cookies. Hell, they might even enjoy it after a few years.

  21. Don Druid

    I’d also suggest that we wouldn’t need a coordinated cross-firm conspiracy among Republican-backing corporate leaders to end up with the bizarre results of American capital holding the world hostage (VERY temporarily) by brattishly refusing to invest under any but the most extreme corporate-friendly post-election conditions as they perceive them (read: a Romney victory over an Obama victory, no matter the real-world similarities in the results). Enough big actors listening to the echo chamber, and everyone who might make a difference could end up working to their individual disadvantage by not breaking ranks.

    That would make these “spontaneous” conversations with capital’s mouthpieces (generally any media anywhere with “Money” in the name) a little easier to understand.

    All we would need would be a temporary jam in the system from an ideological error shared by many important players, such as, say, all the nonstop rhetoric of “uncertainty” about the election’s outcome preventing investment – the exact rhetoric that we have heard nonstop from all corners of the American corporate and financial world since at least 2010.

    Given the almost certain stability of anti-social-spending “balancing” of the deficit away from public concerns and toward private creditors, no matter whether Romney or Obama is elected, one must at least question the real meaning behind the term “uncertainty” as it’s been used in white paper after white paper and statement after statement from big players in finance. It cannot possibly mean what it seems to mean on the surface.

    This is all HIGHLY speculative on my part.

    1. Don Druid

      P.S. “regulatory uncertainty” can’t explain it – as both parties/presidential candidates have made convincing pledges to further deregulate across the board.

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