Monday, July 21, 2008

Instead of a gas-tax holiday, Congress considers gas-tax hike

An article from Hot Air.

John McCain couldn’t convince Congress to adopt his gas-tax holiday, but Congress does plan on making some changes to the rate. Unfortunately, the change will go in the opposite direction, if Democrats get their wish. With Americans driving less, the highway fund faces even more severe shortfalls than expected from lost gas-tax revenue — and so the Democrats plan to hike it up by ten cents a gallon:

Despite calls from the presidential campaign trail for a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day tax freeze, lawmakers quickly concluded — with a prod from the construction industry — that having $9 billion less to spend on highways could create a pre-election specter of thousands of lost jobs.

Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel. …

Oberstar, D-Minn., said his committee is working on the next long-term highway bill. He estimated it will take between $450 billion and $500 billion over six years to address safety and congestion issues with highways, bridges and transit systems.

“We’ll put all things on the table,” Oberstar said, but the gas tax “is the cornerstone. Nothing else will work without the underpinning of the higher user fee gas tax.”

The problem with the transportation bill isn’t a lack of funds, it’s a lack of fiscal discipline. Oberstar figures prominently in this, earmarking transportation funds for projects like bike and walking path, visitor centers, and other nonsense instead of focusing on the infrastructural needs he decries. Over twelve percent of the last transportation bill consisted of earmarks, with projects like a North Dakota peace garden, a Montana baseball stadium and a Las Vegas history museum.

Pork is the cholesterol of infrastructure. Whenever Congress attempts to address legitimate infrastructure needs, it signals open season on the taxpayers. In that bill last year, over $8 billion got spent on earmarks — the same amount that Congress says will be the shortfall this year for transportation needs, and the deficit they need to erase by raising the gas tax.

When gas was inexpensive, Congress could get away with that. Now that fuel prices have shot through the roof, taxpayers want relief, not a greedy Congress looking to get a piece of the action. If Congress demands sacrifice, then let it start with Congress and eliminate their pet projects from future transportation bills. The gas-tax holiday may be a silly idea, but a gas-tax penalty at this point in time has to set a record for political stupidity.

Great article from Redstate about IRS numbers released today.

Adding a dose of reality to the KnownFact of "tax cuts for the rich" and an increase in the "wealth gap"

Posted by: Jeff Emanuel

Monday, July 21, 2008 at 09:17AM


Members of the Democrat Congress are dusting off their handy rubber stamps (or unwrapping new ones, inscribed with the new Presidential motto, "Vero Possumus") in preparation for the round of tax hikes their assumed President-in-Waiting is promising to send down the pipe next Spring in the name of "making the rich pay their fair share."

Not to let real facts get in the way of their red-headed stepsibling KnownFacts™, but the latest tax data from the IRS have been released and, as a Wall Street Journal editorial says today, "it's going to be hard for the rich to pay any more than they already do."

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, which released a summary of new tax information this morning, "The new IRS data show that the 2003 Bush tax cuts caused what may be the biggest increase in tax payments by the rich in American history."

According to the IRS data, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40 percent of all income taxes in 2006, the highest share in at least 40 years.

Further, the top 10 percent of income-earners paid 71 percent , and the top 50 percent in income paid 97.1 percent .

On the other end of the spectrum, Americans with an income below the median paid a record-low 2.9 percent of all income taxes. So much for the fabled unbearable tax burden on the lower-middle and lower classes, from whom the "rich," who refuse to "pay their fair share," are so wantonly stealing.

More very revealing information is available to the open-minded below the fold.

According to the WSJ, "We also know from income mobility data that a very large percentage in the top 1 percent are "new rich," not inheritors of fortunes." So much for the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the lines between "class" in America becoming impenetrable ceilings and floors.

"But the most amazing part of this story," continue the WSJ's editors, "is the leap in the number of Americans who declared adjusted gross income of more than $1 million from 2003 to 2006"

According to the IRS data, the number of millionaires in the U.S. nearly doubled in the three years after the Bush tax cuts, from 181,000 to 354,000. The Left might call this the "rich getting richer," but the economically honest would more likely refer to this as the hard-working getting over the hump and creating more wealth for themselves and for others.

Unfortunately for the newly (and already) "rich," another result of Bush tax policy was a doubling in the amount of taxes paid by millionaire households, from $136 billion in 2003 to $274 billion in 2006 -- an increase in tax payments that, according to the WSJ, explain the very rapid reduction in the budget deficit to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2006 from 3.5 percent in 2003."

As we've known for quite some time now, "the idea that [the Bush tax cuts have] been a giveaway to the rich is a figment of the left's imagination," the WSJ editorial concludes. "No President has ever plied more money from the rich than George W. Bush did with his 2003 tax cuts."

Blowing the whistle on global warming

Here is an article I found on Powerline Blog.

David Evans was a consultant to the "Australian Greenhouse Office" from 1999 to 2005. He is a former global warming alarmist; however, he is also a scientist who goes where the evidence leads him. In this important article in The Australian, he blows the whistle on the fraud that many of the world's governments are in the midst of perpetrating:

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts.

You really need to read the whole thing to get the full impact, but here are a few highlights:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. ...

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. ...

3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). ...

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect. ...

The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion. ..

What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it.

Here is a letter from My rep in the House, Michele Bachmann

Right now, I am rounding up my American Energy Tour, having visited the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Colorado and spots in Alaska’s North Slope, including ANWR, over the weekend. And, I am more optimistic than ever about America’s ability to attain energy independence and cut gas prices in half.

At NREL, my colleagues and I literally walked through America’s energy future. The research going on there is top notch and cutting edge. What I was most impressed with was the work that the lab is doing with a variety of vehicles run by renewable energy including: Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, and Solar Hybrid Electric Vehicles. We also investigated the programs of Wind to Hydrogen Technologies and received an overview of the Lab’s Biomass Technologies.

In Alaska, there’s a virtual treasure trove of energy opportunities. We visited the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, Prudhoe Bay, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. And, of course, we visited ANWR, specifically the “10-02 area,” which could relieve so much of the gas crunch we feel if only we would allow it to be accessed.

Officials in the North Slope confirmed for us that this area could provide an incredible amount of petroleum (10.4 billion barrels) with a minimal environmental footprint. ANWR in its entirety measures 19 million acres, but this one oil-rich location where we are interested in drilling is a mere 2,000 acres. To give you a better picture of what that means, the area for drilling is the size of a postage stamp on a football field. Couple that fact with the proximity of the 10-02 area to the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, and this area would provide us with the most convenient and efficient route to get more petroleum to the continental United States.

America has to dedicate itself to an All-of-the-Above strategy if we are to cut gas prices, create energy-related jobs, and ease current pressures on our economy. This fact-finding trip makes me more certain than ever that America has the ability to not only weather this energy storm, but to emerge from it a worldwide energy leader.