July 10th, 2010
Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it's July, and there's no sign of this year's report. What is the Obama administration hiding?
The annual report includes detailed information about Social Security and its financing over the next 75 years, produced by the Office of the Actuary of the Social Security Administration.
The Congressional Budget Office reported last week in its Long Term Budget Outlook that Social Security was already running a deficit this year. According to last year's Social Security Trustees Report, that was not supposed to happen until 2015, with the trust fund to run out completely by 2037.
With the disastrous Obama economy, the great Social Security surplus that started in the Reagan administration is gone completely.
Every year, the federal government has been raiding the Social Security trust funds to take that annual surplus and spend it on the rest of the federal government's runaway spending, leaving the trust funds only with IOUs backed by nothing but politicians' promise to pay it back when it's needed. Now even that annual surplus is gone. How soon will the trust funds run out completely now?
President Obama keeps telling us a fairy tale that he saved us from another Great Depression. But he is actually leading us into another Depression.
The National Bureau of Economic Research scores the recession as officially starting in December 2007. Thirty-one months later, with unemployment still near 10% and the work force still declining, the NBER says it still cannot determine an official end to the recession.
The longest recession since World War II previously was 16 months, with the average being 10 months. By next month, it will be twice as long as the previous postwar record since the latest recession started. The markets echoed by many pundits are now suggesting a renewed double-dip downturn may be starting, with the comprehensive Obama tax rate increases next year poised to pour napalm on this developing bonfire.
How soon will the trust funds run out with this utter failure of 1930s-style Obamanomics?
The implications for Social Security aren't what the Obama administration is hiding by delaying the annual trustees reports. Those annual reports also include information regarding Medicare over the next 75 years. What the administration is trying to hide are sweeping draconian cuts to Medicare resulting from the ObamaCare legislation, which the annual report will document.
July 10th, 2010
Pres. Obama is the best fundraiser the Dem Party has, but his drawing power is way down from its peak during the '08 campaign.
Obama is heading to MO and NV today to raise money for Sec/State Robin Carnahan (D), running for an open Senate seat, and Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid.
But Carnahan's campaign wasn't able to completely sell out the Folly Theater, where Obama will appear for a grassroots event on Carnahan's behalf, at the prices they wanted. Tickets once priced at $250 are now going for $99, while $35 tickets are half off.
The grassroots event at the 1,078-seat theater is expected to net $250K for Carnahan's campaign, the Kansas City Star reported today.
It's just one of Obama's 2 stops for Carnahan; he will appear at a higher-dollar affair at a Marriott hotel in downtown Kansas City -- ironically, the same location where the RNC will host its summer meeting in Aug. But it's telling Obama couldn't fill a theater at the higher price; in '08, just 2 weeks before Election Day, Obama drew 100K to an event in St. Louis and another 75K to a rally in Kansas City, according to a contemporary account from McClatchy.
Obama has 4 total fundraising events scheduled today, 2 in MO and 2 in NV. VP Joe Biden is also hitting the trail, raising money for Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a freshman Dem facing a tough re-election bid, in a luncheon event in Portland. Later, Biden travels to the Bay Area for a fundraiser with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
July 10th, 2010
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With a new mandate looming that will require business owners to file millions more tax forms, the Internal Revenue Service has begun the daunting process of figuring out how to turn the law's sweeping demands into actual rules for taxpayers.
The new regulations, which kick in at the start of 2012, require any taxpayer with business income to issue 1099 forms to all vendors from whom they purchased more than $600 of goods and services that year. That promises to launch a fusillade of new paperwork: An estimated 40 million taxpayers will be subject to the requirement, including 26 million who run sole proprietorships, according to a report released this week by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson.
Olson's office, which operates independently within the IRS, flagged the new reporting requirements as one of its priority issues for the next year. Like many who have delved into the details of the new rules, Olson is concerned about their far-reaching scope and potential unintended consequences.
"The new reporting burden, particularly as it falls on small businesses, may turn out to be disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance," the Taxpayer Advocate Service wrote in a report released this week.
The new rules are aimed at reducing the "tax gap" between what individuals and businesses owe and what they actually pay. The federal government misses out on estimated $300 billion each year from tax underpayment. The expanded reporting requirements, which Congress slipped into the landmark health care reform bill passed in March, are an attempt to create a paper trail of 1099s exposing business-to-business payments that might otherwise stay off the radar.
But the cost of that paper trail could swamp the small companies, sole proprietors freelancers forced to generate it. Pennsylvania business networking organization SMC Business Councils surveyed its members and found that they currently average 10 filings a year of 1099 forms. The new rules would push that average to more than 200 filings per year for a typical small business, the industry group estimates.
The IRS will have broad leeway to interpret the rules -- and it's already showing signs that it will look for ways to staunch the paperwork flood.
In a late May speech before the two payroll industry trade group, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman announced a major exception to the new rules: The IRS plans to exempt transactions made through credit and debit cards. A separate reporting requirement kicks in next year that will cover card transactions and help the IRS spot unreported payments made through those channels, "so there is no need for businesses to report them as well," Shulman said. "Whenever a business uses a credit or debit card, there will be no new burden under the new law."
How much of a sigh of relief you should breathe depends on what kind of purchases your business makes. Some big-ticket consumer items that are typically paid by card -- airline tickets or hotel stays, for example -- will be 1099-free. But SMC Business Councils President Tom Henschke, a vocal critic of the new law, estimates that exempting credit-card transactions would affect less than 10% of his members' reporting requirements.
"Most of the small businesses out there that do small business [purchasing] don't do it by credit card," he said. "One of the reasons is the transaction cost is very high -- 2% to 3%."
Henschke thinks the main beneficiaries of the exemption are likely to be credit-card companies, which will gain an added hook to get small businesses to pay their fees. Nolan Newman, a Seattle CPA who specializes in small-business needs, says it's certainly possible that card usage will rise as a result: "If I'm a small business and I use my credit card moderately, would I try to increase my volume with which I pay vendors with it? Maybe."
Henschke foresees another unintended consequence of the new reporting provisions: that in order to cut down on tax forms to be filed, businesses will trim the number of vendors they do business with. "I've actually heard businesses talking about consolidating their purchases, going from 150, 200 vendors, down to less than 100," he said. "That will most certainly lead to some small businesses being swept under the door."
The taxpayer advocate's office shares that concern. "Many large vendors already have computer systems that can track purchases by customer. They are likely to advertise that they will track each customer's total purchases and send them a report at the end of the year that business customers can use to comply with the Form 1099 filing requirement," the office wrote in its report. "Small businesses that lack the capacity to track customer purchases may lose customers, leaving the economy with more large national vendors and less local competition."
That was just one of seven major pitfalls the Taxpayer Advocate Service foresees in the new rules. It also questions whether they will actually do much to close the tax gap. Because of product returns and other complications, the payments documented by the 1099 trail won't match up cleanly against the revenue businesses report. "The IRS will face challenges making productive use of this new volume of information reports," Olson's office concluded.
That could help explain one otherwise puzzling aspect of the new tax law, which is that despite the sweeping reporting requirements, the Joint Committee on Taxation -- a nonpartisan Congressional committee that analyzes pending tax legislation -- estimated that it would bring in only about $2 billion a year in new tax revenue. Committee staffers wouldn't comment on the record.
"Judging from the estimate that the committee has made, they didn't think it was that far-reaching," said Eric Toder of the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank. "Does it close a lot of the tax gap? No."
The IRS did not return repeated calls and e-mails asking for clarification on its timeline for drafting the new regulations.
In his talk to accountants in May, Shulman put off questions about the expanded 1099 reporting, saying that even the idea of exempting credit-card transactions was just "an example of where we are headed, not as a complete implementation plan." The agency is currently seeking public comment on how it should implement the new rules.
The IRS has some leeway in implementing the new law -- but only some. "The regulations are supposed to implement the intent of Congress; they're not supposed to be independent policy-making," Toder said. "But obviously, there's some discretion there."
Shulman himself hinted that it may take new legislation -- not just IRS regs -- to fix what Congress has wrought. "We won't hesitate to consider alternate approaches," he said in his speech, "including working with Congress to address any potential implementation issues that may arise during this process."
July 10th, 2010
It's a sign of disrespect to veterans, service members and anyone who's patriotic -- an American flag flown upside-down. Why would someone fly Old Glory upside down, especially during the Fourth of July holiday? It's the work of a Downriver, Mich., eye doctor, MyFoxDetroit.com reported.
It certainly caught people's eyes. An American flag flying upside down in front of Dr. Thomas Byrd's over the Fourth of July weekend. The eye doctor says he did it when he asked himself some questions.
"What's the state of our nation at this time? And I thought that she's in distress. So, I thought I would flip the flag in the long-standing sign of distress," said Byrd. "And by inverting the flag I would perhaps get a few people to ask themselves maybe the same question. How is the Constitution doing? How is my liberty? How is my freedom compared to a few years ago?"
Dr. Byrd says flying the flag upside down was never intended to be disrespectful. He simply wanted to get people's attention, MyFoxDetroit reported.
"A lot of people misunderstood and somehow thought I had some beef with the United States or that I... disrespected the flag or the country, and that couldn't be further from the truth," Byrd said.
"We are certainly in dire danger of property. There's a of property being taken from people right now, but it's not the intent that we are in dire and immediate need that we're being overrun," said Byrd.
Dr. Bryd says he's a Conservative who respects the Constitution and he did find some of former President George W. Bush's approaches to Constitutional issues troubling. Some Conservative and Libertarian groups, such as the Cato Institute, found Bush's record sharply at odds with the text, history and structure of the Constitution. But those days did not inspire Dr. Byrd to flip the flag.
We asked Byrd who is a greater threat to the Constitution, George W. Bush or Barack Obama? He answered, "I think the Obama administration, by far."
July 10th, 2010
By JENNIFER GOULD KEIL
Looks like Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton are moving on up -- to a deluxe mansion away from prying eyes.
Sources told The Post the Clintons are planning to trade their almost-modest suburban Chappaqua home for a sprawling $10.9 million estate in the bucolic Westchester town of Bedford Hills, complete with 20 acres of gorgeous land surrounded by New York's elite.
The massive compound -- sweetly named Clover Hill Farm -- comes with high fences, two guesthouses and a mansion fit for Bubba's millionaire lifestyle.
The home -- found only after a long cruise down a private road -- is 7,000 square feet with a large foyer, wood paneled library with fireplace, chef's kitchen with fireplace, five bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.
Although it was built only 10 years ago, the entire mansion retains a rustic feel with exposed wooden support beams. The master bedroom has its own fireplace, along with his-and-hers dressing rooms and bathrooms. The "hers" room is two stories tall.
The house also features a wine cellar with a custom wet bar, an outdoor fireplace, a heated pool, artist studio and stable.
The current owner, Paul Wallace, founded the Manhattan real-estate firm Broadstone Group. The 74-year-old retiree declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Westchester federal court in May.
His property had been on the market since December.
In between international jaunts, the Clintons have made repeated visits to the five-bedroom compound and plan to sign a contract on the property "within weeks," one well-placed source said.
The Clintons are so keen on the estate that the deal could come within days of daughter Chelsea's July 31 wedding to Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, that source added. The ex-president and his wife, the secretary of state, were looking at other homes in Bedford Hills, the source said.
When they seal the deal, they'll ditch the Metro-North crowd for the likes of Richard Gere, Martha Stewart and Glenn Close, who all have homes in town.
All about what may be the Clintons’ new home, Clover Hill Farm in Bedford Hills:
* Sale price of $10.9M
* Built in 2000
* Being sold by Paul Wallace, former president of real-estate firm Broadstone Group
* 20 acres of gardens, horse trails and pastures on private road
* 7,000-square-foot house with five bedrooms, six baths, chef’s kitchen, multiple fireplaces, wood-paneled library, wine cellar
* Heated pool with pool house, stone patios and outdoor fireplace
* Two guesthouses, artist studio and stable