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Noah on Tax Apples and Tax Oranges

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Timothy Noah, who has joined The New Republic, explains one of the worst shell games in economic talking points about who pays what in taxes. Yes, the rich pay a higher percentage of total income tax revenue than the rest of us because they make more than the rest of us.

And, if you tune into Fox any night of the week, you will hear someone lamenting that the poor do not pay any federal income tax. That's true, of course, but it is also true that federal payroll taxes, and state sales taxes and property taxes, take up a larger percentage of their income than do income taxes for the very rich.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Palestinian Statehood? Not Tall Enough

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If you ever go to an amusement park, at the beginning of the line to get on the roller coaster, there is a sign that reads, "You must be this tall to board this ride?"

As the United Nations get ready to decide on whether or not to recognize Palestine as an independent state, the same question should be applied. Are the Palestinians tall enough to ride this ride?

Of course, there is a prior question. Which Palestinians are being measured? In the West Bank, there is still a woefully corrupt government structure that, among other things, was unable to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks against Israel. The much maligned security wall the Israelis constructed has kept the terrorists from bombing pizza parlors and discoteques. In Gaza, the Palestinan government does not harbor terrorists, it employs them. Hamas runs Gaza and they are rightly considered a terrorist organization. So, the two territories that would constitute a putative Palestinan state are not even governed by one government. Should Hamas get a seat at the UN? Why not Hezbollah too?

The Evil Effort to Restrict the Franchise

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The Republicans may be wrong when they repeat their mantra about “job killing tax cuts” seeing as jobs increased after Bill Clinton raised taxes and have not done so in the ten years since George W. Bush lowered them. Other economic factors have more to do with job growth than the tax rate. I believe there is something dangerous, not just wrong, in the affinity some Republicans have for the Austrian school of economics with its anti-Christian understanding of the human person.

But, the efforts of some GOP governors and state legislatures to restrict the franchise is not only wrong and not only dangerous, it is profoundly un-American. Regular readers will know that this is not an adjective I use lightly.

Abp Dolan on Economic Crisis

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I have just received a copy of a letter (text below) sent by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, to all of the bishops in the U.S. that calls their attention to the newly released census data on poverty. Archbishop Dolan writes that the numbers are so shocking that the Administrative Committee wanted to do more than simply issue a statement, and decided that a direct, and specific call from Dolan to his brother bishops might better galvanize bishops, priests and laity to demand that our political and economic leaders address these issues of poverty.

It is heartening to see the USCCB recognize that the Church's stance on poverty is every bit as critical as its stance on other issues. And, it is very encouraging to see Archbishop Dolan writing with such passion about this issue.

Here is the full text of the letter:
September 15, 2011

Dear Brother Bishops,

Class Warfare? Bring It

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President Obama will officially lay out his plan to reduce the federal deficit today. He is including a call for higher taxes on those most able to pay them, including a special super-tax on millionaires. The GOP response was not long in coming. “Class warfare may make for really good politics,” said Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) yesterday. “But it makes for rotten economics. It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

Report on New Evangelization Symposium

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Yesterday, at the symposium on “Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization” sponsored by the USCCB, the day entailed three major talks, followed by questions and an evening discussion among all three speakers and the group of young theologians the USCCB invited to attend the symposium. Unfortunately, the organizers only allowed time for a few questions at the end of each talk, and the evening discussion was not open to the press. Nor were we invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the talks and, as you can imagine, I had several.

Note to Readers

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The wireless connection here at the conference room in the hotel where the New Evangelization symposium is being held is very weak. (Actually, it is intermittant, and keeps falling away.) And, there was not time at the break to run to a Starbucks, type up a report, and post it.

The symposium finishes at 4 p.m. I will post on this morning's presentations early evening and will post on the afternoon's session Saturday morning.

Boehner's Hypocrisy

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Speaker John Boehner gave his response, such as it is, to President Barack Obama’s call for a jobs bill.

Boehner’s response consisted mostly of the repetition of GOP mythologies about “job killing tax cuts.” Yes, even though we are now in the eleventh year of the Bush tax cuts, and we are still experiencing high unemployment, the myth endures. Even though large corporations are sitting atop record amounts of cash, and still not hiring, somehow, a tax increase would make them unable to hire new workers.

But, what was most galling about the Speaker’s comments was his dismissal of what he characterized as President Obama’s “all or nothing” approach to the autumn legislative agenda. Boehner went on to say that he could never, under any circumstances, support tax cuts. So, who has the problem with “all or nothing” approaches to the negotiations? Boehner is willing to consider tax cuts. He is willing to slash spending. He is willing to cripple entitlements. His “all” is permitted.

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