TFT to Billionaires: Pay Up –

TFT to Billionaires: Pay Up –Even Pete Peterson, who funds The Fiscal Times, advocates raising taxes on the rich. Since the debate over the Bush tax cuts seemed to have some billionaires and millionaires begging to be taxed more, maybe it’s time for them to put their money where their mouths are.  So, for the fat cats who are quoted, and the millionaires and billionaires below who have signed pledges against extending the tax breaks for the wealthy through the organizations Wealth for the Common Good and Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, The Fiscal Times has decided to put them to the test. We’re asking them to pay the amount they would have paid to Uncle Sam if the Bush tax cuts had expired. For Mr. Buffett, that’s $4.3 million more, based on his $46 million income from 2006. Not a small chunk of change to help bring down the growing deficit.

  • “People like myself should be paying a lot more taxes.” – Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
  • “Rich people aren’t paying enough.” – Bill Gates Sr., co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • “I’m rich; tax me more.” – Garrett Gruener, founder, Ask.com
  • "I don’t understand why my tax rate didn’t go up.” – Alan C. “Ace” Greenberg, former chairman, Bear Stearns
  • “It’s so clear what’s needed. But because of the political debate, which the administration has lost, we are going to follow the wrong policy by extending the Bush tax cuts.” – George Soros, Soros Fund Management

‘Temporary’ Tax Code Puts U.S. in a Lasting Bind – Welcome to the world of the temporary tax code. The U.S. tax code is slowly being turned into a temporary patchwork of provisions that need to be addressed every year or two, depriving individuals and businesses of the predictability they need for long-range plans. John McKinnon discusses. Also, Brett Arends says not only are the Democrats politically bankrupt and the Republicans morally bankrupt, but that this tax deal will play a big role in America’s undoing. In the late 1990s, there were typically fewer than a dozen tax provisions that had just a limited lease on life and needed to be renewed every year or so.  Today there are 141. Now Congress, taking up a deal worked out between the Obama administration and Republican leaders, is poised to turn the whole personal income-tax system into something of a temporary structure. The plan embraces a broad range of provisions—an extension of Bush-era rates, a new estate-tax formula—but for only two years. A payroll-tax cut in the bill is for a single year.

Economists Disagree on Future Path of Inflation – Some economists see in the November consumer price data the makings of higher underlying inflation, while others expect a disinflationary trend to continue. On Wednesday, the government reported that as part of its consumer price index for last month, core prices, which are stripped of food and energy factors, rose by 0.1%, matching the gain seen in the overall index. Central bankers watch core price measures most closely because they believe they mirror true inflation patterns best. The core CPI increase was the first in three months. For some economists, the change in the direction might be the start of something. If they’re right, the Fed may be able to breathe easier, as much of its current, controversial policy of bond buying is aimed at preventing very low inflation levels from tipping over into outright deflation.

Industrial Production, Capacity Utilization increase in November – From the Fed: Industrial production and Capacity Utilization  Industrial production increased 0.4 percent in November after a decline of 0.2 percent in October. The rate of change for industrial production was revised down in October but up in September; the net effect of the revisions from June to October left the level of industrial production in October about the same as was previously reported. … At 93.9 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in November was 5.4 percent above its level a year earlier. The capacity utilization rate for total industry rose to 75.2 percent, a rate 5.4 percentage points below its average from 1972 to 2009.This graph shows Capacity Utilization. This series is up 10.3% from the record low set in June 2009 (the series starts in 1967). Capacity utilization at 75.2% is still far below normal – and well below the pre-recession levels of 81.2% in November 2007. The second graph shows industrial production since 1967. Industrial production increased in November, but production is still 6.8% below the pre-recession levels at the end of 2007.

Kids write Santa this year for basic needs instead of toys… Santa Claus and his elves are seeing more heartbreaking letters this year as children cite their parents’ economic troubles in their wish lists. U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole say more letters ask for basics — coats, socks and shoes — rather than Barbie dolls, video games and computers. At New York City’s main post office, Head Elf Pete Fontana and 22 staff elves will sort 2 million letters in Operation Santa, which connects needy children with "Secret Santas" who answer their wishes. Fontana, a customer relations coordinator for the Postal Service, has been head elf for 15 years. "The need is greater this year than I’ve ever seen it," he says. "One little girl didn’t want anything for herself. She wanted a winter coat for her mother."

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