Monday, November 24, 2008

"FaITH in America" Plan: Let's try a Federal Income Tax Holiday instead of bailouts

Here’s a radical idea… since we are dealing with such astronomically ginormous numbers in the ongoing rolling bailout … why not simply declare an individual and corporate federal income tax holiday for the 2009 tax year?

According the U.S. Census’ 2008 Statistical Abstract, individual income taxpayers paid about $1.1688 trillion in 2007 while corporations paid about $342.1 billion… that means annual federal income tax receipts are in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

Instead of building enormous new bureaucracies and trusting our betters to allocate all of the taxpayer’s bailout money in the most efficient ways, let’s not collect the tax in the first place and let the bailout/stimulus package be a $1.5 billion tax holiday? If we are going to “put it on a credit card” anyway, why not keep future federal spending in a somewhat recognizable state so the taxpayer can better track it and judge its worthiness?

Just let us keep our own money instead of picking winners and losers and expanding the size and scope of federal government power. Maybe include a capital gains tax moratorium too?

Would all the economic activity spurred by a Federal Income Tax Holiday in America (“FaITH in America) plan be enough to end the recession/depression and get our economy moving again? I don’t know. I’m a liberal arts guy and not an economist. But if it could be "sold" as good economics to the financial markets, it would be easy for us regular folks to understand and embrace.

If the FaITH in America plan doesn’t work, at least we will not be saddled with exotic new bureaucracies with far-reaching powers eager to double down on their failed prescriptions. At worst, the taxpayer keeps their own money while increasing the collective public debt rather than paying their full tax bill and still increasing the collective public debt.
It’s easy to administer and we won’t have to turn over (more of) our economy to the central planners.

Though I’m half kidding about my FaITH in America plan, in some respects I’m not. I wish one of our leaders would encourage the Washington political and New York financial crowds to go through the intellectual exercise of how such a plan might actually work before we sign over another $300 billion guarantee to a bank “to big to fail.”

Imagine the popular outpouring of approval (and career advancing love) for the first politician to propose a workable FaITH in America plan.

Who knows, maybe we’re ready for radical ideas like a federal income tax holiday. We won’t know until someone asks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unions ready to recruit Hispanic workers if Obama changes organizing rules

Phoenix Business Journal – by Mike Sunnucks

Labor unions are poised to go after Hispanic workers in states like Arizona and sectors such as services and health care if new union rules are put in place by the Barack Obama administration and Democratic Congress next year.

Unions and pro-union Democrats want Congress and Obama to pass card-check legislation. The plan would allow unions to organize in workplaces if they get a majority of workers to sign cards supporting unionization. It would scrap 73-year-old unionization laws that require secret ballots for workers to decide whether they want their work forces represented by a trade union.

Card-check legislation is a top goal of unions such as the Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO, who were top Obama backers.

Such plans have been blocked by President Bush, and the Republicans have enough votes to impede card-check in the U.S. Senate.In January, Obama takes the Oval Office and Democrats have more votes in the U.S. Senate.

Nate Niemuth, a partner and employment law expert with Phoenix law firm Ryley Carlock & Applewhite PA, said unions would like to sign up more Hispanic workers and unionize health care and service industries that are somewhat new to labor organizations.

“If passed, it will have a very dramatic impact,” said Niemuth.

Union members account for 12 percent of the U.S. work force, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The lowest level of unionization is among Hispanics, who have only 9.8 percent of Latino workers in unions and only 9.6 percent of Hispanic women.

Unionized workers also tend to be Democrats, and the card-check measure could help the party align more with Latinos. Hispanics largely supported Obama in this month’s election over U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., helping the Illinois lawmaker carry states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. The focus on the economy and Republican tendencies to take hard-right stances on immigration hurt McCain with Latino voters this cycle after George W. Bush made inroads with Hispanics in 2004.

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, worry about the card-check bill becoming law.

Unions and advocacy groups called American Rights at Work are lobbying Congress to move on the card-check legislation quickly next year. The American Rights group is a coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, National Council of La Raza, NAACP and former senator John Edwards.

Its chair is former Michigan congressman David Bonior. Bonior is said to be on Obama’s short-list along with pro-labor former Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt for U.S. Labor Secretary.

Jon Pettibone, partner with the law firm Quarles & Brady LLP, said card-check critics worry that union organizers will pressure rank-and-file workers to sign cards. He also said the card-check bill would impose tougher penalties on businesses caught committing unfair labor practices.

Card-check advocates counter that businesses also pressured workers not to unionize in the run-up to secret ballot elections.The issue could create some political quandaries for Obama and Democratic lawmakers in states like Arizona.

“A key test issue for President Obama and an emboldened Democratic Congress is whether to risk an early party split over union-backed check-card legislation. Democrats in Arizona’s congressional delegation and many in ‘red’ districts across the nation may not want to be forced to choose between their constituents’ interests and those of big labor,” said Farrell Quinlan, president of In the Arena Public Affairs, a Phoenix-based lobbying and consulting firm.

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, Ann Kirkpatrick and Gabrielle Giffords, are Democrats headed into their first or second terms in districts previously held by Republicans. The trio was backed by labor unions in the 2008 campaign, though Mitchell has taken some pro-business stances such as opposing increased capital gains and dividends taxes.

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: "Quantum of Solace" a true Bond sequel

The 22nd Bond film is very dependent on the prior Daniel Craig Bond film "Casino Royale". I wish I knew that it completed that story so I could have reacquainted myself with the intricacies of its plot on DVD. This edition is a worthy chapter in the new Bond incarnation.

Look: 7
Story: 6
Acting: 6
Goal: 6.5
Intangibles: 7
Overall: 6.5

Thursday, November 06, 2008

McCain fails to win Latino support

Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks

Arizona Sen. John McCain was hammered by the Latino vote, hurting him in battleground states of Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico as he lost his presidential bid to Barack Obama.

Obama took two-thirds of the overall Hispanic vote and McCain got 32 percent, according to exit polls conducted by NBC News. George Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

McCain also didn’t fare well among younger and working-class voters and did not do as well as Bush with whites, middle-class and older voters.

Some say Republicans’ tough stance on immigration issues, including workplace crackdowns, border fences and opposition to amnesty programs, turned off Latino voters. McCain and Bush favor a guest worker program and path for undocumented workers in the U.S. to obtain legal status, while conservatives emphasize border walls, tough penalties for illegal workers and their employers and varying levels of deportations.

Immigration was not a big issue during the campaign, but both McCain and Obama ran Spanish-language radio and television ads in battleground markets, such as Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Miami. Obama’s ad hit at right-wing Republicans tough immigration policies.

Other analysts say the economy and $850 billion Wall Street bailout is what nailed McCain’s White House hopes.

“Latino voters are no different than non-Latino voters,” said Farrell Quinlan, president of In the Arena Public Affairs Inc., a Phoenix-based consulting firm. “John McCain’s campaign was fatally wounded by the financial meltdown that took an essentially tied race in mid-September to a decisive Obama victory on election day. Without the financial crisis, I believe John McCain would have equaled or exceeded George W. Bush’s 2004 support of two out of five Latino voters.”