Tag Archives: Rich

Obama and family bill taxpayers for 17 lavish vacations

FrontPage Magazine explains.

Excerpt:

When the president’s 13-year-old daughter, Malia, took a Spring Break trip to Mexico with 12 of her friends and 25 Secret Service agents–one that reportedly cost taxpayers $2.5 million–it was covered by the mainstream media. AFP filed the initial report, and the story was subsequently picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as foreign publications, such as Daily Mail, the Telegraph and The Australian.

Yet by the same evening, all of the stories had been removed from each of those sites. The updated links either directed one to a site’s home page or 404 error pages, reading “page not found.” What happened? The White House got a compliant media to scrub the story. Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, confirmed this to Politico: “From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.”

Again, such concerns for the safety of First Family members are entirely legitimate. Yet some questions remain unanswered. Why would the president allow his daughter to travel to Mexico despite a Texas Department of Public Safety warning not to go there because “cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas”? Why was it necessary to include a dozen friends, making the trip more expensive and security far more complicated? Why are members of the mainstream media taking marching orders from the White House? Why did the trip costtaxpayers $2.5 million?

Perhaps, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Last week, Judicial Watch released a report revealing that First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to Costa Del Sol, Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers $467,585. Again, no reasonable person begrudges a woman in the public spotlight some rest and relaxation. But as the New York Times reports, part of that R&R included a stay at the “five-star Hotel Villa Padierna near Marbella, where at least 30 rooms were reserved for the entourage, including those for security. The hotel is one of Spain’s more luxurious establishments, with rooms ranging from $500-a-night to a $6,600 suite with 24-hour butler service.”

Furthermore, Mrs. Obama is hardly reticent when it comes to taking vacations. Her February 2012 trip to upscale Aspen, Colorado, for a President’s Day ski weekend with daughters Sasha and Malia, marked the 16th vacation (the updated number is now 17) taken by Obama family members in just over three years, not including visits to the Camp David compound, or short trips like a New York City “date night” taken in May 2009. Nor is the First Lady or the president seemingly concerned saddling taxpayers with the cost of flying separately to the same vacation sites. It cost taxpayers $100,000 when the First Lady jetted to a 2010 Hawaii vacation ahead of her husband, and several thousands more when the First Lady traveled to a Martha’s Vineyard vacation on a separate government jet only four hours prior to the president’s trip there. While at Martha’s Vineyard, the First Family stayed at Blue Heron Farm, a property that reportedly rents for approximately $50,000 per week. And on a trip to Maine in July of 2010, the President’s dog, Bo, and his handler traveled on a separate plane to that destination.

Such a penchant for extravagance has added up to some pretty daunting numbers. The UK’s Daily Mail, citing White House sources who referred to the First Lady as “a vacation junkie,” claimed Michelle Obama had “has spent $10 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year”–as of August 2011. The unnamed source further notes that Mrs. Obama also enjoys “drinking expensive booze during her trips. She favors martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines.”

We are now approaching a $16 trillion dollar national debt, with $8 trillion of it accumulated between the time when the Democrats took over the House and Senate in January 2007 to now. You would think that we might see some awareness of the situation from the man in charge. But he seems to be oblivious to what real Americans are facing as they try to make ends meet.

Mitt Romney’s tax returns would make him lose the election to Obama

Wall Street Banks contributions to Mitt Romney
Wall Street banks make huge contributions to Mitt Romney

From The Hill. (H/T Riehl Worldview)

Excerpt:

It’s important not to overstate the perils Romney faces. He is still by far the best-funded candidate in the race. He has a state-by-state infrastructure that is the envy of his rivals. Even if he were to lose Saturday’s South Carolina primary, he would  likely remain the overall favorite to clinch the nomination.

But the procession of errors has been striking nonetheless — and it has raised concerns among many in the GOP about his vulnerabilities in a general election contest with President Obama.

Most of Romney’s awkwardness has revolved around questions about his wealth. During a heated exchange during a debate last month, he ill-advisedly offered to bet Perry $10,000 that his own account of what he had written in one of his books was correct. Perry declined, saying he was “not in the betting business,” but the episode heightened perceptions that Romney is out of touch with most Americans.

The same pattern keeps cropping up. Earlier this week, he was asked about the effective tax rate he pays on his income, and managed to injure himself twice in the space of a few sentences. First, he acknowledged that his tax rate was “probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.” He then added: “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”

The first claim was almost certainly true. Romney’s income is believed to come chiefly from long-term investments rather than earned income, and that would indeed make him liable for capital gains tax levied at a 15 percent rate. But it still places the multimillionaire in a more lightly taxed band than many voters — something which Newt Gingrich tried to take advantage of with his mocking proposal to introduce a “Mitt Romney 15 percent flat tax.”

Perhaps even worse was Romney’s “not very much” comment. His latest financial disclosure form, which covered the period from February 2010 to February 2011, revealed that he earned $374,327 for speeches. The sum is approximately seven times the median household income in the United States.

Those remarks had been preceded by a televised debate at which he gave a muddled response about whether he would release his tax returns.

Romney flubbed the tax-return question for a second time at a debate last Thursday, eliciting boos from the crowd when he said he would “maybe” follow the example of his late father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns when running for the presidency in 1968.

Romney’s mangled syntax on these occasions seems symptomatic of a wider personal unease in discussing his finances. GOP consultants say he needs to get over that discomfort if he is to prove an effective candidate.

Another concern that I have is that Mitt Romney has $20-100 million dollars in his retirement account.

Excerpt:

Like many Americans, Mitt Romney has an individual retirement account. Unlike most Americans, Mr. Romney has between $20.7 million and $101.6 million in it, a big chunk of his fortune.

Experts on estate planning said it is highly unusual to accumulate such a considerable sum in an IRA, an investment vehicle restricted by annual contribution limits. It appears that Mr. Romney’s grew so large mostly because it holds investments in Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped start.

[…]Mr. Romney is one of the richest presidential candidates in decades, and his GOP opponents increasingly are trying to turn wealth into a liability. President Barack Obama is expected to do the same if the former Massachusetts governor wraps up the nomination. Mr. Romney’s tax liability has emerged as a debating point in the GOP nominating contest, a proxy for a bigger argument over who should shoulder the nation’s tax burden.

In recent days, Mr. Romney’s rivals have pressed him to release his tax returns. They have attacked him for his role at Bain Capital, the source of his wealth. When Mr. Romney revealed Tuesday that his effective federal income-tax rate had been about 15% in recent years, both the White House and GOP candidates used the number as a cudgel.

[…]Michael Whitty, a lawyer at Vedder Price in Chicago who advises private-equity executives, said it is impossible to determine from Mr. Romney’s public disclosures how the IRA grew so large. Based on its listed holdings, which include many Bain Capital vehicles, Mr. Whitty theorizes Mr. Romney may have invested in Bain funds through a 401(k)-type plan, or directed some of his Bain holdings into such a plan, which he then rolled into an IRA.

How is he going to explain that? This might be one of the reasons why Romney is not releasing his tax returns. He needs to be pounded on this by Gingrich and Santorum until he drops out – we can’t afford to choose a nominee who has no hope of beating Barack Obama.

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Were the Crusades unprovoked attacks against peaceful Muslims?

Here’s an article from a historian specialized in the history of the Crusades.

Excerpt:

For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.

During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

Since this question comes up in apologetics, and even William Lane Craig screws it up by calling the Crusades evil, I thought it might be a good idea for us to have some background so that we would be able to set the record straight if it’s called into question. It’s important to know this because a lot of people appeal to the Crusades to take shots at Christianity and introduce a kind of moral equivalence that excuses real wars of aggression and real terrorism.

The article also includes some of the real mistakes made by some of the Crusaders, so be ready to own up to those.

Do secretaries usually pay more in taxes than their rich bosses?

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Treasury Secretary Geithner yesterday declined to answer a key question about the president’s proposed “Buffett Rule”:  How many millionaires and billionaires pay lower tax rates than middle-income families?

The answer: not that many.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has crunched the numbers and found that Warren Buffett and his secretary are the exception to the rule.  For the most part, the wealthy pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than middle-income workers.

The key numbers:  this year those earning over $1 million will pay, on average, 29.1 percent on federal taxes.  Those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent.

That’s not to say that there aren’t wealthy people who are even better than Buffett at avoiding taxes.  In 2009, 1,470 people with incomes over $1 million a year paid absolutely no taxes.  But that represents less than 1 percent of those earning over $1 million a year.  Raising their taxes may be the fair thing to do, but it will not bring in much revenue.

The Cato Institute has a lovely graph of income tax rates by income earned.

Well, how much revenue can we generate if we take 100% of everything that people making over earn? (Assuming that they keep working solely for the government, of course, which Democrats would assume)

The Tax Foundation explains.

Excerpt:

So taking half of the yearly income from every person making between one and ten million dollars would only decrease the nation’s debt by 1%.  Even taking every last penny from every individual making more than $10 million per year would only reduce the nation’s deficit by 12 percent and the debt by 2 percent.  There’s simply not enough wealth in the community of the rich to erase this country’s problems by waving some magic tax wand.

Finally, to put everything in perspective, think about what would need to be done to erase the federal deficit this year:  After everyone making more than $200,000/year has paid taxes, the IRS would need to take every single penny of disposable income they have left.  Such an act would raise approximately $1.53 trillion.

George W. Bush’s last deficit, with a Republican House and Senate, was 160 billion. But Obama’s deficits are about TEN TIMES that amount.

See:

Obama Budget Deficit 2011
Obama Budget Deficit 2011

But Obama’s current annual budget deficits exceed 1.53 trillion. So taxing the rich at 100% isn’t enough to pay for All of Obama’s spending. That’s how big a hole Barack Obama has got us into.

By the way, Warren Buffett’s blathering about wanting to pay more taxes is a load of garbage. His company is currently in a dispute with the IRS to avoid paying as much as ONE BILLION DOLLARS in back taxes. You would not have heard of this if all you watched was Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on the Comedy Channel, or Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

Are the poor getting richer in America?

From Bill Whittle.

Here’s a write up of the video from Hot Air.

Excerpt:

Have the rich gotten richer? Indeed they have, Bill Whittle says in his latest Afterburner — but so have the poor. As wealth expands, living standards rise, and Whittle shows just exactly how it did over the last 40 years in the US. In fact, he argues that the better comparison is not between the rich and the poor in this country, but between the American poor and the average citizen in Europe, Asia, and Africa…

The ultimate arguments are this: what exactly does “poor” mean, and what is the best way to alleviate poverty? If poor in the US is defined such that 97.7% of those households have televisions, 98% have refrigerators, almost 40% have computers, and 78% have air conditioning, then we’re defining “poverty” rather loosely — and that’s the point. The Left wants the definition as wide as possible in order to keep more Americans on public-subsidy rolls, which then incentivizes them to support larger and more intrusive government.

What is the best way to alleviate real poverty?  The data Whittle presents shows that a dynamic economy based on private property and capital choice lifts the living standard for everyone.  Europe went in the nanny-state direction, and now their average qualifies as our poor, at least by living-standard metrics.  That’s something to keep in mind while we debate the nature of safety nets, government spending, and fiscal reform.

Addendum: The data here comes from the Heritage Foundation, so be sure to check it out.

This could be useful when getting into debates with leftists.