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  • Alternative Minimum Tax : Millions, Billions, Whatever

    The NYT told readers today that reducing the alternative minimum tax (AMT) would "involve a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue." Hmmm, where could we find that money? Actually, they meant hundreds of billions -- that's what the bill would be over a ten year budget horizon. Depending on the exact fix, you're talking in the neighborhood of 1-2 percent of projected revenue. The more important mistake is that the article doesn't really explain what is going on with the AMT. The AMT was put in place in the 80s to ensure that wealthy taxpayers could not abuse tax shelters to completely escape tax liability. It was intended to only apply to the highest income taxpayers, however it was never indexed to inflation. Congress has always voted to raise the levels at which the tax kicks in, but on the books, it is fixed indefinitely at its current level. This means that when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projectes revenue, they make their projections assuming that the AMT...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE. Ezra debunks the goofy "conservatism won" spin. Eric Alterman reminds us of SecDef pick Robert Gates 's Iran-Contra past. And Spencer bids Rummy farewell -- and warns Iraq-hawk incompetence dodgers that they've just lost their favorite whipping boy. --The Editors
  • DROPKICK MURPHY WATCH.

    DROPKICK MURPHY WATCH. A bit late on this, but with Mike Fitzpatrick conceding to Patrick Murphy in PA-08, a second of the three Dropkick Murphys has emerged victorious. Lois Murphy lost narrowly to incumbent Jim Gerlach in PA-06. So it's two out of three. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • ROVERESTIMATED.

    ROVERESTIMATED. One person whose fate we haven't heard much about today is good old Karl Rove . I wonder what he's up to and if he had a fall-on-his-sword deal like Rummy , too (at least in terms of influence, if not in fact). He was looking pretty wan before the election. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • THE END OF...

    THE END OF TABOR? One more data point discrediting this election as some sort of victory for conservatism: In all three states where TABOR -style spending caps were placed on the ballot, they were defeated . Just a couple years ago, TABOR initiatives -- which are slightly-odd acronyms for "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" -- were all the rage among the Grover Norquist crowd. They cap revenue growth at the rate of inflation plus population and demand spending beyond such limits be directly approved by voters. In doing, they vastly limit legislature flexibility and tear apart public services. Seeing the fiscal devastation, voters in recent years have suspended TABOR acts, notably in Colorado, where the first one was enacted in 1992. Yesterday, the three new attempts to institute the rules were flatly rejected. Some victory for fiscal conservatism. --Ezra Klein
  • CROSS-POLLINATION

    CROSS-POLLINATION . Hey, did anyone notice that Don Rumsfeld stepped down? I don't have anything immediate to say; I think Ben's right that this will play well for the Dems. Interestingly, we now have a military officer as head of the CIA and a former DCI as head of DOD. Don't know what the implications of that are quite yet, but we might want to be watching Special Operations Command to try and figure out what Gate's approach will be like. --Robert Farley
  • MEME-KILLING.

    MEME-KILLING. K, boys and girls, it's meme-killing time again. 1) Democrats Elected Themselves A Bunch Of Republicans Anyway. This one seems to land most heavily on Heath Shuler , whose win in NC, along with the massive thrashing endured by Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania, helped break the traditional GOP stranglehold on former NFL stars. Point The First -- it doesn't matter. None of the "social issues" are going to be coming out of a Rules Committee with Louise Slaughter and Jim McGovern in the majority anyway, and Shuler was right there with Sherrod Brown on the economic issues that actually will emerge. Hang in the pocket. Heath. And this notion really fails at the state level -- and, yes, that's going to be my tin drum for a few days, thank you -- because most of the various rookies are in no danger of drifting toward some sort of Republican center. It's been years since Shuler threw one to the wrong team. 2) Remember How George Bush Worked With Democrats In Texas. Holy mother of god,...
  • OTHER PEOPLE'S AGENDAS....

    OTHER PEOPLE'S AGENDAS. Ok, going back a bit to another presser today: In her first press conference since the Democrats won the majority in the House, presumed Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi today smacked around Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, who has called for the impeachment of President Bush. Asked whether or not the Democrats would pursue impeachment, Pelosi said unequivocally, "Impeachment is off the table." Making a distinction between the Democrats at large and those who have called for impeachment, the prospective speaker suggested that "such actions" are the priorities of individuals, but "they are not our priorities." "Democrats are not about getting even; Democrats are about helping the American people get ahead," Pelosi said. Now, I'm not advocating the immediate convening of impeachment hearings, but to simply take impeachment -- of a president who never deserved it more -- off the table is to deny the American people the ultimate mechanism of presidential accountability. I...
  • AND THE NEWS...

    AND THE NEWS CYCLE LEAPS FORWARD AGAIN. Ben says Rumsfeld 's resignation cuts against the talking head's attempts to spin the election as a conservative victory. In fact, it does more than that. It ends it. The talking heads won't be spending time constructing metanarratives about yesterday's election, now they'll be chattering over the simple facts of the Democratic Party's win and the resultant shakeup of Bush 's cabinet. For the Dems, it just gets better and better. Their ascension will be judged the reason behind Rumsfeld's defeat, and as elite wisdom had decided Rummy was the entirety of the problem behind Iraq, that'll rebound to their benefit, at least for the short-term. In the long-term, the Iraq war isn't failing because of bad staff, it's failing because of intrinsic flaws. The upside of Gates may be that he can inch towards redeployment. If he decides to "stay the course," (a term which, according to Bush, refers to a general hope of victory, not any "course" you have to "...
  • RUMSFELD STEPPING DOWN WILL SPIN DEMS' WAY.

    RUMSFELD STEPPING DOWN WILL SPIN DEMS' WAY. Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld 's resignation will spin very much to the Democrats advantage vis-a-vis the midterms. That is to say, all those talking heads on cable news saying that the Dems won on the strength of moderate and socially conservative candidates will not be able to spout that canard much longer. Clearly the Bush administration recognizes the midterm results as a rebuke of their Iraq War policy. The Democrats, even the relatively conservative ones who won in red states and districts, from Chris Carney in PA-10 to (presumably) Jim Webb in VA ran against the Iraq War. If Bush is drawing the appropriate lesson from the midterms (politically, if not in actual policy terms--that remains to be seen) then his lackeys like Barnes and Kristol and the "non-partisan" talking heads probably will have too as well. --Ben Adler

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