Taxmageddon

From:

Mike Brownfield

Mike Brownfield at Heritage

Brace yourself. In a mere 271 days, you and your fellow Americans will be hit with a tax hike the likes of which this country has never seen. The Washington Post aptly called the unprecedented $494 billion tax hike “Taxmageddon”, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described it as a “massive fiscal cliff.” Whatever your preferred imagery, it’s a really big deal.

Despite all the warnings, President Barack Obama has kept his silence while Congress has made no apparent effort to prevent this impending calamity to families and the economy. The prevailing wisdom is that “something will get done” in a lame duck session of Congress after the election. But why wait? And why after the election?

Here’s why you should be worried. For starters, remember that this is the same President who in 2009 promised, “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.” That’s a vow he’s broken, and in 2013, things are going to get even worse if this year Obama doesn’t lead and Congress doesn’t act. Katy, bar the door, there’s big trouble in store.

The tax man won’t draw his billions from the American taxpayer with just one big needle — the massive tax increase will be the product of tax policies expiring in seven different categories, on top of five new Obamacare tax hikes taking effect. In a new paper, Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013, Heritage’s Curtis Dubay details the tax hikes that will occur if President Obama and Congress do not act before the end of the year:

Almost 34 percent of the tax increase from Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. These cuts are best known for reducing marginal income tax rates, but they also reduced the marriage penalty, increased the Child Tax Credit and the adoption credit, and increased tax breaks for education costs and dependent care costs.

Another 25 percent of Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the once-temporary payroll tax cut. The expiration of the patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) — which would raise the income threshold over which families qualify for the AMT to prevent middle-income families from paying this tax that is only supposed to impact “the rich” — accounts for 24 percent of the total potential 2013 tax increase.

The balance of the tax hikes comes in part from new taxes under Obamacare, the expiration of tax cuts in the 2009 stimulus, the expiration of a group of policies known as “tax extenders,” changes in the current policy on the death tax (in 2013, it will rise from 35 percent today to 55 percent and the exemption will fall from $5 million to $3.5 million), and the expiration of businesses’ ability to fully expense new capital investments.

This $494 billion in higher taxes will certainly hit families and business hard in 2013, but their effects are already being felt. Dubay explains that Americans must plan for tomorrow, and the tremendous uncertainty about tax policy makes the future much more uncertain, thus discouraging the investments and other actions needed to spur the economy to create jobs faster today.

So while the President and Congress appear content to put off ’til the 11th hour what they can and should do today, those who will have to pay the higher tax burden are waiting to see what the future holds. Dubay says that this is “slowing job creation and stopping many of the millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.”

Early on in his presidency, Barack Obama said he knew about the impact of taxes. Back in 2009, on a visit to Elkhart, Indiana, Obama emphatically stated his belief that raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea. Though America is not in recession today, it still struggles with very high unemployment, and so the President’s logic applies with equal force — raising taxes is a drag on job creation. Unfortunately, in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, President Obama unabashedly revealed that preventing tax hikes is not his priority. In fact, he wants to see even more taxes imposed on the American people and on job creators all in the name of “fairness” — may of which are in his budget. That’s a political doctrine, not an economic policy, and it’s a proven recipe for economic disaster.

If the President doesn’t work with Congress to take action soon to prevent a 2013 Taxmageddon, his brand of “fairness” will result in the biggest tax increase in the nation’s history. And that storm will wreak even more damage on America’s already fragile economy. Congress shouldn’t wait for Obama to take the lead in preventing a policy nightmare he might actually favor. Instead, it should act now to prevent these tax hikes from crushing America’s families and our economy.

Get the Fat Out

Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the prevention of heart attacks after developing a vaccine that dramatically reduces fat in the arteries.

The drug, which can be administered by injection or nasal spray, could be available within five years.

Current treatment involves medication that reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.

But the study by Lund University in Sweden is the first which has targeted the underlying cause of heart disease.

Prof Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation medical director, said the vaccine was ‘very promising’.

Fatty deposits can place great strain on the heart by narrowing the arteries and forcing it to pump far harder.

The fatty plaques build up in the blood vessels feeding the heart and over time become narrowed. Parts of the plaque, known as atheroma, may break off causing a clot to form which can block the artery causing a heart attack.

This treatment works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies which tackle this build-up.

Working with Prof Prediman Shah, from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, the team were able to formulate a vaccine that reduced plaque build up by 60 to 70 per cent in mice.

 The resulting injection is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

The resulting CVX-210 vaccine, currently in development as an injection by CardioVax, is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

A second vaccine using the same materials has been formulated as a nasal spray, Prof Nilsson said.

Prof Nilsson said: “The rationale is that since oxidized LDL plays a major role in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and harmful inflammatory processes, directly targeting oxidized LDL should prevent plaque formation and reduce inflammation.”

Early studies have shown that the antibody, called BI-204, developed jointly by BioInvent and Genentech, reduced plaques by half and was well tolerated when tested in 80 healthy people.

A trial of BI-204 in 144 people with heart disease is underway in America and Canada where body scans will measure plaques in the arteries over time. But Prof Jan Nilsson, professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund University, said it was unlikely that the drug would be administered like traditional vaccines in childhood.

 ‘The antibody therapy in particularly is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

Different ways of administering the vaccine are being developed and could be licensed within five years, the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology conference at Imperial College London was told.

Attribution: Daily Telegraph

Helen is a Stand-Up Gal

JERUSALEM (The Blaze/AP) — The top Palestinian envoy to the U.S. has honored longtime journalist and former White House correspondent Helen Thomas in an award ceremony.

A Palestinian official says Maen Erekat, the PLO representative in Washington, hosted Thomas at a dinner at his residence.

The storied columnist, who is 91, was forced stepped down two years ago from her job with the Hearst Newspaper chain after video footage emerged showing her outside the White House saying Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine.”

*Thomas was born of Lebanese immigrants. We all know Israel & Lebanon are not exactly bossom buddies. Maybe that has something to do with her hatred of Israel.

*Doesn’t Helen Thomas, the lover of the United Nations, recall who established Israel in 1948? Of course it was her beloved U.N. Does that mean the U.N. was wrong Helen? Sorry for the digression.

The Palestinian official says the event was to honor Thomas for her “stand against the occupation.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because of what he described as the issue’s sensitivity.

Israel isn’t too happy about the event. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told Israeli news outlet Haaretz on Tuesday that it shows the Palestinians don’t want to meet the “basic requisites of peace.”

Oren added he was “appalled by the award ceremony given by the PLO delegation in Washington to Helen Thomas, who has been completely shunned by all decent Americans after making anti-Semitic remarks, along with teaching Palestinian children to hate the Jewish State and to glorify suicide bombers.”

According to a PLO statement obtained by Haaretz, the PLO “presented Thomas with the appreciation and blessing of the president and the Palestinian people, for all of her actions supporting Palestine in the West.”

* Editorial Comments added

Like it Quiet? Try This

They say silence is golden – but there’s a room in the U.S that’s so quiet it becomes unbearable after a short time.

The longest that anyone has survived in the ‘anechoic chamber’ at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is just 45 minutes.

It’s 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s quietest place, but stay there too long and you may start hallucinating.

It achieves its ultra-quietness by virtue of 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and foot-thick concrete.

The company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield said,  ‘We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark – one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes.

‘When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly.

‘In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.’

And this is a very disorientating experience. Mr Orfield explained that it’s so disconcerting that sitting down is a must.

He said: ‘How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don’t have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.’

The chamber is used by companies all over America – including Nasa, which puts their astronauts to the test in there, floating in a water-filled container, to see ‘how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it’.

As Mr Orfield explains, space is like one giant anechoic chamber, so it’s crucial that astronauts are able to stay focused.

The chamber is also used by a multitude of manufacturers, which test how loud their products are.

Mr Orfield said: ‘It’s used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things – heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard.’

It’s also put to use to determine sound quality.

Mr Orfield and his team will help companies such as washing-machine maker Whirlpool develop metaphors for what sound should, well, sound like.

Motorcylcle manufacturer Harley-Davidson used the lab, for instance, to make their bikes quieter, while still sounding like Harley-Davidsons.

‘We record products and people listen to them based on semantic terms, like “expensive”, “low quality”, said Mr Orfield. ‘We measure their feelings and associations.’

Mr Orfield admits that he can last a very respectable 30 minutes in the chamber, despite having an off-putting mechanical heart valve that suddenly becomes very loud indeed once he’s inside.

Attribution: Mail Online

Honest…My Dog Ate Them

A desperate golf fan forced his pet pooch to get sick and then sifted through her vomit after she ate his tickets for a prestigious tournament.

Russ Berkman fed his beloved Swiss mountain dog Sierra hydrogen peroxide solution after realizing she had devoured the four sought-after passes to Augusta National, sight of the upcoming Masters golf event .

He then pieced the scraps of the tickets he had won in a lottery back together so he could still fulfill a life-long dream and take his three friends to watch Tuesdays practice round.

He told KJR Radio the first thing he did, when realizing exactly what had been her tasty treat, was ‘panic’.

The Seattle resident then called up his girlfriend, who told him the only thing he could do to get the tickets for the Georgia tournament back undigested was: ‘Well you gotta make the dog puke.’

Feeding her the substance, which is evidently safe for dogs to drink, she quickly threw up her meal.

He added: ‘Quite frankly, she didn’t really have much else in her stomach but that, so it worked out.

‘I grabbed a spatula, put (the vomit) into a Ziploc bag and brought it inside on my kitchen counter.’

‘I started, I guess, either a CSI or surgical-type process to figure out what was going to be salvageable, if anything.’

Each ticket had been chewed into 20 vomit-covered pieces. But he managed to put them back together.

He added: ‘We got about 70 per cent of all four tickets put together. It took about, I don’t know – about three cocktails deep [for me] was how long it took to put this thing all together.’

Then, when he contacted Augusta National Golf Club to explain the situation, they were nice enough to reprint his tickets.

The 2012 tournament begins today, and will see Charl Schwartzel defending his title. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are favorites for this year’s event.

They’re all the Same

The following video is of the famous progressive firebrand, Huey Long. This redistribution speech is from December of 1934, 78 years ago. We all know the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. Well, listen carefully to old Huey and tell me it’s not the same speech, with the same villains (new names, but the same villains), such as Big Oil and the rich. Tell me, some 78 years later, this identical speech couldn’t or wouldn’t be given by Obama or any other frothing progressive today. Huey would have received a heros welcome from the ‘Occupy Wallstreet’ crowd.

Spice Up Your Life

SAN DIEGO — The food that inspires wariness and tears is on course for inspiring even more wonder. Scientists reported this week the latest evidence that chili peppers are a heart-healthy food with potential to protect against the number one cause of death in the developed world.

The report was part of the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, being held in San Diego this week.

The study focused on capsaicin and its fiery-hot relatives, a piquant family of substances termed “capsaicinoids.” The component that gives cayennes, jalapenos, habaneros and other chili peppers their heat, capsaicin already has an established role in medicine in rub-on-the-skin creams to treat arthritis and certain forms of pain.

Past research suggested that spicing food with chilies can lower blood pressure in people with that condition, reduce blood cholesterol and decrease the tendency for dangerous blood clots to form.

“Our research has reinforced and expanded knowledge about how these substances in chilies work in improving heart health,” said Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., who presented the study. “We now have a clearer and more detailed portrait of their innermost effects on genes and other mechanisms that influence cholesterol and the health of blood vessels. It is among the first research to provide that information.”

The team found, for instance, that capsaicin and a close chemical relative, boost heart health in two ways. They lower cholesterol levels by reducing accumulation of cholesterol in the body and increasing its breakdown and excretion in the feces. That’s number two for those of you in Rio Linda.

They also block action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting the flow of blood to the heart and other organs. This blocking action allows more flow through blood vessels.

“We concluded that capsaicinoids were beneficial in improving a range of factors related to heart and blood vessel health,” said Chen, a professor of food and nutritional science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But we certainly do not recommend that people start consuming chilies to an excess. A good diet is a matter of balance. And remember, chilies are no substitute for the prescription medications proven to be beneficial. They may be a nice supplement, however, for people who find the hot flavor pleasant.”

Chen and his colleagues used hamsters for the study. They gave the hamsters high-cholesterol diets, divided them into groups, and supplemented each group’s food with either no capsaicinoids (the control group) or various amounts of capsaicinoids. The scientists then analyzed the effects.

In addition to reducing total cholesterol levels in the blood, capsaicinoids reduced levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (which deposits into blood vessels), but did not affect levels of so-called “good” cholesterol. The team found indications that capsaicinoids may reduce the size of deposits that already have formed in blood vessels, narrowing arteries in ways that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Capsaicinoids also blocked the activity of a gene that produces cyclooxygenase-2, a substance that makes the muscles around blood vessels constrict. By blocking it, muscles can relax and widen, allowing more blood to flow.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the US Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

The Beatles? … Next Generation

Sir Paul McCartney’s son James said he would be willing to form a ‘next generation’ Beatles with the sons of the other band members.

The 34-year-old said he was “up for it” and John Lennon’s son, Sean, and George Harrison’s son, Dhani, had also shown support for the idea, although Ringo Starr’s son, drummer Zak, was less keen.

James told the BBC: “I don’t think it’s something that Zak wants to do.

“Maybe Jason [another of Starr’s sons and also a drummer] would want to do it.

“I’d be up for it. Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it. I’d be happy to do it.”

James said that the idea had already been mooted “a little bit”.

Asked if a new Beatles could happen, he said: “Yeah, hopefully, naturally. I don’t know, you’d have to wait and see. The will of God, nature’s support, I guess. So yeah, maybe.”

The singer-songwriter, who’s played guitar on two his father’s albums Flaming Pie and Driving Rain, is following in his father’s footsteps by playing a gig at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club on Tuesday.

The Cavern is where the Beatles played dozens of gigs before hitting the big time.

James said is had been “beautiful” working with his father, who co-produced two of his EPs, including sessions at the Abbey Road studios.

Asked about his relationship with Sir Paul, he said: “It’s amazing. Sometimes in the past, a few years ago, it can be difficult, it can be tense, like families can get.

But beyond that it’s beautiful. “He’s a genius, he’s beyond genius, and he’s a big inspiration. Very intellectual and obviously amazing at what he does, so it’s great fun.

He helps me get in tune with myself and be the best person that I can be.”

James admitted that having the name McCartney was “a help” in the music business and it was “an honour” to be connected to his father.

He said that as a schoolboy he’d dreamt of “being better than The Beatles”, adding: “I’m not sure if I can do that. If anything, I would love to be equal to The Beatles – but even that’s quite tough.”

All of the Beatles boys have taken after their fathers. McCartney has played guitar on two of his father’s albums, and is playing a show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles cut their teeth.

Starkey has drummed for the likes of The Who and Oasis, Harrison is the frontman of thenewno2 and Lennon is a successful singer-songwriter in New York.

Attribution: Daily Telegraph, HuffPo