President Obama wants to reform “earmarks.” And, as Bill Press points out in his latest column, there’s already been improvement:

Democrats agreed in January to limit earmark spending to 50 percent of 2006 levels. There are fewer earmarks in this year’s spending bill than in the last bill passed by a Republican-controlled Congress: 8,750 compared to over 11,000. And, for the first time, under Democrats, transparency reigns. Earmarks must be posted on committee websites. Every voter can find out who put in how much in the spending bill and for what purpose. That’s real change. . . .

On the same day President Obama reluctantly signed the Omnibus Spending Bill, House Democrats adopted new measures to reform the earmark process even further. From now on, earmarks will be subject to a 20-day review by the relevant executive-branch agency, which can give them a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Earmarks will be limited to no more than 1 percent of the discretionary budget. And any earmark for a private, for-profit company will be subject to competitive bidding.

☞ With earmarks, we’re talking about way less than 1% of total Federal spending. Most earmarks go to worthwhile projects – only those easily mocked get attention. It is that mockable sliver of one percent that 80% of media attention to Federal spending.


I’ve been writing this for years; but never as succinctly as MoveOn just now:

Dear MoveOn member,

This is ridiculous. The media has been obsessing about President Obama’s plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—from 35% to 39.6%—even asking if that makes him a socialist.1

But do you know what tax rate the wealthiest Americans paid on the top portion of their earnings at the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term? 50%.

Under Richard Nixon? 70%. Under Dwight Eisenhower? 91%!

Shocking, right?

And for all the whining about rolling back Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts, the truth is that Obama’s plan cuts taxes for 95% of working Americans. Further, it closes huge tax loopholes for oil companies, hedge funds and corporations that ship jobs overseas so that we can invest in the priorities that will get our economy back on track.2

We saw a great chart in The Washington Monthly that shows just how absurd Republican complaints about Obama’s budget are. Check it out and pass it on.

☞ When you click the link to look at that chart, don’t miss how the the top rate was slashed in the early 1920s, from over 70% to barely over 20%. Ah, the Roaring Twenties! Remember the “permanent plateau” of prosperity the stock market reached in 1929? The Republicans believe you can never cut taxes too low: only good things follow. Like the 1930s.


Matt Ball: “My favorite chart of all time.”

☞ The chart Matt refers to is the last one, showing how the top 1% have fared relative to everyone else. But the whole blog entry is worth reading – and the comments that follow are interesting as well. The trick, it seems to me, is to find a good balance – not to go overboard with incentive-stifling taxation, but not to overshoot in favor of the top 1%, either.


Here’s a way to help in 30 seconds.


I’ve really tried, but this column looks terrible in Firefox. These ☞ ☞ ☞ ☞ pointy fingers now seem to work. But the type fonts have a mind of their own.

But with this little Firefox add-on that you told me about last month, I just click the little icon at the extreme bottom right corner of my screen and toggle back and forth between Firefox view and faux-Explorer view. In the latter, it looks the way it was intended to.

Take a minute to get that add-on, and then a second or two each day to read this the way it was meant to be seen?


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