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August 17, 2012

Latest Posts from Economist's View

Latest Posts from Economist's View

Posted: 13 Aug 2012 12:33 AM PDT
Joe Stiglitz and Mark Zandi endorse the Merkely plan for mass mortgage refinancing:
The One Housing Solution Left: Mass Mortgage Refinancing, by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Zandi, Commentary, NY Times: ...With 13.5 million homeowners underwater ... the odds are high that many millions ... will lose their homes.
Housing remains the biggest impediment to economic recovery, yet Washington seems paralyzed. ... Late last month, the top regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac blocked a plan backed by the Obama administration to let the companies forgive some of the mortgage debt owed by stressed homeowners. ...
With principal writedown no longer an option, the government needs to find a new way to facilitate mass mortgage refinancings. With rates at record lows, refinancing would allow homeowners to significantly reduce their monthly payments... A mass refinancing program would work like a potent tax cut. ...
Well over half of all American homeowners with mortgages are ... excellent candidates to refinance. ... But many ... can't refinance because the collapse in house prices has wiped out their home equity.
Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, has proposed a remedy. Under his plan,... underwater homeowners who are current on their payments and meet other requirements would have the option to refinance to either lower their monthly payments or pay down their loans and rebuild equity. ...
If the program was very successful, we envisage that two million outstanding loans could be placed in ... trust at its peak. If the average mortgage balance was $150,000, then at the peak there would be $300 billion outstanding. ...
Since the Great Recession began almost five years ago, housing has been at the heart of our economic woes. If we do nothing, the problem will eventually resolve itself, but only with significant pain and a long wait. Mr. Merkley's plan would speed the healing.
Posted: 13 Aug 2012 12:06 AM PDT
Posted: 12 Aug 2012 10:20 AM PDT
Matthew O'Brien:
Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan's Plan, by Matthew O'Brien: Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain.
Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 -- the only year we have seen a full return from him -- Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. ...
It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense...
On the "eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense," Social Security isn't safe either. Remember that "Ryan sponsored a Social Security privatization scheme that went so far the George W. Bush administration rejected it." In any case, Social Security is one of the programs Romney and Ryan would need to cut in order to offset the low tax rates they propose for those at the top.
Posted: 12 Aug 2012 09:36 AM PDT
Romney doesn't want you to know the truth about his economic plan:
A Tax Plan That Defies the Rules of Math, by David Firestone, Editorial, NY Times: In May of 2000, when George W. Bush was running for president on a platform of extravagant tax cuts for all, his campaign did something that would be considered remarkable today: it submitted his tax plan to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, to see how much all those tax cuts would cost the Treasury.
The bipartisan committee ran ... predicted that the tax plan would cost about $1.3 trillion over nine years, an underestimate but a clear sign of its high price tag. With the budget in surplus at the time, Mr. Bush didn't dispute that cost, and never tried to pretend that the cuts would be free. Within a decade, in fact, they would turn out to be the biggest factor in the huge deficit he created.
Twelve years later, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, claims his far deeper tax cuts would have a price tag of exactly zero dollars. He has no intention of submitting his tax plan to the committee or anywhere else that might conduct a serious analysis, since he seems intent on running a campaign far more opaque than any candidate has in years.
He has made his economic plan the fundamental basis of his candidacy, and yet with the Republican convention just two weeks away, we know next to nothing of the plan's details. ...
On issue after issue, the dominant theme of Mr. Romney's plan is a refusal to make real choices..., you can scrutinize all 160 pages of his economic booklet without finding any evidence of decision-making. ...
The plans Mr. Ryan submitted as House budget chairman — which are now Mr. Romney's too — were never models of clarity, but they at least made his priorities quite stark: more than three-fifths of his cuts would come from low-income programs like job training, Pell grants and food stamps. That's not something Mr. Romney ever talked about on the stump ...
When the campaign refuses to release details -- tax returns come to mind as well -- it's because it has something to hide. The question to ask, and the last paragraph has the answer, is what he is trying to hide about his budget proposal. There's no way whatsoever to make his numbers work out without deep cuts to social insurance programs that benefit working class households, and higher taxes would also be required for these households (in part to offset large tax cuts for upper income households). But Romney doesn't have the courage to tell you that, instead he wants to keep it hidden, to blow smoke around the numbers, anything but the truth about his plan.

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