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Friday, April 27, 2012

GDP Growth Down To 2.2%, Below Estimates... Let The Spin Begin

By Susan Duclos

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released it's report which shows U.S. economic growth is below previous estimates.

 Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP increased 3.0 percent.

 There will be predictable spin on this from Obama supporters and liberals across the Internet. They will say, this isn't good but it is better than what estimates back in December said it would be which was around 1.8%.

That is true, but when the economy appeared to pick up and growth rated was estimated at 2.7%, Obama and company touted it as "the economy is growing" and words like the economic growth is "speeding up" were bandied about, despite warnings that the pattern upward would stall, go down again, up again and hold no consistent growth trend.

They will also say, they already are, "don't get too worried" this is just the first pass and it could be adjusted upward or downward... later on.

More spin will come as  Barack Obama predictably will go on and  on  about "The Buffet Rule", raising taxes which he has touted as a fix-all for the economy.

Via CBS earlier this month:

(CBS News) Expanding on his reasons to support the "Buffett Rule," President Obama said it is "not just about fairness" but economic "growth" as well. (Watch in video above.)

"Now, this is not just about fairness. This is also about growth," the president said in his weekly address. "It's about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs. And it's about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments."

Raising taxes is about growth says Obama. Pretty clear statement and one we have heard from Obama, Democrats and liberals consistently.

Obama knows better. Obama has known better from the start of his term.

Forbes contributor Charles Kadlec brings attention to Obama's first Chair of his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), Christina D. Romer, who chaired the CEA from January 28, 2009 – September 3, 2010.

In a paper entitled: “The Macrcoeconomic Effects of Tax Changes” published by the prestigious American Economic Review in June 2010 (during her tenure at the White House), she stated: “In short, tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.”

This is the complete opposite of what we have been hearing over and over again from the Obama administration as he continues to try to pit one group of people against another with his class warfare rhetoric.

Now let's take a look at the tax hikes we have seen already from the Obama administration.

There is a list of 21 of them, some have gone into effect and some are not due to go into effect until January 2013, coincidentally, after Obama's bid for reelection in November 2012.

Dividing them into two groups. Those that have already been implemented and those due to be implemented. (Unless the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare aka PPACA, since most are embedded into Obama's health care law)

1. A 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco:  On February 4, 2009, just sixteen days into his Administration, Obama signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack.  The median income of smokers is just over $36,000 per year.

7. Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax (Tax hike of $5 bil/took effect Jan. 2011): Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957-1,959

8. Obamacare HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Tax hike of $1.4 bil/took effect Jan. 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,959

12. Obamacare Tax on Indoor Tanning Services (Tax hike of $2.7 billion/took effect July 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,397-2,399

14. Obamacare Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike (Tax hike of $0.4 bil/took effect Jan. 1 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,004

15. Obamacare Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals (Min$/took effect immediately): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,961-1,971

16. Obamacare Tax on Innovator Drug Companies (Tax hike of $22.2 bil/took effect Jan. 2011): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,971-1,980

19. Obamacare Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2 ($min/takes effect Jan. 2012): Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957

20. Obamacare “Black liquor” tax hike (Tax hike of $23.6 billion/took effect immediately).  This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 105

21. Obamacare Codification of the “economic substance doctrine” (Tax hike of $4.5 billion/took effect immediately).  This provision allows the IRS to disallow completely-legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to reduce taxes owed. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 108-113

 To Be Implemented in 2013

4. Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income (Tax hike of $123 billion/takes effect Jan. 2013):  Creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income: Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 87-93

6. Obamacare Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax (Tax hike of $86.8 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Current law and changes: Bill: PPACA, Reconciliation            Act; Page: 2000-2003; 87-93

9. Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax” (Tax hike of $13 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs educationBill: PPACA; Page: 2,388-2,389

10. Obamacare Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers (Tax hike of $20 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax.  Exempts items retailing for <$100. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,980-1,986

11. Obamacare "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI (Tax hike of $15.2 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994-1,995

13. Obamacare elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D (Tax hike of $4.5 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013) Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994
To Be Implemented in 2014

2. Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (takes effect in Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following

1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016 + 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085
Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS). Bill: PPACA; Page: 317-337

3. Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax (takes effect Jan. 2014):  If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees.  Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Bill: PPACA; Page: 345-346
Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

To Be Implemented in 2018

5. Obamacare Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (Tax hike of $32 bil/takes effect Jan. 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family).  Higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions.  CPI +1 percentage point indexed. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,941-1,956

Now let's go back to what Obama's first Chair of his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), Christina D. Romer, said, while she was still working for Obama: “In short, tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.”

Barack Obama has presided over the worst recovery in history and it was his own policies that guaranteed that dubious place in historical recoveries.

Yet it is 100% assured that Barack Obama will tell Americans during his reelection campaign, that raising taxes is about "growth."