One of Pun Salad's earliest touchstones for analyzing Barackrobatics
(our term for our President's rhetorical stylings)
was: Obama's use of the word "dime" is a reliable signal of
dishonesty, deception, delusion, or general incoherence.
So, yesterday in the South
Driveway of the White House, the President was shilling for (yet
another) "Jobs Bill", this one allegedly targeting "small business".
And, sure enough, there it is:
I'd also like to point out this legislation is fully paid for and will
not add one single dime to our deficit.
You can read a summary of the bill's provisions at the NYT
"You're the Boss" small business blog
blogger is straight-faced, but as one reads,
it becomes apparent that
the bill is yet another desperate
agglomeration of gimmickry, tweaks, and
I'm-from-the-government-and-I'm-here-to-help-you feelgood fantasy.
The main effect is to expand (already ineffective) bureaucratized
largess and pile on more twists and turns onto the already labyrinthine
The bill would limit the penalty for failing to report on a tax return a
transaction that the Internal Revenue Service has formally identified as
an abusive tax shelter. The penalty would be set at 75 percent of the
tax benefit and capped at $200,000 for corporations and $100,000 for
get those entrepreneurs off their lazy duffs!
"Break out the checkbook, Matilda! Our IRS penalties done been capped!"
At Business Week, Gene Marks factchecks
the alleged benefits of the legislation via anecdote: how they would
apply to his business and that of a local roofing contractor. You
can wade through it, but you might get the gist from the headline: "The
Small Business Jobs Bill: To Us, It's Meaningless". His final
paragraphs are key:
We need more demand. Not government demand--people demand. Customers
aren't spending money on roofs or new software if they can avoid it.
They don't want to draw on their already depleted savings while they
watch other countries go bankrupt and read reports from legitimate
economists that if we don't stop our runaway deficits, the same thing
will happen to us. They're warily eyeing upcoming tax increases from
federal, state, and local governments and wondering how they're going to
cover expenses. And if they do sell investments to draw on their
savings, they definitely don't want to pay higher capital gains taxes,
which take effect in 2011.
Until taxes and deficits go down, no
"jobs" bill is going to solve the problems business owners like us have.
So: the bill is pointless, stupid, and probably counterproductive, but
allows campaigning Democrats to claim they've "done something."
Par for the course.
But how about the "dime" thing? Is the bill "fully paid for"?
At least in the (weak) sense that actual spending is being cut somewhere
else? You can get a hint from
at the NYT
blog. As it turns out, the
bill is "paid for" by a different
set of gimmickry, tweaks,
and feelgood fantasies. For example:
Senate Democrats said that while the programs in the bill would cost
$10.8 billion, the legislation raises $12.7 billion separately, largely
by giving people enrolled in tax-deferred employer-sponsored retirement
more access to after-tax Roth accounts.
The bill also proposes additional tax reporting requirements and
penalties, and new powers to collect back taxes, while closing an
ethanol tax-credit loophole and raising money through interest payments
from banks participating in the small-business lending program.
So the bill is "paid for" in what sense? Well:
[The proposed Roth change]
is attractive politically, said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at
the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, because "people pay more taxes today
only if they choose to do so; ergo no one can complain about the tax
increase. We simply pass the problem on to our children and
grandchildren, who will pay the cost when we use our retirement savings
in our old age."
So when Obama claims that this "will not add one
single dime to our deficit," he really means our
kids and grandkids, though… their
is going to be massive. They're going to have to cough
up a lot
of dimes, all because we can't shut off the
government's spending firehose.
(Previous episodes of Dimewatch: here,