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Extraordinary!

by : David Glenn Cox
Tuesday September 7, 2010 - 19:50

By David Glenn Cox

I walk these quiet empty streets like a post-apocalyptic omega man surrounded by quiet and empty stores and houses. Past the fast food joints still not busy even at dinnertime and car washes not busy on a beautiful Saturday morning. I fell into some money this week and thought I’d celebrate by going down to the sport’s bar about a mile from the garage and watching some college football.

I told my son where I was going and he screwed up his face and asked, “What sports bar?”

“The one next to the Mexican restaurant in the shopping center behind the bank.” Admittedly, I don’t get out much but I was somewhat surprised to find both the sports bar and the Mexican restaurant gone. Just empty store fronts now making the entire shopping center uniform in its emptiness. I still remember my last visit during the SEC championship last year the waitress was very nice but she seemed very young. I wonder where she’s working now? What of the manager and the cooks and waitresses at the Mexican restaurant next door?

President Obama may seek a permanent extension of the research and development tax credit. That’s good news; the staff at the Mexican restaurant and the sports bar will be back at work before their ninety-nine weeks of unemployment is up. Of course, when you make most of your money from tips and your hourly wage is a barbaric $2.13 an hour unemployment is kind of a joke. The research and development tax credit will cost the treasury around $7.5 billion dollars per year and it helps American industry to offset the cost of developing new products before they outsource their production to Asia.

The little yellow house that I wrote about in “No Ordinary Utensil” is still empty. A block further over is a red brick house that wears the familiar clothing of the clean out crew. The left over belongings are lined up along the carport in large black trash bags. In the front yard a “For Sale” sign supported by two four by four posts has collapsed in its old age and is rotting away in the tall grass. Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs warns, “Some big new stimulus plan is not in the offing, I do not anticipate something that rivals the extraordinary measures that the president has already taken.”

Extraordinary? Is that really the correct word? A stimulus package that was thirty five percent tax cuts, cash for clunkers that offered three billion tax credits to those who could still afford to purchase news cars. A twelve billion-dollar program of tax credits for those who can still afford to purchase new homes. Yes, extraordinary, new cars and new homes while for those struggling to keep the homes they have now a mortgage program in which fifty percent drop out of. Either because weary of jumping through hoops in a program that is run by and for the benefit of the big banks or they no longer have the income to keep going in the house.

But Mr. Obama has some other extraordinary programs; a payroll tax relief for business and targeted small business tax breaks. If only the sports bar and Mexican restaurant could have held on with these extraordinary tax breaks business would have been booming!

The cabinetry shop next door still has had no new work and it’s been about three weeks now. I can relate, when I was still self-employed you reach an epiphany where you ask yourself, “I am I really employed without work or am I just unemployed?” I shall tell him tomorrow about Obama’s extraordinary tax cuts for small business and I’m sure he will be relieved to know that the cabinetry work will soon be poring in at anytime now.

“The options under consideration build on measures the president has previously proposed,” Jen Psaki, an administration spokeswoman, said. “The president and his team are discussing several options, as they have been for months, and no final decisions have been made.”

Well gee, there is no rush, take your time. The first stimulus was too small and Robert Gibbs promises that this will be too small as well but even more so. Targeted too small, small business too small. The research and development tax credit that Dow Chemical and Microsoft and a host of other corporate giants have been pushing for too small even at seven and a half billion dollars per year too small.

If it takes a few extra four or five months that’s only two million new unemployed and with two hundred thousand American’s losing their homes each month that’s only a million homes and four million more people on the pyre. I bet the market for black trash bags is doing great. There is a stimulus idea, how about a tax credit for small business on black trash bags?

Existing home sales, which make up ninety percent of the market, fell twenty seven percent to the lowest level in the modern era. Almost one quarter of sales where foreclosures and another ten percent were short sales. The worst month in the modern era and thirty-five percent of those sales were distressed sales? It is a page straight out of the Great Depression and Mr. Obama’s extraordinary answer to most every question is tax cuts for business.

There is an odd statistic left over rattling around in my head from my days as a Real Estate agent that says, “two thirds of all wealth is held in Real Estate.” Thirty-five percent of home sales as distressed sales? Two hundred thousand foreclosures each month and we are talking about the largest wealth transfer in American history. The banks get a tax credit when a mortgage fails they take the deed to the troubled asset relief program and are given credit by the Federal Reserve for the amount of their loss. The bank can then take that in new cash or in the form of a gift certificate.

TARP then bundles and sells these properties at auction and the banks may bid to purchase these properties back at zero percent interest and zero money down. The FDIC then promises that if the purchasers don’t make any money on the properties in three years the federal government will give them a rebate on the purchase price. Call it a tax cut on a tax cut, on a tax cut.

Boy oh boy, with all these extraordinary programs on tap good times will be right around the corner. Wait, who was it that said that? Prosperity is just around the corner! A chicken in every pot and a new car in every garage! What was that fellow’s name again? He was a mining engineer and a good speaker and he tried to build coalitions between government and industry, but what was his name?

What we are dealing with is an economic cancer so can the treatment for lung cancer be smoking more cigarettes? Do you treat a cancer by giving the patient a small dose of medicine and then waiting six months to a year for improvement says counting to a million by fives? It is thirty years of business tax cuts that brought us this economy and this deficit along with two pointless wars. Can the antidote to the poison be more poison?

Tax cutting allows the White House to claim that they are spending X amount of dollars fixing a problem without actually spending a dime. The problem is that there is no money in the economy and the administration’s answer is to cut taxes for business. The problem that business faces is that they don’t have any customers with money to spend!

US auto sales fell to the lowest level in three decades; the price on new autos has also fallen seven percent over last year. Last year wasn’t great but the administration’s three billion-dollar tax credit give away boosted sales to fourteen million units. This year is expected to be eighteen percent lower with three million more cars scraped than new cars titled. Who received most of the benefit from the tax cut last year? The customers in most cases got a new car along with a payment book it was the auto companies who pocketed coin that was subsidized by you and me.

I get so muddled sometimes, which president was it that pushed supply side economics? He assured us that tax cuts for the wealthy and business would make the economy hum! He left office with the largest deficit in history and the economy in disarray but still maintained that tax cuts made the economy stronger. What was his name, ah, John Wayne no, Ronald Reagan! Yes it was Ronald Reagan that proposed business tax cuts to make the economy stronger. The other guy was ah, Herbert Hoover! So Obama’s plan is to follow the path laid out by Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan what could go wrong?



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