In an age of “belt tightening” and “budget cuts”, you would think that government officials would be trying to spend our money wisely. Unfortunately, when it comes time to cut spending our politicians tend to do everything that they can to protect their own interests and their own pet projects, but they don’t seem to mind implementing cuts that deeply hurt military families, the poor and the elderly. The facts that you are about to read will likely upset you very much. The federal government and our state governments are wasting money in some of the most ridiculous ways imaginable. Meanwhile, we are being told that we don’t have any money for a lot of really important things. Our hard-earned tax dollars are being horribly mismanaged, and the American people deserve to hear the truth about this gross negligence.
Now before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I believe that the federal government and our state governments are already taking in more than enough money. They should be able to do everything that they need to do on the money that they are already extracting from all of us. And if we had been living within our means all this time, we would not be drowning in debt as a nation today.
Unfortunately, our politicians did choose to go into tremendous amounts of debt, and the American people did not stop them. So now we are rapidly heading toward a debt crisis unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
And our politicians should be reducing spending. There is no question about that. But what this article is about is priorities, and right now our politicians really seem to have their priorities messed up. What follows are some examples of this…
The U.S. Congress has cut $60,000,000 for schools on Indian reservations across the country…
…but somehow the IRS is able to pay out $70,000,000 in bonuses to their workers.
It is being projected that federal budget cuts will cost the U.S. economy 1.6 million jobs through the end of 2014…
…but somehow the federal government has plenty of money to provide many former members of Congress with six-figure annual incomes for life…
Members of Congress receive retirement benefits that are far more generous than those earned by the average worker, according to a recent Bankrate analysis.
Not only do congressional representatives and senators earn the guarantee of a monthly pension check — a benefit that has become increasingly rare for most U.S. workers — they also receive Social Security payments and can opt to pay into the federal Thrift Savings Plan, a 401(k) style-plan with fees that are far lower than most retirement plans.
As a result,longtime members of Congress can easily retire with six-figure annual incomes for life.
The Obama administration is forcing the U.S. Army to reduce the number of active combat brigades from 45 to 33…
…but somehow the National Institutes of Health has $509,840 to spend on “a study that will send text messages in ‘gay lingo’ to methamphetamine addicts to try to persuade them to use fewer drugs and more condoms.”
…but Barack Obama felt that it was so important to send $500,000,000 to the Palestinian Authority that he signed a national security executive order last Friday that enabled him to get around an act of Congress that was intended to prevent him from sending that money to them.
…but somehow the state of California has plenty of money to provide a multitude of welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
A total of about 38 million dollars is being cut from “meals on wheels” programs around the nation due to the sequester…
…but somehow the federal government has plenty of money to hassle ordinary citizens with ridiculous amounts of red tape. For example, a small-time magician out in Missouri that does magic shows for kids was recently forced to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses in his shows.
With priorities like this, is it any wonder that our national debt is completely and totally out of control?
If the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills, it would stretch from the earth to the moon five times. It would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.
If our politicians would have been spending our money wisely all of these years, we would have enough money to do the essential things that the government should be doing.
But instead, our money has been wasted in some of the most bizarre ways imaginable, and yet the American people just continue to sit back and allow our politicians to flush our money down the toilet.
So what do you think about all of this? Are there any additional examples that you would add to the list above? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
The financial system of the third largest economy on the planet is starting to come apart at the seams, and the ripple effects are going to be felt all over the globe. Nobody knew exactly when the Japanese financial system was going to begin to implode, but pretty much everyone knew that a day of reckoning for Japan was coming eventually. After all, the Japanese economy has been in a slump for over a decade, Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of well over 200 percent and they are spending about 50 percent of all tax revenue on debt service. In a desperate attempt to revitalize the economy and reduce the debt burden, the Bank of Japan decided a few months ago to start pumping massive amounts of money into the economy. At first, it seemed to be working. Economic activity perked up and the Japanese stock market went on a tremendous run. Unfortunately, there is also a very significant downside to pumping your economy full of money. Investors start demanding higher returns on their money and interest rates go up. But the Japanese government cannot afford higher interest rates. Without super low interest rates, Japanese government finances would totally collapse. In addition, higher interest rates in the private sector would make it much more difficult for the Japanese economy to expand. In essence, pretty much the last thing that Japan needs right now is significantly higher interest rates, but that is exactly what the policies of the Bank of Japan are going to produce.
There is a lot of fear in Japan right now. On Thursday, the Nikkei plunged 7.3 percent. That was the largest single day decline in more than two years. Then on Monday the index fell by another 3.2 percent.
And according to Business Insider, things are not looking good for Tuesday at this point…
Are we witnessing the beginning of a colossal financial meltdown by the third largest economy on the planet? The Bank of Japan is starting to lose control, and if Japan goes down hard the crisis could spread to Europe and North America very rapidly. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers…
As Japan has indicated, when bonds start to plunge, it’s not good for stocks. Today the Japanese Bond market fell and the Nikkei plunged 7%. The entire market down 7%… despite the Bank of Japan funneling $19 billion into it to hold things together.
This is what it looks like when a Central Bank begins to lose control. And what’s happening in Japan today will be coming to the US in the not so distant future.
If you think the Fed is not terrified of this, think again. The Fed has pumped over $1 trillion into foreign banks, hoping to stop the mess from getting to the US. As Japan is showing us, the Fed will fail.
Investors, take note… the financial system is sending us major warnings…
If you are not already preparing for a potential market collapse, now is the time to be doing so.
And all of this money printing is absolutely crushing the Japanese yen. Since the start of 2013, the yen has declined 16 percent against the U.S. dollar, even though the U.S. dollar is also being rapidly debased. Just check out this chart of the yen vs. the U.S. dollar. It is absolutely stunning…
The term “currency war” is something that you are going to hear a lot more over the next few years, and what you can see in the chart above is only the beginning.
What the Bank of Japan is doing right now is absolutely unprecedented. It has announced that it plans to inject the equivalent of approximately $1.4 trillion into the Japanese economy in less than two years.
“What they’re doing represents 70% of what the Fed is doing here with an economy 1/3 the size of ours”
The big problem for Japan will come when government bond yields really start to rise. The yield on 10 year government bonds has been creeping up over the past few months, and if they hit the 1.0% mark that will set off some major red flags.
Because Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 200 percent, the only way that it can avoid a total meltdown of government finances is to have super low interest rates. The video posted below does a great job of elaborating on this point…
It really is very simple. If interest rates rise substantially, Japan will be done.
Investor Kyle Bass is one of those that have been warning about this for a long time…
There’s a fatalism, he says, in everyone he talks to in Japan. Their thinking is changing, and the way they talk to him about debt is changing. They already spend 50% of tax revenue on debt service.
“If rates go up, it’s game over.”
The financial problems in Cyprus and Greece are just tiny blips compared to what a major financial crisis in Japan would potentially be like. The Japanese economy is larger than the economies of Germany and Italy combined. If the house of cards in Japan comes tumbling down, trillions of dollars of investments all over the globe are going to be affected.
And what is happening right now in Japan should serve as a sober warning to the United States. Like Japan, the money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing has caused economic activity to perk up a bit and it has sent the stock market on an unprecedented run.
Unfortunately, no bubble that the Federal Reserve has ever created has been able to last forever. At some point, we will pay a very great price for all of the debt that the U.S. government has been accumulating and all of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been engaged in.
So enjoy the calm before the storm while you still can.
Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in American history was during a time when there was absolutely no federal income tax? Between the end of the Civil War and 1913, there was an explosion of economic activity in the United States unlike anything ever seen before or since. Unfortunately, a federal income tax was instituted in 1913, and this year it turned 100 years old. But there was no fanfare, was there? There was no celebration because the federal income tax is universally hated. Sadly, most Americans just assume that there is no other option to an income tax. Most Americans just assume that it has always been with us and that it will always be with us. This year, the American people will shell out approximately $4.22 trillion in state and federal income taxes. That amount is equivalent to approximately 29.4 percent of all income that Americans will bring in this year, and that does not even take into account the dozens of other taxes that Americans pay each year. At this point, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long, and those that are honest and pay their taxes every year are being absolutely shredded by this system. But wouldn’t the federal government go broke if we didn’t have a federal income tax? No, actually the truth is that the federal government did just fine before there was an income tax. In fact, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve were created by Congress back in 1913. As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve system was actually designed to trap the United States in a debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape, and the federal income tax was needed to greatly expand the size of the federal government and to soak the American people of the funds necessary to service that debt. But it doesn’t have to be this way. America was once much better off before the income tax and the Federal Reserve were created, and we could easily go to such a system again.
What we desperately need to do is to teach the American people a little history lesson. The truth is that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was between the Civil War and 1913 when there was no federal income tax at all. The following is from Wikipedia…
The Gilded Age saw the greatest period of economic growth in American history. After the short-lived panic of 1873, the economy recovered with the advent of hard money policies and industrialization. From 1869 to 1879, the US economy grew at a rate of 6.8% for real GDP and 4.5% for real GDP per capita, despite the panic of 1873. The economy repeated this period of growth in the 1880s, in which the wealth of the nation grew at an annual rate of 3.8%, while the GDP was also doubled.
Sadly, most Americans cannot even conceive of an economy like that. Most Americans cannot even imagine having a nation without a massively bloated federal government and without an unelected central bank centrally planning our financial system.
But you know what?
It worked. In fact, it worked fantastically well.
The period between the Civil War and 1913 propelled the United States to greatness. Just check out all of the good things that Wikipedia says happened for the U.S. economy during those years…
The rapid economic development following the Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. industrial economy. By 1890, the USA leaped ahead of Britain for first place in manufacturing output.
An explosion of new discoveries and inventions took place, a process called the “Second Industrial Revolution.” Railroads greatly expanded the mileage and built stronger tracks and bridges that handled heavier cars and locomotives, carrying far more goods and people at lower rates. Refrigeration railroad cars came into use. The telephone, phonograph, typewriter and electric light were invented. By the dawn of the 20th century, cars had begun to replace horse-drawn carriages.
Parallel to these achievements was the development of the nation’s industrial infrastructure. Coal was found in abundance in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky. Oil was discovered in western Pennsylvania; it was mainly used for lubricants and for kerosene for lamps. Large iron ore mines opened in the Lake Superior region of the upper Midwest. Steel mills thrived in places where these coal and iron ore could be brought together to produce steel. Large copper and silver mines opened, followed by lead mines and cement factories.
In 1913 Henry Ford introduced the assembly line, a step in the process that became known as mass-production.
But if we didn’t have an income tax, how did we fund the government? Well, we mostly did it with tariffs and excise taxes. The following is from a recent article by Thomas R. Eddlem…
Prior to ratification of the 16th (income tax) Amendment in February 1913, the federal government managed its few constitutional responsibilities without an income tax, except during the Civil War period. During peacetime, it did so largely — or even entirely — on import taxes called “tariffs.” Congress could afford to run the federal government on tariffs alone because federal responsibilities did not include welfare programs, agricultural subsidies, or social insurance programs like Social Security or Medicare. After the Civil War, tariff revenues sometimes suffered under a protectionist policy ushered in by the Republican Party that supplemented federal income via excises on alcohol, tobacco, and inheritances. But before the war, the need for tariff revenue to finance the federal government generally kept the tariff at reasonable levels. During wartime throughout early American history, the Founding Fathers were able to raise additional revenue employing a different method of direct taxation authorized by the U.S. Constitution prior to the 16th Amendment. These alternative taxing methods gave the young American nation embarrassing peacetime budget surpluses that several times came close to paying off the national debt.
So why didn’t we stick with that system?
Well, early in the 20th century the “progressives” and the social planners started to take control in Washington.
And one of the things that “progressives” and social planners love is an income tax. In fact, the second plank of the Communist Manifesto is a “heavy progressive or graduated income tax”.
Of course they promised us that income tax rates would always remain low. And at first they were quite low. The following is from an article by Adam Young…
The presidential election of 1912 was contested between three advocates of an income tax. The winner, Woodrow Wilson, after the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, called a special session of Congress in April 1913, which proceeded to pass an income tax of 1% on incomes above $3,000 and applied surcharges between 2% and 7% on income from $20,000 to $500,000.
But once the “progressives” and the social planners get their feet in the door, they always want more.
1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.
2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements. Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.
3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages long.
4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade. It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.
5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.
6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly. For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All 46 of them came up with a different result.
7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five of them came up with a different result.
8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.
9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes. Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.
10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.
11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.
13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.
14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.
15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.
16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.
17 – The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent). In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent. This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.
18 – Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations. For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.
19 – In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue. In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.
The wealthy have become absolute masters at avoiding taxes, and the poor are not able to pay much.
So who always gets squeezed?
The middle class does.
No matter what our politicians promise us, the hammer is always brought down on the middle class.
And now, according to The Huffington Post, the IRS says that it can even read our old emails without a warrant to make sure that we are paying all of the taxes that we should be…
The IRS apparently interprets that authority very broadly, the documents show: as long as you’ve stored your email in a cloud service like Google Mail, and as long as those emails haven’t been deleted after a few months, the agency thinks it doesn’t need a warrant to read them.
The idea of IRS agents poking through your email account might sound at the very least creepy, and maybe unconstitutional. But the IRS does have a legal leg to stand on: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allows government agencies to in many cases obtain emails older than 180 days without a warrant.
That’s why an internal 2009 IRS document claimed that “the government may obtain the contents of electronic communication that has been in storage for more than 180 days” without a warrant.
It should be noted that the IRS is claiming that it does not use emails “to target” specific taxpayers, but notice that they are not promising not to use old emails against taxpayers once they are officially being audited or investigated…
“Contrary to some suggestions, the IRS does not use emails to target taxpayers. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
In any event, the truth is that we have one of the most complicated and one of the most intrusive tax systems in the history of the world.
Don’t the American people deserve better?
What do you think?
Should America go back to a system where there is no income tax and no Federal Reserve?
Please feel free to share what you think by leaving a comment below…
Have you ever wondered how the big banks make such enormous mountains of money? Well, the truth is that much of it is made by gambling recklessly. If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy. If they lose on their bets, they know that the government will come in and arrange for the banks to be bailed out because they are “too big to fail”. Either they will be bailed out by the government using our tax dollars, or as we just witnessed in Cyprus, they will be allowed to “recapitalize” themselves by stealing money directly from our bank accounts. So if they win, they win big. If they lose, someone else will come in and clean up the mess. This creates a tremendous incentive for the bankers to “go for it”, because there is simply not enough pain in this equation for those that are taking the risks. If the big Wall Street banks had been allowed to collapse back in 2008, that would have caused a massive change of behavior on Wall Street. But instead, the big banks are still recklessly gambling with our money as if the last financial crisis never even happened. In the end, the reckless behavior of these big banks is going to cause the entire global financial system to collapse.
Have you noticed how most news reports about Cyprus don’t even get into the reasons why the big banks in Cyprus collapsed?
Well, the truth is that they collapsed because they were making incredibly reckless bets with the money that had been entrusted to them. In a recent article, Ron Paul explained how the situation played out once the bets started to go bad…
The dramatic recent events in Cyprus have highlighted the fundamental weakness in the European banking system and the extreme fragility of fractional reserve banking. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greek sovereign debt, and last summer’s Greek debt restructuring resulted in losses equivalent to more than 25 percent of Cyprus’ GDP. These banks then took their bad investments to the government, demanding a bailout from an already beleaguered Cypriot treasury. The government of Cyprus then turned to the European Union (EU) for a bailout.
If those bets had turned out to be profitable, the bankers would have kept all of the profits. But those bets turned out to be big losers, and private bank accounts in Cyprus are now being raided to pay the bill. Unfortunately, as Ron Paul noted, what just happened in Cyprus is already being touted as a “template” for future bank bailouts all over the globe…
The elites in the EU and IMF failed to learn their lesson from the popular backlash to these tax proposals, and have openly talked about using Cyprus as a template for future bank bailouts. This raises the prospect of raids on bank accounts, pension funds, and any investments the government can get its hands on. In other words, no one’s money is safe in any financial institution in Europe. Bank runs are now a certainty in future crises, as the people realize that they do not really own the money in their accounts. How long before bureaucrat and banker try that here?
Unfortunately, all of this is the predictable result of a fiat paper money system combined with fractional reserve banking. When governments and banks collude to monopolize the monetary system so that they can create money out of thin air, the result is a business cycle that wreaks havoc on the economy. Pyramiding more and more loans on top of a tiny base of money will create an economic house of cards just waiting to collapse. The situation in Cyprus should be both a lesson and a warning to the United States.
This is an example of what can happen when the dominoes start to fall. The banks of Cyprus failed because Greek debt went bad. And the Greeks were using derivatives to try to hide the true scope of their debt problems. The following is what Jim Sinclair recently told King World News…
When people say that the Cypriot banks lost because of being in Greek debt, what was one of the Greeks’ greatest sins? They used over-the-counter derivatives in order to hide the real condition of their balance sheet.
Depositor money, brokerage money, and clearing house money have been tangled up in the mountain of derivatives as the banks have used this cash to speculate in an attempt to make huge bonuses for bank executives.
As I have written about so many times, the global quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble is one of the greatest threats that the global financial system is facing. As Sinclair explained to King World News, when this derivatives bubble bursts and the losses start soaring, the big banks are going to want to raid private bank accounts just like the banks in Cyprus were able to…
What do you think happens when Buffett reports that he made $10 billion in derivatives? Somebody else lost $10 billion and it was most likely one financial institution. There is no question that what we are seeing right now is not isolated to Cyprus. It has happened everywhere, but is has been camouflaged by making the depositors and the banks whole. What Cyprus will reveal is that losses do not stop with the bank’s capital. Losses roar right through bank capital and take depositors’ money.
This could have all been avoided if we had allowed the big Wall Street banks to collapse back in 2008. Reckless behavior would have been greatly punished and banks would have chosen to do business differently in the future.
David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, says that because we bailed out the big banks it was a signal to them that they could go back and freely engage in the same kind of reckless behavior that they were involved in previously…
Essentially there was a cleansing run on the wholesale funding market in the canyons of Wall Street going on. It would have worked its will, just like JP Morgan allowed it to happen in 1907 when we did not have the Fed getting in the way. Because they stopped it in its tracks after the AIG bailout and then all the alphabet soup of different lines that the Fed threw out, and then the enactment of TARP, the last two investment banks standing were rescued, Goldman and Morgan [Stanley], and they should not have been. As a result of being rescued and having the cleansing liquidation of rotten balance sheets stopped, within a few weeks and certainly months they were back to the same old games, such that Goldman Sachs got $10 billion dollars for the fiscal year that started three months later after that check went out, which was October 2008. For the fiscal 2009 year, Goldman Sachs generated what I call a $29 billion surplus – $13 billion of net income after tax, and on top of that $16 billion of salaries and bonuses, 95% of it which was bonuses.
Therefore, the idea that they were on death’s door does not stack up. Even if they had been, it would not make any difference to the health of the financial system. These firms are supposed to come and go, and if people make really bad bets, if they have a trillion dollar balance sheet with six, seven, eight hundred billion dollars worth of hot-money short-term funding, then they ought to take their just reward, because it would create lessons, it would create discipline. So all the new firms that would have been formed out of the remnants of Goldman Sachs where everybody lost their stock values – which for most of these partners is tens of millions, hundreds of millions – when they formed a new firm, I doubt whether they would have gone back to the old game. What happened was the Fed stopped everything in its tracks, kept Goldman Sachs intact, the reckless Goldman Sachs and the reckless Morgan Stanley, everyone quickly recovered their stock value and the game continues. This is one of the evils that comes from this kind of deep intervention in the capital and money markets.
The lessons that we were supposed to learn from the crisis of 2008 have not been learned.
Instead, the lure of huge returns and big bonuses has caused a return to the exact same behavior that caused the crisis of 2008 in the first place. The following is one example of this phenomenon from a recent article by Wolf Richter…
The craziness on Wall Street, the reckless for-the-moment-only behavior that led to the Financial Crisis, is back.
This time it’s Citigroup that is once again concocting “synthetic” securities, like those that had wreaked havoc five years ago. And once again, it’s using them to shuffle off risks through the filters of Wall Street to people who might never know.
What bubbled to the surface is that Citigroup is selling synthetic securities that yield 13% to 15% annually—synthetic because they’re based on credit derivatives. Apparently, Citi has a bunch of shipping loans on its books, and it’s trying to protect itself against default. In return for succulent interest payments, investors will take on some of the risks of these loans.
Yes, the Dow hit another new all-time high today. But the derivatives bubble that hangs over the global economy like a sword of Damocles could burst at literally any moment. When it does, the damage is going to be incalculable.
-$212,525,587,000,000 – According to the U.S. government, this is the notional value of the derivatives that are being held by the top 25 banks in the United States. But those banks only have total assets of about 8.9 trillion dollars combined. In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 24 to 1.
-$600,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives to global GDP is more than 21 to 1.
When the derivatives bubble finally bursts, where are we going to get the trillions upon trillions of dollars that will be needed to “fix” things this time?
And sadly, the reality is that we are quickly running out of time.
It is important to keep watching Europe. As I noted the other day, the European banking system as a whole is leveraged about 26 to 1 at this point. When Lehman Brothers finally collapsed, it was leveraged about 30 to 1.
And the economic crisis over in Europe just continues to get worse. It was announced on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in the eurozone is at an all-time record high of 12 percent, and the latest manufacturing numbers show that manufacturing activity over in Europe is in the process of collapsing.
So don’t be fooled by the fact that the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs. This bubble of false hope will be very short-lived.
The unfortunate truth is that the global financial system is a complete and total mess, and at this point a collapse appears to be inevitable.
Cyprus lawmakers may have rejected the bank account tax, but the truth is that the financial crisis in Cyprus is just getting started. Right now, the two largest banks in Cyprus are dangerously close to a meltdown. If they fail, depositors could end up losing virtually all of their money. You see, the banking system of Cyprus absolutely dwarfs the GDP of that small island nation. Cyprus is known all over the world as a major offshore tax haven, and wealthy Russians and wealthy Europeans have been pouring massive amounts of money into the banking system over the last several decades. Yes, those bank deposits are supposed to be insured, but the truth is that there is no way that the government of Cyprus could ever come up with enough money to cover the massive losses that we are potentially looking at. This is a case where the banking system of a nation has gotten so large that the national government is absolutely powerless to stop a collapse from happening. If those banks fail, depositors may end up getting 50 percent of their money or they may end up getting nothing. We just don’t know how bad the damage is yet. And considering the fact that many of the largest corporations and many of the wealthiest individuals in Europe have huge mountains of cash stashed in Cyprus, the fallout from a banking collapse could potentially be absolutely catastrophic.
So Cyprus needs to come up with some money from somewhere in order to keep that from happening.
Basically, there are three options at this point…
1) Even though the bank account confiscation tax was voted down today, there is talk that it could come back in another form. This is really the only place inside of Cyprus where enough money can be raised to bail out the banks.
2) Cyprus could go back and beg the IMF and the EU for money, but the IMF and the EU have already said that they want depositors to share in the pain.
3) Cyprus could get the money that they need from the Russians. This will be discussed in more detail later.
A lot of people will see the headlines proclaiming that Cyprus has voted against the wealth tax and think that everything is going to be okay now, but that is very far from the truth.
“This is not the end of the process, but instead kicks off a further round of negotiation with Moscow and Berlin,” JPMorgan economist Alex White wrote in a research note. “The Cypriot authorities wanted to conduct the vote so that they could reaffirm the extent of their difficulties to the Europeans.”
When the banks of Cyprus reopen in a few days, there is going to be a stampede of people trying to pull their money out of the banks.
In fact, this was starting to happen even before the “bank holiday” was declared. According to The Sun, bank insiders were tipping people off about what was going to happen in the days leading up to the crisis…
But Russian oligarchs and big investors emptied accounts in the days beforehand, prompting claims they were tipped off by bank insiders. A source told The Sun: “It leaked out. Bankers warned their best clients. Government officials warned their friends and relatives.
“Billions disappeared from accounts in days, most from accounts held by Russians.”
And according to David Zervos, we could see billions more euros withdrawn from banks in Cyprus once they reopen. There will be mass panic as depositors scramble to reclaim their money before it can be taxed…
The die is cast. There is no going back for the Cypriots or the Eurozone leaders. As soon as the banks open in Cyprus there will be billions in withdrawals. The question of course is – “where will the money come from?”. Well, if the parliament votes YES, then the Euros will have to come from the Eurosystem. But there is a glitch. The Cypriots have already borrowed 10b euro via the ELA and Target2. How can Mario just wire over 20 billion more (less the 10 to 15 percent haircut) for the Russians, and another 20 to 30 billion for the wealthy Greeks. What collateral will an economy with 20b in GDP post to get this cash? Unless Mario violates every collateral rule at the ECB, the Cypriot financial system will collapse even with a YES vote. Its a wonderful life – Cyprus style.
It may not even matter what Cyprus eventually decides to do about a “wealth tax”. The bank run that is about to happen may be enough to bring down the banks of Cyprus all by itself.
And of course people all over southern Europe are watching developments in Cyprus very closely. As former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling recently noted, if depositors in southern Europe start getting nervous that their bank accounts will be targeted too, they will be likely to start pulling money out of the banks very rapidly…
“They have actually now said to people ‘We will come after your deposits, no matter how small your savings are’ and that seems to me to make it more likely that, if you are a saver in Spain or in Italy, for example, and you have just the sniff of the EU or the IMF coming your way, you will take your money out and you will get a run on the bank”
Cyprus could actually get out of this mess by turning to Russia, but the United States and Europe really do not want to see Russia gain so much control over that very strategic island nation.
So why would Russia get involved? Well, it has been estimated that Russians have approximately $31 billion stashed in banks in Cyprus. It is the favorite offshore banking destination for the Russian oligarchs. Dennis Gartman recently detailed why the tiny island nation is so appealing to the Russians…
Cyprus has been their own private Switzerland for many years. Legal and non-legal Russian cash has swamped the banking system in Cyprus since the early 90’s. The beauty of the island; the ease of admission too and exit from the island via boat or plane; the secrecy of the banking laws; the warm Mediterranean climate and the ease of which Cypriot authorities could be bribed and bought all worked to make Cyprus the center of Russian capital flight.
And right now the Russians are not happy at all that their money is being threatened.
In particular, the Russian mafia launders a lot of money in Cyprus. The Russian mafia is not about to let anyone steal their money, and they have an international reputation for being absolutely brutal. In the end, pressure from the mafia may have been one of the primary reasons why many Cyprus lawmakers voted against the bank account tax. As Dennis Gartman astutely noted, by voting against the wealth tax they may have literally been saving their own lives…
“One could only laugh as such a comment; of course Cyprus was complacent about laundering. To think otherwise was and is naïve. Ah, but now you’ve stolen Russia money… or soon shall depending upon the vote in the Cypriot parliament… and that is dangerous… very. One does not steal Russian mafia money and get away with it. There are fewer statements of fact that are more certain, more factual, more unyielding than this statement. Russian Mafia figures do not take well to being stolen from, and they take even less well to be made fools of. We see no reason to mince words at this point: People will be hurt over this decision; some shall be killed.”
And the Russians definitely do not want to see the banking system of Cyprus collapse. In fact, proposals have been made that would provide the money necessary to keep it afloat. But of course that money would not come cheaply.
Some of the proposals that Russia has put forward were summarized by the Daily Mail…
But in a move that has raised eyebrows, the Russian energy giant Gazprom offered Cyprus a plan in which the company will undertake the restructuring of the country’s banks in exchange for exploration rights for natural gas on the island.
Representatives of the Russian company submitted the proposal to the office of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday evening.
It is also rumoured that the Kremlin is privately offering to help bail out Cyprus in exchange for the right to use a naval base in the Greek part of the island.
In addition, as I wrote about yesterday, some Russian investors have stepped forward and have offered to buy majority stakes in the two largest banks in Cyprus.
So why hasn’t Cyprus accepted help from Russia yet? Well, it is a geopolitical thing. Cyprus is a part of the EU, and European officials do not want Russia to become the dominant influence in Cyprus.
But if the IMF and the EU are not going to step up and help Cyprus, the Russian offers will become more tempting with each passing day.
Meanwhile, the attempted attack on bank accounts in Cyprus is making people nervous all over Europe. For example, the following is what German economist Peter Bofinger had to say about what the situation in Cyprus is doing to confidence in the European financial system…
Making small-scale savers pay is extremely dangerous. It will shake the trust of depositors across the Continent. Europe’s citizens now have to fear for their money.
And if you don’t think that this could ever happen anywhere else, you are just being delusional.
In fact, it is already happening. In fact, the Finance Minister of New Zealand is now proposing that depositors in his nation should be required to “take a haircut” if any banks in his nation fail…
The National Government are pushing a Cyprus-style solution to bank failure in New Zealand which will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts, the Green Party said today.
Open Bank Resolution (OBR) is Finance Minister Bill English’s favoured option dealing with a major bank failure. If a bank fails under OBR, all depositors will have their savings reduced overnight to fund the bank’s bail out.
“Bill English is proposing a Cyprus-style solution for managing bank failure here in New Zealand – a solution that will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“The Reserve Bank is in the final stages of implementing a system of managing bank failure called Open Bank Resolution. The scheme will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their bank.
“Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep the bank afloat.”
But surely there will never be any major banking problems in the United States, right?
Well, large numbers of Chase customers that logged into their accounts on Monday discovered that a “computer glitch” had reset all of their account balances to zero…
Chase bank experienced a problem Monday that had customers scrambling to figure out where their money went.
JP Morgan Chase said it hadn’t been hacked but was having a problem “related to an internal issue” as customers found their accounts showing zero balances.
Some customers shared their frustration on Twitter and showed screen shots of zero balances.
How would you feel if you suddenly discovered that you had no money in the bank?
Most Americans just assume that their money will always be there because their bank accounts are “guaranteed” by deposit insurance and by the full faith and credit of the federal government.
But that is exactly what the people of Cyprus thought too, and look how that turned out.
It would be hard to overstate how dangerous the situation in Cyprus is. Yes, their nation is very small but their banking system is absolutely huge.
If the banking system of Cyprus fails, it could be a “Lehman Brothers moment” for all of Europe. At this point, the entire European banking system is leveraged 26 to 1, and once European banks start to fail they could start falling like dominoes.
There is also a very strong possibility that Cyprus could be forced to leave the euro, and if that happens everyone will be wondering who will be next to leave the common currency.
So don’t think for a second that the crisis in Cyprus is over. The banking meltdown is just getting started, and the consequences could end up being far more dramatic than any of us could possibly imagine.
Cyprus is a beta test. The banksters are trying to commit bank robbery in broad daylight, and they are eager to see if the rest of the world will let them get away with it. Cyprus was probably chosen because it is very small (therefore nobody will care too much about it) and because there is a lot of foreign (i.e. Russian) money parked there. The IMF and the EU could have easily bailed out Cyprus without any trouble whatsoever, but they purposely decided not to do that. Instead, they decided that this would be a great time to test the idea of a “wealth tax”. The government of Cyprus was given two options by the IMF and the EU – either they could confiscate money from private bank accounts or they could leave the eurozone. Apparently this was presented as a “take it or leave it” proposition, and many are using the world “blackmail” to describe what has happened. Sadly, this decision is going to set a very ominous precedent for the future and it is going to have ripple effects far beyond Cyprus. After the banksters steal money from bank accounts in Cyprus they will start doing it everywhere. If this “bank robbery” goes well, it will only be a matter of time before depositors in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are asked to take “haircuts” as well. And what will happen one day when the U.S. financial system collapses? Will U.S. bank accounts also be hit with a “one time” wealth tax? That is very frightening to think about.
Cyprus is a very small nation, so it is not the amount of money involved that is such a big deal. Rather, the reason why this is all so troubling is that this “wealth tax” is shattering confidence in the European banking system. Never before have the banksters come directly after bank accounts.
If everything goes according to plan, every bank account in Cyprus will be hit with a “one time fee” this week. Accounts with less than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 6.75% tax, and accounts with more than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 9.9% tax.
How would you feel if something like this happened where you live?
How would you feel if the banksters suddenly demanded that you hand over 10 percent of all the money that you had in the bank?
And why would anyone want to still put money into the bank in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain or Portugal after all of this?
The bank runs that we witnessed in Cyprus over the weekend may just be a preview of what is coming. When this “wealth tax” was announced, it triggered a run on the ATMs and many of them ran out of cash very rapidly. A bank holiday was declared for Monday, and all electronic transfers of money were banned.
Needless to say, the people of Cyprus were not too pleased about all of this. In fact, one very angry man actually parked his bulldozer outside of one bank branch and threatened to physically bulldoze his way inside.
But this robbery by the banksters has not been completed yet. First, the Cypriot Parliament must approve the new law authorizing this wealth confiscation on Monday. If it is approved, then the actually wealth confiscation will take place on Tuesday morning.
According to Reuters, the new president of Cyprus is warning that if the bank account tax is not approved the two largest banks in Cyprus will collapse and there will be complete and total financial chaos in his country…
President Nicos Anastasiades, elected three weeks ago with a pledge to negotiate a swift bailout, said refusal to agree to terms would have led to the collapse of the two largest banks.
“On Tuesday … We would either choose the catastrophic scenario of disorderly bankruptcy or the scenario of a painful but controlled management of the crisis,” Anastasiades said in written statement.
In several statements since his election, he had previously categorically ruled out a deposit haircut.
The fact that the new president had previously ruled out any kind of a wealth tax has a lot of people very, very upset. They feel like they were flat out lied to…
“I’m furious,” said Chris Drake, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who lives in Cyprus. “There were plenty of opportunities to take our money out; we didn’t because we were promised it was a red line which would not be crossed.”
But apparently the wealth confiscation could actually have been far worse. According to one report, the IMF and the EU were originally demanding a 40% wealth tax on bank account holders in Cyprus…
As the President of Cyprus proclaims to his people that “we’ should all take responsibility as his historic decision will “lead to the permanent rescue of the economy,” it appears that the settled-upon 9.9% haircut is a ‘good deal’ compared to the stunning 40% of total deposits that Germany’s FinMin Schaeuble and the IMF demanded.
Could you imagine?
How would you feel if you woke up someday and 40% of all your money had been taken out of your bank accounts?
At this point, there is still some doubt about whether this plan will actually be adopted or not.
Right now the new president of Cyprus does not have the votes that he needs, but you can be sure that there is some high level arm twisting going on.
Originally the vote was supposed to happen on Sunday, but it was delayed until Monday to allow for some extra “persuading” to be done.
And of course the people of Cyprus are overwhelmingly against this wealth tax. In fact, one poll found that 71 percent of the entire population of Cyprus wants this plan to be voted down.
The funny thing is that Cyprus is not even in that bad of shape.
The unemployment rate is around 12 percent, but in other European nations such as Greece and Spain the unemployment rate is more than double that.
Cyprus has a debt to GDP ratio of about 87 percent, but the United States has a debt to GDP ratio of well over 100 percent.
So if they will go directly after bank accounts in Cyprus, what will stop them from going after bank accounts in larger nations when the time comes?
In the final analysis, this is a game changer. No longer will any bank account in the western world be considered to be 100 percent safe.
Trust is a funny thing. It takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed in a single moment.
Trust in European banks has now been severely damaged, and that damage is not going to be undone any time soon.
A recent blog post by the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Christensen, did a great job of explaining how incredibly damaging this move by the IMF and the EU truly is…
This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere – not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.
if you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer’s money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.
Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared – is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank any more? I dont know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now.
This is the biggest moment that we have witnessed since the beginning of the European financial crisis.
Financial authorities in Europe could try to calm nerves by at least pretending that this will never happen again in any other country, but so far they are refusing to do that…
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the group of euro-area ministers, on Saturday declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus, although he said such a measure was not currently being considered.
Such a measure is “not currently being considered” for other members of the eurozone?
Yeah, that sure is going to make people feel a lot more confident in what is coming next.
I have insisted over and over that the next wave of the economic collapse would originate in Europe, and we may have just witnessed the decision that will cause the dominoes to start to fall.
The banksters have sent a very clear message. When the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money.
So what do you think about the bank robbery that is taking place in Cyprus? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
The fiscal cliff deal contains more bad news than it does good news. Yes, the tax increases on the middle class could have been much worse, and we should be thankful that Congress at least did something for the middle class. Unfortunately, they didn’t do enough. Every American worker is going to pay higher taxes next year as a result of this deal. The fiscal cliff deal represents the biggest tax increase in 20 years, and it is also projected to increase the U.S. national debt by an additional 4 trillion dollars over the next decade. In the final analysis, U.S. government finances are still wildly out of control and we are all going to be paying higher taxes. Not a whole lot to be excited about, and nothing has really been fixed for the long-term. Our politicians have kicked the can down the road once again, but someday they will run out of road and all of this debt will absolutely crush us. And of course a lot of our politicians didn’t even really know what they were voting for. The fiscal cliff bill was more than 150 pages long, and our Senators got the bill into their hands just 3 minutes before they voted on it. So none of them actually read the bill. But that is the way things work in America today. The blind are leading the blind and everyone is mindlessly hoping that everything will turn out okay somehow.
For a few moments, let’s take a closer look at the fiscal cliff deal. There are some good things in there, there are some bad things in there, and there are some things about the deal that are downright ugly.
-One of the best things about the fiscal cliff deal is that income tax rates did not rise on the poor and the middle class. This is great news for millions of families that are struggling to make ends meet each month. A significant rise in income tax rates would have been crippling.
-The Alternative Minimum Tax will now be permanently adjusted for inflation. This is something that I had screamed about in previous articles. If an AMT fix had not been passed, approximately 28 million households would have been hammered with the Alternative Minimum Tax on their 2012 earnings.
-Millions of unemployed workers will continue to receive extended federal unemployment benefits. We probably cannot really afford to keep doing this, but at least now there won’t be millions of unemployed workers that suddenly have their only source of income shut off. The next trick will be to find jobs for all of those workers. Unfortunately, millions of our jobs continue to be shipped to the other side of the world.
-Payroll taxes are going up for every American worker. The fiscal cliff deal allows the 2 percent payroll tax cut to expire, and so now the average U.S. household bringing in about $50,000 a year will pay approximately $1,000 more per year in payroll taxes. As a result, it is being projected that U.S. consumers will have $115 billion less in disposable income to spend in 2013. Happy New Year American workers!
-The fiscal cliff deal did nothing about the new Obamacare taxes that went into effect on January 1st. Many of these taxes will hurt the middle class. To see an example of a receipt where a consumer was charged the new “medical excise tax” in Obamacare, just check out this article.
-The carried-interest deduction loophole remains intact, so incredibly wealthy hedge fund managers will continue to get away with paying very little in taxes. If the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion, then they should share in the pain with the rest of us. Of course I personally believe that the income tax should be abolished entirely, but none of our politicians seem interested in that idea at all.
-Income tax rates will increase for high earners. This will hurt a lot of small businesses. Many small businesses that earn more than $400,000 a year will now be faced with making some really tough choices. Some may have to lay off workers. The top rate will now be 39.6 percent, but when other federal and state taxes are factored in, many small businesses will now be paying a top marginal rate of well over 50 percent. That is absolutely obscene.
-A compromise was reached on the estate tax. The exemption was scheduled to fall to just $1 million and the rate was scheduled to go up to 55 percent, and fortunately Congress decided to do something about that. As I have written about previously, that would have been a disaster for many small businesses and family farms. As a result of the fiscal cliff deal, the estate tax will only rise from 35 percent to 40 percent. The exemption for individuals will be about 5 million dollars and for couples it will be about 10 million dollars, and those figures will now be indexed for inflation. A tax increase is never a good thing, but if Congress had done nothing things would have been far worse.
-The fiscal cliff deal contains a lot of pork. In particular, it contains provisions that extend specific tax breaks related to Puerto Rican rum, electric motorcycles, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel, the film and television business, and motorsports entertainment complexes.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, as a result of this deal the U.S. national debt will be about $4 trillion higher a decade from now than it would have been if Congress had done nothing.
The deficit for fiscal year 2013 alone will be about $330 billion higher than it would have been if Congress had done nothing.
So this deal has made our debt problems even worse.
Right now, the U.S. has a debt to GDP ratio of about 103 percent. We are already well into the “danger zone”, yet most Americans still don’t seem very concerned about all of this debt.
The fiscal cliff deal contained hardly any spending cuts at all. In fact, there was a 41 to 1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts in the deal. The Democrats definitely won this round. But of course they had most of the leverage. If Congress had done nothing, the middle class would have been absolutely devastated by all of the tax increases, and the Republicans were desperate to prevent that.
But now that the battle over taxes is done, the leverage is going to shift over to the Republicans for the next big fight.
The battle over the debt ceiling is next. If Congress does not act, the U.S. government will soon not be able to borrow any additional money. This battle will be one of the stories that dominates the headlines over the next few months.
If the Republicans want to do something serious about spending, now is their chance. The battle over tax rates is already over, and there is no election in November. The Republicans could conceivably say “NO” to a debt ceiling increase if they want to. If that happened, the federal government would only be able to spend the money that it already has. It would not be able to borrow more. That would mean that we would have to start living within our means.
What a novel concept.
Of course there is no reason to believe that the Republicans in the House will suddenly grow a spine. They have folded every other time that the debt ceiling has come up. It will probably be the same again in 2013.
And Barack Obama is already saying that there will be “no negotiations” over the debt ceiling this time. He expects the Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for him without getting anything in return…
“I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they will pay the bills they’ve already racked up.”
But the U.S. government cannot spend a single penny or borrow a single penny without the approval of the U.S. House of Representatives.
If the Republicans in the House want to ever get serious about government spending, the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling is a golden opportunity.
They could stop the Obama administration from piling up crazy amounts of debt if they want to. All they need is the courage to take a stand.
The Republicans have had control of the House for about half of that time. That means that they have been willing accomplices.
So will they take a stand?
That is very doubtful. Over the past few years they have exhibited the intestinal fortitude of a frightened chicken. They will probably huff and puff a little bit, but in the end they will probably give in to Obama once again.
But what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is so immoral that it is hard to describe. We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from them every single hour of every single day, and we plan on leaving them with the biggest pile of debt the world has ever seen. We should be absolutely ashamed of ourselves.
Why can’t we just spend the money that we have?
What would be so wrong with that?
Unfortunately, that would mean such a painful downward adjustment in our standard of living that most Americans would freak out. We are addicted to debt-fueled prosperity, and so we can’t stop stealing from future generations. We need their money to feed our addiction.
In the end, this gigantic mountain of debt is absolutely going to destroy everything that our forefathers built for us. There have been some people that have been warning about this for decades, but the American people did not listen.
Soon enough, we will all pay the price for this foolishness.
The middle class has quite a gift welcoming them as the calendar flips over to 2013. Their payroll taxes are going to go up, their income taxes are going to go up, and approximately 28 million households are going to be hit with a huge, unexpected AMT tax bill on their 2012 earnings. So happy New Year middle class! You are about to be ripped to shreds. In addition to the tax increases that I just mentioned, approximately two million unemployed Americans will instantly lose their extended unemployment benefits when 2013 begins, and new Obamacare tax hikes which will cost American taxpayers about a trillion dollars over the next decade will start to go into effect. If Congress is not able to come to some sort of a deal, all middle class families in America will be sending thousands more dollars to Uncle Sam next year than they were previously. And considering the fact that the middle class is already steadily shrinking and that the U.S. economy is already in an advanced state of decline, that is not good news. You would think that both major political parties would want to do something to keep the middle class from being hit with this kind of tax sledgehammer. Unfortunately, at this point it appears that our “leaders” in Washington D.C. are incapable of getting anything done. So get ready for much smaller paychecks and much larger tax bills. What is coming is not going to be pleasant.
So what happened?
Weren’t the tax increases only supposed to be for the wealthy?
Well, that is what the politicians always promise, but it is always the middle class that ends up getting hit the hardest.
In this day and age, the big corporations and the ultra-wealthy are absolute masters at avoiding taxes.
For example, Facebook paid approximately $4.64 million in taxes on their entire foreign profits of $1.344 billion for 2011.
Keep in mind that U.S. GDP for 2011 was only slightly above 15 trillion dollars.
So the global elite have an amount of money parked in offshore banks that is substantially larger than the total value of all goods and services produced in the United States each year.
According to one estimate, a third of all the wealth in the entire world is stationed in offshore banks. Our politicians are playing checkers and the global elite are playing chess when it comes to taxes. Our current system of taxation is irreversibly broken and should be entirely thrown out and replaced with something else.
And of course under our current system those that are poor don’t pay much in taxes because they are just trying to survive.
So who always ends up getting the painful end of the hammer?
The middle class does, and that really stinks.
Let us hope and pray that our politicians can come together and do something for the middle class. In particular, we should all be screaming and yelling at our politicians about the Alternative Minimum Tax. It was originally designed as a method to “tax the rich”, but unless Congress does something the middle class is about to be ripped to shreds by it. The following is from a recent CNBC article about the AMT…
In a cruel epilogue to 2012, roughly 28 million families would owe the IRS $86 billion more than they anticipated for this year should the country plunge off the cliff, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
Those families would face the “Alternative Minimum Tax,” which was introduced in 1969 to supposedly guarantee that wealthy Americans could not elude the taxman. But the AMT not only flopped, it was never indexed to inflation. So with each passing year, it seeps away from high society and into the wallets of Target and Wal-Mart shoppers. That sets up a disaster for April 15.
So how much money are we talking about?
According to that same article, many families are about to be socked by tax bills that will be absolutely huge…
On the whole, 98 percent of those with incomes between $200,000 to $500,000 would pay an additional $11,000 in AMT this year, according to the center’s estimates. About 88 percent of those with incomes of $100,000 to $200,000 would need to fork over another $3100, and even the majority of Americans with earnings between $75,000 and $100,000 would have an AMT liability.
Most of the tax increases that will be coming as a result of the fiscal cliff will be for 2013 earnings, but the AMT tax hike will apply to 2012 earnings. So if you end up falling under the AMT, you better get ready to write a very large check to Uncle Sam in just a couple of months.
And the AMT is only just one of the very painful tax increases that American families will be facing. If no deal is reached in Congress, every single middle class American taxpayer will be dealing with significantly higher taxes.
During a recent interview on CNBC, Ron Paul explained that “they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren’t. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it.”
Most in the mainstream media are making it sound like some kind of a “battle royal” is going on in Washington, but as Lou Dobbs recently pointed out, the U.S. national debt is going to end up in just about the same place no matter what happens.
According to Dobbs, if we “do nothing” the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.8 trillion dollars in 2022.
If “Obama wins”, the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.4 trillion dollars in 2022.
If “Boehner wins”, the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.2 trillion dollars in 2022.
You can watch the entire analysis by Lou Dobbs right here…
So they are putting all of us through all of this torture even though nothing will really change in the long run no matter who wins?
Barack Obama has just issued a new executive order that ends the pay freeze for federal workers that had been in place.
So now all federal employees will be getting a nice hefty pay raise.
For example, Vice President Joe Biden brought in $225,521 this year.
Next year, he will make $231,900.
Not that our politicians really need the money. Most members of Congress are millionaires anyway. But if they can get us to pay for it, they might as well go for it, eh?
There are now close to half a million federal employees that bring home at least $100,000 a year. Plus, it is important to keep in mind that the benefits that federal employees get are absolutely outstanding, and it is close to impossible to actually fire a federal worker.
Life is good if you are working for Uncle Sam.
Meanwhile, our politicians seem determined to keep draining more blood out of the middle class. Even if a “deal” is reached, we will still be hit by some categories of tax increases. Let’s just hope and pray that we don’t get hit by all of the tax increases that are scheduled to go into effect. That would be a financial disaster for millions of families.
So happy New Year middle class. Your taxes are about to go through the roof and our politicians are too busy fighting with each other to do anything about it.