December 8th, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Tax cut deal damage Pres. Obama's reelection chances?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

By making the tax cut deal with Republicans this week, President Obama may be sealing his own fate in 2012.

Some Democrats say that agreeing to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts – even for the wealthiest Americans – will cripple the president's chances of being re-elected.

For starters, the president has angered the Democratic base. The left wing of the Democratic Party is furious that he's refused to fight the GOP. Some think it would have been better to let all of the tax cuts expire rather than to roll over for the Republicans.

And, many Democratic lawmakers say they're shocked at the size and price tag of this deal. Some estimates top $900 billion. So much for deficit reduction.

Plus, by agreeing to a two-year extension, it guarantees that the debate over the Bush tax cuts will be raging once again just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign.

If the economy improves, the Democrats will be in a better position to argue for ending the tax cuts for wealthy Americans. However, that's a big gamble.

Speaking of gambling, the Daily Beast has a piece called "Obama's Lousy Bluffing Skills," in which they examine the president's poker habits and how they may have predicted his negotiating style.

Obama's former poker buddies describe him as a "very cautious" and "conservative" player who rarely won, or lost, big.

They say the president wasn't much of a bluffer and didn't call opponents on a bluff unless he had a strong hand.

Interesting when you consider poker is all about reading people and showing strength in order to get a desired outcome.

Here’s my question to you: Did President Obama damage his reelection chances by making the tax cut deal with Republicans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: 2012 Election • President Barack Obama • Republicans • Taxes
November 22nd, 2010
04:25 PM ET

Buffett: Rich should pay 'a lot more in taxes'

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Rich people "should be paying a lot more in taxes." So says one of the richest Americans out there.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/11/22/art.buffett.jpg caption="Warren Buffett."]
Billionaire Warren Buffett told ABC News that taxes for the lower, middle class and possibly upper middle class should be cut even further.

But he said, "I think that people at the high end - people like myself - should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it."

Buffett says the rich always insist that if their taxes are lower and they have more money in their pockets, they will spend it and then it will trickle down; but he says that hasn't happened for the last 10 years.

Buffett's not the only super-wealthy person to advocate paying more taxes. A group of 45 people who call themselves "patriotic millionaires" agrees.

They're asking President Obama to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of this year for incomes over $1 million.

Critics question the political motivations of this group.

In any case - if Congress does nothing about the Bush tax cuts, there are only 39 days left until the largest tax increase in American history will go into effect.

Democrats in the House and Senate say they will hold votes after Thanksgiving to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less.

However, it's unclear if they have enough votes in either chamber to pass only the middle class tax cuts. They may need to find middle ground with the Republicans, who want to extend the tax cuts for everyone.

Here’s my question to you: Warren Buffett says rich people "should be paying a lot more in taxes." Do you agree?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Taxes
October 19th, 2010
05:58 PM ET

Americans' negative view of federal workers justified?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At a time when millions of Americans are disgusted with the federal government, a new poll shows low marks and negativity toward civil servants.

The Washington Post survey finds 52 percent of those polled say the 1.9 million federal workers are overpaid for what they do.

Seventy-five percent say federal workers are paid more and get better benefits than those working outside the government, according to the survey.

Thirty-six percent think they're less qualified than private-sector workers.

And half say that federal employees don't work as hard as those at private companies.

The poll also shows a deep divide along party lines when it comes to the views of the federal work force, with Republicans being more negative.

Republican candidates are latching onto this sentiment. On the campaign trail, they're using civil servants as examples of what's wrong with government - too big, too invasive and too much in debt. They vow to freeze pay raises and furlough federal workers if they win control of Congress.

Federal unions and Democrats describe criticism of "faceless bureaucrats" as scapegoating.

The government says it's hard to compare salaries in the private and public sectors because many jobs outside government are in low-paying industries while government workers are typically more skilled.

The good news for government workers is that of people who have interacted with a federal worker, the survey found. Three in four say the experience was a good one. Also, the survey shows younger Americans are more likely to give positive reviews.

Here’s my question to you: Is Americans' negative view of federal workers justified?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Taxes • United States • US Federal Government • US Government
September 20th, 2010
06:55 PM ET

If your wealth threatened by rising taxes, would you move to another country?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/20/art.taxes.gi.jpg caption ="Raising taxes on wealthy Americans could drive them right out of the country."]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

Raising taxes on wealthy Americans could drive them right out of the country.

In a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal, a California real estate executive wrote that although he makes more than $250,000, he doesn't consider his family wealthy. Glen Esnard says he's still paying off school loans for his three children, has no funded retirement plan except Social Security and no guarantee of permanent health care.

Yet he believes people making more than $250,000 are "vilified" and held accountable for paying for the government's runaway spending.

He writes, "Apparently our president thinks that living in America is so wonderful that we will never leave, despite being directly attacked... He should think again."

A Los Angeles Times reporter asked Esnard if he really expected wealthy Americans to consider leaving the U-S because their tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

Esnard responded that although he's not an expert, he thinks it's a real issue. And that he's received a lot of support from people who agree with him.

One possibility is Bermuda. It's a short hop from the U.S. and while you do have to battle an occasional hurricane, islanders pay no national income tax.

Meanwhile, most economists think it's a good idea to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, despite the president's call to let them expire for the wealthiest Americans.

CNNMoney.com polled 31 leading economists, and 18 of them said extending the tax cuts for everyone is the most important thing Congress can do to help the economy.

Only three backed President Obama's plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Here’s my question to you: If your wealth was threatened by rising taxes, would you consider moving to another country?

Interested to see which ones made it to air?


Filed under: Taxes
September 8th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Mistake to raise taxes on so-called wealthy?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is making it perfectly clear. He wants the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. By his definition, "wealthy" translates as couples making more than $250,000 a year or individuals making more than $200,000.

Speaking in Cleveland earlier today - the president said the country can not afford the $700 billion price tag associated with these tax cuts over the next 10 years. He says tax rates for the wealthy should go back to what they were under President Clinton.

However, Mr. Obama does want the tax cuts to be made permanent for middle class Americans, or those making less than $250,000.

Of course, given the shaky economy and the president's sagging poll numbers - it's not clear he will get what he wants here.

Critics suggest that letting the Bush tax cuts expire, even only for the wealthy, could be "a blow to a very fragile economy." Some Republicans want a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts. And Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner was out today ahead of the president's speech calling for a two-year freeze of all tax rates.

So what do most Americans think? A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 51 percent of those surveyed say the tax cuts should be continued only for families making less than $250,000. 31 percent say they should be continued for all Americans, and 18 percent say the tax cuts should expire for all Americans.

Here’s my question to you: In our weakened economy, is it a mistake to raise taxes on the so-called wealthy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Tax Hike • Taxes
August 11th, 2010
05:55 PM ET

In light of skyrocketing deficits, is it time to raise taxes?


(PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Bush tax cuts are an 800 pound gorilla – set to expire January 1st. If Congress does nothing, everyone's taxes will go up. And so far, that's what Congress is doing. Nothing. Some of this nation's best economic minds say it's time to bite the bullet and raise taxes. Economically speaking, this country is going down the toilet.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan initially supported the Bush tax cuts, but now says that they ought to be allowed to expire.

Greenspan thinks higher taxes might mean slower economic growth, but he says it's more important to pay down our massive debt.

That debt has topped $13 trillion, and our annual deficits are sky high, expected to top $1.4 trillion this year.

David Stockman, the former budget director for Pres. Reagan, along with Former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Paul O'Neill all agree with Greenspan about higher taxes to some degree.

Pres. Obama only wants the tax cuts to expire for individuals making more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000.

But most Republicans are opposed; they want to extend all the tax cuts. And some moderate Democrats agree with them; they're concerned that even Pres. Obama's limited tax increase could hurt the weak economic recovery.

Opinions are all over the place on what should happen, but doing nothing is not a good option – unless the government does something about its runaway spending. Don't hold your breath.

Here’s my question to you: In light of skyrocketing deficits, is it time to raise taxes?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy • Taxes
July 6th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Huge tax increase coming in January: What should Congress do?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In 2008, President Obama said no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.

Well, unless something is done in the next six months, that won't be true.

What Americans for Tax Reform calls "The largest tax hikes in the history of America" will go into effect in January of next year when the Bush tax cuts are set to start expiring.

Here's a sample of what's in store for all of us:

Personal income tax rates are set to raise across the board with the highest rate going from 35 percent to 39.5 percent and the lowest rate going from 10 percent to 15 percent.

All the rates in between will rise as well. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out. The marriage penalty returns on the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from one thousand to five hundred dollars per child. The death tax returns with a top rate of 55 percent on estates over one million dollars. Capital gains taxes will rise from 15 percent to 20 percent and taxes on dividends will go from 15 percent to a maximum 39.6 percent.

There are over 20 new or higher taxes in the new health care law and several go into effect on January 1 of next year. The alternative minimum tax will ensnare 28 million families, up from four million families this year, and taxes are set to go up on all types of businesses.

Congress of course knows all this... but they're on vacation and haven't said what they plan to do if anything.

Here’s my question to you: A huge tax increase is coming next January. What should Congress do?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Congress • Congressional Spending • Taxes
June 17th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Would a voluntary millionaire's tax work in the U.S.?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the U.S. drowning in a monstrous $13 trillion national debt, it's clear we need to consider any and all options to stem the tide.

This may be an idea worth taking a look at... then again, maybe not.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.gates.jpg caption="Bill Gates"]
A group of 51 German millionaires and billionaires is volunteering to give up 10 percent of their income for 10 years to help with that country's finances.

CNBC reports that these uber-wealthy Germans founded a "Club of the Wealthy"... and proposed the so-called "rich tax" to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany, like much of Europe, is in the midst of tightening its fiscal belt... as the country debates an upcoming $80 billion Euro austerity package.

It's a noble gesture, but so far there are only 50 German millionaires on board... out of an estimated 800,000.

The total number of millionaires represents about one percent of Germany's population; similar to the ratio of millionaires here in the U.S. Makes you wonder how many American millionaires would be willing to do the same.

Speaking of America's very rich - two of the wealthiest are calling on their fellow billionaires to give away half of their wealth for charity during their lifetimes or after they die.

As first reported in Fortune Magazine, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want the 400 richest people in the U.S. to give $600 billion to philanthropy and charity.

Their goal is to create an expectation that the rich should give away a big part of their wealth to better society.

Here’s my question to you: Would a voluntary millionaire's tax work in the U.S.?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Bill Gates • Taxes
May 6th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What should Pres. Obama do about Bush tax cuts?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They're known as the "Bush tax cuts"... but pretty soon they'll be a part of President Obama's legacy too.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/06/art.obama2.jpg caption=""]
That's because Mr. Obama wants the tax cuts - introduced in 2001 and 2003 - to be extended indefinitely for most Americans. They're set to expire at the end of this year though, which means lawmakers must act before then.

These tax cuts lowered income and investment tax rates, increased the child credit and reduced the real estate tax and inequalities for married taxpayers.

And then there's this: Despite the $12 trillion national debt, Pres. Obama isn't calling on Congress to pay for the cost of extending these tax cuts. We're talking about spending more than $2 trillion on his predecessor's tax policy.

But the president does want to raise taxes on the rich. He's proposing letting the tax cuts expire for couples making more than $250,000 - or individuals making more than $200,000.

Critics say that increasing taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses, job growth and the stock market. But Democrats say the plan is fair because middle class Americans are struggling more than the wealthy. So their solution is to take from the well-off and give to the not-as-well-off. You know, redistribute the wealth.

Meanwhile it's not clear when Congress will take up the issue. It might happen before their summer break so they can go home and brag to their constituents about what they've done ahead of the midterm elections.

But the hard truth is this: Extending those tax cuts without paying for them... perhaps by, say, cutting government spending, is just irresponsible.

Here’s my question to you: What should President Obama do about the Bush tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


April 20th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

G.E. and Bank of America paid no federal income taxes last year

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As we reported in the Cafferty File last week - 47 percent of all U.S. households will pay no federal income taxes for last year… not a dime. They're in good company.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/20/art.ge.boa.jpg caption=""]
General Electric and Bank of America also managed to pay no income taxes to the federal government for 2009. That's right - not a single dime.

Here's how: Although GE earned lots of money last year - they did it overseas and not in the U.S.: General Electric's American operations lost about $400 million, while its international businesses netted nearly $11 billion in profit.

After deductions and adjustments - GE reported a negative 10.5 percent federal income tax rate... and wound up with a "tax benefit" of almost $1 billion.

When it comes to income tax payments on the overseas profits, they defer those "indefinitely."

Not bad… make $11 billion and get a tax benefit of a billion more. The rest of us need their accountants.

As for Bank of America - after major losses in 2009... it ended the year with a tax benefit of almost $2 billion.

Meanwhile - this country faces a staggering $12 trillion national debt... with skyrocketing deficits, estimated to top $1.6 trillion this year alone.

We are going bankrupt and Washington refuses to do anything meaningful about it.

But, don't worry, the big corporations are doing just fine. They own the politicians and the government as evidenced by these kinds of tax bills.

Here’s my question to you: Is it right that companies like General Electric and Bank of America paid no federal income taxes last year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Taxes
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