Four Friday Questions

Is The US Economy On A European Path?
Pete du Pont believes the United States is on a course toward Europe by increasing its reliance and dependence on government.

“Unfortunately, what we may see over the next four years is the opposite, the continuing Europeanization of America, putting the government in charge of all that we do—from stricter management of the economy and family and health decisions, to higher taxes and higher government spending. If nothing is done soon, the higher taxes will take effect in weeks,” he writes.

Can The Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Produce Real Tax Reform?
Peter Ferrara argues in Forbes that the fiscal cliff negotiations provide Republicans with an opportunity to make a real case for tax reform beginning with arguing for dynamic scoring.

“They should demonstrate the workability and public appeal of these reforms, rather than sinking in the swamp of phony claims arising from bad faith negotiations,” Ferrara says.

He ads that the reforms should include “Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed individual tax reform including a 10% rate for families earning less than $100,000 a year, and 25% for those earning more. Corporate tax reform should be based at most on a global average 25% corporate rate, with revenue neutral loophole closing, also scored dynamically.”

Can Taxes Be Raised Without Adjusting The Current Tax Rates?
Republican negotiators are holding firm on their demand that any solution to the fiscal cliff be rooted in elimination of tax deductions and corporate loopholes, rather than adjustments to the current tax rates. Some, however, doubt that revenue can be generatedwithout making changes to the top tax rate. Jonathan Weisman believes this can be achieved – to an extent.

He writes that by taxing the entire salary earned “by those making more than a certain level — $400,000 or so — at the top rate of 35 percent rather than allowing them to pay lower rates before they reach the target, as is the standard formula.”

The benefit, according to Weisman, is that both sides could claim victory.

“That plan would allow Republicans to say they did not back down in their opposition to raising marginal tax rates and Democrats to say they prevailed by increasing effective tax rates on the rich. At the same time, it would provide an initial effort to reduce the deficit, which the negotiators call a down payment, as Congressional tax-writing committees hash out a broad overhaul of the tax code.”

Has Hamas emerged stronger from Gaza negotiations?
Jim Reilly, professor of history of the Arab Middle East at the University of Toronto, tells the Toronto Star that the talks have in a sense legitimized Hamas because “foreign ministers from the region as well as representatives of the Arab League beat a path to the door of Hamas.”

By using its improved military artillery, Hamas was able to take on Israel in a way it has not in years past and was able to emerge from the negotiations with its organization largely intact.



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