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Posts published in “Day: December 15, 2009”

Busting up the scam

On and on we see news scraps from D.C. like this one: "On Monday the president met with top banking executives at the White House (some by speakerphone) to plead with them to do more lending, even as the last of them, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, agreed to pay back their bailout money and free themselves of government control. Obama chided the execs for unleashing their powerful lobby on Congress in order to restrain new regulation." You get lots of confidence, in other words, that the maniacs on Wall Street are anywhere near restraint.

Elsewhere in that same article (from Newsweek) comes something interesting, a deflater arrow aimed right at Wall Street from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and (remarkably) Arizona Senator John McCain: To, roughly, bring back the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment and commercial banking. Over the last generation, the law has been weakened repeatedly and finally eliminated totally in 1999. With such wonderful results.

There's some argument that the connections woven through the financial system have become too deep to undo; Newsweek quotes a Treasury official as comparing it to "going back to the Walkman." Certainly the Obama Administration is opposed.

But middling measures aren't going to make the sweeping changes Wall Street keeps demonstrating it needs. How far Cantwell, or McCain, will go with this isn't clear; we couldn't find anything about it on her web site. But if the public were well enough educated on the stakes and what's needed to rip out the heart of the problem, there'd be a lot more support around the country for something like this.



Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy

Definitions for wherever needed: A progressive tax structure taxes somewhat higher those whose incomes are higher, on the idea that more income is disposable, than those whose income are lower. A regressive tax policy hits the lower-income people harder.

In this study (hat tip to Horse's Ass for noting it), the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy concludes that Washington's tax setup, with its heavy reliance on the sales tax (which proportionately hits lower incomes harder), is the most regressive in the nation.

The use of the income tax in Oregon and Idaho make those states a lot less regressive.

Goldy at Horse's Ass puts it this way: "If we were to totally eliminate our state and local sales tax, property tax, B&O tax and various excise taxes and fees (gasoline, alcohol, tobacco, etc.), and replace the revenue with a single graduated income tax that levied a 2.9% rate on our wealthiest households (those with an average income of $1.8 million), and a 17.3% rate on our poorest (those earning an average of $11,000), with those in the middle three quintiles paying between 9.5% and 12.7%, it would have the same exact impact on Washington families as our current tax system does now. Can anybody reasonably argue that such a system would be fair? I don’t think so. But that’s exactly what we have now."

The December Oregon Digest


Our December 2009 Oregon Public Affairs Digest is out, with reports on unemployment developments, and in Oregon political races (including upcoming federal and other races), congressional actions and much more.

There's a substantial list of state rules and regulations just out, along with a number of congressional actions. And the usual rundown of important court decisions (quite a few of those this month), federal actions, calendar of upcoming events and much more.

Interested in subscribing, or seeing a sample copy? (Subscribers also get access to the full archives, a detailed recent history of Oregon month by month, going back to 2006.)

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