Posts Tagged Friday
A Wacky Distorted View of the Recent Solar Eclipse
by DAVID DICKINSON on MAY 13, 2013
Just when we’d thought that we’ve seen every possible type of eclipse image, we’re happily surprised by the Universe.
If you’re like me, you watch the original Star Wars film and wonder what kind of eclipses could be seen from the surface of Tatooine. Maybe you even wonder what things would look like if an extra sun and moon were to be thrown into the mix. How often, if ever, would such a bizarre alignment sync up?
Astrophotographer Geoff Sims provided us with just such a bizarre view this past weekend.
Geoff was one of a handful of intrepid photographers that braved the wilds of the Australian Outback to deliver us some stunning views of last week’s rising annular eclipse. We wrote of how to observe this celestial wonder late last month on Universe Today, and documented the efforts of photographers, both Earthbound and otherwise, the day of the eclipse this past Friday.
For this amazing image, Geoff positioned himself along the track of annularity in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. Even the name of the site, the Plutonic Gold Mine outside of Newman, Australia couldn’t be beat!
The series is a composite of three exposures which were taken about three minutes apart. Mr. Simms relates how he accomplished this unforgettable image on his Facebook page:
“The lower image shows a flattened and distorted Sun perched right on the horizon, just seconds before the annular eclipse began. The middle image shows the annular phase, while the upper image shows the Sun some minutes after annularity.”
Mr. Sims used a Canon Mark III DSLR camera with a 500mm lens shooting at 1/1,000thof a second exposures at a focal ratio of f/8 and an ISO setting of 100.
Amazingly, other photographers positioned very near the eclipse graze line caught sight of what are known as Bailey’s Beads as well. More commonly seen during a total solar eclipse, these are caused by sunlight streaming through ridges and valleys on the limb of the Moon. This can also cause the brilliant diamond ring effect seen during a total solar eclipse. In the case of an annular eclipse, this manifests as a ragged broken edge where the disk of the Sun meets the Moon:
Bailey’s Beads captured very briefly during last week’s annular eclipse. (Credit: Geoff Sims).
An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon eclipses the Sun near apogee, or its most distant point in its orbit and is hence visually too small to cover the Sun as seen from the Earth. A similar eclipse occurred over the Pacific and the western U.S. last year onMay 20th, leading to a series of “horned sunset” photos taken across Texas and New Mexico.
But what is the most astonishing aspect of the eclipse sequence is the extreme distortion occurring across the very bottom image sitting on the horizon. When you’re looking low to the horizon, you’re viewing objects through a thicker cross-section of the atmosphere. This is what is termed as a higher air mass, and most astro-imagers avoid it entirely, preferring to catch objects with as little distortion as possible as they transit across the local meridian. This distortion can be extreme enough to result inatmospheric refraction of rising and setting objects like the Sun, Moon or planets, causing them to appear moments before or after they actually rose or set over the local horizon. In the case of the bottom image, the lower limb of the solar annulus (the technical name for what folks call the “ring of fire” seen during an annular eclipse) is actually distorted enough to appear along the rim of the local horizon!
To our knowledge, such an extremely distorted eclipse has never been documented before. One also wonders if a “green flash” could be captured by a properly positioned observer on a mountaintop or out to sea during a sunset or sunrise annular or total solar eclipse.
2013 will offer one more chance to try. On November 3rd, a hybrid solar eclipse will race across the Atlantic Ocean and central Africa. This is an eclipse that is literally an annular across a portion of its track and a total across another. The eclipse will begin at sunrise just south of Bermuda and end at sunset in eastern Africa. The maximum period of totality is 1 minute and 40 seconds off of the coast of Liberia, and the southern regions of Ethiopia offer the best shot at a sunset eclipse. Tantalizingly, the Florida Space Coast will get a rising partial eclipse only a few percent in magnitude.
Kudos to Mr. Sims for providing us with an unforgettable view of this rare cosmic spectacle. Australia won’t see another total solar eclipse until July 22nd, 2028, and another purely annular eclipse won’t occur until April 29th, 2014 across a very small section of the Antarctic.
And next week, we’ll have a very shallow penumbral eclipse on May 25th, and event is so subtle that few if any will notice it. Still, it is from such humble beginnings that great things are made, as we witness the birth of a new lunar saros… stay tuned!
- A Wacky Distorted View of the Recent Solar Eclipse (universetoday.com)
- An Awesome Annular Eclipse! Images and Videos from Earth and Space (universetoday.com)
- ‘Ring of fire’ eclipse wows Australians (science.nbcnews.com)
- How to Catch This Week’s ‘Ring of Fire’ Annular Eclipse (universetoday.com)
- ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse of May 2013: Photos and Maps (space.com)
- Scientists converge for annular solar eclipse (abc.net.au)
- VIDEO: ‘Gorgeous’ solar eclipse in Australia (bbc.co.uk)
- Ring of fire annular solar eclipse 9 May – 10 May 2013 (harounkola.com)
- Annular Solar Eclipse Of May 10, 2013… (fox41blogs.typepad.com)
- How can I watch the May 9-10 solar eclipse safely … or online? (earthsky.org)
Republican Senator Calls For Repeat Of 1995 Government Shutdown: ‘If We Hold Strong We Can Do That Again’ | ThinkProgress
By Scott Keyes on Jan 7, 2013 at 10:43 am
Tea Party-aligned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), within days of being sworn in, is already calling for a government shutdown unless Congress agrees to massive budget cuts.
During an appearance on Mark Levin’s radio show Friday, Cruz waxed poetic about the last time Republicans successfully shut down the government in 1995, arguing that a shutdown leads to better economic policies. “Because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets,” Cruz said. He went on to call for a repeat as Republicans hold the nation’s fiscal solvency hostage in the debt ceiling fight next month. “If we hold strong we can do that again,” the Texas Senator declared:
CRUZ: What would happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised is it would be a partial government shutdown. We’ve seen this before, we saw this in 1995, when Republicans in the House shut down the government. What happened was it was a partial shutdown, there was some political cost to be paid but at the end of the day, because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets and some of the most fiscally-responsible policies Congress has produced in the modern-era. If we hold strong we can do that again. It just comes down to Republicans. Are we willing to stand strong and face the wrath of the mainstream media criticizing us and the president saying nasty things about us?
Listen to it:
Were Cruz and his Republican allies to succeed in shutting down the government, the effects would be felt widely. Over 800,000 federal workers would likely be furloughed, Social Security processing could be delayed, newly-eligible Medicare patients wouldn’t be able to obtain benefits, police and public safety officials could be cut, and veterans’ services would be impacted.
In addition, a debt ceiling negotiation itself is costly; last time Republicans held it hostage in 2011, the debacle cost taxpayers $19 billion.
The larger problem, however, is that by not raising the debt ceiling, Congress risks defaulting on the United States’ credit. If Cruz and his allies block a debt ceiling increase, the Treasury won’t be able to pay all its bills. As Matthew Yglesias notes, “The result won’t be a ‘shutdown’ of government functions; it’ll be a deadbeat federal government. Some people won’t get money they’re legally entitled to.” That’s why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned in 2011 that not raising the debt ceiling would cause “financial disaster” for the entire “worldwide economy.”
In his first week in Congress, Cruz is already earning a reputation as an unwavering firebrand. As he explained on Fox News Sunday this past weekend, “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise.”
- Republican Senator Calls For Repeat Of 1995 Government Shutdown: ‘If We Hold Strong We Can Do That Again’ (thinkprogress.org)
- No Surprise! Republicans Are Already Foolishly Promoting Government Shutdown (newsone.com)
- GOP increasingly ready for government shutdown (washingtontimes.com)
- The Mother of All Government Shutdowns (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- One-on-One with Senator Ted Cruz (kudlowsmoneypolitics.blogspot.com)
- How Obama Can Prevent Another Debt Ceiling Crisis (theatlantic.com)
- ‘Temporary, Partial Government Shutdown’: The New Frank Luntz Debt Ceiling Lie (crooksandliars.com)
- Cruz: Government Shutdown Is on the Table (nationalreview.com)
- The GOP Is Already Threatening A Government Shutdown To Win Spending Cuts (forbes.com)
- The 5 Top Republicans Open to Shutting the Government to Get Their Way. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
Much Grief, but Little Action From Congress on Guns
Updated: December 14, 2012 | 4:07 p.m.
December 14, 2012 | 2:34 p.m.
AP PHOTO/JESSICA HILL
Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.
Thoughts and prayers. That’s what you get from members of Congress. They said it after the Aurora, Colo., shooting in July. They said it after the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, the assassination attempt on former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, and the massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
Now they are saying it after a gunman opened fire on Friday at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in one of the nation’s worst mass killings.
This tragedy may hit a little harder, as policymakers are hinting at action on gun legislation. President Obama choked up during his statement on the incident. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.” That’s the closest he has come to saying he wants action on gun control legislation in the wake of other shootings.
On Capitol Hill, the reaction was mostly an outpouring of sympathy and grief. House Speaker John Boehner ordered the flags at half mast.
Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., went further than most lawmakers in their reactions. Feinstein is important because she has already pledged to introduce legislation to bring back the ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. Obama has said he supports reviving the ban, but there has been almost no activity from the White House to make it happen. That could change after Friday. Lautenberg is important because has also has called for an assault weapons ban and he sponsors legislation on that same topic.
Feinstein said “weapons of war don’t belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools. I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life.”
Lautenberg said, “If we do not take action to address gun violence, shooting tragedies like this will continue.”
“The nation is ready for this conversation,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chimed in.
Those statements went beyond the typical ones from Capitol Hill:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “The entire nation will continue to stand as a source of support to this community in the days and weeks to come.”
Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said, “I am shocked and saddened by the horrific news from Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning, and I pray that kids, teachers, staff, and families reach safety as quickly as possible.”
Senate Republicans said in a tweet: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by today’s tragic shooting in Connecticut. Please keep them in yours as well.”
Yes, anyone within range of a television or an Internet connection can’t help but think about the shootings, where the death toll has been estimated as high as 30 and parents are worried sick about their children.
You get much grief but precious little action on guns in Congress. The best shot at legislative action comes from Feinstein’s attempt to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
Another hope, but without a lot of momentum, is legislation by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., to tighten up state background-check laws. It has the advantage of piggy-backing on existing laws to improve the databases.
That’s cold comfort to gun-control advocates.
“If you don’t have the human decency at this point to speak up about this issue, you’ve lost your humanity. This has gone too far. Everybody literally should be sick right now,” said Ladd Everitt, communications director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “It’s time for the president to speak about this. Not long ago we saw the power of the bully pulpit when he spoke out on gay marriage. It’s time for him to find his voice and stop cowering to the [National Rifle Association].”
His outrage echoes some of the people sounding off on Twitter.
“Please let this be a wake-up call for gun control if all of the other shootings haven’t been,” said one tweet.
“As much as I love Americans, today I would be ashamed to [be] a citizen of a nation whose lawmakers have yet to end this madness for good,” said another tweeter.
Gun-rights advocates tend to ride out these waves of turmoil in relative silence. They say that tragedies like the Connecticut shooting (and the Aurora shooting) are used as emotional wedges for gun-control groups to win political points.
Advocates on both sides of the gun issue say part of the problem with the public outcry in the wake of such tragedies is that the facts about each individual circumstance aren’t always known immediately. In some cases, an assault weapon was used. In other cases, a handgun was used. That makes it difficult for anyone lobbying on a specific gun issue to react quickly.
Generally, the lack of immediate facts helps the gun-rights advocates because they can keep their responses general without delving into the areas that they deem dangerous. After the Aurora shooting, an NRA spokesman gave a generic “thoughts and prayers” comment but declined further speculation until all the facts were known. By then, the story had gone cold.
- NYC, Boston Mayors: Get Rid Of Gun Loopholes Now (wbur.org)
- Bloomberg to Obama: Offering Condolences ‘Is Not Enough’ (politicker.com)
- At Least 26 Dead, Including 18 Children, Dead in Connecticut Elementary School Shooting (yubanet.com)
- Congress Calls Connecticut Shooting ‘Massacre,’ ‘Senseless Tragedy’ (usnews.com)
- Newtown shootings: if not now, when is the time to talk about gun control? | Gary Younge (guardian.co.uk)
- Dem Lawmakers Call For New Gun Restrictions In Wake Of Shooting (patdollard.com)
- How Will NRA Explain Away Gun Shooting At Elementary School In Newtown, Connecticut? (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- School Shooting Reactions: Politicians Offer Condolences After Newtown Incident (huffingtonpost.com)
- MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: ‘Calling For ‘Meaningful Action’ Is Not Enough’ (businessinsider.com)
- Disgusting: Lefty celebs crawl out to politicize Newtown, Conn., tragedy (twitchy.com)
Obama Counters Boehner’s Opening Bid on Fiscal Cliff
President insists on higher taxes, “balanced approach.”
Updated: November 9, 2012 | 5:11 p.m.
November 9, 2012 | 2:49 p.m.
AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about the economy and the deficit on Friday at the White House.
Wedged between standing ovations from supporters fore and aft, President Obama on Friday steered the good ship reelection straight toward the rocks of Speaker ’s refusal to raise income-tax rates on wealthy Americans.
“We have to combine spending cuts with revenue,” Obama said from the East Room in his first formal rejoinder to Boehner’s postelection openness to higher tax revenues but not higher marginal rates. “That means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.”
Obama, the first Democrat in modern times to campaign and win reelection with a plan to raise income taxes, invited the bipartisan congressional leadership to the White House next Friday for the first of many meetings seeking to resolve fiscal-cliff issues. Obama said that his victory and the exit-poll data behind it prove the country is ready to raise taxes to Clinton-era levels for individuals with adjustable gross income above $200,000 and for families above $250,000.
“I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced,” Obama said. “I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I’m not going to do that.”
After pausing for 13 seconds of sustained applause, Obama drove the message home.
“I just want to point out this was a central question during the election,” the president said. “It was debated over and over again. On Tuesday night we found that the majority of Americans agree with my approach. Our job now is to get a majority in Congress to reflect the will of the American people. I believe we can get that majority.”
While on the surface Obama’s rhetoric sounded confrontational, subtle changes in language may prove telling. During the ugly days of recrimination after the pursuit of a grand budget bargain failed in August of 2011, top White House aides spoke derisively of Boehner’s inability to find votes or seal a deal. The phrase “Boehner couldn’t deliver a pizza” became a clichéd West Wing summation of House GOP disorder.
Obama could have said that it was up to Boehner to compromise or find the votes. Instead he said it was “our job” to find the votes in the House and that “we” can achieve a majority. That puts Obama and the persuasive powers of the presidency squarely in the legislative game. And even as he said he wouldn’t approve a deal that didn’t ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes, Obama didn’t explicitly call for higher rates as the only means of achieving the goal of higher revenue.
That leaves both sides some room — though not a lot — to negotiate the details and semantics of higher revenue, tax reform, and deficit reduction. Obama and Boehner have now laid down their tax markers, which they contend reflect the will of the people. Each is half right. The question is can they meet half way.
On spending cuts, Obama’s words carefully left wriggle room. Saying he would not ask students, seniors, and middle-income families to “pay down the entire deficit,” he left room for cuts affecting all three in the context of a “broader deficit-reduction package.” And because Boehner already has agreed to higher revenue along with spending cuts, shrinking government appears on something of a fast track. The remaining question is the depth and breadth of the cuts.
Boehner has now said three times that he won’t support, and the House couldn’t pass, higher income-tax rates on the wealthy. That’s his marker. Everything else appears negotiable unless and until Obama can change votes within the House GOP conference or flexible definitions of higher tax revenue can be negotiated.
When asked at his Friday press conference about whether he could provice details of a possible deal on taxes and spending, Boehner refused, saying he didn’t want to eliminate options for him or Obama. That signals seriousness and purposefulness that might reassure Wall Street and its downcast sell-off psyche in the wake of an election that reinforced the gridlocked power structure of old.
Obama also called on the House to pass a pending Senate bill extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers below the $200,000 and $250,000 adjusted gross income level. He said that would alleviate some of the uncertainty stalking financial markets and clouding consumer confidence.
“Let’s not wait,” Obama said. “Let’s extend the middle-class tax cuts right now. I’ve got the pen ready to sign the bill right away. I’m ready to do it.”
Senate Majority Leader echoed the call.
But Boehner knows that the Bush tax rates are his one remaining lever. He’s holding firm with a House-passed bill that extends all Bush tax cuts for one year while negotiations proceed on tax reform and a big deficit-cutting deal. He appears disinclined to hand it over before negotiations get serious.
“The increased tax rates that would be allowed under the Senate-passed bill are part of the fiscal cliff that economists are warning us to avoid. Those increased tax rates will destroy jobs in America by hurting small businesses across the country,” Boehner said in a statement responding to the president.
One note on the negotiations: Sen. , R-, a budget wonk who has developed deficit-cutting plans outside the so-called Gang of Eight, said on Friday that all ad hoc groups should remain on the sidelines. “Now is not the time for any of us — Republicans, Democrats, rump groups, or gangs — to be publicly promoting our own plans,” Corker said in a statement that landed strategically between Boehner’s press conference and Obama’s remarks. “Right now the only two people who are likely to get a result by year’s end are President Obama and Speaker Boehner.”
Obama and Boehner said now was the time to get to work and minimize drama, conflict, and theatrics. At week’s end those ethos appeared to hold, the repeated East Room standing ovations for Obama notwithstanding.
In the coming days, the most important audience reaction will be on Wall Street. Stocks gained slightly Friday morning but gave back those advances immediately after Obama spoke. The market shed 434 points the two days after Obama’s reelection and the retrenchment of Democratic power in the Senate and GOP clout in the House. Investors are beating a hasty retreat out of fear Washington won’t avert the fiscal cliff.
Yes, Obama and Boehner are still weighing the voters’ verdict from Tuesday. But if appearances deepen initial impressions of more gridlock, the loudest and costliest verdicts may come from the stock exchanges. Real capital, not just political capital, is at stake.
- Obama Counters Boehner’s Opening Bid on Fiscal Cliff (amresolution.com)
- Obama says deficit plan must include higher taxes for wealthy (thehill.com)
- Obama, Boehner head for stalemate on tax cuts (cbsnews.com)
- Obama, Boehner Open to Compromise With Firm Stance (bloomberg.com)
- Obama: Some Compromise _ but Limits on Tax Cuts (abcnews.go.com)
- Obama Lays Down Position For Grueling Negotiations (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama, Boehner begin year-end duel on taxes (cnn.com)
- Obama: Americans agree with my approach on deficit (nwfdailynews.com)
- Obama: Americans agree with my approach on deficit (enterprisenews.com)
- David Petraeus resigns as director of CIA over affair – US politics live – The Guardian (blog) (guardian.co.uk)
Why don’t plane windows open, asks Mitt Romney
Washington, Wed, 26 Sep 2012
Washington, September 26 (ANI): Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lamented the fact that airplane windows don’t roll down after wife Ann’s plane had to make an emergency landing Friday because of an electrical malfunction.
Discussing the incident at a fundraiser the next day, he said: “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no-and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous.”
Here Discovery News has provided the explanation to why they don’t do that.
Gravity tends to keep air molecules concentrated near the ground, so the atmosphere thins out as you go up.
The air becomes so thin at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) or so that airplane cabins must be pressurized above that altitude to prevent occupants from suffering from hypoxia, or lack of oxygen.
Because temperature and pressure go hand-in-hand (i.e. low-pressure air feels cold), pressurization is also necessary to keep cabins sufficiently warm.
At 35,000 ft. (11,000 m), the typical altitude of a commercial jet, the air pressure drops to less than a quarter of its value at sea level, and the outside temperature drops below negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 degrees Celsius), according to The Engineering Toolbox.
Exposed to such conditions, you would quickly die.
Pressurization is normally achieved by pumping the cabin with “bleed air,” or compressed air sucked in and heated up by the plane’s turbine engines.
Pressurization only works in an airtight fuselage. If you open a plane window, the compressed air inside would rapidly rush out, atmospheric conditions inside and outside the plane would equalize, and everybody would die. (ANI)
- Romney Doesn’t Know Why Airplane Windows Won’t Open, Calls The Closed Window Policy ‘A Real Problem’ [Mitt Romney] (gawker.com)
- Romney: Why Don’t Plane Windows Open? (drudge.com)
- Someone Tell Mitt Romney Why Plane Windows Don’t Roll Down (manolith.com)
- Mitt Romney Doesn’t Get Why Airplane Windows Don’t Open (nymag.com)
- Romney: “I Don’t Know Why Airplane Windows Don’t Open” (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Romney Doesn’t Understand Why You Can’t Roll Down Windows On A Plane (thinkprogress.org)
- Mitt Romney wants airplane windows to roll down in case of fire so people can breathe more easily (dailykos.com)
- Romney Wonders Why Airplane Windows Don’t Open (politicalwire.com)
- Mitt Wants To Know Why Airplane Windows Don’t Open (addictinginfo.org)
- Hello, Mitt Romney, This Is Why Windows On Airplanes Don’t Open (thegloss.com)
Romney Drops Out Of Race After Conceding ‘I Couldn’t Vote For Me’
September 21, 2012
By Jeff Musall
The fallout from Republican Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47 percent of Americans who paid no federal income tax boiled over Friday when the campaign announced Romney could not continue because of his inability to support himself.
The more familiar requirements laid out in the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section II, demand that a person be a natural-born U.S. citizen and 35 years of age. In addition, there is a clause stating that a candidate for the office be “fully able to vote for themselves in good conscience.” It’s never been an issue in an election and most Americans have never heard of the provision.
After it was reported that at least 4,000 millionaires didn’t pay any income tax and were therefore freeloaders leeching off the system and the hard work of the Romney supporters, investigative reporters began connecting the dots. Francine Nikkels was the reporter who located Romney’s tax returns in a secret vault and made public the fact that Romney himself paid no income tax three years running.
“According to Romney’s own calculations, he could not vote for himself,” Nikkels reported. “Mitt joins his father who was on welfare and 4,000 millionaires who, along with those who work but don’t make enough money to pay income tax, are unqualified to support him. Even worse, Romney and most of the millionaires not paying income tax didn’t pay any payroll taxes, which those who work for a living did.”
Nikkels thought she was reporting a good story with strong implications as to the quality of candidate Romney is. She had no idea that her information would lead to the Republican candidate being forced from the race. When another video surfaced showing Romney acknowledging he couldn’t vote for himself, the ball started rolling that would steamroll his campaign in just one day.
“My friends, I know many of us in this room, if we use the logic of those who don’t pay income tax not voting for me, would ourselves be disqualified. I couldn’t vote for myself,” Romney quipped. “Of course, we aren’t those people – you know who I’m talking about.”
Presidential historian Max Furlough brought Romney’s quandary to light in a press conference only a few reporters attended. After he was finished, the story went viral. At first, Romney tried to move away from his comments. After Furlough obtained legal counsel and announced he would challenge Romney’s interpretation of the Constitution in court, Romney backed down and was forced to concede.
Devastated after realizing his seven-plus years of running for president would end in disgrace, Romney’s only comment was “you all should have went with the pizza guy.”
- Romney Releases 2011 Tax Returns – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Why Mitt Romney overpaid his federal income taxes (blogs.suntimes.com)
- Who Pays No Income Tax? (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney paid 14% effective tax rate in 2011 (money.cnn.com)
- The Surprising Facts About Mitt Romney’s 47% Who Pay No Income Tax (dailyfinance.com)
- Sweet: Why the Romneys should have paid less in income taxes (suntimes.com)
- Don’t forget the millionaires who pay no income tax (current.com)
- The right’s many attacks on Mitt Romney (politico.com)
- Reid: Romney ‘refuses to be straight with the American people’ (thehill.com)
- Romney Releases 2011 Income Tax Returns (forextv.com)
Mitt Romney’s Taxing Problem
Updated: September 21, 2012 | 4:38 p.m.
September 21, 2012 | 3:43 p.m.
AP PHOTO/JULIE JACOBSON
Mitt Romney pauses as supporters cheer to remarks during a rally on Friday in Las Vegas.
Mitt Romney paid the Internal Revenue Service somewhere in the ballpark of $250,000 more than he legally needed to last year, solely for political consistency purposes.
For comparison purposes, that’s about as much money as an American earning the median income will pay in federal taxes – at current rates – over the next .
Romney donated $4 million of his $13.7 million income last year to charity, according to a summary of his 2011 tax returns released by the Republican’s presidential campaign on Friday afternoon. He only claimed $2.25 million in charitable deductions, leaving $1.75 million in potential deductions on the table.
Multiply that non-claimed money by the 15 percent tax rate on investment income – which the statement said was the primary source of Romney’s income last year – and you’ve got about a quarter of a million dollars headed unnecessarily to the IRS. The statement says this was done “to conform to the governor’s statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.”
Reporters are sifting the details of the 2011 return right now, along with a very topline summary of returns from 1990 to 2009. That summary shows that Romney has, contra claims by Senate Majority Leader , D-, never paid less than a 13.66 percent effective federal tax rate, and paid an average effective rate about 20 percent over that time.
For comparison purposes, taxpayers in the middle quintile of income paid an effective rate of about 11 percent last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Those in the top 1 percent paid just under 29 percent.
Romney’s 2011 rate, in other words, puts him much closer to the effective-rate experience of the middle class than to that of the super-rich. He’d be even closer to the middle-class rate if he’d claimed all his deductions. Which, when you think about it, is what pretty much everyone in the middle class would do.
- Mitt Romney’s Fake Gift To The Treasury (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitt Romney limited deductions, overpaid on $13 million income (riehlworldview.com)
- Mitt Romney claims to have intentionally overpaid 2011 taxes (dailykos.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Cynical Tax Ruse (motherjones.com)
- Mitt Romney Releases Basically Made-Up 2011 Tax Returns [Mitt Romney] (gawker.com)
- Mitt Is Overpaying His Taxes – For Now – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Mitt Romney Paid More In Taxes Than He Had To Last Year (businessinsider.com)
- Mitt Romney to Release 2011 Tax Return (dailyfinance.com)
- Mitt Romney Releases 2011 Tax Return (taxprof.typepad.com)
- Romney Forgoes Full Charity Tax Break for 13% 2011 Rate (bloomberg.com)
The Art of the Friday News-Dump
By National Journal staff
Updated: September 21, 2012 | 2:20 p.m.
September 21, 2012 | 2:13 p.m.
When newsmakers release a tidbit on a Friday afternoon, chances are, it’s not something that puts them in the best light. Stories dumped on Fridays, as the strategy suggests, peter out during the weekend — or at least give the subjects more time to craft their responses. This gallery takes a look at news that’s broken on Friday afternoons that might not, from the newsmaker’s point of view, qualify as “good” news.
Months after releasing an estimate of his tax return for 2011, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his actual return for that year on Friday, Sept. 21.
- Could Obama Be Leading in North Carolina? (theatlanticwire.com)
- Romney’s Campaign Undercuts His Competence Pitch – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- In Tampa, Much of the Drama Will Stay Offstage – Alex Roarty – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama Holds Seven Point National Lead (elections.firedoglake.com)
- Welcome to Hootersville – Dave Barry – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Poll: Obama maintains seven-point national lead (thehill.com)
- Could Akin Damage the Top of the GOP Ticket? – Alex Roarty – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt’s desperate Friday news dump (dailykos.com)
- Secret Service gun inadvertently left in Romney plane bathroom – @CBSNews (cbsnews.com)
- Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: Wildly diverging national polls still net positive for Obama (dailykos.com)
Where are the US jobs? Ask the corporate cash hoarders | Moira Herbst | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Where are the US jobs? Ask the corporate cash hoarders
Corporate tax breaks won’t boost the economy. If unemployment is to fall, giant companies must invest in job creation
Mitt Romney says tax cuts for the rich will create jobs. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/AP
As it does every month, Friday’s jobs report is expected to underscore the desperate need for job creation in America.
This time around, it would be refreshing if the pundit-political class considered a radical but obvious idea: tapping the multitrillion-dollar stockpiles of corporate cash currently sitting on the sidelines and benefiting no one. Compulsive hoarding is unhealthy for individuals. It’s even worse for whole economies.
The sorry facts are these: job growth is still half of what is needed to keep up with population growth. Meanwhile, more than 14% of the US workforce is unemployed, underemployed or discouraged from looking for work. The numbers for July aren’t expected to budge much. Absent a massive inflow of tax dollars, jobs aren’t going to come from the public sector. State and local governments are broke, and the fight over federal deficits has turned into an all-out war in Congress.
Even as the need for fresh ideas and action becomes more urgent, politicians stake out tired and familiar ground each month. President Obama’s response to poor-if-slightly-improving numbers is to acknowledge that job creation isn’t where it needs to be, but will eventually limp back to health. Mitt Romney says the numbers are catastrophic, and if only the US cut taxes for corporations and the rich, and busted unions, we’d open the floodgates to millions of jobs.
In fact, both approaches only cause more harm – the former because many long-term unemployed are leaving the workforce for good, and the latter because it’s a transfer of wealth to people and companies that will hoard money, not spend it.
The only thing that will bring jobs back is more consumer demand. Demand comes from middle and working-class people spending money. That becomes a lot harder when you don’t have a job, are afraid of losing the one you have, or are earning less than you used to for the same work. America’s middle and lower classes are tapped out. Despite rising productivity, labour’s share of the national income in the US has dropped to the lowest point in recorded history.
In times like these, it can make sense to look to government to help stimulate demand. But thanks in part to Tea Party activism and the stress on ever-lower taxes for the richest Americans, the public sector will continue to shed jobs, especially at the local and state level. With government out, we turn to the only other potential source of jobs: big corporations. It turns out that US-based mega-corporations are hoarding cash. How much cash? Record sums. It’s about $1.73tn in US assets, according to the Federal Reserve – 50% more than they held in 2007. When you count worldwide holdings of US companies, the figure is a staggering $5.1tn, estimates Reuters’ David Cay Johnston. Apple alone has $117bn.
Banks are also stockpiling cash; they’re sitting on more than $1.5tn in excess reserves in the US.
Not only are mega-companies not creating enough decent jobs with this cash, they continue to offshore work and underpay workers. Many are not even rewarding investors or accelerating their growth with the money, thereby causing harm to themselves, according to a recent survey by Ernst & Young. Economists also say that cash hoarding is blocking a recovery in Europe.
As the jobs picture continues to darken – especially for the 5.5 million out of work for six months or more – the need to make corporate cash productive becomes critical. According to an International Labour Organization (ILO) study, if US non-financial corporations invested $508bn of their excess cash holdings, US GDP would grow an additional 1% to 1.6% a year between 2012 and 2014 and 2.4m new jobs would be created.
Another study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts found that if corporations and banks invested $1.4bn in cash into productive investments and job creation, unemployment would fall below 5% by the end of 2014.
To be sure, the purpose of these companies – and of capitalism itself – is to create profits, not jobs. But as the Great Depression and the Great Recession have demonstrated – and as a famous philosopher-economist once said – capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction. It’s impoverishing the very workers and consumers it needs to expand in the US.
Of course, the question will arise: how can we make quarterly profits-obsessed corporations tap their vast reserves to invest and create jobs to serve their long-term interests? I don’t know. But knowing where the cash is in this supposedly cash-strapped country is a start.
We shouldn’t forget that the supreme court demonstrated recently that it’s quite open to the idea of mandates. Wouldn’t it make sense to mandate job creation when corporate cash levels reach a certain level? Or, for a more modest start, mandate corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies to create jobs? At the very least, the US should enforce Section 531 of the Internal Revenue Service code, which authorises taxing companies’ excessive accumulated earnings, as Cay Johnston points out.
We can expect that Romney, himself under fire for a private equity career built on destroying American jobs, will again ask Obama: “Where are the jobs?” It’s time for Romney to ask that question of his cash-hoarding friends.
- Where are the US jobs? Ask the corporate cash hoarders | Moira Herbst (guardian.co.uk)
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