Tales from the Trail

Seneca Nation has message for Obama on taxes

Robert Porter, president of the Seneca Nation tribe of Native Americans in western New York state, has a message for President Obama.

“I’d like to see the president not be so timid in his efforts to support and protect Indian country,” he says. USA/

Porter is one of dozens of tribal leaders from around the United States who is to meet Obama and other administration officials on Thursday.

Many Native American reservations historically have suffered mightily from high unemployment and related problems. By contrast, the Seneca Nation is a thriving economy, operating casinos and tobacco businesses, Porter says.

Instead of government handouts, he says the Seneca people would benefit from tax relief — a message he will carry to this week’s meeting.

White House podium turns time machine for Bill Clinton redux

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Bill Clinton took the White House press corps on an unexpected journey back in time on Friday afternoon with an impromptu trip to the briefing room podium, where he held forth for half an hour, obviously loving every minute.

The former president didn’t rise to the bait when he was asked whether he enjoyed coming in and offering advice more than running the country. Clinton, like his fellow Democratic President Barack Obama, grappled with crushing losses to Republicans in mid-term congressional elections two years into his presidency.

The two Democratic presidents called the surprise news conference after an Oval Office meeting to discuss Obama’s deal with Republicans, which extends tax cuts for middle-income earners and the wealthiest Americans and includes an extension of unemployment benefits and a cut in payroll taxes. Obama has been lambasted by some congressional Democrats for reaching an agreement that they say concedes far too much to the rival party.

Liberal millionaires to US: Please hike my taxes

moneySome liberal millionaires are putting their money where their mouths are: they are calling on Democrats to stay true to their word and allow the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire next year.

Joining the likes of Warren Buffett and George Soros, a calling themselves “patriotic millionaires” want President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to raise their taxes to levels before former President George W. Bush cut them in 2001.

“We have done very well over the last several years,” about 50 millionaires including several early Google Inc. executives and the founder of IAC’s Ask.com, say in a letter to leaders. “We don’t need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers.”

Is deficit debate a new political dawn?

RTR2GF2D_Comp1-150x150RTR2GF2D_Comp-150x150Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles think it may be a new day in American politics, one where politicans who hike taxes and alter Social Security stay in office.

Simpson, a former Republican senator, tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he sees evidence of change whenever he strolls through an airport: “I can tell you, we used to get lots of signals. I get more thumbs up now than other digits.”

The pair, co-chairs of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, have proposed cutting the U.S. budget deficit by reducing defense spending, eliminating tax breaks, hiking the gasoline tax and altering Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump sees China from the White House

RTR2EFAB_Comp-150x150Billionaire developer Donald Trump might like to be president. And if he were, he’d bring a hard view of China to the White House.

“I’d tax China,” he tells ABC News in an interview. “They laugh at us. They feel we’re fools. You know, they’re getting away with absolute murder. The products we used to make in this country, they’re making them in China. We’re rebuilding China.”

Trump, who set up an exploratory presidential committee in 1999, said he’ll decide on a 2012 White House run by June.

Washington Extra – A snowball’s chance?

American voters made their feelings very clear last week. U.S. government borrowing is too high and needs to be reduced. How sad, then, that the presidential commission tasked with coming up with a credible plan to cut the deficit is already being dismissed as a non-event.erskine

“This is the most predictable economic crisis we have ever faced,” Erskine Bowles rightly said today as he unveiled his joint proposals with co-chair Alan Simpson.

What is lacking, though, is not a realization of this fact, but the political will and bipartisanship to find a solution. Already, some members of their own commission have expressed skepticism about the plan or dismissed it entirely, while the wider audience in Congress is hardly rushing to embrace the ideas.

Bejeebers! A scary fiscal outlook and Tea Party politics

Tackling huge budget deficits and growing debt is essential for the United States to avoid a financial market crisis that would push interest rates higher and severely damage the U.S. economy, many economists have warned.

Compromise and statesmanship will be needed to cut spending and raise revenues to narrow the budget gap, and that might not be possible inUSA-ELECTIONS/TEAPARTY the current political environment, says at least one experienced budget expert.

“We’re certainly going to have a more fiscally conservative Congress next year,” Rudolph Penner, a former Congressional Budget Office director told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum.  “The Tea Party, if nothing else, has certainly moved both the Republicans and Democratic Party to the right.”

When Harry Reid met Sharron Angle

Anyone expecting to see a smack-down in the desert would have been disappointed.
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The first and only debate in the high stakes Senate race between Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle ended with both candidates still standing.

But there were plenty barbs as the Senate Majority Leader and the Tea Party-backed former state legislator met face-to-face Thursday night in Las Vegas.

In the hour-long debate, Reid called her “extreme.” Angle repeatedly referred to him as “Harry Reid” and portrayed him as a tax-raising, career politician.

Republicans turning up the heat on tax cuts

An election-year debate over tax cuts and deficits is heating up as Republicans press for extending all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and Democrats debate what to do against the backdrop of a slow economy, huge deficits and feared shellacking in the November congressional elections.

USA/House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats support extending tax cuts for the middle class, but allowing the tax breaks for the wealthy to expire in order to help bring down huge budget deficits.

House Republicans immediately fired off an email to reporters saying “Pelosi announces tax hikes on small business.” Republicans argue that allowing tax rates to rise on individuals making more than $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000 amounts to a tax increase on small business since many small entrepreneurs report business income on their individual tax returns.

U.S. value-added tax still a pretty toxic idea

White House Economic Economic Advisor Paul Volcker stirred up debate over the United States possibly adopting a European-style value added tax to help bring federal deficits under control, saying recently that it “was not as toxic an idea” as it has been in the past.USA-FED/

Well the idea is still pretty toxic in the U.S. Senate.

The Senate on Thursday voted 85-13 to adopt an anti-value-added tax resolution sponsored by Arizona Republican John McCain as part of its consideration of legislation that would restore lapsed jobless benefits.

The resolution has no force of law, but it gives a pretty clear sense that senators don’t like the idea of a value-added  tax.