Friday, February 11, 2011

Obama Claims He Didn’t Raise Taxes –Oh, really?

Obama Claims He Didn’t Raise Taxes –Oh, really?

"Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth?" Bill O'Reilly asked in an interview on Super Bowl Sunday. Obama denied the charge "absolutely."

"I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years," Obama said.

Oh, really? That did not sound right to many of us paying taxes right and left, so let’s just check out that claim a little.

The suggestion that Obama did not raise taxes is just plain wrong. He signed legislation raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products soon after taking office; that money theoretically goes to pay for children's health insurance programs. The law went into effect in 2009. He also signed the massive health care law, which includes taxes on indoor tanning that went into effect last year.

The new health care law also includes a tax on people who decide not to have health insurance, as an incentive for them to get coverage. The tax phases in gradually, starting in 2014. By 2016, the tax would be $695 per uninsured person up to a maximum of three times that amount, or $2,085. The law includes exemptions for people who can't find affordable insurance, and a few other special circumstances.

More significantly, the health care law includes new taxes on the wealthy, starting in 2013. Individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples that make more than $250,000 will see additional Medicare taxes of 0.9 percent. They will also, for the first time, have to pay Medicare taxes on their investment income at a 3.8 percent rate. (Current law is that all workers and employers split a 2.9 percent Medicare tax; the self-employed pay all of it.)

The small percentages may not sound like a lot, but those taxes are expected to generate $210 billion over 10 years, or just over half of all the new revenues the health care law authorizes. Other provisions include new fees on health insurance companies and prescription drug manufacturers, and a new tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans.

Before I make a final ruling on this item, though, it should be noted that Obama has not raised income taxes. Thanks to a compromise he brokered with Republicans at the end of 2010, income tax rates are staying the same for people of all incomes. Until he gave in, Obama had favored raising taxes on high earners. In exchange, he gained a 2 percent reduction in payroll taxes for all workers. When you combine that with small tax cuts that were part of the economic stimulus, most taxpayers have seen reduced rates on their income taxes under Obama's administration.

All this means that Obama said, "I didn't raise taxes once." But there are numerous instances when he has. He's signed off on small tax cuts for most taxpayers, but that doesn't change the fact that he's also approved several tax increases. So rate his statement False.


Botox in Prison

Remember the old saying "Only in America"? Well apparently "in Mexico too". Mexican prosecutors have launched an investigation into charges that a apparent Mexican drug cartel "queen" received a beauty treatment while in prison. 

The Mexico City District Attorney's Office says that Sandra Avila Beltran, who faces charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy, got a Botox injection on January 10 at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in the Mexican capital. Prosecutors said they are investigating medical personnel at the prison who might have provided access to a doctor who applied the Botox injection to Avila, also known as "The Queen of the Pacific."

Avila, who is 50 years old, was allegedly tied to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful Mexican criminal organizations.

Mexico City District Attorney Miguel Angel Mancera said the investigation into the prison incident was prompted by a tip from prison personnel. Mancera also said prison employees who have not yet been identified "falsified" an access request form saying the doctor was going to perform an electrocardiogram, but instead applied the injection.
"The investigation will focus on the possibility that a public servant committed a crime, according to the complaint made by the prison authorities," Mancera said. He also said Avila and the prison director will be questioned in the next few days, but he didn't elaborate on what kind of disciplinary action those involved in the incident may face.

So far, the doctor who gained access to the prison faces no charges.

Sandra Avila Beltran was arrested on September 28, 2007, in Mexico City. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, she was suspected of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. along with Juan Diego Espinosa, a.k.a. "The Tiger," a Colombian national who, sources say, was his lover. They were arrested together. The DEA said that in November 2001, Espinosa, Avila and others "allegedly arranged the shipment of cocaine from Colombia to the United States by ship." The ship, loaded with 9,291 kilograms of cocaine, was boarded by U.S. agents near Manzanillo, on Mexico's Pacific coast.

Live Long and Prosper....

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