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The Ridgewood Blog presents and Exclusive Interview with Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Lonegan

In big government, new jersey fiscal crisis, Obama, PJ Blogger, Steve Lonegan, the Ridgewood blog on March 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

So after a little phone tag I finally had an opportunity to sit down with Steve Lonegan and talk the campaign ,Chris Christie ,Governor Corzine and the New Jersey Supreme Court .What stuck me the most is that behind the visions of a tough veteran campaigner is a very passionate man that cares a lot about people .Our interview in the midst of a long day on the campaign trail was only interrupted by a call from his mom.

So I started with something that always bugs me How can a guy running against government subsidies ,take matching funds to run a political campaign ? You see ,he said and i paraphrase ,Corzine can reach into his pocket and take out $60 million bucks but my own mother can only give me around $3400 so either you have to lift the limits or I would be at a huge disadvantage in not take the matching funds.

I pressed him on why he thought he could really cut state spending and he assured me that cutting down and consolidating the number of departments in the state was very doable . He also reminded me that Pennsylvania one of the states New Jersey residents have been fleeing to ,has a flat tax so there was no reason we couldn’t do it here. He pointed me to his record running Bogota and how he enacted similar cuts .The difference being on a state level you had to add more zeros .

This moved our conversation to Bogota and that it had only 8000 residents and I wondered if he thought that was a fair comparison to Trenton ? Again he reminded me and I know this to be true from running this blog ,that in Trenton you have a lot of room to hide but at a local level you are looking people in the eye everyday who you might be dramatically effecting their lives.

This moved us to an other issue it seems Steve has his work cut out for him not only does he have to compete against the deep pockets of Jon Corzine and the Democratic machine but he also has to fight the “chosen one” every Republicans favorite son Chris Christie and the extremely liberal Republican party in this state .

Abbott and COAH were next on the table for discussion and changing the extremely redistributive almost socialistic NJ Supreme Court (my words ). Steve once again reminded me that as Governor he will have the opportunity to appoint 4 new justices and he assured me that the there is a pool of traditional constitutional defending judges.

Finally he stated that he is far more optimistic in the future than I and that the chief threat to New Jersey’s economy are the policies of Jon Corzine and in particular the very destructive policies of Barack Obama .

PJ Blogger

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I am wary of additional government intervention, as it does nothing to strengthen our financial markets or encourage private investment.

In big government, Scott Garrett, Stimulus Bill, Stimulus Plan on March 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Dear Friends,

Last week, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress. I applaud President Obama’s boldness and energy in the face of our current economic crisis. He recognizes that the challenges our country faces are interrelated, and we cannot rectify the crisis without addressing the broader issues. Where President Obama and I disagree is in the manner in which the broader issues should be addressed.

The President believes that government intervention in the marketplace is necessary to restore order – I am wary of additional government intervention, as it does nothing to strengthen our financial markets or encourage private investment. My main concern is that Washington is sending mixed signals to Wall Street which is causing capital to remain on the sideline. Until investors are clear about the government’s intention with regard to future market interference, confidence will not be restored to the financial sector.

The President wants to create jobs – I share his desire to fight the rising unemployment that has so many American families fearful about their ability to provide for their loved ones. I believe the best way to create jobs is to encourage the growth of American small businesses. History has shown that the most effective way to reinvigorate the economy and spur economic growth is to ensure that job creators face a lower tax and regulatory burden.

The President wants to reform our healthcare system – I am encouraged by his recent statements on fiscal responsibility, as the current level of entitlement spending is unsustainable and will only serve to sink our country into further debt. I do have concerns about any healthcare reforms that will demolish independent private-sector healthcare in America and disincentivize entry into specialty fields, which could result in reductions in innovation and quality of care. Much bipartisan discussion is needed in order to develop a clear plan to solve our nation’s healthcare problems.

The President wants energy independence – I could not agree more. I have and will continue to support an energy policy that will move America away from foreign sources of energy and encourage American-made solutions. Alternative and renewable fuels will play a key role in this effort and I support increased research in wind, solar, bio-mass, bio-diesel, nuclear, ethanol, hydrogen, and coal energy. The potential of these fuels requires that Congress be supportive of further research and development to improve those fuel technologies.

I believe the way to revive our economy is to liberate Americans from their overwhelming tax burden in order to empower individual taxpayers and keep more money in the wallets of American families. We must cease the excessive federal spending that continues to bloat our national debt, and create opportunities for private initiatives to spur economic growth. We must end the government interference in the marketplace that many experts say have helped create our current economic crisis.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett
Member of Congress

Wrong on Health Care

In big government, Healthcare, nationalized medicine, Obamacare on March 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Wrong on Health Care
by Michael D. Tanner

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10005

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute editor of Social Security and Its Discontents: Perspectives on Choice

Added to cato.org on February 26, 2009

This article appeared in the Baltimore Sun on February 26, 2009

Sans Serif Serif
Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called for passing health care reform this year.

Certainly, there is widespread agreement that health care needs to be reformed. It costs too much. Too many people lack health insurance. And quality, while the highest in the world, is too often uneven.

Real health care reform should empower health care consumers, not government bureaucrats.

But how does President Obama plan to expand coverage, increase covered treatments and control costs – all at the same time? The wrong answer is likely to mean fewer choices for patients, decreased quality of care and an increased burden on American taxpayers. And while Mr. Obama gave us no details Tuesday, the direction that he appears to be taking is extremely troublesome.

From what we can determine so far, “Obamacare” will be based on four pillars: 1) mandates, both for employers and individuals; 2) subsidies for the middle class; 3) increased insurance regulation; and 4) a government-run health care plan, like Medicare, that will compete with private insurance. The result will be government control over one-seventh of the U.S. economy and some of the most important, personal and private decisions in our lives.

We know, from the failure of national health care systems around the world as well as the inefficiency, high cost and poor quality of government-run health care systems here at home (Veterans Affairs health care is a national disgrace, Medicaid provides poor quality at high cost, and Medicare has tens of trillions of dollars in projected unfunded liabilities) that that is not the type of health care reform that we need.

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute editor of Social Security and Its Discontents: Perspectives on Choice

Real health care reform should empower health care consumers, not government bureaucrats. Today, too much of health care spending is controlled by the government, employers and insurance companies. Instead, we should return that money to individual families and workers. That would mean changing the tax treatment of health insurance so that individuals who buy their insurance can receive the same tax break as those who receive insurance through their employer. Also, we should allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines if they can find a less expensive policy.

President Obama is right. We need to reform health care. But not the way he wants to do it.

FACT : Top 1% of Tax payers pay 39.9% of all Federal Taxes

In big government, Obama, taxes on March 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

July 18, 2008

Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data

by Gerald Prante

Fiscal Fact No. 135

The latest release of Internal Revenue Service data on individual income taxes comes from calendar year 2006, a year in which the economy remained healthy and continued to grow, increasing individual income tax collections along with overall average effective tax rates.

This year’s numbers show that both the income share earned by the top 1 percent of tax returns and the tax share paid by that top 1 percent have once again reached all-time highs. In 2006, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 39.9 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.1 percent of adjusted gross income, both of which are significantly higher than 2004 when the top 1 percent earned 19 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) and paid 36.9 percent of federal individual income taxes.

The IRS data also shows increases in individual incomes across all income groups (see Table 3). Just as the highest earners lost the biggest percentage of their incomes during the recession of 2001, so they have prospered the most as the economy continued to rebound through 2006. For example, from 2000 to 2002, the AGI of the top 1 percent of tax returns fell by over 26 percent. In that same period, the AGI of the bottom 50 percent of tax returns actually increased by 4.3 percent. However, since 2002, as the recession has ended, AGI has risen by over 81 percent for the top 1 percent (an average of over 20 percent per year) and 17 percent (an average of around 4 percent per year) for the bottom 50 percent.

In sum, between 2000 and 2006, pre-tax income for the top 1 percent of tax returns grew by 34 percent, while pre-tax income for the bottom 50 percent increased by 22 percent. All figures are nominal (not adjusted for inflation).

This pattern of income loss and growth at the top of the income spectrum is the same during every recession and recovery. The net result has also been a sharp rise in federal government tax revenue from 2003 to 2006 compared to previous years.

The IRS data below include all of the 135.7 million tax returns filed in 2006 that had a positive AGI, not just the returns from people who earned enough to owe taxes. From other IRS data, we can see that in 2006, 92.7 million of the tax returns came from people who paid taxes into the Treasury. That leaves 43 million tax returns filed by people with positive AGI who used exemptions, deductions and tax credits to completely wipe out their federal income tax liability. Not only did they get back every dollar that the federal government withheld from their paychecks during 2005, but some even received more back from the IRS. This is a result of refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which are not included in the aggregate percentile data here. (For more on the limitations of the data on this page, see the notes below. For a detailed paper on the distribution of the entire U.S. fiscal system, including all federal, state and local taxes, read Who Pays Taxes and Who Receives Government Spending? An Analysis of Federal, State and Local Tax and Spending Distributions, 1991 – 2004.)

Including all tax returns that had a positive AGI, taxpayers with an AGI of $153,542 or more in 2006 constituted the nation’s top 5 percent of earners. To break into the top 1 percent, a tax return had to have an AGI of $388,806 or more. These numbers are up significantly from 2003 when the equivalent thresholds were $130,080 and $295,495. Top incomes in 2006 are also continuing to surpass the peak they reached in 2000. At the height of the boom and bubble, $313,469 was the threshold to break into the top 1 percent, and then it fell to $285,424 in 2002 only to finally recover fully in 2005.

The top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $64,702) earned 68.2 percent of the nation’s income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (86.3 percent). The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $388,806) earned approximately 22.1 percent of the nation’s income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 39.9 percent of all federal income taxes. That means the top 1 percent of tax returns paid about the same amount of federal individual income taxes as the bottom 95 percent of tax returns.

Average tax rates increased once again in 2006 as the economy continued to grow, even though there were no significant pieces of tax legislation enacted in 2006. Overall, the average tax rate for returns with a positive liability went from 12.1 percent to 12.45 percent from 2004 to 2005 and then up to 12.60 percent for 2006. (This does not include any refundable credits.)

The 2003 tax cut was the second in three years, and although tax rates are lower, the federal income tax still remains highly progressive. The average tax rate in 2006 ranges from 3.0 percent of income for the bottom half of tax returns to 22.8 percent for the top 1 percent.

*Source: Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=133521,00.html (“Individual Income Tax Returns with Positive Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Returns Classified by Tax Percentile – Early Release”)

But hey, you’re a democrat, you like taxes.

In big government, Democrats, nationalized medicine, Obama on March 2, 2009 at 1:23 am

If there really is a wealth gap in this country it has been caused by a few things. One opinion is that one of main catalysts was the inflated price of housing which was caused by cheap and available credit.

The average Joe makes $75,000 a year; by standard mortgage eligibilty formulas he should only be buying a $225,000 home. But Joe buys a $400,000 home anyway and he’s immediately behind. His $75,000 a year is immediately less household income, since he is paying a mortgage that proportionality too high for his monthly budget.

To your next point, not everyone was making money in this country on Wall Street. Plenty of folks in the 33% tax bracket (those making over 201,000 and “wealthy” by Obama standards) own restaurants, stores, small business, and etcetera. This new rhetoric that everyone who has made money is a hedge fund managers is stupid.

5% of this country pays 70% of the taxes. Where is the equity in that? Why is it more equitable that the 5% should now pay 75% of the taxes? Who decided what is fair?

You voted for Obama because you wanted the government to help people. Give them health care and a quality education. If the United States government was a charity you’d see that every dollar donated by tax payers resulted in less than .05 cents to each needy citizen. Would you give to that charity?

If you really wanted to help the poor, you would give them vouchers so they could get their kids out of the worst public schools in the country. The true democratic crime in this country is refusing to provide the poor with a quality education. Please don’t make the argument that we need to spend more money, we already spend more than any other nation and we are still behind. Are American kids stupider than the kids in Singapore and South Korea?

And then there is health care. You are going to see the government take over and limit the amount of “expensive” treatments for illness. The United States leads the world in cancer treatment and prevention because our current system is the only one willing to pay for expensive preventative tests and chemotherapy. In England they give you some morphine and tell you to settle your affairs. (Yes they do, I’ve know folks with relatives there with lung cancer who didn’t get chemotherapy. The assumption is that you are probably going to die, so why bother.)

Lastly, there is a symbiotic relationship between business and government which democrats keep missing. Twenty percent of New York states budget came from Wall Street, where do you think the shortfall will come from now. Higher NY State income taxes and higher NY State property taxes which will be put on all tax brackets, not just the top 5%.

All those bad, bad big businesses are going to pay a lot less taxes this year because they aren’t making money this year. That means you will be paying more personally.

But hey, you’re a democrat, you like taxes.

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Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, And More

In big government, Democrats, Larry Kudlow, nationalized medicine, Obama, socialism on February 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

We’ll say it Larry ,”we told you so”

Posted By: Larry Kudlow Anchor
cnbc.com 27 Feb 2009 04:39 PM ET

http://www.cnbc.com/id/29434104

Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s State of the Union speech and his budget.

He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.

That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow.

Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next 10 years.

This is nearly double the government-spending low-point reached during the late 1990s by the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton administration. While not quite as high as spending levels in Western Europe, we regrettably will be gaining on this statist-planning approach.

Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.

And as far as middle-class tax cuts are concerned, Obama’s cap-and-trade program will be a huge across-the-board tax increase on blue-collar workers, including unionized workers. Industrial production is plunging, but new carbon taxes will prevent production from ever recovering. While the country wants more fuel and power, cap-and-trade will deliver less.

The tax hikes will generate lower growth and fewer revenues. Yes, the economy will recover. But Obama’s rosy scenario of 4 percent recovery growth in the out years of his budget is not likely to occur. The combination of easy money from the Fed and below-potential economic growth is a prescription for stagflation. That’s one of the messages of the falling stock market.

Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period. House Republicans, fortunately, are 90 days sober, as they are putting up a valiant fight to stop the big-government onslaught and move the GOP back to first principles.

Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.

There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.

Well then, do conservatives dare say: We told you so?

http://www.cnbc.com/id/29434104

The national debt currently exceeds $10.6

In big government, Democrats, national debt, nationalized medicine, Obama, socialism on February 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Dear Friends,

This week, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress to discuss the outlook for the coming year. Of the many things he will discuss, I am sure he will touch on the current economic crisis, and outline his plans for the budget that he will introduce this next week. One main concern I have for the future of our country’s economic health is the ever-increasing size of our national debt. We have run record deficits over the past two years, with little hope of shrinking the deficit in the near future.

Deficits this large are unsustainable. The national debt currently exceeds $10.6 trillion.Over the next 75 years, the federal government has promised to spend over $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities on entitlements. For the sake of our economy’s present and future health, we need to stop spending our children’s money and begin taking responsibility for the excessive growth in our debt.

I will continue to work to promote accountability and transparency in how Congress spends your money, as well as responsibility for the fiscal health of future generations. Please continue to send me your comments and concerns about these and other issues.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett
Member of Congress

Time to Stop the Systemic Budgetary Short Falls

In big government, new jersey fiscal crisis, taxes on February 22, 2009 at 10:33 pm

the Ridgewood blog feels its Time for action …..

The problem is that furloughs give us short term cuts in spending with out solving the long term systemic problem of budgetary short falls

lets assume the tax base is already stretched to the nines , what can we do to better position ourselves to deliver meaningful services with out driving out the existing tax base?

Lets face the state has a declining population and business have been fleeing the state for years .With the complete break down of the financial sector New York City we can no longer be depended on as an engine of high wage job growth. It is time for us to face facts and start to make the needed decisions .

First follow thru with an immediate short term furlough program .
2nd put an immediate hold on all capital projects unless they are maintenance related
3rd shut down both the senior and youth center at the village hall.
4th All departments commence an audit of there operations leading to an immediate 10% minimum reduction in operating costs to be determine by the department itself.
5th Examine Privatizing the Village waste disposal
6th Look for viable alternative for any village owned property
7th Sorry there is no more pay for play money available any Village contract ie consulting or construction with any out side source needs to bring the price down to a market rate immediately no and if or buts.
8th Any contractor hired by the Village will be liable for any damage ,financial or otherwise caused by over charges , incompetence or incomplete work.
9th Village officials and Village employees will now be liable for any and all damage they inflict on Village owned equipment,
10) All village owned vehicles will be returned by employees and Village owned vehicals will no longer be provided to employees for personal use .
11) the Village manager will conduct an audit of all village purchasing looking for opportunities to save money.

ps we don’t like some of it either and i hate like hell to have to lay anyone off but having gone through this in New York City in the early 90’s ,history shows us the best coarse is act fast and act now!

PJ Blogger

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Reader suggests ways to and not to control costs for the Village

In big government, new jersey fiscal crisis, Ridgewood New Jersey on February 21, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Part of your homeowners insurance premium ‘rating’ considers the paid fire dept (as well as how far from a hydrant). If we had volunteers, your homeowners insurance policy would probably increase more than your taxes would go down.

For the portion of your tax bill that pays for fire, police, garbage… we get a BARGAIN. The ripoff is the schools. When the ‘average’ Ridgewood property tax bill was 11,000, it broke down as follows:

$1000 to the county, $2500 for municipal (Police, fire ,streets, garbage, shade tree) and $7500 for schools. The place to CUT the budget is the BOARD OF ED. That is where all the FAT is in the budget. The other depts are a BARGAIN.(resident since 1969)

CCS.com

Reader asks,"Why do the Bath Room’s have to cost so much?!?"

In bathrooms, big government, new jersey fiscal crisis on February 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Why do the Bath Room’s have to cost so much?!? I realize they are needed and am not arguing against them but could they not be built at a more modest price? I don’t think it’s right to ask the lower paid employees to take time off without pay while all the other big ticket projects being discussed (Graydon, Shedler).

The administrators should also have to “give back.” A mere $425,000 a year is not that much to the Village but it is a lot of money to the employees who are paying a mortgage, buying groceries, etc. True savings to the taxpayer could be realized if the entire state/county and local govts. have their benefits/pay increases brought into line with those of the private sector — OMG!!!

Tough times require difficult and unpopular choices. Yes, even a wage freeze for a year or two might be needed for all public servants (teachers too and their union should wake up.) Ouch, yep, it hurts — just ask my neighbor who was laid off after 18 years. He would have gladly contributed a little more toward his health benefits or have his wages capped for a year just to keep his job!

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