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Tax Day

Nobody likes taxes, particularly on April 15. So President Obama used the occasion to issue a pledge to simplify the tax code. Obama haters used the day to express their opposition with tea bags. And the Obamas and Bidens released their tax returns.

Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "Barack Obama's successful quest for the White House powered the sales of his nonfiction books, making him millions even as he assumed the presidency, his tax returns show.

"As a candidate in 2008, Obama earned about $2.6 million from the sale of his books, 'The Audacity of Hope' and 'Dreams From My Father,' according to returns the White House released yesterday....

"Together, Obama and his wife, Michelle, paid about $855,000 in federal taxes. They would have received a $26,000 refund, but asked that the amount be applied to their 2009 income taxes instead.

"The returns, Obama's first released while president, show that he donated $172,050 to charities, including $25,000 to both CARE and the United Negro College Fund."

Here are the Obama and Biden family 1040 forms.

Ryan J. Donmoyer and Hans Nichols writes for Bloomberg that Obama's taxes would have been "higher by about $102,000 if his budget plan were in effect."

Here is the text of Obama's remarks on tax policy yesterday. "I decided not to bring Bo today -- because he stepped on my economic speech yesterday," the president said, before explaining that "we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to game the system. So I've already started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year. It's going to take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes. But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests. And we'll make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year."

Meanwhile, as Michael Finnegan and Janet Hook write in the Los Angeles Times: "Republicans sought to ignite a popular revolt against President Obama on Wednesday by staging 'tea party' protests across the nation to demand lower taxes and less government spending -- but the tactic carried risk for the party.

"With half a million or more jobs vanishing each month, many Americans are less concerned about how much Washington deducts from their paychecks than whether they will have a paycheck at all...

"Gallup polls released this week found that 53% of Americans approve of the expansion of the U.S. government to help fix the economy, even if most of that group wants it scaled back once the crisis abates. And 48% think that the amount of federal income taxes they pay is 'about right,' a finding that shows anti-tax sentiment near a historic low for the last five decades."

And The Washington Post's Dana Milbank describes what he saw at the tea party across from the White House yesterday:

"'Hey Big Brother: Show us Your Real Birth Certificate,' said one sign in the rain-soaked crowd.

"'Blackbeard Obama, King of the Tax Pirates,' said another.

"A third showed the president dressed up as Steve Urkel, the nerdy black kid with big glasses and suspenders from 'Family Matters.' 'Did I do that?' the sign said, showing a graph of the economy plunging...

"Though ostensibly an anti-tax protest, it was more of an anti-Obama festival. Among the messages: 'The Audacity of the Dope,' 'O Crap' and Obama as an acronym for 'One Big Awful Mistake America.' Some messages were ugly ('Napolitano -- Obama's Gestapo Queen,' 'Hang 'Em High Traitors,' and a sign held by a young girl saying 'Victim of Child Tax Abuse'). Others were funny ('Don't Talk to Me! I Forgot My Teleprompter'). Certain ones had sinister overtones ('Tax Slavery Sucks,' and 'Obama bin Lyin'). Then there was the guy holding a Cabbage Patch doll by its hair with the message: 'My kid's growth stunted by your stimulus.'"

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 16, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
 
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And The Washington Post's Dana Milbank describes what he saw at the tea party across from the White House yesterday:

---------

Would this be like when Milbank described the Secret Service restraining reporters at Palins’s appearances during the ’08 campaign? You know, the descriptions that later turned out to be completely fabricated by Milbank?

Drive By journalism at its best.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"With half a million or more jobs vanishing each month, many Americans are less concerned about how much Washington deducts from their paychecks than whether they will have a paycheck at all

------------

What's really a shame is that many Americans can’t make the obvious connection between these two related items.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

You'll have to explain that one, Sharp. Taxes are the root of our economic troubles and business failures?
I'm sure our nation's economists would be interested in hearing that point of view. They seem to think it's the end result of many problems, including overleveraged financial packages that turned out to be worth less than advertised, a lack of regulation of the hedge fund and non-banking financial sector, overspending by American families who borrowed against their homes' values (and lost), and a pair of wars that have sucked about a trillion dollars out of the economy.
Don't see taxes in that list anywhere, do you?
No, you don't. Because taxes are a Republican boogeyman, and cutting taxes the Republican answer to every economic ill.
You can't fix our crumbling infrastructure with tax cuts. Business will not step up and do that job, unless they can take ownership and charge a fee (what? they want you to PAY to use the stuff they own? it... sounds like a tax!). But say goodbye to free highways, bridges, tunnels and electrical grids.
You can't fix our public schools with tax cuts. Business will not step up and do that job, unless you allow them to own your kids. (Not interested; my daughter isn't for sale.) School vouchers (paid for by... taxes! egad!) will get kids into private schools but do nothing to fix our public schools. Doing that would mean raising... TAXES!
Fixing our critical problems will not happen with tax cuts.
It's just a meaningless Republican talking point because you have nothing else to say.
So find something new to discuss. The rest of us have moved on.

Posted by: drewbitt | April 16, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I hope Obama does make a serious effort to simplify the tax code. It seems like the last overhaul took place in the eighties, under Reagan's watch, when the 1040-EZ was introduced and other steps were taken to make it easier for most American's to file their taxes. The rise of tax software and e-filing in the nineties has made it easier to comply with the tax code, but an overall simplification would be greatly appreciated.

I'd be happy, frankly, if every letter I get from the IRS wasn't completely inscrutable. I'm not sure what language they use for writing their letters and instructions, but it doesn't seem to be strictly English.

As to the signs, you can find pictures of most of them around the 'net. I've seen pictures of just about all the ones quoted above. Yes, right wing protesters are ugly, especially when they are carrying signs created by the leading Republican lobbyists and think tanks.

Posted by: fletc3her | April 16, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

>You'll have to explain that one, Sharp. Taxes are the root of our economic troubles and business failures?

Does that fact that then United States has some of the highest corporate tax rates make our business more or less competitive? Do the tens of thousands of pages of regulations and tax laws make business more or less competitive?

>You can't fix our crumbling infrastructure with tax cuts. Business will not step up and do that job, unless they can take ownership and charge a fee (what? they want you to PAY to use the stuff they own? it... sounds like a tax!). But say goodbye to free highways, bridges, tunnels and electrical grids.

>Free highways? Funny, I though that the tax I paid on gasoline, more of a user’s fee than anything else, paid for that. And I think the utilities would be interesting in hearing about this government provided electric grid.

>You can't fix our public schools with tax cuts. Business will not step up and do that job, unless you allow them to own your kids.

The federal government shouldn’t be involved in local educational issues. They have no constitutional mandate to do so and as you pointed out, they will end up owning the product they produce.

>School vouchers (paid for by... taxes! egad!) will get kids into private schools but do nothing to fix our public schools. Doing that would mean raising... TAXES!

Interestingly enough, I send all five of my children to a private school in San Antonio and they charge about half the per pupil amount that the local Public Schools receive in funding. Wonder why that is?


>Fixing our critical problems will not happen with tax cuts.
It's just a meaningless Republican talking point because you have nothing else to say.

Its about an overstretch of authority from the federal government into every corner of our lives whether you want it or not, and the massive tax hike that is sure to be coming down the pike to pay for all of it.

Unless you think we can run trillion dollar deficits indefinitely.

Face meet hand.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting watching the mental contortions Republicans are putting themselves through.

Despite the Bush tax cuts having failed to pay for themselves and saddling us with massive deficits for years, to say nothing about how wildly underestimated those deficit numbers were -

Despite decades of deregulation and corporate fellation leading to widespread fraud and a complete absence of accountability -

Despite the fact that tax rates are lower now than they've been in a very long time -

Despite the consensus among reputable economists that reducing spending will certainly prolong and likely worsen the recession -

STILL these valiant GOP warriors push on with their age-old tonic of tax cuts and reduced spending. I can only imagine that this refusal to acknowledge reality is the unfortunate result of interpreting facts to suit your ideology rather than building and updating your ideology based on facts.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Poor GOP.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 16, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I really am unable to understand how otherwise normal and intelligent people can believe the kind of stuff that Rush and Sean put out. For one thing, Rush is frequently semi-racist - that is, he is racist, but the racism is secondary - you can overlook it if it offends you, but you can lap it up if it appeals to you.

Posted by: dickdata | April 16, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

You can be sure the republican party will do everything in its power to schedule a regular agenda to keep the president as busy as they can to deter any progress or fact finding he might do to correct the mess they left him with. They will do nothing for the country but work to keep the president at bay and irritate him any way they can. They will do the same to the house, senate, and congress. Its time to take a good look at these idiots and their tactics. Keep in mind the communist manifesto, "Two steps forward and one step back" They seem to follow this approach. Also remember that they spent 157 million dollars destroying and deterring the progress of President Clinton and his family and came up with nothing more than a cheap deep throat which they probably planted there anyway. These men are nothing more than cheap greedy criminals in favor of special interest and greed and need to be voted out.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | April 17, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

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