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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Astonishing Events

In the days leading up to Barack Obama’s second term, there were two rather interesting and disturbing events. They are as follows:

1.Al-Jazeera, the Pan-Arab news channel that struggled to win space on American cable television, has acquired Current TV, boosting its reach nearly ninefold to about 40 million homes. With a focus on U.S. news, it plans to rebrand the left-leaning news network that cofounder Al Gore couldn’t make relevant.

The former vice president confirmed the sale Wednesday, saying in a statement that Al-Jazeera shares Current TV’s mission “to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling.”

It is interesting that Glenn Beck, conservative, American, attempted to acquire Current TV. However, he was turned down because his points of view were not concordant with those of Mr. Gore. And the points of view of Al-Jazeera are??!

2. Thirteen Tax Increases in 2013
New Year’s Day was tough for taxpayers. I bet not many citizens of this country knew that beginning in 2013 the following taxes would kick in:

The deal that Congress and President Obama struck that finally—but only partially—avoided the fiscal cliff resulted in seven tax increases.

Those hikes combined with six tax increases from Obamacare that also began on New Year’s Day.

13 Tax Increases That Started January 1, 2013

Tax increases in the fiscal cliff deal:

1. Payroll tax: increase in the Social Security portion of the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent for workers. This hits all Americans earning a paycheck—not just the “wealthy.” For example, The Wall Street Journal calculated that the “typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year” will lose “an annual income boost of $1,000.”

2. Top marginal tax rate: increase from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

3. Phase out of personal exemptions for adjusted gross income (AGI) over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

4. Phase down of itemized deductions for AGI over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

5. Tax rates on investment: increase in the rate on dividends and capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

6. Death tax: increase in the rate (on estates larger than $5 million) from 35 percent to 40 percent.

7. Taxes on business investment: expiration of full expensing—the immediate deduction of capital purchases by businesses.

Obamacare tax increases that took effect:

8. Another investment tax increase: 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for taxpayers with taxable income exceeding $250,000 ($200,000 for singles).

9. Another payroll tax hike: 0.9 percent increase in the Hospital Insurance portion of the payroll tax for incomes over $250,000 ($200,000 for single filers).

10. Medical device tax: 2.3 percent excise tax paid by medical device manufacturers and importers on all their sales.

11. Reducing the income tax deduction for individuals’ medical expenses.

12. Elimination of the corporate income tax deduction for expenses related to the Medicare Part D subsidy.

13. Limitation of the corporate income tax deduction for compensation that health insurance companies pay to their executives.

Each of these 13 tax increases will slow the economy, meaning that businesses will create fewer jobs. Fewer jobs will make it even more difficult to land a job than it already is for the more than 12 million Americans looking for work.

President Obama demanded these higher taxes. Obama’s tax increases, in Obamacare and through the fiscal cliff deal, will not curb deficits and debt, because growing spending is driving America’s budget crisis. Congress needs to immediately turn its attention to the actual cause of our deficit and debt problem: too much spending. The proper way to address this problem is through reforms to entitlement programs.

President Obama promised the American people a “balanced approach” of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce deficits and debt. He has achieved the tax increase portion of that approach. Now Congress needs to force him to follow through on the spending cuts portion.

We all need to prepare ourselves for the next four years. It’s gonna be a tough, tough slog.

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