Thompson Times January Newsletter (2011)

January 3, 2011

Thompson Votes to Prevent Largest Tax Increase in History, Extends Tax Relief to All Americans

Economists differ on how to stimulate the economy and move the country back into job-creating prosperity. But most agree that raising taxes in a poor economy is a bad idea and does not lead to job creation.

If the House and Senate had not acted the week before Christmas, on January 1st, your tax rates would have reverted to the high rates in effect back in 2001. An average middle-income family would have their taxes go up by $1,540. Even the lowest income bracket taxpayers, 88 million Americans, would have received, at minimum, a tax increase of $503. Unfortunately, there are too many people who could not have absorbed such costs.

In total, taxes would have gone up $3.9 trillion over the next ten years—a job-killing increase. Now, there is a two-year reprieve.

What was at stake?

Without the vote:

  • The death tax would have increased to a rate of 55 percent with a low exemption amount of $1 million. Under the new package the tax will be a flat rate of 35 percent with an exemption of $5 million per person.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax would have been extended to 15 million taxpayers.
  • The tax rate on capital gains would have risen from 15 percent to 20 percent. The tax rates on dividends would have risen from 15 percent to being taxed as ordinary income.
  • The “1603 Renewable Energy Grants” would have expired.

The legislation also extended unemployment benefits at their current level for 13 months. Everyone agrees that the jobless need this assistance. But, as I have said before, if it is important enough to do, it is important enough to pay for it. Unfortunately, there was no money in the bill to pay for this extension.

In addition the payroll tax holiday provides less revenue to the Social Security program. The Democrats insisted on an employee-side payroll tax cut of about two percent. The deduction goes from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of income, which for a household making $50,000 (median for PA) a  year, means a savings of $1,000. That equals about $112 billion next year that will not be going into the Social Security program.

Although I objected to both of these provisions, I supported the entire package with the knowledge that the Senate and the Presidency are still controlled by the Democrats.

NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez Visits Thompson

Thompson welcomes astronaut Jose Hernandez to his Washington office. Hernandez took part in the August 28, 2009 shuttle mission as a mission specialist. While in orbit, Hernandez became the first person to use the Spanish language in space while tweeting. His space mission lasted 14 days and he returned to Edwards Air Force Base on September 11, 2009.

Hernandez is an American engineer of Mexican descent. As a child, he lived half the year in La, Piedad, Michoacán and half in the United States working alongside his family harvesting crops in the fields of California. He attended many schools and didn’t learn English until he was 12. Yet he earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of the Pacific and then an MS in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He joined the Johnson Space Center in 2001 and became an astronaut candidate in May 2004. He is a testament to hard work and dedication as the key to reaching his dream of going into space.

Signed into law December 15, 2010 - Finally, Congress Lowers the Decibel Level

During the Lame Duck session with its emphasis on the tax cuts and unemployment extensions, a small bill passed with only a low rumble from the Congress.

The bill prevents advertisers from raising the volume on their television advertisements to catch your attention. You know, you have turned up the volume on your set in order to hear the quiet dialogue between two actors—and then boom, you are hearing about insurance, new cars, or fast food at an ear-splitting level.

The title of the bill is the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act or CALM. The measure is on its way to the President’s desk for signature. As a law it will require the Federal Communications Commission to adopt industry standards within one year to coordinate ad decibel levels to those of the regular program. The rules would then go into effect one year after that.

The good news is that the industry has already come up with standards. An Associated Press article quoted Dick O’Brien, director of government relations at the American Association of Advertising Agencies about their support of the bill. “We fully understand that advertising works best when it engages consumers, not alienates them.”

Things could be much quieter two years from now—at least for your television ads.