Monthly Archives: July 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Help! (In Honor for the Creation of Medicare)

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of when LBJ created a single payer health care system for millions of older Americans, called Medicare, so I thought that I would honor that great achievement with a cartoon this morning.

Jof the cat pricks his finger and must go to the hospital. doctors try to perform ridiculous tests on him but he manages to escape. I think Jof was worried that he didn’t have insurance.

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Filed under Health Care, Jof the Cat, LBJ, Medicare, Saturday morning cartoons

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/31/10: Moving Forward on the Economy vs. Moving Backward

Following the signing of historic Wall Street Reform legislation, the President lays out his plans to strengthen the middle class, give tax breaks to small businesses that create jobs here, invest in homegrown, clean energy, and cut taxes for working families. The President also contrasts that plan with the agenda outlined by the Republican House Leader that would return America to the policies that created this economic crisis, drastically increase the deficit, and make permanent massive tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.

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Filed under clean energy, corporate tax breaks, President Obama, small businesses, Wall St. Reform, weekly address

Pallone On Squawk Box To Discuss "Oil Spill Bill"

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) appeared on Sqauwk Box to discuss and provide insight into the CLEAR Act… aka, the “oil spill bill” that has hit the floor of the House of Representative.

Two very interesting, different and striking stances are taken between Pallone and Cassidy when it comes to this bill and who should be held accountable and responsible for future oil spills and their clean up.

I think Congressman Pallone nailed it.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill, CLEAR act, CNBC, Congressman Frank Pallone, Sqauwk Box

It’s Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 15, 7/19/10


The “It’s Your Town” newsletter which covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting for July 19, 2010 is now available.

This newsletter is a good one.

The Committee meeting was heavily attended, mainly people came to address the budget and the 13% increase to the municipal tax rate. According to the newsletter,the mayor now wants to know what the public wants to cut and he asked everyone that came up to address the committee that question.

The newsletter points out that a few members of the public expressed the need to televise the meetings, only to be denied by acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, who said that the cost would be too high.

It seems quite obvious to me that the business of the Township is not to be shown to the public so easily. It would make for better if as many people as possible could view their government at work as it happens, not after the fact.

For those interested, there will be 2 more Township Committee meetings (August 2nd and August 16th) before the budget is adopted which will be on August 16th. I urge everyone to make at least one of these meeting and voice their opinions on the budget. It will be 8 months into the year when this budget is finally voted on and next years budget should be in the development stage.

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Filed under Budget, Gerry Scharfenberger, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, tax increase

Gerry "The Tax Man" Scharfenberger; Middletown’s Tax Rate Up 41.9% Since Scharfenberger Elected In 2005

It is quite obvious that Gerry Scharfenberger has earned the title of “TAX MAN”, the numbers don’t lie.
Since Gerry Scharfenberger was first elected to the Middletown Township Committee in November of 2004, the municipal tax rate has skyrocketed upwards.
If the currently proposed Middletown Township budget for 2010 (this year), which contains a 13% tax increase, passes the muster of the Local Finance Board and is adopted as is, Middletown’s municipal tax rate will have risen a stunning 41.9% since 2005, the year that our wonderful, appointed mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger was first sworn into office.
The chart below tells the tale:

(Click on chart to enlarge)

It seems that things were going “pretty good” before Scharfenberger came onto the Committee.

The numbers represented on the chart are real numbers that came from township documents, they are verifiable and can be found with little effort if Googled.

Looking at the chart it is very plain to see that every year the amount of revenue generated by property taxes continues to rise and suggests that the Township Committee clearly has no plan to generate revenue by any other means other than through local property taxes.

It is too bad that our appointed Zoning and Planning Boards continue to allow the rezoning of commercial properties to residential.

Relying on the homeowners to balance the Township budget is only going to drive those living on the edge of affordability out of town. It seems that the average Middletown homeowner will need to make more than the $108K per year, as stated in Money Magazine, to continue to afford to live in this “Top 100 Places To Live” town.
The sooner residents realize that these types of out of control tax rate increases are unaffordable and unsustainable, and are the result of lack of leadership by RINO Gerry Scharfenberger and his current GOP majority which includes Pam Brightbill, Tony Fiore and Steve Massell, the sooner they will see the Township budget begin to stabilize, spending reduced and tax rates decline.

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Money Magazine, tax chart, Tax Man, top 100 places to live, Township Committee

NJPP Monday Minute 7/26/10: What do BEIP, estate taxes and a candy company have in common?

The Mars family.

Mars North America’s sales in 2008 were $30 billion and Jacqueline Mars is the richest person in New Jersey, according to Forbes.com. Her net worth is estimated at $11 billion. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Mars family has poured millions into lobbying on taxes as well as other issues.

In June, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved a Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) grant of nearly $500,000 to a subsidiary of Mars North America – the major candy company. This was a reward for bringing 36 jobs paying an average of $80,000 per job from Nevada to New Jersey. These new jobs would be located in Mount Olive, New Jersey, just north of Bedminster where Jacqueline Mars, co-owner of the company, lives.

The Mars family also wants to be rewarded for their wealth by having the federal estate tax eliminated. Jacqueline Mars and her brothers, Forrest Jr. and John, have been part of an effort by super-rich families to gut the federal estate tax for at least eight of the last 12 years, according to United for a Fair Economy (UFE) and Public Citizen’s 2006 report on these families, Spending Millions to Save Billions. Other like-minded individuals include the families who own Wal-Mart, Nordstrom’s and Gallo Wines.

The fight over the shape of the federal estate tax has been raging for years. And if you are very wealthy, this is a good year to die because heirs get every cent of the family wealth instead of sharing it with the government. By dying this year, George Steinbrenner’s heirs will inherit an additional $450 million (assuming 2009 rules).

In 2001, President Bush championed a 10 year phase-out of the tax that culminated in the elimination of the federal estate tax in 2010, then the return of the tax to pre-2001 levels in 2011.

Only the wealthy pay this tax. Under the Bush estate tax phase-out, in 2009, the first $7 million for a couple ($3.5 million for an individual) is exempt from the tax. An individual with between $3 million and $7 million in assets is wealthy – not middle class. That’s just common sense, but those who want to kill the tax cloud the debate with claims that it hurts the middle class, family farms and small businesses.

According to United Fair Economy, only two in a thousand people paid the estate tax in 2009. Lee Farris of UFE further explained in a point-counterpoint with the conservative Heritage Foundation that, “in 2009, two children of a wealthy couple could each inherit more, tax free, than the average American earns in two lifetimes. But unlike the lucky heirs who won the genetic lottery, these Main Street workers will be paying taxes on all of their earnings.” Also, the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, found that under 2009 rules, only 110 small businesses and farms in the whole country would have to pay the estate tax. And almost all would have enough cash assets to pay the tax.

What is the connection with the states? Prior to the 2001 federal estate tax cut, every state levied an estate tax tied to the federal estate tax. In addition, some states levy a separate state inheritance tax. The state-level taxes that were tied to the federal tax code are called “pick-up taxes” because these allow the states to pick up part of the tax revenue that would have been paid to the feds through an estate tax credit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains that these state estate taxes did not increase total estate tax liability because estates received this dollar-for-dollar credit that reduced federal taxes owed by the amount paid to the state.

In 2006, Jacqueline’s brothers who live in McLean, Virginia, spent $180,000 lobbying the Virginia legislature to eliminate the state’s estate tax, according to a September 27, 2007 article in The Roanoke Times. They were successful and each brother saved an estimated $1.6 billion in estate taxes they would have paid to Virginia upon their death.

Unlike Virginia, New Jersey and 21 other states continue to tax inheritances. Many of these states, including New Jersey, made the financially sensible move to decouple from the 2001 tax cut changes and continue their pick-up tax, rather than cutting essential services for residents.

In the fall, Congress will continue to debate what shape the estate tax will take after this year where no federal estate tax exists. It is the least well off in New Jersey and around the country who need help – not the wealthiest corporations and individuals.

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Filed under estate tax, George Steinbrenner, Mars Candy, New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Jersey Policy Perspective, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, The Mars family

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Heatwave – Too Hot To Handle

It’s a hot one out there today, is this heatwave a cause of global warming or something else?

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Filed under global warming, Saturday morning cartoons, Superfriends, the Flash