Daily Archives: December 20, 2010

>Free Christmas Day Dinner At St. Mark’s Episcopal Church In Keansburg

>The National Burn Victim Foundation, in association with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located at 287 Carr Avenue, Keansburg, , invites families and individuals to a free Christmas day dinner.

The NBVF and Father Edwin Chinery of St. Mark’s will open its hall doors from 1 to 6 p.m. On Christmas offering a festive holiday feast for all ages to anyone finding it hard to get back this holiday season or struggling this holiday season regardless of age or location. If possible please contact the NBVF for a reservation and advising the number of people in your party by calling (732) 383-3123.

Agencies, shelters and senior citizens are welcome. Please contact the NBVF for reservations and to arrange transportation. The NBVF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity.

UPDATE:
Please note that the above address for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is wrong. The proper address is 247 Carr Avenue, Keansburg.

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Filed under Christmas Dinner, Keansburg NJ, St. Mark's Church, The National Burn Victim Foundation (NBVF)

>White House says N.J. benefits from proposed tax cuts

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I posted the following just for some balance to offset the argument of the previous post.

From Tom Hester Jr. @ NewJerseyNewsroom.com
12/15/10

New Jersey stands to benefit if the House acts quickly on a bipartisan package that extends unemployment benefits and tax cuts, White House officials said Wednesday.

As many 4.7 million New Jerseyans would see more money in their paychecks because of the proposed 2 percent payroll tax cut. If the legislation is not approved, a typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on Jan. 1.

At least 321,774 New Jerseyans who have been jobless for an extended period would continue to receive jobless benefits under the legislation. If the package is not approved, the jobless benefits would end in the weeks ahead.

The package also includes an extension of the American Opportunity tax credit, which was used by 281,000 New Jersey families last year to help pay for college tuition.

Additional tax cuts in the legislation that also are geared at middle-class families include the Earned Income Tax Credit, designed to help families to climb out of poverty, and the Child Tax Credit extension, that would make sure families don’t see their taxes jump by up to $1,000 for every child.

“This tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help to grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” President Obama said. “It will help to lift up middle class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike. It will offer emergency relief to help tide folks over until they find another job. And it includes tax cuts to make college more affordable; help parents to provide for their children; and help businesses, large and small, to expand and hire. We worked hard to negotiate an agreement that’s a win for middle-class families, and a win for our economy, and we can’t afford to let it fall victim to delay and defeat. So, I urge Members of Congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible.”

White House officials described the proposals as responsible, temporary measures designed to support the national economy that will not add costs by the middle of the decade. Obama does not believe it is affordable to make the high-income tax cuts permanent and will continue to make his case for why the administration cannot extend these measures beyond 2012.

The Senate voted 81-19 in favor of the bipartisan tax cut package Wednesday afternoon. It now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Filed under Bush Tax Cuts, New Jersey, New Jersey Newsroom, President Obama, tax cuts, the White House, Tom Hester

>NJPP Monday Minute 12/20/10: Deficit be Damned: Everyone Gets a Tax Cut Next Year

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This Christmas, we’ll all be getting a gift from Congress – two more years of Bush-era tax cuts. Never mind that Congress is paying for them with a credit card; they’ll square up the $860 billion bill with the Obama Administration down the road.

The thing is, the biggest gifts went to the wealthiest taxpayers.

A recent analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington-based public interest research and advocacy organization, estimates that the compromise plan agreed to between President Obama and Republicans in Congress would give 25 percent of the total value of the tax cuts to the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans. The President had originally proposed not extending the tax cuts for those with income of more than $250,000 a year.

The CTJ analysis also estimates the impact of the compromise on a state-by-state basis. In New Jersey, that’s an average benefit of $443 for the poorest 20 percent of earners and an average benefit of $93,350 for the wealthiest 1 percent.

The compromise plan extends to everyone the current federal income tax rates for two years, cuts the estate tax to below the 2009 level and cuts Social Security payroll tax deductions for all workers by 2 percent.

Income Taxes
Federal income tax rates were lowered twice during the Bush administration, in 2001 and again in 2003. Although each act had its own legislative history and impact, the two are generally lumped together in terms of their effect on taxpayers and the economy. The two acts significantly lowered federal marginal income tax rates for nearly all taxpayers. Both were set to expire at the end of 2010.

The debate in Washington has centered on whether the tax cuts should be extended and who should benefit. The president’s plan favored lower and middle income families and allowed rates to rise on the wealthiest taxpayers. Congressional Republicans wanted the current tax rates made permanent for all.

Congressional Republicans prevailed-but only temporarily. The tax cuts were extended two more years, at which time they will be subject to another debate.

Estate Taxes
The debate on the estate tax centered on Obama’s effort to maintain estate taxes at the 2009 level, which exempts the first $3.5 million of an estate and taxes the remainder at a rate of 45 percent. The compromise exempts the first $5 million and taxes the remainder at 35 percent.

Payroll Taxes
The compromise includes a 2 percent payroll tax cut (from 6.2% to 4.2%) for all workers. That is significantly less than the president’s “Making Work Pay” proposal, which would have eliminated the 6.2 percent payroll tax on the first $6,450 ($12,900 for couples) in earnings. The impact of this 2 percent cut is greater on lower income earners because only the first $107,000 of income is subject to payroll taxes.

According to CTJ’s analysis, the top 1 percent of taxpayers in New Jersey with incomes averaging $1.8 million will receive over 30 percent of these benefits from the income tax and estate tax provisions. When payroll taxes are taken into consideration, lower and middle income earners fare better. While some of the tax cuts have boosted take-home pay for middle class families, the tax cuts for the wealthiest are poorly designed short-term stimulus and, more important, ineffective long-term economic policy. Increasing the take-home pay of low- and moderate-income families will lead to more spending and a boost in demand for necessary goods and services, which in turn creates more jobs. By contrast, tax cuts for the wealthy are more likely to be tucked away as savings, which is a relatively ineffective boost to the economy.

Many have argued that tax cuts for the wealthy increase the incentive to invest or create small business jobs, and that these benefits eventually trickle down to average families. But the economic record tells a different story. Of the 10 economic expansions since 1949, the expansion between 2001 and 2009 ranks last in terms of economic growth, national investment, employment and employee pay.

Economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics estimates (see Table 4 in the report) that every dollar spent making the Bush tax cuts permanent generates only 35 cents of economic activity (permanent corporate tax rate cuts yield only 32 cents). Comparatively speaking, a dollar spent on infrastructure (investing in a transit tunnel under the Hudson River, for example) yields $1.57 return on investment; a dollar spent to prevent layoffs of teachers or police or firefighters yields $1.41; and a dollar to temporarily increase food stamps yields $1.72.

It’s too bad the Obama compromise will only boost paychecks, instead of lifting the entire economy.

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Filed under Bush Tax Cuts, estate tax, income taxes, Monday Minute, Moody's, New Jersey Policy Perspective, payroll tax, President Obama, Social Security

>Are Local Crimes Reports Being Released?

>There are some residents in Middletown wondering what’s going on around town. They have been hearing from friends and neighbor about a rash of car break-ins and burglaries that have been ongoing throughout the township. When they look in the local newspapers’ Police Blotter or Township News section for information about these crimes, there never seems to be any crimes listed or reported on from Middletown. It’s almost as if crime statistics are being covered up or not reported.

Sure there are some of crimes being reported, like the guy who punched out a Middletown Police officer at Target on the morning of “Black Friday” or the guy who attempted to shoplift a shopping cart full of items from the Port Monmouth Foodtown on November 23rd and even more recently, the bookkeeper who was stealing benefits from her boss. But very seldom do you hear news about car or home break-ins.

During the November 15, 2010 Township Committee meeting Lincroft resident Melanie Elmiger, voiced her concerns about the number of home break-ins in the Lincroft area. She stated that she could not find any information in the newspapers about these crimes and that she was made aware of them through an email chain. She said that she would like to see some type of informational alert sent out by the Police Chief using the Township’s reverse 9-1-1 system telling residents that they need to be more vigilant, and that the township’s website should have tips on how to keep homes more secure. Ms. Elmiger wanted the Committee to acknowledge that there was (is) a problem and that something is going to be done so people can feel safer.

The Township Administrator Tony Mercantante stated that this was a problem in many of the surrounding towns, not just Middletown. He said that the police have measures in place to deal with this and are actively pursuing this problem.

Ms. Elmiger then asked if the Township Committee had any answers as to how to improve the patrols around town, to which Mercantante responded that the police chief addresses the police and that while people may not see a patrol car in the neighborhood, they are being patrolled throughout the day.

Ms. Elmiger left the podium not very satisfied with the response that was given to her even though Tony Mercantante gave a credible answer that made some sense, that is, if you know there is a problem than you let those that have the expertise deal with it. You don’t want to tip off anyone that may be committing crimes in the area, by announcing that patrols would be stepped up or additional measures will be taken in different areas around town to scare would be robbers away if you may have clues or patterns to the break-ins that may lead to an arrest. And apparently 3 weeks later that is exactly what happened. On December 7th the Middletown Police arrested Manuel Cortez, from Barnegat NJ, for committing multiple residential burglaries in Middletown over a six-month period.

This was great news for Lincroft residents; they thought that their local crime problems were over. Unfortunately however, emails between neighbors are still addressing this issue, break-ins are still taking place in the Lincroft section of town, as well as others, with no notices being made about them in any sort of timely or informative manner. It is a lack of this type of information that is leading many residents wondering if crime in Middletown is somehow being covered up or under reported.

Those that control the town are very proud of the fact that Middletown has been named one of the Best 100 Places To Live in America by Money Magazine in three of it’s last five surveys. One of the few criteria that Money magazine bases its ratings on is “Local Crime Rate” and according the survey Middletown averages 15 personal property crimes per 1,000 crimes reported, which is lower than the 24 crimes per average of the rest of the Top 100 towns.

Residents question whether or not it is because of the superficial Money Magazine Top 100 ranking, that local crime reports are not being properly disseminated. They are feeling that their safety, personal property and wellbeing are less important to local officials than it is to maintain Money Magazine’s approval as one of the best places to live.

At times it sure seems that way.

Who decides what information is released after a crime is committed and what makes one type of crime more reportable than another? This is a process that residents want to know about; it seems to be a guarded secret.

By not informing residents of particular types of crimes in their area, are local officials acting responsibly? Many residents don’t think so; they want to know what is happening and what is being done to combat the problem.

If the economy continues to remain in the doldrums and many more lose their jobs in the coming year, crime will naturally continue to be a problem. I don’t think it is much to ask of our local officials, that they keep residents informed of what is happening in their community. Why should residents need to rely on email chains from family, friends and neighbors to remain informed about such issues? It doesn’t make sense.

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Filed under crime, crime reports, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Township Administrator