Congress finally agrees on something. Since no Democrat was willing to submit President Barack Obama’s latest budget to the House, Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) decided to do it for them. He sponsored an alternative budget proposal based on Obama’s budget plan. What happened? Not a single legislator voted for it! That’s right, no one on either side of the aisle would say “aye.” The measure got a bipartisan rejection: 0-414.
That’s some valuable trash. Here’s a stat that will blow you away. At least it did me. In the United States, we dispose of several million cellphones a year. One million cellphones contain more than 35,000 pounds of copper, 770 pounds of gold, 75 pounds of silver and 33 pounds of palladium. By the way, a computer’s circuit board contains four times as much gold and twice as much copper as a cellphone.
This gives new meaning to April Fools’ Day. On the first of next month, Japan cuts its tax rate on corporate profits from 39.5 percent to 36.8 percent. So what, you ask? When that happens, it means that the United States will have the world’s highest corporate tax rate. Our combined Federal and State levies of 39.2 percent will be higher than taxes charged in Russia, China, Sweden and Denmark. Oh, and Japan plans to cut those taxes by another 2.3 percent in three years. Hey, aren’t we supposed to be the pro-capitalist country?
Cutting back at Fannie and Freddie. In a well-publicized effort to slam the barn door a few years too late, the Administration of President Barack Obama proudly announced that it is capping the pay of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bosses at half-a-million bucks a year. That’s an improvement over the past few years, when Fannie and Freddie chief execs pocketed several million dollars a year. But it’s a far cry from what Congress should do: Dismantle both unConstitutional boondoggles.
Democrats for Santorum. Mitt Romney’s supporters are still smarting over appeals by Rick Santorum’s team to get Democrats to vote for their guy in the Republican primary in Michigan. Their efforts, which included robocalls to Democratic voters, were only partially successful. USA Today reported that 9 percent of Michigan voters identified themselves as Democrats. “More than half of those voters, or 53%, said they voted for Santorum,” the newspaper reported. But it wasn’t enough to give Santorum the win.
Even worse than I said. My Straight Talk column last week on Obama’s budget baloney actually understated his new tax and tax, spend and spend proposals. I said he wanted to raise the tax on dividends for “the rich” to 39.6 percent — more than double where it is now. But I forgot to include the investment tax surcharge included in Obamacare and the phase-out of deductions and exemptions. Add it all together and, if Obama gets his way, the dividend tax rate in 2013 will be 44.8 percent — nearly three times what it is today.
Another warning about the dollar’s decline. Warren Buffett writes: “Even in the U.S., where the wish for a stable currency is strong, the dollar has fallen a staggering 86% in value since 1965, when I took over management of Berkshire [Hathaway]. It takes no less than $7 today to buy what $1 did at that time.” This “invisible inflation tax” is devastating the value of bonds. In fact, he warns, “Right now bonds should come with a warning label.” I agree. Caveat emptor.
A fantastic payday for this artist. The much ballyhooed IPO for Facebook will add to founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune. A ton of other supporters and employees will become instant millionaires. But no story will top that of muralist David Choe. When he painted the first Facebook office in 2005, Choe was offered $60,000 in cash for the job — or stock in the company. He chose stock and went on to make an estimated $200,000 in the Facebook IPO. That’s quite a payday, isn’t it?
Bond guru expects much more inflation. Pimco founder and co-Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross warns that central banks are “printing money like gangbusters.” Our own Federal Reserve is leading the way. The Federal Reserve balance sheet, which stood at $869 billion in August 2008, passed $2.9 trillion at the end of 2011. The manager of the world’s largest bond fund points out that money printing increases the risk of reflation. “That’s why we’re seeing the pop in oil and gold etc.,” Gross said.
Betting on politics. Hey, guess what? It turns out that when people put their money where their mouths are, they’re more accurate than a polling company. Intrade, an online website based in Ireland, lets people bet on who will win one of our elections. In the 2004 Presidential election, its bettors correctly guessed the winner in every single State. In 2008, they got all but two States right. Now, Intrade clients are betting that Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, but that Barack Obama will beat him in November. They’re betting cold, hard cash that they’re right. We’ll see.