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Posted by Bill USA in Environment/Energy
Thu Dec 08th 2011, 04:52 PM
Ethanol Boosting systems explained - Car & Driver


Today’s racers use all manner of fluids—water, alcohol, nitromethane, lead substitutes, and nitrous oxide—in pursuit of power. There’s also a government-backed experiment at Chrysler aimed at running both gasoline and diesel fuels through the same engine. But the most sensible approach for the public at large is to use technology now in hand to achieve significant mpg gains. The tech? Gasoline, E85, and direct fuel injection.

British-based Ricardo and Ethanol Boosting Systems (EBS) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, both have E85-fueled engines under test that deliver diesel efficiency—at least 30-percent better than a typical gas engine—without the need for cumbersome, ultra-high-pressure fuel-injection and exhaust-treatment equipment.

Both firms propose aggressive turbocharging, a 12.0:1 or higher compression ratio, and about half the normal piston displacement. Ricardo uses an octane sensor, variable valve lift, and variations in valve and ignition timing to take maximum advantage of any ethanol pumped into the fuel tank. EBS adds a second complete fuel system that enables an engine to run on port-injected gas during cruising and direct-injected E85 only during full-load conditions to spare its consumption.

Heavy-duty pickups are the first candidates for this technology. Both EBS and Ricardo pitch their ethanol-based systems as diesel fighters ­capable of delivering 600 or more pound-feet of torque at low rpm from a 3.0-liter engine. Assuming that manufacturers agree with these ethanol boosters, the dual-fuel strategy could be handy for meeting the 35.5-mpg CAFE standard for 2016. By then, four-cylinder performance cars will be commonplace, and they’ll definitely be thirsty for all the Turbo-Rocket Fluid they can get.

...what this article fails to point out is that the Ethanol Boosting Systems engine uses 5% ethanol (or less) with the rest of the fuel being gasoline. Thus the 28% reduction in fuel consumption {(1 - 1/1.3) - .05 = -.28} is achieved with one twentieth of a gallon of ethanol which makes the GHG reduction for ethanol (vs gasoline) used in this manner: -.28/.05 = -562% relative to gasoline. This makes the GHG reduction numbers for ethanol used by the Government, -24% (for E85 - not including the hypothetical ILUC decrement) somewhat nonsensical by comparison.

To be fair (and to my utter surprise) Car and Driver has written about this system before: A Smarter Way to Use Ethanol to Reduce Gasoline Consumption
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Nov 29th 2011, 07:07 PM

This is far from the garden-variety truth stretching we're used to in political advertising. This is so breathtakingly cynical it should cause us to question whether a candidate that would put it forth is fit for any public office -- let alone the presidency.

This ad isn't about the economy -- it's about character. Or at least it should be. Instead, for those in the media who bothered to cover it, it led mostly to a discussion about campaign tactics. Usually the media loves to play up these "character moments," and here was a moment that really did reveal a candidate's character. Yet, with some notable exceptions, the media punted.


Instead of a national conversation about what sort of person would approve such an ad, what we mostly got was just another "he said/she said" episode. The Obama camp attacked the ad, and the Romney camp responded. "There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign," Romney said in Iowa on Wednesday. "It was instead to point out that what's sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander." And he was actually allowed to get away with that.

The response by Romney's senior New Hampshire advisor Tom Rath was even worse. "He did say the words," Rath told CBS News. "That's his voice."
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Mon Nov 21st 2011, 06:05 PM

The total tax burden — for all federal, state and local taxes — dropped to 23.6% of income in the first quarter, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

By contrast, individuals spent roughly 27% of income on taxes in the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s — a rate that would mean $500 billion of extra taxes annually today, one-third of the estimated $1.5 trillion federal deficit this year.
The latest dip in the tax burden came from a Social Security tax cut included in a December budget deal between Democrats and Republicans. It will reduce taxes $100 billion this year.

"We have a 1950s level of taxation and a 21st-century-sized government," says Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a deficit-reduction advocacy group.
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sun Nov 20th 2011, 04:20 PM /

Capital gains are the key ingredient of income disparity in the US– and the force behind the winner takes all mantra of our economic system. If you want even out earning power in the U.S, you have to raise the 15% capital gains tax.

Income and wealth disparities become even more absurd if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation’s earners– rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%– about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million– are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.

It’s crystal clear that the Bush tax reduction on capital gains and dividend income in 2003 was the cutting edge policy that has created the immense increase in net worth of corporate executives, Wall St. professionals and other entrepreneurs.

The reduction in the tax from 20% to 15% continued the step-by-step tradition of cutting this tax to create more wealth. It had first been reduced from 35% in 1978 at a time of stock market and economic stagnation to 28% . Again 1981, at the start of the Reagan era, it was reduced again to 20%– raised back to 28% in 1987, on the eve of the October 19 232% crash in the market. In 1997 Clinton agreed to reduce it back to 20%, which move was an inducement for the explosion of hedge funds and private equity firms– the most “rapidly rising cohort within the top 1 per cent.”
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 05:15 PM

Critics of President Obama never tire of blaming him for today's high deficits. But if blame belongs with one president, it belongs with Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. The chart above, which the New York Times created based upon figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, illustrates this point very clearly. But it's worth reviewing the history here, because while it's familiar to most of us who follow politics it doesn't seem to get a lot of attention in the political debate.

By the end of the 1990s, the federal budget was in surplus for the first time in decades. Partly that was a product of unusually strong economic growth, during the internet boom, which had swelled tax revenues. But partly that was a product of responsible budgeting, presided over by the most recent two presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In order to reduce deficits, lawmakers and those two presidents had agreed both to raise taxes and to reduce spending.

In the 2000 campaign, Clinton's would-be successor, Al Gore, campaigned on a promise to, in effect, put those surpluses aside for a rainy day. Bush would have none of it. The government had too much money, he said; the responsible thing was to give it all back to the taxpayers. In office, he did just that, presiding over massive tax cuts that gave, by far, the largest benefits to the very wealthy. Bush promised that the tax cuts would act like a "fiscal straightjacket," preventing government from growing. But then he, and his allies, launched two major wars and enacted a drug benefit for Medicare, all without paying for them.

Today's fiscal gap is largely a product of those decisions, as the graph above shows. It has very little to do with anything Obama did while in office. In fact, the contrast between the two administrations could not be more striking. Obama's primary undertaking has been comprehensive health care reform. But he insisted that it pay for itself, through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 05:07 PM /

10 years ago tomorrow, the first of the Bush tax cuts was enacted. That 2001 tax cut was followed up by a second tax cut in 2003, passed after Vice-President Dick Cheney reportedly asserted that “deficits don’t matter.” The tax cuts were sold as necessary economic stimulus that would boost job creation and a moribund economy. “Tax relief will create new jobs, tax relief will generate new wealth, and tax relief will open new opportunities,” Bush said on April 16, 2001 as he was pushing for the passage of the first tax cut. Two years later he said, “These tax reductions will bring real and immediate benefits to middle-income Americans…By speeding up the income tax cuts, we will speed up economic recovery and the pace of job creation.” Bush called the 2001 tax cut, “a victory for fairness and a vote for economic growth.” Then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said that the cuts were necessary to “spur the economy on.” And up through 2008, Bush was still convinced that his tax cuts had been good for the economy. “I think when people take a look back at this moment in our economic history, they’ll recognize tax cuts work. They have made a difference,” Bush said. However, the record of the Bush tax cuts is undeniable: their enactment coincided with the weakest economic expansion of the post-war period, blowing up the national deficit and debt, while not bringing any of the promised gains.

DIDN’T CREATE JOBS: The lofty rhetoric used by conservatives to sell the Bush tax cuts didn’t match reality. During the decade after the Bush tax cuts were passed, “growth in investment, GDP, and employment all posted their worst performance of any post-war expansion.” Following the Bush tax cuts, “Overall monthly job growth was the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945, and household income growth was negative for the first cycle since tracking began in 1967.” As the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger noted, “The economy boasted 132 million jobs in June of 2001, the month that the first of the Bush tax cuts was signed into law. Three years later, in June of 2004, there were just 131.4 million jobs. The economy did not add a single new job during three years under the Bush tax cuts.” Overall, Bush’s job growth was just 4.8 percent, compared to the 16.2 percent job growth under President Bill Clinton. As the Economic Policy Institute pointed out, the tax cuts were also “supposed to encourage business investment, but nonresidential fixed investment increased a meager 2.1% annually — a third of the average increase and less than half that of the next poorest post-war increase in business investment on record.” The only people for whom the Bush tax cuts did much good was the wealthy. According to EPI, “the top 1% of earners received 38% of the breaks in the 2001-08 tax changes; 55% of the tax breaks went to the top 10% of earners.” The richest one percent of Americans captured 65 percent of the income gains between 2002 and 2007, while “at the end of the 2000s economic expansion, the typical household had income below what it had been in 2000.”

BLEW UP THE DEFICIT: During a 2001 address to Congress, Bush said, “At the end of those 10 years , we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire. That is more debt repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history.” However, thanks in large part to the Bush tax cuts, the debt ballooned under Bush, with debt held by the public increasing from $3.5 trillion to nearly $6 trillion and gross federal debt going from $5.6 trillion to nearly $10 trillion. In fact, “From 2001 through 2010, the cuts added $2.6 trillion to the public debt, nearly 50% of the total debt accrued during this period.” As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found, “the tax cuts account for $1.7 trillion in extra deficits in 2001 through 2008, and $3.7 trillion over the 2009-2019 period.” In addition, the extra debt-service costs caused by the Bush-era tax cuts,amounts “to more than $200 billion through 2008 and another $1.7 trillion over the 2009-2019 period — nearly $330 billion in 2019 alone.”

TODAY’S GOP DOUBLES-DOWN: Today’s Republicans have not learned from the disastrous tax policies of their predecessors. For starters, Republicans only agreed to last December’s tax deal because it extended the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans. Now, both the House Republican budget and the House Republican “jobs plan” released last week include further reductions in the top tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. In fact, the “jobs plan” document calls for tax cuts to “Increase American competitiveness to spur investment and create more American jobs.” “Just because we proposed it in the past doesn’t mean it was not a good idea,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) of the House Republican plan. “I think the package that we have represents a lot of traditional ideas and new ideas about how to let the private sector create jobs.” As the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein noted, “You could read without knowing the past decade ever happened.” As CAP Senior Economist Heather Boushey said, “The problem then and now with the top Republican goal of economic policy — to make the top income earners in our society even more incredibly wealthy — is that it undercuts our nation’s prospects for a prosperous future.” The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen noted that, “Republicans are confident this will work wonders, just as they were equally confident about the identical agenda in the last decade.” But if the last decade is any example, this is not a policy prescription that should be taken seriously.
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 04:55 PM
Center for American Progress

In fact, tons of data—including data cited in the AP article itself—confirm the compelling need for a Buffett rule because large numbers of super-rich individuals are indeed paying lower taxes than middle-class families. Consider:

■ 1,470 households reported income of more than $1 million in 2009 but paid zero federal income tax on it.

■ The average federal income tax rate of the richest 400 people in the country in 2008 was 18.11 percent. In 2007 it was 16.62 percent. That is only a little more than just the payroll tax on wages—normally 15.3 percent on a worker’s first $106,800 in wages, counting both the share that workers pay directly and the share their employers pay, which comes out of their wages—let alone the federal income tax on those wages. The tax rates paid by the “Fortunate 400” have plummeted since the mid-1990s, when their average effective rates were about 30 percent.

■ According to the Congressional Budget Office, the richest 0.01 percent (those with incomes of $8.6 million and above) paid a combined 17.5 percent in individual income and payroll taxes in 2005, the last year for which such data are available. The group of households with incomes ranging from $45,200–$92,400 paid only a little less on average, at 15.7 percent. The group of households with incomes ranging from $30,500–$45,200 paid 12.5 percent. Of course, there are wide variations within those income ranges, meaning that many middle-class families paid much more than the 17.5 percent average paid by the very rich, while many in the top 0.01 percent paid less than that.

■ Due to the so-called carried interest loophole, managers of hedge funds and private equity funds pay 15 percent capital gains rates, and no payroll taxes, on their profits from managing other people’s money. That’s less than what middle-class families pay just in payroll taxes on their wages—let alone what they pay in income taxes. An important part of President Obama’s deficit reduction plan unveiled yesterday is closing the carried interest loophole.

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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 04:49 PM

Conservatives are working around the clock to convince Americans that government regulation is at fault for the slow pace of domestic job creation. They’ve set up this straw man to distract attention from the fact that they don’t have a credible plan to actually boost employment, and that they oppose the American Jobs Act, which independent economists say will create as many as 1.9 million jobs.

But the more conservatives push this line, the more scrutiny it’s getting. The results aren’t pretty. Over the past several weeks, numerous reports expose this antiregulatory agenda for exactly what it is—intellectually bankrupt, economically nonsensical, and utterly without basis.

These reports come from a wide range of sources, including official government agencies, nonpartisan think tanks, and even national media outlets. So what’s the truth about conservatives’ regulatory bogeyman? Here’s your required reading list.

(the article has links to each of the articles mentioned below._Bill USA)

■Bloomberg: Fewer new regulations under Obama than under Bush
■The Washington Post: Economists say regulation doesn't cause job losses, even in high-polluting industries
■U.S. Department of Treasury: Exposing the uncertainty canard
■Economic Policy Institute: Regulation is a red herring. The real problem is demand
■The New York Times Economix Blog: "Republicans have a problem," says Bruce Bartlett
■Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employers say regulation does not cause job losses
■Slate Magazine: Smart regulations matter to communities across America

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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 03:06 PM /

As the congressional Super Committee struggles to meet next week’s deadline for a plan to find $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the course of the next decade, some millionaires are targeting Capitol Hill with an unlikely message: Tax us more.

Earlier this week, we reported that Republican members of the committee proposed permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a move that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka dubbed “Robin Hood in reverse.”

At an ad hoc hearing on job creation, sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus today, members of the group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength testified to advocate for a more progressive tax structure that would ultimately tax them more. The alternative to continuing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will likely mean cuts in programs vital to the well-being of working people, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

After the hearing, the Patriotic Millionaires met with members of Congress, including members of the Super Committee, to press their case for making them and other wealthy Americans shore up the nation’s revenue stream through a fairer tax code. In a statement sent to reporters, Erica Payne, founder of the Patriotic Millionaires’ sponsoring group, the Agenda Project, said:

"It will take all Patriotic Americans working together to fix the problems irresponsible politicians caused by cutting taxes for millionaires at the same time they put two wars on the nation’s credit card. We need to pay for the choices we make. These Patriotic Millionaires are willing to do that. On Wednesday, we will ask our elected officials if they are willing to do the same."

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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 19th 2011, 02:49 PM

In a November 17 Washington Post column, George Will suggested "economic growth decreased" following a 1990 budget deal that included a tax increase. In fact, the United States experienced sustained economic growth soon after the debt deal, which continued for a decade.

In Fact, Soon After the 1990 Budget Deal, U.S. Economy Experienced Sustained Growth For A Decade

U.S. Dept. Of Commerce: GDP Grew Every Full Fiscal Year After 1990 Debt Deal. According to data from the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) experienced growth every full fiscal year after the 1990 debt deal. Based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis' data, Media Matters created this chart:

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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Nov 17th 2011, 07:06 PM

As U.S. politicians wrangle over the best way to create jobs and spur economic growth, one international agency is indicating that changing the regulatory environment may not be the answer.

The U.S. ranks in the top five of countries with the most business-friendly regulations, a recent report from the World Bank finds. America's regulations are more business-friendly than those of European, African, Latin-American and most Asian countries, according to the report.

Still, even though the U.S. may be more business-friendly than other regions when it comes to regulations that may not be enough for some; three-quarters of Americans say that businesses are over-regulated and that the rules push jobs overseas, according to a survey published last month by the Tarrance Group.

Republican leaders have been critical of what they view as excessive regulation that is preventing businesses from hiring. But Treasury Department officials wrote in a blog post Monday that the data doesn’t support the notion that over-regulation is what's holding businesses back, Politico reports.
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 12th 2011, 04:48 PM

According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans say that Congressional Republicans’ policies favor the rich and that they oppose lowering taxes for large corporations. Two-thirds polled say that wealth should be distributed more evenly; a similar share wants to increase taxes on millionaires, not cut them. In a previous Times/CBS poll from August, a majority of Americans also wanted to use tax increases to close the deficit, rather than rely only on spending cuts.

Poll question 20: does GOP favor the wealthy with tabulated answers

Clear plan to create jobs: POTUS or GOPers? (questions 16 & 17)

Do you think President Obama has clear plan to create jobs?: Does: 39%, Does not: 56%

Do the Republicans in Congress have a clear plan to create jobs?: Do: 20% Do NOt: 71%

Budget Deficit (Question 43) - to lower the deficit is it a good idea to "increase" taxes on those making a million or more dollars a year? 65% "yes", 30% "No".

Then there is the question of whether Obama inherited the current economic situation or is responsible for it - a question the

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll asked:

Current econmic situation one that Obama inherited or is responsible for: Inherited: 60%, Responsible for: 28%

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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Oct 27th 2011, 04:38 PM

A new study from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the income of America’s richest 1 percent grew 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, compared with a 65-percent gain for the top 20 percent and an 18-percent gain for the bottom 20 percent. The average increase for all households came in at 62 percent.

From the report: “The precise reasons for the rapid growth in income at the top are not well understood. Researchers have offered several potential rationales, including technical innovations that have changed the labor market for superstars (such as actors, athletes and musicians), changes in the governance and structure of executive compensation, increases in firms’ size and complexity, and the increasing scale of financial-sector activities.”

The top one percent also managed to more than double their share of the nation’s income over the three decades. As the New York Times points out, the CBO explained that federal policy has become less redistributive since the late 1970s, and that federal benefit payments are doing less to even out income distribution as a growing share of benefits such as Social Security are funneled to older Americans, regardless of their income.

CBO report: Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007

After-tax income for the highest-income households grew more than it did for any other group. (After-tax income is income after federal taxes have been deducted and government transfers—which are payments to people through such programs as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance—have been added.)

CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
65 percent for the next 19 percent,
Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.
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Posted by Bill USA in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Oct 27th 2011, 04:03 PM
Creating Unemployment - How Congressional Budget Decisions Are Putting Americans out of Work and Increasing the Risk of a Second Recession

Most of the nearly 14 million people across our country who are currently unemployed can blame their situation on the inability of Congress and the White House to sufficiently cushion the economy from the financial crisis that began in 2007. But a growing number of unemployed Americans today are the victims of actions taken by the current Congress aimed deliberately at eliminating jobs.

Even worse, many of these jobs are ones that will have to be performed at some point in the next several years and taxpayers will eventually pay the bill. Delaying the work not only sucks jobs out of the weak economy but also in many instances costs the government more money and over time, and serves to increase rather than decrease the public debt. This report examines some of the job-elimination efforts by the current Congress and the growing impact this is having on individuals, families, and communities around the country.

Saving these jobs does not require us to ignore our country’s long-term deficit problems. While nearly all economists believe we should decisively reduce the amount we are scheduled to borrow over the next decade, a large majority of those same economists believe that the spending cuts and revenue increases necessary to reduce the deficits should be agreed to now but not executed until there is substantial steam in the economic recovery. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently warned the Joint Economic Committee, it is important to “avoid fiscal actions that could impede the ongoing economic recovery, putting in place a credible plan for reducing future deficits over the longer term does not preclude attending to the implications of fiscal choices for the recovery in the near term.” That is advice that the new majority party in the House of Representatives has been unwilling to take.

To get a clear picture of the efforts by the current Congress to eliminate jobs requires only a visit to the House Appropriations Committee official web site and an examination of a table entitled “FY 2011 CONTINUING RESOLUTION REDUCTIONS.” The table lists a little more than 250 programs that the committee claims to have cut by a total of $45 billion in fiscal year 2011, which ended in October. Not all of the claimed cuts actually reduced either spending or jobs; they claim, for example, to have cut $6 billion from the Decennial Census despite the fact that virtually no one expected a Decennial Census in 2011. But there are significant job losses associated with most of the document. While many discussions of potential job losses from reductions in government spending seem abstract and theoretical, these cuts are clearly resulting in real pink slips being delivered to real people.
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