Explaining Effective Tax Rates

At the 100 Days panel discussion last night there were a number of issues raised that deserve further discussion, if only to explain how wrongheaded some of the assertions made were. However, one exchange I thought was interesting enough to return to it here. While responding to a question about the oppressive taxes in this country from a College Republican in the audience, I referred to the fact that we actually have some of the lowest effective tax rates in the developed world. Hardly exciting stuff, but the interesting thing was the response that invoked. A number of students from the College Republicans and the Student Liberty Front (think Ron Paul...) reacted immediately as though I misspoke or made an obvious error. To them it was obvious that we have oppressively high taxes.

They were confused, however, about nominal tax rates and effective tax rates. Behold, the data.

Anyone who has taken any economics understands the difference between nominal and effective rates. It's a distinction that's crucially important when discussing interest rates, for example. Nominal tax rates are the marginal rates levied, the numbers actually specified by statute. Effective tax rates, however, are what companies actually pay. The difference, of course, is that large corporations, as is their prerogative, spend a fair deal of effort lowering their actual tax liabilities through loopholes and tax shelters. While nominal marginal rates can certainly affect business decisions, effective tax rates are more relevant to a discussion of the effect of taxes on the economy, and for anyone claiming oppressive taxation.

100 Days of President Obama

Come check out "100 Days of President Obama" tonight! It's a student panel discussion about the Obama administration also featuring the Drexel Republicans and Student Liberty Front. Discussion moderated by Prof. Scott Knowles. Q & A to follow.

Starts at 7:30 in Mitchell Auditorium in Bossone (JFK Blvd and Market St)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bathroom

The way back, actually. So tonight, like every Tuesday, the center city chapter of Drinking Liberally met at Triumph Brewery on 2nd and Chestnut. Around 8 I went to the bathroom, and on the way back up, walking past the first booth in the place, I thought to myself, "Self, that guy really looks like Pat Toomey!"

Now, poli-sci geek that I am, this would have been exciting any day, but today was even more special. After -all, Pat Toomey is the right-wing firebrand who was set to whoop Arlen Specter by 20-30 points in the GOP primary, which led Arlen to switch parties just this afternoon. On this day more than any other, Toomey was topical. And he had decided to have dinner in the same restaurant as the weekly Drinking Liberally. Life is full of irony.

When I went back upstairs I walked up to Duncan and Noz and said "I'm about 50% sure that Pat Toomey is downstairs right now." As Noz relays at his blog, he then googled what Toomey looked like, and went to scout it out, reporting back "That guy really looks like Pat Toomey."

Naturally, I found this quite satisfying, because I don't think that anybody trusted my identification of him. Then a number of people raced downstairs to confirm, and Brendan actually got in a longish discussion with him. Here's the evidence:

Sen. Specter Joins the Democratic Party

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania since 1980 (longer than any of us have been alive), took the final step in the growing alienation from his party. Obviously this is big news, and there is plenty of coverage and reaction over the internet. I personally have some things I like about this, and some things I dislike. Breaking them down as such looks somehting like this.

The Good

  • The Democrats, with Al Franken's eventual seating, have a 60 member caucus, nominally enough to break fillibusters (caveats apply).
  • This both highlights and reinforces the idea that the Republican party has grown radical and isolated, controlled by its crazy base.
  • This makes the Democratic party look reasonable and attractive to self-identified "moderates", if not actual ones.
  • It was likely that T.J. Rooney and Rendell were going to pick a challanger to Specter that would be in the mold of Casey (one of my least favorite senators), and this buys PA Democrats time to grow their field of challangers. Joes Sestak and Schwartz are only serving their 2nd and 3rd terms in the house, and in 4-6 years will be more credible candidates for statewide office. And who knows where Seth Williams will be in 2016...
  • Senator Specter probably won't be a senator for 25 more years, whereas a Casey-esque DINO would.
  • Specter came out during his press conference and said that PA Republicans are too crazy to be allowed to judge his record.

The Bad

Malcolm X Park Tree Planting-April 25th

Lindy Scholars with Seth Williams -April 18th

Dems Endorse Seth Williams for D.A.

We have chosen to endorse Seth Williams as the Democratic nominee for Philadelphia’s upcoming District Attorney race.

The Drexel Democrats voted overwhelmingly in support of Williams because of the range of experience and initiatives that he will bring to the office. The endorsement kicks off three months of support and volunteer efforts for Williams’ campaign in anticipation of the May 19 Democratic primary. For more information about Seth William’s campaign, visit www.votesethwilliams.com.

The endorsement took place following an open forum with the Democratic candidates for District Attorney. The Drexel Democrats co-hosted the forum with the Penn Democrats of the University of Pennsylvania. The forum was held to introduce students to the candidates and their agendas so that a meritorious endorsement could be made.

View the campaign's official press release here: http://www.votesethwilliams.com/sites/default/files/Drexel_Dems_Endorse_...

D.A. Candidates Forum on 2/16

We will be co-hosting, with Penn Dems, an Open Forum with the Democratic Candidates for District Attorney. Here is all of the information:

District Attorney Candidates’ Forum (D.A. Election May 19th)
Monday, February 16th at 5:30 PM
Terrace Room, Claudia Cohen Hall

The Candidates Are:
Seth Williams www.votesethwilliams.com.
Dan McElhatton http://www.votemcelhatton.com/
Michael Turner http://www.turner4da.com/
Brian Grady http://www.votegrady2009.org/
Dan McCaffery http://www.mccafferyforda.com/

Candidates will each receive 2 minutes for opening and closing statements. There will then be a moderated panel for 20-30 minutes and then they will entertain questions from the audience. The event should last about an hour.

This is a very important election in Philadelphia and the District Attorney often goes on to higher elected positions. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) once held the post and Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) was also did prior to becoming Mayor and then Governor.

The Drexel Dems will meet at 5:00pm (no later) outside of the front doors of the Hagerty (Drexel’s) Library. We will then head over to Penn as a group. If you wish to head over on your own or have to come a little late, here is the information on how to get there:

This building is in the Perelman Quadrangle (Between Walnut and Spruce, off of 34th Street, (Enter on Walnut St., across from CVS).
Here are maps that should help:Map - http://www.upenn.edu/admissions/tour/map.php?map=2 Building -http://www.perelmanquad.com/facilities/logan_hall/index.php).

This event promises to be exciting and is very important. It will play a large role in the future of Drexel Dems. Please attend and bring questions!

2/8 Meeting Recap

Thanks to all of you who came out to the meeting tonight. If you did not, you missed a very productive meeting so I'd just like to recap everything we covered.

-We shared inauguration stories and experiences.

-We unanimously voted in favor of endorsing candidates in the future. This provides an opportunity to support a candidate to the fullest extent as an organization and many volunteer opportunities.

-We will be participating/attending an open forum with the 2008 Democratic candidates for District Attorney in the near future. Dates and location TBA. This event will be in conjunction with the Penn Dems and possibly other college democrats. We will endorse a candidate the following Sunday after the forum.

-Leon King, Candidate for Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, came and spoke to us about his experience, campaign and the importance of judges and the judicial system in Philadelphia. Visit www.LeonKing.org if you are interested.

-We are in the process of planning voter registration and education drives in anticipation for the May primaries.

-We will be cosponsoring a film event with the Women's Studies program. We will be showing "Iron Jawed Angels", a film about the women's suffrage movement of the 1900's starring Hilary Swank. This event will be held March 13th* at 5pm in Nesbitt 125 (Ruth Auditorium). Free food served. *Note the date change from March 6th.

-We encouraged everyone to sign up for an account on drexeldems.org and feel free to blog about anything politically related.

-Most importantly, we will be participating in an event this Tuesday at 7pm. Our social director, Anna, will be representing us on the "Scrutiny of Marriage" discussion about Prop 8, Same-Sex Marriage, etc. Anna brings experience as a member of her high school's Gay-Straight Alliance and a California native, the home of Prop 8. See blog post below.

Here is the link to the Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=47770361798

Panel on Gay Marriage

We will be participating in the following panel discussion This Tuesday, February 10th at 7pm in Disque 103.

This event will be worth CEO credit. Light refreshments will be served.
The Foundation of Undergraduates for Sexual Equality is teaming up with Commuter, Graduate, and Transfer Student Programs and Services to host a discussion panel on same sex marriage and the recently passed California Proposition 8. The panel members are representatives from several Drexel organizations, including:

FUSE, Outlaw, Student Liberty Front, Drexel Democrats, Drexel Republicans, Campus Crusade for Christ.

Our aim is to educate members of the Drexel community about same sex marriage and Prop. 8 while representing all viewpoints on the subject.

View the Facebook event page here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=47770361798