Millionaire’s surtax

This is just awesome.  Via NPR:

For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats’ proposal, Republicans objected to the “millionaires surtax” that would be used to pay for it.

Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators…

We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.

So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to…

So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the “millionaires surtax” responded.

Some actual small business owners understand how this works much better than Republican Senators do:

Yankwitt says deciding to bring on another employee is all about return on investment. Will adding another person to the payroll make his company more successful?

For Jason Burger, the motivation is similar.

“If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes,” said Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global infrastructure contractor. “But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services.”

I’m sure there are plenty of millionaire small business owners who are hung up on making sure they keep every last dollar they can.  Let’s just not pretend it actually has anything to do with their hiring decisions.

Photo of the Day

Okay, this collection (part 2) of the year’s best photos is astounding.  The one here is actually among the more mundane, but I just loved it:

And I would never actually post a photo myself of a person literally falling to their death from an aerial stunt gone wrong, but Taylor would.

What does Newt need the extra bathroom for?

I’m sure this is pretty much SOP for celebrity speakers, and they all have their more difficult requests, but it’s still hard to pass up an opportunity to make fun of Newt:

The Smoking Gun Web site, which specializes in unearthing revealing documents, hasposted a copy of a speaking gig contract apparently signed by Gingrich for an appearance at Missouri Western State University in October 2010.

The contract called for payment of “first class expenses,” including the hotel of Gingrich’s choice, and “first class airfare.” A Gingrich aide gets a smaller hotel room ”located nearby the suite, but not attached.” A contract addendum also notes that “Mrs. Gingrich” may sometimes travel with her husband and “will be needed to be seated beside Mr. Gingrich at all functions.”

Perhaps most curious was language requiring a “non-smoking one-bedroom suite (preferably with two bathrooms).” The Smoking Gun compared Gingrich’s “loo requirement” with “Mary J. Blige’s toilet seat proviso,” in which the singer required “a private toilet (with new toilet seat)” as part of her standard performance contract.

Actually, if Calista is coming along, the two bathroom requirement is obviously reasonable.  But, if not, just what is Newt doing with that extra bathroom?

Plan B

I realize that as a good liberal, I’m supposed to be outraged that HHS let politics trump science in not allowing Plan B emergency contraception to be available over-the-counter with no age restrictions.  But, I’m not.  It seems to me that this is more than just science.  Sure, there’s no evidence that young adolescent females taking Plan B might actually be harmful, but it does not seem unreasonable to me that a contraceptive medicine not be sitting on the shelf next to ibuprofen.  I don’t think this is politics trumping science in that the science isn’t really in dispute.  It’s simply politics saying that when it comes to what medicines are available under what circumstances, there are other considerations besides science.

It used to drive me crazy that you needed a prescription for non-drowsy Allegra, Zyrtec, etc., whereas the much more dangerous Benadryl and Chloraphenamarine (dangerous, because you truly don’t want to be operating heavy machinery under the influence of those) have always been OTC.   Clearly, these decisions are not always all about the science.

What does bother me, though, is the unwillingness to just admit that.  Instead, we get this:

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the F.D.A.’s commissioner, issued a lengthy statement saying it was safe to sell Plan B over the counter, while Ms. Sebelius countered that the drug’s manufacturer had failed to study whether girls as young as 11 years old could safely use Plan B.

This response from a former Bush official nails it:

Dr. Susan Wood, a former F.D.A. assistant commissioner who resigned in 2005 to protest the Bush administration’s handling of Plan B, said that there were many drugs available over the counter that had not been studied in pre-adolescents and that were far more dangerous to them.

“Acetaminophen can be fatal, but it’s available to everyone,” Dr. Wood noted. “So why are contraceptives singled out every single time when they’re actually far safer than what’s already out there?”

Well, because they are contraceptives.  Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with simply admitting that contraceptives aren’t necessarily like other medications and that we want to allow larger social/political considerations to influence their availability to minors.  I have no doubt that Plan B is safe for 11 year old girls, but I nonetheless think it reasonable that the government says they cannot purchase it without a prescription.  I just wish the whole debate would be honest about that point, rather than those in opposition pretending it’s about the science.

Oh, and for the record, I’d be totally fine with the drug being widely available OTC with no restrictions.  I just don’t think it is some horrible thing that it’s not.  This strikes me as something that is eminently reasonable to settle through politics, and not just science.

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