Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Patt Morrison for Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1-3 p.m.






1:06 – 1:18





1:23 – 1:39

The curious case of a tax increase that the GOP actually likes

For a party that has more-or-less staked its future and political reputation on a strident, universal opposition to tax increases it’s curious to note that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives might be on the verge of allowing one tax to increase.  The Social Security payroll tax was cut, from 6.2 percent down to 4.2, as part of President Obama’s stimulus law but that tax cut is due to run out at the end of this year.  The payroll taxes apply only to the first $106,800 of a worker’s wages, so the biggest benefit anyone can gain from the tax cut is roughly $2,100.  Since the great majority of Americans make less than $100,000 a year they pay more in this Social Security tax than they do in income taxes—in other words, the Social Security payroll tax cut helps the roughly 46 percent of all Americans who make so little money that they pay no federal income tax.  The tax cut needs Congressional approval to be extended past January 1, and while President Obama supports extending the cut it turns out that House Republicans are hesitant.  Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican leader in the House and one of the twelve members on the budget-cutting Supercommittee has said about the payroll tax “not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.”  Republicans also worry that the payroll tax cut will cost the government about $120 billion a year in lost revenues, which strangely has never been a concern for them as they’ve championed income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Is there a justifiable reason to let a tax cut lapse for a segment of the population that pays little to no taxes or should a party’s anti-tax platform apply to every potential tax increase, no matter who it benefits?


James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly and author of “The GOP Position on Taxes Gets Worse”


TBD Representative of the National Taxpayers Union





1:41:30 – 1:58:30

Life in 9/12 America: 10 years after 9/11 is airport security anything more than Kabuki?

In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 it was hard to believe that 19 hijackers, armed with just box cutters, could overtake four airplanes at the same time.  But the plan of attack was so simple, and aimed at such a glaring vulnerability in the country’s national security chain that it worked brilliantly with ultimately tragic consequences.  The resulting rush to beef up airport security since 9/11 has left us with a brand new agency, the Transportation Security Administration, and several new search techniques and search technologies that have all come with very high costs.  It could be argued, and our guest from RAND does so, that it was actually a relatively inexpensive measure that has been chiefly responsible for the failure to repeat the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 using commercial airliners.  Tougher visa rules, especially from countries of origin that have histories of terrorist involvement (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.), have created a barrier for would-be attackers traveling to the U.S.  The enhanced pat-downs, the full body x-ray machines and even taking your shoes off in the security line may all play lesser roles in keeping airplanes safe than the simple increased vigilance of passengers since 9/11, who now realize that they are also responsible for their own safety.  It’s also worth pointing out that while airports have taken a universal approach to screening—everyone gets patted down, even grandmothers and infants—other vulnerable points of entry, such as harbors, employ only selective screening.  Have we truly learned our lesson about travel security since 9/11 and is there a better way to make airports safe?



Jack Riley, vice president & director of the RAND National Security Research Division

via ISDN




2:06 – 2:19

Does the emergency 911 system need help? 

For minutes, even hours, after the earthquake hit on the East Coast, residents in need of emergency assistance weren’t able to get through to 911 on their cells phones. That got the attention of the FCC. Officials at the agency say it’s a “serious concern” and will investigate what can be done to prevent it from happening again. The president of the CTIA, The Wireless Association, blamed the surge in calls for the problem. But isn’t a dramatic increase in calls to 911 to be expected after any emergency and shouldn’t the system be able to handle it?  What did perform well were social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook—40,000 Tweets in the first few minutes after the earthquake and 3 million mentions of “earthquake” on Facebook.  Is the current 911 system keeping up with technological advancements? These are questions being asked in emergency response circles and many, including the FCC, are pushing for the Next Generation 911 system. The new system will have the capacity and flexibility to include social media. So in the future it may be more effective to text for help than to call (at least from your cell phone).



James a Barnett Jr., retired rear admiral and chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the FCC





2:21:30 – 2:58:30





Patt: We’re finished here, but the conversation continues on the Patt Morrison page at KPCC-dot-org and you can follow us on Twitter. You’re listening to 89.3 KPCC – Southern California Public Radio.







Jonathan Serviss
Senior Producer, Patt Morrison
Southern California Public Radio
NPR Affiliate for Los Angeles
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