Congress passed a payroll tax which was in effect in 2011 and 2012 was not renewed this year. After the tax was passed it lowered the amount taken from people’s paychecks from 6.2% to 4.2% and thus the average family earning $50,000 a year was given an extra $1,000 to spend and put back into the economy. After the fiscal cliff deal this January this act was not renewed and taxes were raised for higher-income families as a part of the compromise.
With the full tax rate back families are being forced to once again cut back on their spending by $720 reported by the New York Fed’s survey. They also reported that during the tax cut families ended up spending $380 of the money they saved from the tax cuts.
Families that are lower-income are going to be forced to cut back on their spending even more. While higher-income people will cut back 64% while lower-income reduce it by 77%. The New York Fed stated that they considered lower-income families to have an annual income of $75,000 or less. People who were earning more than $75,000 were reported to have spent the money that they saved from the tax cut whereas they lower-income tended to spend that money paying off debt.
No one is able to really tell how the new increase in taxes will affect people’s spending it can be inferred that the average family is likely to cut back on how much they spend. But if families do decide to cut back on spending it is likely to only have a negative effect on the United States GDP. Forcing the government to either spend more to help improve the GDP or to lower taxes and hope that citizens will go out and spend the money they would have given the government in taxes to help improve the economy.
With everything that we have learned over the course of the first two trimesters this year my favorite topic has by far been has been when we studied the Foundation of our government. It was cool to go back and talk about Hobbes and Locke’s ideas and analyze their writing as well as discuss not only the Declaration of Independence but also talk about the Constitution. All throughout this unit we studied some of the most major documents that were written during the beginning of the United States. During this unit I loved how we got to actually go through all the different documents and analyze them on our own then come back together and share what everyone thought on the subject as well as the main idea.
During our talk about the Constitution when we did our Constitutional Research Project I can say that was when I learned the most. I learned more about our Constitution by actually studying the document instead of being lectured about it. As well as with this project it taught me that when working in groups one must not only be on task but also willing to listen to the other members of the group.
Memorizing the first 55 words of the Declaration was also exciting for me because while people know the preamble of the Constitution not everyone knows as much about the Declaration. The Declaration is one of the most important documents our country has. It is the document we used to declare that we were no longer going to be under the rule of a tyrant and that we were going to be a free people and that everyone has the right to freedom. While the Constitution protects those rights without the Declaration the Constitution its self would have never been written.
While we were also on this unit the last Presidential elections were beginning to really heat up. It was cool to study how a person has to meet certain qualifications to become president. Having this take place at the beginning of the year really helped set the tone for how we were going to learn in the class. With the government course over now I can say that I am walking away with a better understanding of not only how our government works but also how our forefathers wanted us to set up our government.
At the end of the unit when we didn’t have a paper test but instead wrote two different essays about what we had learned over the course of the unit it really helped cement the fact that the course was indeed there to help mold us into becoming engaged and responsible citizens.
In January the threat of increased terrorism arouse in Northern Africa. At the end of last month the French became engaged in combat in Mali. Mali is a former French colony but the French still have a high interest in the colony because of all the natural resources that Mali has. So when Mali was invaded by the terrorist group they asked France for aid. With Mali being over twice the size of France, with France being the largest country in Europe, the population is around 15 million where France has a population of 63 million. The terrorist group that had invaded the northern part of Mali and other parts of Africa are called the jihadists. The jihadists are a group of Islamic militants. The group has destroyed several holy sites and has set fire to major buildings within the city of Timbuktu including the library destroying the medieval manuscripts that caused the city to become famous. At the beginning of this year they started making their way to the capitol of Mali, Bamako.
The United States currently has no troops deployed in Mali but they are supporting the French government by lending heavy airlift, which the Pentagon billed the French government for initially. French are allies with the United States so the U.S. is also sharing intelligence that they have gathered to help stop the Islamic insurgents. The French have been receiving some aid from other countries like the United Kingdom, which have actually deployed air-crafts vehicles, and equipment. The U.K. has high interest in Africa because they have former colonies and countries that are still under their protection in Africa. Now with the combat having stretched over a couple of months the French have also now received aid from West African troops which are preparing to take full control of the mission from France.
The United States has taken some interest in the situation in Mali because some believe that if nothing is done in Africa that more terrorists groups will arrive and turn North Africa into a training ground for terrorism. With American troops still being in Iraq the U.S. is hesitant to send more troops overseas. But it will only be after elections are held in Mali that the United States will finally lend its full support to Mali because they are only aiding France. The United States sent a delegation recently to Mali but first democracy has to restored, because last year a military coup took control of the former government. The United States are supposed to be keepers of peace and advocates for democracy all around the world.