taxes

Snow job

Stephen Moore wrote in the WSJ last week:

Perhaps there can still be a happy ending to this sad tale of U.S. decline. If there were ever a right time to trade in the junk heap of our federal tax code for a pro-growth Steve Forbes-style flat tax, now's the time.

What would prompt Mr. Moore to make such a preposterous suggestion?  Only this:

Media reports in recent weeks say that Senate Democrats are considering a 3% surtax on income over $1 million to raise federal revenues. This would come on top of the higher income tax rates that President Obama has already proposed through the cancellation of the Bush era tax-rate reductions.

If the Democrats' millionaire surtax were to happen—and were added to other tax increases already enacted last year and other leading tax hike ideas on the table this year—this could leave the U.S. with a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%. That's more than double the highest federal marginal rate of 28% when President Reagan left office in 1989. Welcome back to the 1970s.

Read the rest for "the math behind that depressing calculation." 

This morning at Heritage:

The House GOP last week issued a proposal to spur job growth, including reducing regulation and taxes and promoting free trade – essentially aimed at making it easier for businesses to grow, thereby growing the economy and reducing unemployment. And, like clockwork, the left went on the attack claiming that it’s nothing more than “old ideas, fancy new clip art,” while the Times described it as “more of the same ‘fixes’ that Republicans always recommend no matter the problem.” Ironically, though, the left is calling for more of their same ideas – “government help” must come to the rescue, the Times says.

And how do they plan to pay for it? Higher taxes to finance more spending, with “a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%.” The government needs to stay home. Brian Riedl explained why government intervention to boost the economy doesn’t work:

Removing water from one end of a swimming pool and pouring it in the other end will not raise the overall water level. Similarly, taking dollars from one part of the economy and distributing it to another part of the economy will not expand the economy.

Amazing how many people are snowed by the kind of "logic" Riedl is referring to.

Tax Cap More Like a Beanie

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Albany's tax cap is starting to look a little small.

The cap would exempt growth in pension payments (which, like that car ad says, are HUGE).  Schools and local governments can "catch up" and exceed the cap if they were frugal in previous years.  These two items alone mean that there really isn't any real substance to this cap.  Taxes will still climb, compounded, at unsustainable rates. Maybe this is one of those caps with a propeller on top.

One of the few positives is that it may get local governments on the side of taxpayers regarding the state's unfunded mandates.  Our Martha is quoted in the IJ (5/24):

Today, the Assembly released a tax cap plan that doesn't include any mandate relief, and doesn't even recognize the unique burden of counties to deliver and fund the state's own programs by carving those mandates out of the cap," [Martha] Robertson, D-Dryden, [wrote] in an e-mail.

Before, local governments could just pass along all of the cost of unfunded mandates.  Now, they may eat into the local pet projects, so we might get some help pushing back at Albany.  (I won't hold my breath... somehow these things usually don't work out as well as one might expect.)

How about this idea for a tax cap:  Over the time you own your house, you should never need to pay more in property taxes than you spent on the purchase price of your house.  At present rates around here, you'll pay that much (more or less) in thirty years... about the length of that 30-year mortgage.  Think about that... the government will have taken your house from you, and made you buy it back from them.  Once you've done that, that should be it.  No more property tax.  Now that would be a real cap.

Thank you, Mr. Hanna -- H.R. 3 passes

H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" passed with the support of Richard Hanna, R-NY-24.  At syracuse.com:

Washington -- A bill championed by U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle that bans all federal funding for abortions – and ends tax breaks for insurance plans that cover abortion -- passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday in a party-line vote.

Buerkle and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, voted for the bill, which passed 251 to 175... 

A total of 16 Democrats joined 235 Republicans in support of the bill. No Republicans voted against the measure.

If the bill passes the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate and is signed into law by President Barack Obama – both unlikely possibilities – women and small businesses would no longer be able to claim federal tax credits for health insurance plans that include abortion coverage.

Likewise, any federal subsidies for private health insurance plans that include abortion coverage would be eliminated.

[....] Hanna, who unlike Buerkle supports abortion rights, said he voted for the legislation Wednesday because he believes most people do not want their taxes spent on abortion, or to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortion.

“While I personally oppose abortion, individuals should be free to make that very difficult and personal decision without government involvement,” Hanna said in a statement. But he added, “It is clear the majority of taxpayers do not want tax dollars spent on abortion.”

Betty DeFazio, director of community affairs and public policy for Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region, said federal funding for abortion is already banned under the Hyde Amendment....

Sorry, dear, you must not have read yesterday's post. That particular argument is horse manure and many of us now know it.  You'll have to find a new lie to tell.  

I'll bet Louise Slaughter, that living embodiment of Godwin's Law, wasn't pleased.

On to the Senate.

Urge Hanna to vote yes on HR 3...

...the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has announced a vote on this bill on or around Wednesday, May 4. 

From Library of Congress/Thomas:

5/2/2011 Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 237 Reported to House. Rule provides for consideration of H.R. 3 with 1 hour of general debate. Previous question shall be considered as ordered without intervening motions except motion to recommit with or without instructions. Measure will be considered read. Bill is closed to amendments. The amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the report of the Committee on Rules 112-71 shall be considered as adopted. All points of order against provisions in the bill, as amended, are waived. 

This major piece of legislation would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition of federal funding for abortions. Despite what some politicians and the media have reported, there is no permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal funding of abortion. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of most abortions, is an annual appropriation fight since the amendment expires at the end of every fiscal year. 

Unlike the recent Planned Parenthood debate, there is no "women's health" excuse to hide behind. This is about taxpayers and direct abortion funding—nothing else.

Congressman Hanna's contact information:

DC office: Phone: 202-225-3665, Fax: 202-225-1891
Cortland office: Phone: 607-756-2470, Fax: 607-756-2472
Auburn office: Phone: 315-252-6700, Fax: 315-252-6709
Utica office: Phone: 315-724-9740, Fax: 315-724-9746

Related: Suspects accused of causing a fetus to die or injuring it inside the womb at any stage of development would face separate criminal charges under a law North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed.

But, as Sister Toldjah writes,

...it’s kinda interesting that – once again – we have a law on the books here in the states that essentially says that if the baby is unwanted and the mother goes to an abortion clinic to terminate “the problem”, then it’s not a crime. But if the baby IS wanted and is harmed by a violent offender, it is considered a crime.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the law will go onto the books later this year. But it’s worth pointing out that “is it a baby or not” is in the eye of the beholder, depending on whether or not the unborn baby is wanted...

Just sayin'.

Dueling Ithaca Tax Day protests and podcasts

Ed Weissman is a member of "Forward Thinking," the tea party group in Ithaca. They plan to protest outside of Rep. Hinchey's downtown Ithaca office at the corner of Green and Cayuga starting at noon today.  Listen to Ed's interview on WHCU today here.

And listen to Tompkins County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Irene Stein talk about a counter-protest across the street from the tea partiers in downtown Ithaca today here.

UPDATE:

Not Tea Party Tea Party

A house divided

Today is the 150th anniversary of the opening shots of the Civil War being fired on Fort Sumter, outside Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.  For an interesting video on what happened that day and the run-up to it, see this at the Daily.

So, as you might expect, Civil War analogies have been flying. Leonard Pitts' column at the Detroit Free Press (reprinted—mostly—in today's Ithaca Journal) is here. And here's Jesse Jackson:

“This is a Civil War fight,” he said. “I think Time magazine has it right. This is the 150th anniversary of the 1861 Civil War. Now those are determined to shut the federal government down to make their point — their ideological-religious point.”

“You have those who believe in states’ rights and those who believe in a more perfect union,” he said. “States’ right are anti-civil rights, anti-workers’ right to bargain, anti-social justice, pro-rich and significantly insensitive to poor people — that was the great divide 150 years ago and it’s the great divide today in the ideological sense.”

Jerry Brown got into the act too:

This week Brown has been using Civil War metaphors at his public events to describe the deep divisions in California, and the entire country for that matter, preaching with the passion of a born-again that the country is dangerously polarized.

“We are at a point of civil discord, and I would not minimize the risk to our country and to our state. It is not trivial. I’ve been around a long time, I’m a student of history, I’m a student of contemporary politics. We are facing what I would call a ‘regime crisis.’ The legitimacy of our very democratic institutions are in question,” he said.

We've said things like that before on this blog, but I'm guessing we wouldn't see eye to eye with Governor Brown on what exactly that means.

And as we approach the deadline for filing tax returns, Philip Klein writes at the Washington Examiner (emphasis mine):

I wrote last week that for President Obama, it's never the right time to deal with the long-term debt crisis. But senior adviser David Plouffe took to the Sunday morning shows to announce that Obama would give a major speech outlining his plan on Wednesday.

[....] While short on details, Plouffe said Obama would argue for raising taxes on higher income levels once the current tax deal expires at the end of 2012 – but that's already accounted for in the budget he released, in which deficits are $4.4 trillion higher than Ryan's over the next decade.

On the spending side, Obama has already either ruled out many of the obvious entitlement reforms or is using them to finance the health care law.

For instance, in his State of the Union address Obama had this to say about Social Security:

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

If you aren't going to to touch benefits, that implicitly means no changes to the retirement age either. So the only thing that leaves is raising taxes. Yet Obama's big Social Security plan during the campaign – to raise the payroll tax on higher incomes – was already used to help finance ObamaCare.

[....] The only options that would evidently be open to Obama is to find more ways to raise taxes beyond merely cutting some loopholes and rescinding the dreaded Bush tax rates on higher incomes, and to slash defense spending significantly when the nation is fighting three wars...

As we've pointed out before, even entirely confiscating the assets of the "wealthy" would not allow us to continue on our current course of spending.  Which leaves us with borrowing and monetizing the debt—leading to rampant inflation. So, some people at least would look at it this way (emphasis mine):

...The future is literally being stolen from our children and our grandchildren.  They will be inheriting the 14 trillion dollar (and still rising) national debt that we have accumulated.  What we have done to future generations is unthinkable, and yet we continue to endlessly borrow more money.  The Congressional Research Service estimates that the U.S. government will need to borrow $738 billion between April 1st and September 30th.  Faith in U.S. Treasuries is falling so rapidly that now the biggest bond fund in the world, PIMCO, is actually shorting U.S. Treasuries.

When you base an entire economy on debt, eventually you end up with money problems that never seem to end.  As a nation we are now enslaved to a vicious spiral of debt that is going to destroy everything that our forefathers worked so hard to build.

As the debt loads of our federal, state and local governments become even more burdensome, they are going to want even more money from us.  For decades we gave in to new tax after new tax thinking that it would finally satisfy them.  But it never seems to be enough.  They always want more....

At the risk of being called racist, I'd say enslavement takes many forms.

"...you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas," part deux

We've said it before. And Michael Barone says it again, at Pajamas Media and Investors.com (via Ace):

...One of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, one of the most stable housing markets, and home to more Fortune 500 corporations than any other state. That’s Texas, and it’s no accident. The GOP-controlled government here lives by a couple of simple rules: Don’t tax everything that moves, and don’t spend all the money.

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