Paul Ryan on America's future

I like Ryan a lot, but beware the normalcy bias. Via Ace:

Meanwhile, at the IMF (h/t Aaron): 

To restrain the U.S.’s future budget crisis, the federal government must raise taxes by at least 35% and cut entitlements such as health care and Social Security by 35%, International Monetary Fund economists warned Monday in a new working paper.

While the projected ballooning of future costs of entitlements as the so-called baby boomer generation enters old age isn’t new, the IMF paper’s quantifying just how much the federal government will have trim its balance sheets sheds fresh light on the political hurdles ahead...

Given recent events and the general tone of the IMF paper ("hey, ya got a nice place here...hate for anything to, y'know, happen to it), maybe we need to be a little more concerned:  

And then there's our earlier post here.


Instituted April 5, 1764: the Sugar Act

From Heritage:

The Sugar Act is often overshadowed by its infamous cousin: the Townshend Act and its tax on tea. But the outcome of the Sugar Act, instituted on this day in 1764, is significant enough to stand alone in American history. Though it did not have the flair of war-painted men seasoning the Boston Harbor, the imposition of the Sugar Act marks one of the first times the colonists gathered together to protest Parliament’s encroaching authority.

[....] The Sugar Act was also the impetus for the colonists to doubt whether Britain had the authority to demand taxes without colonial representation in Parliament. In 1764 James Otis asked, “can there be any liberty where property is taken without consent?” The question still stands.

Taxpayer revolts and "outstate" NYS?

The author is talking about Wisconsin here but see if it sounds familiar. At American Thinker:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's support has been found, but to do so it looks like a reporter needs to leave Milwaukee and Madison...

[....] What I have learned is that there's a map that can explain a lot of the current tensions in Wisconsin. It is the map of the state itself. In Wisconsin, there are two main metro regions, one surrounding the largest city and industrial center, Milwaukee, and the other surrounding our state capitol and home of the flagship public university, Madison. The rest of the state is referred to as "outstate."

For many of the people I've talked with in outstate Wisconsin, their understanding of power, values, and resources goes like this (I'm paraphrasing here):

All of our taxpayer dollars get sucked in by Madison, diverted to Milwaukee, and we never see them again. The people in Madison are out of touch with the lives of people in rural and small town Wisconsin, and they are liberals and elitists who for the most part work for the state and have cushy health care and pensions. In addition, they are lazy. They can't possibly be working as hard as the rest of us who are working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet out here in these communities from which we can see businesses, industry, and farms leaving on a daily basis.

[....] They don't know what it is like to spend upwards of $1200 a month for health care for one's family. They don't know what it is like to live in a community that most politicians never visit or listen to. And they certainly don't know what it is like to have dedicated one's life to hard work and traditional values.

Obviously, the folks in Wisconsin's fly-over counties are on to something. The Madison liberals should rejoice. They've convinced everyone of socialism, class envy and tax the rich. Of course the public sector workers never figured they'd end up being the rich.


And on a related note, from the NYT (emphasis mine):

HIALEAH, Fla. — Mayor Carlos Alvarez of Miami-Dade County was removed in a recall election on Tuesday as voters punished him for raising property taxes and increasing the salaries of his closest aides at the height of the recession.

[....] Mr. Alvarez, a Republican, has defended the tax increase, saying it was the only way to preserve vital services and make up a $444 million budget gap. Without it, the county would have had to close fire stations and parks and lay off workers. The raises given to workers this year, Mr. Alvarez said, are part of a three-year-old collective-bargaining agreement that also entailed pay cuts. He defended the raises for his aides, saying their workload increased greatly when voters granted him more power in 2007....

Previously unthinkable revolts seem to be in the air these days...

If it can happen there, it can happen's up to you...New York...New York (apologies to Frank Sinatra, wherever you are).

Call me a jeremiah but...

...there are none so blind as those who will not see.
This may not seem like a particularly local or even regional issue—it's not—except for the fact that it quite possibly affects some local folks' retirement accounts.  And it doesn't bode well for the state of the economy, and that affects us all:

Bill Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., eliminated government-related debt from his flagship fund last month as the U.S. projected record budget deficits....

That's U.S. government debt we're talking about here, not some other government's debt.

And there are lots of people—locally, people I know, and not just those cretinous conservatives—who admit quite candidly that they avoid paying any attention to what's going on in the outside world, or at least in the world outside Tompkins County. This becomes painfully apparent when you look at these poll results (via Hot Air):

Scary, isn't it?  "Fully 72 percent think reducing foreign aid would produce some sort of “large” savings whereas 51 percent think reducing Medicare benefits would produce savings that are smallish."

...Yet foreign aid accounts for about 1 percent of federal spending...and [Medicare and Social Security] account for about 40 percent of the budget and are the main drivers of the long-term deficit...

according to Bloomberg.

So, are people that ill-informed (often by conscious choice), delusional, or what?

The only solution that would really work -- draconian cuts to entitlement programs and a serious effort to pay down the national debt -- would require a level of austerity that few Americans have the stomach for. This means that a political solution to this problem is also pretty much impossible. There is no political solution to this dilemma because neither the citizens nor the politicians are willing to do what is necessary.

Read the rest.

And yet there are still people—locally—who don't see the problem as out-of-control spending but as "insufficient revenue":

Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, said the idea of letting the tax surcharge on the wealthy expire now is wrongheaded, considering the dire straits the state is in financially. Robertson said cutting programs rather than extending the surcharge shows lawmakers have "the wrong idea about what government is for." 


Gird your loins, people.

Who is John Galt?

All of these things are unrelated, I'm sure:

  • Next month, on Tax Day, April 15th, part 1 of Atlas Shrugged, a movie based on Ayn Rand's 1957 novel in which the top innovators and industrialists of the US mysteriously disappear, will open.
  • In an earlier post, Henry Kramer remarked on "Barbara Lifton's claims about how good NY is for business and how no one will leave."

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, said she had five town-hall meetings last week in her district, and constituents implored her to continue the tax.

“The feedback from my town meetings were pretty clear, that we ought to be taxing the multi-millionaires and billionaires our state instead of cutting our kids’ schools and our hospitals and nursing homes,” said Lifton, who has been an advocate of keeping the tax.

  • From Big Hollywood (oddly, the big guy—not to be confused with Chris Christie—in a massive instance of cognitive dissonance, doesn't seem to think anything he says applies to himself): 

Once again, just sayin'...

Tax Facts for New Yorkers

From Henry Kramer, Tompkins County GOP Media and Communications Liaison:

The following story appeared on Fox News today and shows some remarkably disturbing facts for New Yorkers.  Note that despite Barbara Lifton's claims about how good NY is for business and how no one will leave, we are rated last on total tax and regulatory burden, and she wants to make these burdens worse.

At a recent town hall meeting, Lifton threw in another tax, 100% (not a misprint) of wealth to go to the state at death (a 100% death tax, no inheritance).  I presume this would mean you could not will your home or anything you had left to your spouse, children, or anyone else.  Barbara and the State would get it.  A great incentive to older people to sell and move out.  During the Tom Reynolds campaign, Lifton said on videotape that she would do away with your basic STAR tax exemption.  And, Lifton and Sheldon Silver are pushing to increase taxes for wealthy New Yorkers --- that of course will not encourage them to stay here and pay our level of taxes.

State tax burden in NY is now virtually equal to our federal tax burden.

The Tax Man Cometh: How Does Your State Compare?

By William La Jeunesse

Published March 02, 2011

While most Americans focus on federal tax rates, a new report shows the state and local tax burden can be equally painful.

The average tax burden in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey exceeds 12 percent, which is roughly equal to the national federal income tax average of 12.2 percent.

But the lengthy study by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank, found more remarkable comparisons between states.

For example, the five lowest tax states, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota, Nevada and Alaska pay about 40 percent less in taxes than the highest tax states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

Why the disparity? For Alaska and Wyoming, massive oil and gas revenues make them outliers. Nevada enjoys sizable gaming and tourism income. 

But experts say the decisions and political choices of lawmakers also play a role in how much states tax their residents.

"How much lawmakers spend is driven by who elects them," said Tax Foundation economist Marc Robyn. "A small government state, they elect small government type leaders and they won't be spending as much."

There is also a massive disparity among states that are friendly to business. When researchers combined the costs of government regulation and red tape with the total tax burden of income, property, sales, corporate and unemployment taxes, the worst states to do business are New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio. The best are South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada and Florida. Powerhouse Texas comes in at 13.

"Voters can feel like they are being trampled under foot. But if enough momentum builds and people really want to change things they can vote for a lower tax state or move to a lower tax state," said Robyn.

That is easier said than done, but in three states where the tax burden has steadily grown, voters recently elected tight fisted Republican governors who ran on promises of fiscal responsibility.

For example, Ohio and Indiana used to be among the 10 most tax-thrifty states dating back to 1970s. Now they are among the worst, dropping 20 spots in national rankings. Both elected Republicans, along with perennial loser Wisconsin, which ranks among the lower states in per capita income, but fourth highest in taxes.


You can watch the video (which I couldn't embed) here.  Thanks, Henry.

TC Legislature Supports Millionaire Tax


From the Ithaca Journal:

A resolution [by the Tompkins County Legislature] urging the state Legislature to extend a tax surcharge on the wealthy passed unanimously. The resolution says taxes on the highest tax bracket in the state have fallen precipitously since the 1970s, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will not extend the surcharge, and not doing so would cost the state $4 billion in 2012.

Remarkably, the Tompkins County Republicans in attendance joined the Dems in this exercise in class warfare.
This report from the Partnership for New York City demonstrates that the millionaires tax drives people and jobs from New York (h/t TheHoldSteady).
At the top of the revenue generators are 1,406 resident taxpayers who have incomes over $10 million and are assessed a surcharge equal to, on average, almost $742,000 a year. If just 10% or 140 of these taxpayers were to leave the state, New York would see an estimated loss of up to $452 million in total personal income tax revenues.
The only solution to New York State’s budget and economic challenges are fundamental reforms that reduce both taxes and spending. The surcharge extension would be a palliative to get the state through one budget cycle without taking the actions that are necessary to set the state on a healthy fiscal and economic course for the future.
We should expect that the Republicans in the legislature would vote instead for the spending cuts and tax cuts which would bring future propserity to our state.  Sadly, they are caught up in using the "evil rich" as a distraction from doing what needs to be done now.


This guy's got guts:

Being an educator in Upstate New York I am forced to pay dues into the corrupt union structure, even though I am not a member nor intend to be. Among the many benefits of (not) joining one of the public employees unions in New York include the union taking nearly one percent of my gross pay to use towards political campaigns.

Among the "benefits" not immediately clear is a mandatory subscription to their monthly propaganda. This month's naturally rails against the cuts of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as against Governor Walker's actions in Wisconsin.


NYSUT United calls for the state to reject a property tax cap-- even after the state has seen massive tax increases over the last decade, especially in rural and suburban areas. They call the cuts made by then-Governor David Paterson last year 'draconian' and rail against Andrew Cuomo's cuts of $1.5 billion, or triple last year's cut.


Within the publication comes an exhortation to retain the so-called 'millionaire's tax' in New York State-- that affects those making $209,000 a year. According to the article:

NYSUT... is insisting lawmakers extend the surcharge on high help the state deal with its $10 billion shortfall.

NYSUT is one of the most politically corrupting unions in the country. They have driven New York State's education system into the ground and have devastated college education programs in order to drive down potential teachers and create an artificial shortage of teachers....

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more on this story here.


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