Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Help the rich pay more taxes

Posted by Richard on April 10, 2010

This weekend, I'm finally working on my taxes. But after several hours of getting paperwork together and entering data into H & R Block At Home (the new name for TaxCut), I had to take a break. So I've been catching up on neglected reading, like the past week's posts at Mark Perry's excellent Carpe Diem.

There, I learned that a group of millionaire leftists (it's a much underappreciated fact that most of the very wealthy are also very liberal) has been loudly complaining about being undertaxed. Mark Perry suggested that they don't have to wait for their tax rates to be raised to pay more. They can, for instance, make a gift to the U.S. Treasury or simply not itemize deductions, which would likely increase their tax liability significantly. 

Of course, they're not interested in doing such things — they're posturing for ideological reasons. And their goal isn't just to increase their own taxes, which they could do easily (and privately), but to increase other people's taxes, too. 

But in case there's a millionaire out there who sincerely is looking for ways to pay more taxes (and happens to be reading this blog), I've got another suggestion: you can pay other people's taxes. It would be a double whammy of altruism — you'd be not only doing more to support the commonweal, you'd also be performing acts of charity for those less fortunate than you. 

Of course, your charity would have to go to those who actually pay taxes. And according to this other Carpe Diem post, that eliminates almost 50% of households. So these charitable gestures would largely have to be directed toward middle-class taxpayers. Of which there are many.

Since I came up with the idea, I think it's only appropriate that I volunteer to be the first recipient. 

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Obama the agnostic

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2010

On countless occasions before and since his election, President Obama has repeatedly and forcefully made statements like this one

"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 per year, will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." – Candidate Barack Obama, Sept. 12, 2008, Dover, N.H.

Of course, he broke that pledge early in his presidency, as the Heritage Foundation among others pointed out. And he spent most of his first year fighting for a government takeover of health care that, in both the House and Senate versions, would impose a plethora of indirect taxes (such as on medical devices like crutches) in addition to a massive middle-class mandate that some would argue amounts to a tax. 

But now Obama has officially embraced tax agnosticism. Which means, I suppose, that the President is going to vote "present" on tax increases.

Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform had these comments:

You might have seen today that President Obama is now officially "agnostic" about whether a bi-partisan tax increase/deficit commission should raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.  A few things here:

  1. This would directly contravene his campaign promise (repeated again and again throughout the campaign and during his first year in office) to not raise "any form" of taxes on these families, "not one dime."  ATR has maintained a full database of this tax promise

  2. As Jim Pethokoukis of Reuters has pointed out, this could be a subtle signal that Obama is paving the way for a value-added tax (VAT).  ATR maintains an Anti-VAT Congressional Caucus
     
  3. An agnostic is someone who lacks the conviction of either an atheist, or a believer.  It seems pretty clear that President Obama is actually rather zealous in his faith that higher taxes across the board (including for non-affluent households) is the correct public policy goal.

Yeah, the Obama administration is about as agnostic about higher taxes and bigger government as the average New Orleans resident is about the Saints.

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Happy Friedman Day!

Posted by Richard on June 7, 2009

You've no doubt heard of the Tax Foundation's "Tax Freedom Day," the day when Americans have finally earned enough money to pay all our taxes. This year, it was April 13. But because of borrowing, taxes don't pay the full costs of government. This year, it's not even close.

Today, we've finally reached what the American Institute for Economic Research calls Friedman Day, the day that we've worked enough to pay for all government spending. Friedman Day has been coming later and later in the past eight years, and this year it came seven weeks after Tax Freedom Day and nearly halfway through the year: 

The reason? The federal government deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 has mushroomed to $1.84 trillion.  This means that about 46 cents of every dollar of federal spending will be financed by borrowing through the sale of new U.S. Treasury securities. 

Nor is the current 2009 deficit simply a one-year spike. The most recent estimate for the 2010 deficit is $1.3 trillion, still about 8.5% of GDP.

And the debt will go up accordingly, by another $1.3 trillion.

The United States seems to have entered a new era of historically high deficits and a national debt that is therefore growing by leaps and bounds.  Emergency or not, temporary or not, this is new territory for the federal government and for the economy.

You and I aren't paying the difference between Tax Freedom Day and Friedman Day out of our pockets, but we're on the hook for it — or our kids and grandkids are. And no, we don't "owe it to ourselves." We owe more than two-thirds of it to foreign investors and governments. And they've been getting antsy about our government's profligacy. 

When the subprime mortgage crisis heated up last July, foreign governments began to worry about the value of the U.S. securities they were holding.  When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started to look insolvent, Treasury officials had to make phone calls around the world, reassuring foreign holders of Treasury and especially "agency" (Freddie and Fannie) securities. Then the government nationalized Freddie and Fannie, taking explicit responsibility for their liabilities.

This was America's "Argentina moment." Suddenly, the United States could be viewed as a debtor nation, obliged to persuade the owners of its debt that everything would be OK. 

Friedman Day, as it inches ever closer to Milton Friedman's July 31 birthday, should serve as a warning that government is consuming way beyond its means. In the years ahead — and for future generations — everything may not be OK.

So take a moment to celebrate Friedman Day today. But then spend some time in sober reflection about our future.

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Tea party photo update

Posted by Richard on April 17, 2009

David Aitken took some terrific photos of the Denver Tea Party. He just has links at his blog, Life's Better Ideas, and I can see why. The photos are 2048 x 1536 pixels. On my 22" monitor (1680 x 1250), using Firefox, I had to zoom out to see the whole image at once. But he got right in the thick of things, they're sharp as a tack, and they really give you a great sense of being in the middle of the crowd. They're well worth a look. Just be patient if you don't have a very high-speed connection.

Michelle Malkin has a large collection of photos from around the country that shows, as she put it, "the full breadth and scope of the protests — not just the size, but the reach, a true sense of which is missing from the MSM coverage." And Instapundit posted several collections of pix, links to video, and commentary — here and here and here and here and here

As you look at the photos, and especially Aitken's photos, notice that virtually every sign is handmade. The few printed ones look like people printed them on their inkjet — they probably downloaded the files from one of the think tanks or pro-freedom non-profits that jumped onto the tea party bandwagon. Contrary to what Nancy Pelosi and her PR firm, CNN, claimed, this wasn't an "astroturf" event — it was true grass roots, and it grew from the ground up. The national organizations and (relatively few) politicians who jumped aboard were following the people, not leading them. 

At the Denver event, the only signs that were obviously professionally printed were the ones a handful of ProgressColorado and union counter-demonstrators had (with slogans like "Shut up and pay your taxes" and "We're cleaning up Bush's mess"). The printing was probably paid for by ACORN, using federal tax dollars. Or George Soros, the king of astroturf politics. Or the cadre of Colorado millionaire leftists who've bought the state for the Democratic Party in the last few years.

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A terrific tea party

Posted by Richard on April 16, 2009

What a great day we had in Denver today. Sunny and in the 70s. A perfect day to gather at the State Capitol and voice opposition to tax increases, massive new spending, wealth redistribution, bailouts, pork, and the headlong rush toward socialism. And, boy, did people gather!

The police estimated 5000, and I think that's pretty conservative. I remember the gun rights rally that the police estimated at 3000, and this one was at least twice as big and probably quite a bit more. Quite a diverse crowd, too. Lots of families with children, and lots of strollers. More young adults than I expected, but lots of retirees, too. Men in suits, and men in biker jackets. Mostly middle-class working people.

I heard virtually nothing of the speakers, and I think most of the people there were in the same boat. The crowd spilled down the steps and grassy slope all the way to Lincoln St., and the sound system was really only adequate for the two to three thousand up on the drive around the Capitol and maybe a little beyond. But no one seemed to mind, and when those who were close cheered and chanted, everyone else joined in. 

On Lincoln St. and Colfax, where traffic was heavy, the honking and waving never let up. I noticed that quite a few of the vehicles expressing support were work vehicles (panel vans and trucks with business names on them, etc.). 

There were lots of Gadsden flags (I wore my Gadsden t-shirt) and lots of signs with references to Galt and Atlas Shrugged. Some of my favorite signs: 

I am not your ATM

Don't spread the wealth, spread my work ethic!

Atlas Shrugged has come to pass

I left a socialist country for this??

Don't spend my money, I haven't made it yet (carried by a 10-year-old)

We are John Galt

Don't tell Obama what comes after a trillion

I was running late and forgot my camera, so all I got was some crummy shots from my ancient cell phone. You can see them here. But the Peoples Press Collective has much better pictures here and here. Heck, just go to the home page and keep scrolling. Drop by Slapstick Politics, too, for lots of coverage — pix, video, and links. 

If you attended a tea party somewhere, how did it go?

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Tea Party time!

Posted by Richard on April 15, 2009

Tomorrow, April 15, is Tax Day, but this year it's something more — Tea Party Day! The Tea Party movement was inspired by CNBC's Rick Santelli, who back in February delivered a terrific rant against bailouts, stimulus packages, pork, and taxing responsible, hard-working people to subsidize bad behavior. Santelli said it was time for another Tea Party, and he inspired thousands.

There have been many tea party events since, but nothing like what's scheduled for April 15. Over 600 Tea Party rallies all across the country are confirmed for tomorrow. I'm going to the one at the State Capitol in Denver (11:00 – 1:30).

Other Colorado rallies are scheduled in Craig, Delta, Durango, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Loveland, Montrose, Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Walsenburg, and Woodland Park.

I hope you'll go to a rally near you (go here and click your state to find the closest one). Many are scheduled around noon, so take a long lunch and bring your sandwich. And maybe a sign or an American flag.

If you can't make it (or even if you can), sign the Stop Spending Our Future petition. And if you've got a few bucks to spare, join the Go Galt movement — buy some copies of Atlas Shrugged and send them to politicians. 

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Tea Party phenomenon taking off

Posted by Richard on February 23, 2009

My market research indicates that somewhere between 9 and 23 people reading this post will not have already read Instapundit. Since I think this is very, very important, I'm urging all 9 to 23 of you to go read this.

Yes, it's anecdotal evidence. But it suggests that significant numbers of people in a precinct that voted 254-37 for Obama — including state workers, college professors, and other reliably liberal types — think the stimulus bill and mortgage bailout are "crap." Various news reports and other anecdotes suggest this sentiment is remarkably widespread, and that it crosses party and ideological lines.

This cheers me greatly. Maybe the socialists salivating over the prospect of "remaking" this country, of moving toward the Marxist dictum "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," have misjudged the American people's commitment to freedom, personal responsibility, and good old-fashioned fair play. I certainly hope so. 

President Obama may be a hard-left ideologue (his history, friendships, and associations certainly suggest so), but I suspect he's also, like all Chicago pols, more interested in political power than anything else. So he may back away quickly from the extreme leftward shift he'd planned if it looks like a big loser in the court of public opinion. 

You can help make that happen. Check out the American Tea Party site and the schedule of upcoming American Tea Party protests. If you're near Washington, DC, Chicago, Kansas City, or Vancouver, WA, plan to attend the event scheduled for your area. If you're near Atlanta, Omaha, San Diego, Fayetteville, Dallas, or Los Angeles, keep checking back for details regarding your local event.

If you're somewhere else, how about helping to organize an American Tea Party event in your area? Get in touch with the local taxpayer organizations and Americans for Prosperity. There's a nice 10-step recipe for organizing your own event here. And some very good suggestions from a media-savvy Instapundit reader here.

We can really make a difference, folks, but we have to act now. If you're not the event-organizing type, talk to friends and neighbors, write a letter to the editor, encourage event-organizing types you know — whatever you can do.

We're at a critical juncture in our nation's history, a pivotal time when seemingly small actions by ordinary people can nudge us in one direction or another. Make sure that a few years from now, you're not regretting your failure to get involved. 

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40,000 Atlases

Posted by Richard on February 20, 2009

In 2003, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed concerns that the city's taxes were too high, blithely declaring that New York was a "luxury product" that people gladly paid more for. But now the liberal mayor is singing a different tune. The combined state and local income tax rate already goes over 10%, well above surrounding states. Lawmakers in both Albany and NYC are talking about further increases.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg is now sounding like their editorial page regarding tax rates and incentives:

But late last week Mayor Bloomberg was channelling these columns when he said that raising taxes on high earners could drive them from the city. "One percent of the households that file in this city pay something like 50% of the taxes," explained the Mayor. "In the city, that's something like 40,000 people. If a handful left, any raise would make it revenue neutral. The question is what's fair. If 1% are paying 50% of the taxes, you want to make it even more?"

I found Bloomberg's numbers rather stunning. They aren't that far above the national level — the top 1% pay 40% of federal personal income taxes — but the enormity of it seems more concrete and real when you bring the scale down to just New York City, and suddenly "the rich" who bear the burden goes from a nebulous abstraction to just 40,000 people.

It's hard to leave the country to escape an unfair tax burden (they still come after you unless you renounce your citizenship, and they confiscate part of your wealth if you do that). But it's pretty easy to move out of New York. Connecticut isn't far. I can understand why even the very liberal Bloomberg is opposed to more tax increases.

A city of 8 million is being carried on the shoulders of 40,000 Atlases. If even a few thousand of them shrug …

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Pork for the people

Posted by Richard on February 18, 2009

The turnout was surprisingly good for the Americans for Prosperity stimulus protest today at the State Capitol — about 500 people showed up. The rally coincided with President Obama's signing of the "porkulus" bill at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Considering that the rally was only announced yesterday, that it was in the middle of a work day, and that most of us anti-big-government types actually have jobs we can't skip out on, that's a pretty impressive turnout. 

And what's a noon-time rally without food, right? Well, the organizers served lunch, too (emphasis added): 

Organizers said there is too much pork in the bill signed by President Barack Obama. So they carved up a roasted pig and made sandwiches just as the president was getting ready to sign the bill. A live pig was also present before the podium as protesters spoke.

Jocelyn Armstrong of Parker carried a gigantic check for $30,000, which she said represented the cost of the stimulus to each American family. Her 8-year-old daughter Hannah signed the check because Armstrong said she would have to pay for it.

"In my opinion, Obama, Pelosi and Reed are the Bernie Madoff Democrats who want to take our money and use it for their purposes and we're here to say, 'No more,'" Jim Pfaff with Americans for Prosperity told the crowd.  

I'm sorry I couldn't attend (it's a 30-mile round trip, and I couldn't fit it in between meetings). It sounds like they had a better lunch than I did!

UPDATE: El Marco has some nice pix of the rally. (HT: LGF)

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Rally against the stimulus sham

Posted by Richard on February 17, 2009

Americans for Prosperity in Colorado is holding a rally in Denver tomorrow to coincide with President Obama's signing of the pork-laden abomination called a stimulus bill. From the email alert:

Join Americans for Prosperity at noon tomorrow on the west steps of the Capitol Building for a RALLY against the Obama-Pelosi-Reid fiscally irresponsible "stimulus" bill.

President Obama will be at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature between noon and 3:00pm tomorrow to sign the $787 billion "stimulus" package which is laden with pork-barrel spending and payoffs to liberal special interest groups.  [Jim Pfaff] Local and national media will be present at the capitol with us, so come and make your voice heard. We will be making the case for limited government and real opportunity.  

We need to send a message to President Obama and the Congress to stop mortgaging our nation's future away.  They need to get the message that politically-motivated government spending hurts our economy and kills jobs and prosperity!

The rally starts at noon Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Ave. Speakers include Michelle Malkin, Dick Wadhams, Jon Caldara, State Senator Josh Penry, and other state legislators. Be there if you can!

UPDATE: Jon Caldera, President of the Independence Institute, has added his call to attend (via email): 

We'll have over-sized checks you can sign to show your family's $30,000 commitment to the bill. I'll be joined by Michelle Malkin, Mike Coffman, Bob Beauprez, Jim Pfaff from AFP and many others.

I'm not usually one for public protests, because like so many on our side, I have a day job. But I just can't allow this huge push down the slippery slope to socialism be signed here in Denver without standing up and saying, "hell no."  I wish to go on record.

Let's let the world know there were at least some of us who didn't want to put our kids into debt for a bill that spends more than has been spent in the entire conflict in Iraq.

Please come to the $30,000 a plate pork roast!
 
More info at i2i.org.

I was pleased to see that both of the local newscasts I watched tonight — KDVR and KMGH — had good stories about the negatives of the stimulus bill (sorry, neither link is directly to the story because they aren't on the website yet).

KDVR in particular had a great story about the cost per household of the stimulus bill plus the financial system bailouts. Depending on your household income, it ranged from $4600 to over $90,000 per household. So Caldera's $30,000 price tag is in the ballpark.

If you're a bit disturbed by what it will cost you to get an $8 – $13 per month tax break, and you're in the Denver area, take a long lunch and attend the rally.

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The federal doorbell subsidy

Posted by Richard on February 5, 2009

Nothing better epitomizes what a craptastic thing the "stimulus" bill is than the hundred grand it includes for doorbells in Laurel, Mississippi. I found that item at StimulusWatch.org, where provisions of the bill are rated, ranked, and commented on by locals who know about a project. It's a good resource, along with ReadTheStimulus.org (which I linked to last week), for understanding just how much pork, special interest payoffs, and expansion of government (and how little real stimulus) this bill contains.

Also, check out the NRO piece by Stephen Spruiell & Kevin Williamson cataloging what they think are the 50 most outrageous things in the stimulus bill.

Once you're sufficiently motivated, contact your senators. Do it now and do it by every means you can manage. This thing is coming to a head quickly. There's no deal yet, but some of the RINOs are pretty wobbly, and those senators in particular need to hear from their constituents.

If you haven't already, take a minute to sign this petition. Then, go here and have Citizens Against Government Waste send a letter to each of your senators (take a few minutes to personalize the text they provide) — there's no charge, although they'd appreciate a donation. For a minimum $25 donation, you can send a fax message to the President and all the Republican senators.

But personal contact beats petitions and blast emails or faxes. Call your senators' Washington and/or local offices — it only takes a minute to tell the staffer who answers that you oppose this irresponsible bill. If you're a Coloradan, call Senator Michael Bennet at (202) 224-5852 and Senator Mark Udall at (202) 224-5941. For other Senate office phone numbers and for email addresses of senators and staffers, go here.

You can get phone numbers for your senators' local offices on their web sites, which you can get to from here

Do it now. Do it all. This bill will, all by itself, cost you and your family ten grand. And, far from stimulating the economy, it will cripple it for years to come.

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Fight the stimulus bill

Posted by Richard on January 30, 2009

Want to know what's in the $819 billion stimulus bill the House passed? ReadTheStimulus.org has the entire 1588-page monstrosity on line in both PDF and text form, and it's searchable. They also have the Senate version, the House GOP alternative, the CBO report, and other related documents.

If you read even a tiny portion of this behemoth bill, you're ahead of almost all the 244 Democrats who passed it.

After you've had your fill of perusing this profligate pork-fest, head over to NoStimulus.com and sign the petition against it (sponsored by Americans for Prosperity ). It's commendably brief and to the point:

“Congress should not enact an expensive spending bill under the pretense of stimulus or recovery. We cannot spend our way to prosperity, and such an expansion of the federal government will put a crushing burden on taxpayers in the long-term.”

Then please make a donation to help fund this fight. 

Don't think this is a quixotic quest. The opposition is mounting. In the House, Republicans showed uncharacteristic resolve and unanimity, with every single one of them voting no. And they even got eleven Democrats to vote with them — so in fact, the opposition to this bill was bipartisan! It was the pro vote that was entirely partisan. 

It's looking possible that GOP Senators will be similarly united in opposition, and if the Republican leadership handles it competently, given the Senate rules of procedure, they may be able to block this thing.

Meanwhile, the American people seem to be turning against this abomination. The latest Rasmussen poll shows support for the Democratic spendfest has slipped to 42%, and support for a GOP all-tax-cut alternative is growing. And a new Opinion Dynamics poll found that:

Less than half (45 percent) of Americans think “Barack Obama’s proposed $825 billion dollar economic recovery plan” will help the economy. Twenty-nine percent think the plan will not make a difference, while 18 percent think it will hurt the economy. …

Just 27 percent of Americans think elected officials in Washington are part of the solution when it comes to improving the economy, while 61 percent think they are part of the problem. …

More Americans think the focus of an economic stimulus plan should be “cutting taxes” (50 percent) than "increasing government spending on new programs and infrastructure projects” (29 percent).

Contact your senators, sign the petition, make a donation, write a letter to the editor — if we want to avoid Carter II or worse, we've got to stop this thing!

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Remove impediments

Posted by Richard on January 28, 2009

In a newspaper ad (PDF) paid for by the Cato Institute, hundreds of economists, including Nobel laureates and others prominent in the field, have challenged President Obama's claim that "we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy" (emphasis added):

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policy makers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth. 

Call your Congresscritter's office and tell them you think spreading around another trillion dollars that we don't have is insane and irresponsible, and giving billions of it to organizations like ACORN is contemptible and criminal. Tell them tax rate cuts will stimulate the economy, just as they did for Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush. Tell them you get more of what you reward and less of what you punish, so we should reward production, job-creation, and success — not failure.

UPDATE: I've learned via email from Cato that the ad ran in today’s New York Times (page A11) and is also scheduled to appear in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Times. Good work, Cato!

UPDATE2: The House passed the abominable $819 billion monstrosity, but with all the Republicans and 11 Democrats voting no: 

The 244-188 vote was not what Mr. Obama had hoped for. A week of presidential wooing — including a visit to the Capitol, a return visit to the White House by moderate House Republicans and a bipartisan cocktail party Wednesday night — did not yield a single Republican vote. The president also lost 11 Democrats.

Instapundit passed along this suggestion: 

UPDATE: Reader Mark Cates writes: “You might mention that it would be worthwhile to send these guys a Thank You for their vote. They probably need as much encouragement as they can get. I sent one to Shuler.”

Good suggestion.

Yep. And if, like me, you're represented by one of the 244 sleazeballs who are gleefully increasing the federal budget by 30% in one year, and during a recession to boot, send them a "Shame on you!" This battle may have been lost, but the war is just beginning. Keep the heat on!

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The Limbaugh compromise stimulus plan

Posted by Richard on January 27, 2009

The other day, President Obama explained to Congressional Republicans what he means by a bipartisan stimulus plan: the Republicans should acknowledge that he won and go along with whatever he wants. So much for the new inclusive politics.

Rush Limbaugh has proposed a real bipartisan compromise (link may work only a short time for non-subscribers). He noted that Keynesians think you can best stimulate the economy with lots of federal spending on "infrastructure," while supply-siders think the best way to stimulate the economy is tax cuts, putting more money in the hands of the people and businesses that create jobs. Both sides have many supporters, and he argues that a real bipartisan stimulus plan would give both sides a fair shake:

Mine is a genuine compromise.  So let's look at how the vote came out, shall we?  Fifty-three percent of voters in this country — we'll say, for the sake of this proposal, 53% of Americans — voted for Obama.  Forty-six percent voted for Senator McCain, and 1% voted for wackos.  Let's give the remaining 1% to President Obama, so let's say that 54% voted for President Obama and 46% voted for Senator McCain.  As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats.  The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me.  

These tax cuts will consist primarily of capital gains tax cuts and corporate tax rate cuts.  So Obama gets $540 billion to spend his way.  The other people of this country who did not vote for his way get $460 billion spent the way they would like it spent.  This is bipartisanship! This is how bipartisanship really works.  Okay, Obama wins by a 54-46 majority, so he gets 54% of the trillion bucks.  Spend it his way.  We get 46% of the trillion bucks to spend our way, and then we compare. Then we see which stimulus actually works and works the fastest, and I will guarantee you that if this plan is adopted, just the announcement that $460 billion will go toward paying for tax cuts, capital gains, and corporate tax rates — we could throw in some personal income tax rate reduction in order to make sure that the voters don't think it's all about helping the big guys.  But we need jobs, do we not?  

Who hires people?  Businesses!  Businesses need tax cuts.  The US corporate tax rate is obscene.  It is the highest of all industrialized nations.  It's 35%.  Cut it.  Cut it in half.  Make the capital gains rate go away for three months, and then get out of the way to see what happens on Wall Street.  And once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, you watch what happens to the rest of the private sector.  It will follow right along.  This would ensure a bipartisan compromise bill, as Democrats have said that they're always about. It would satisfy the American people's wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a test, going forward, as to which approach best stimulates the growth of jobs — and it can be measured side by side.  It could be determined where the new jobs are coming from

If Congress has got to pass a massive stimulus bill, I'd rather see this than the steaming pile of pork (much of it to be spent 2, 3, 4 years down the road) they're currently putting together. Although I'd rather see a long-term capital gains cut than a short suspension.

Of course, the Limbaugh plan has zero chance of even being considered. The Republicans are too gutless and disorganized to embrace and promote it. The Democrats won't even listen to anything with Rush's name on it. And I suspect many of them know he's right about which will be shown to produce more jobs, and they can't afford to fail that test.

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Treasury to be run by tax scofflaw

Posted by Richard on January 14, 2009

I seem to recall that the Obama transition team had a detailed questionnaire for potential appointees, some 16 or 20 pages long. One of the questions was, "Do you own a gun?" I wonder if there was a question like, "Do you always pay your taxes?" Because apparently, at least one Cabinet nominee would have had to answer no:

President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for himself for four years and employed a housekeeper whose immigration documentation lapsed while in his employ.

Geithner disclosed to senators earlier in the day that he had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes from 2001 to 2004, a last-minute complication in an otherwise smooth path to confirmation. 

… He paid all of his income taxes on his IMF income, but made a "common mistake" on his tax returns with regard to self-employment taxes, Obama transition aides told reporters Tuesday.

"Common mistake," my ass. While doing consulting/contract work, he failed to pay some or all of his Social Security and Medicare taxes. Trust me, I paid self-employment taxes for over a decade and know whereof I speak. Failure to pay those taxes (or to pay the correct rate, which is twice that of wage earners) may be a "common mistake" among self-employed handymen, plumbers, etc., with a high school education (although I doubt it's all that common). But the paperwork isn't that complicated and the instructions are quite clear. Anyone who can't figure out what they owe in self-employment tax isn't qualified to be a bookkeeper, much less Treasury Secretary. It's unlikely that Geithner is that grossly incompetent, so I don't buy the "honest mistake" claim.

The news report I heard said the IRS audited Geithner in 2006 for two of the four years and billed him for the unpaid taxes, but waived penalties. I had one experience with the IRS claiming I owed additional tax (they disallowed a deduction), and they didn't treat me so kindly. Of course, I wasn't president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank at the time.

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