IRS

Bernie Sanders, the Faux Socialist, Government-Loving Statist

sanders

This was originally posted at International Liberty.

 

It’s not often that I disagree with the folks who put together the Wall Street Journal editorial page. For instance, they just published a great editorial on that cesspool of cronyism and corruption that is otherwise known as the Export-Import Bank.

Isn’t it great that the voice of capitalism actually supports genuine free markets!

That being said, a recent editorial rubs me the wrong way.

It’s about the presumably quixotic presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. These excerpts will give you a flavor of what the WSJ wrote.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed independent Socialist, has decided to run for the Democratic presidential nomination… He thinks the American economy is fundamentally unfair, and that government must tax and spend even more heavily… He thinks Social Security should increase benefits, no matter that it is heading toward insolvency. Higher taxes can make up the difference. …He wants single-payer health care, though his own state gave up the experiment as too expensive.

So what’s my disagreement?

Majority of Americans Say Federal Taxes Are Just Too High

Americans are scrambling to have their taxes prepared by the end of the day to satisfy Uncle Sam’s thirst for their hard-earned money. Their lack of enthusiasm could have something to do with the fact that over half of the population claims taxes are just too high.

According to Gallup, 42 percent of Americans still say that they are paying enough, or “about right,” while 52 percent say that the taxes they are paying are too high. About two years ago, 46 percent of Americans said taxes were too high, indicating that there has been an increase in the number of people feeling they are simply paying too much.

Gallop found that the view that taxes are fair is more popular among Democrats, whereas Republicans tend to see their tax burden as not fair. According to the latest poll, 54 percent of Americans still regard the income tax as fair. However, this view is becoming less popular over time. According to Gallup, it hasn’t been this low since 2001.

Among Republicans, 57 percent say taxes are too high and 49 percent say what they pay is not fair. Among Democrats, 55 percent say they pay about right, and 69 percent say that what they pay is fair.

Among Independents, the numbers indicate that the difference between those who think their taxes are fair and those who think taxes are not fair is of 7 percent. Slightly more Independents (51%) say the federal income tax they have to pay is fair against 44 percent that say the taxes they pay are not fair.

IRS Scandal: Playing “count the lies” with Lois Lerner

After the revelations today about Lois Lerner, and her emails to her colleagues, perhaps quite a few of the victims of the IRS “special treatment” for conservative organizations would be wanting a good, stiff drink. While it might be a little reassuring to find out that Lerner really was behind the targeting of Tea Party organizations, what does that mean now? True, it’s come out that Lerner was communicating via email about the “very dangerous” matter of dealing with Tea Party organizations, but what now?

Lerner remains out of the loop, but she is still being paid by the taxpayers, and members of Congress have started screaming for accountability, but it’s not likely that anything meaningful will be done, at least not during this administration.

The activities that got Lerner in hot water in the first place are still happening now, and it’s not likely that Congress will manage to get bi-partisan support for any legislation that could possibly address the matter. That’s unlikely in itself, because this is a regulatory issue, as opposed to a legislative one, as in policies and procedures within the IRS have been misused for the political gain of the administration. However, at least one “mystery” has been solved. This probably is part of the reason why Lerner had pleaded the Fifth in her testimony.

Otherwise, the reaction from The Hill was at least a little interesting, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leading the charge to hold Lerner accountable:

IRS union wants to enforce ObamaCare but not enroll in it

Will O'Neill (CC)

In a supreme example of the saying “Do as I say, not as I do,” the National Treasury Employees Union - the one that represents employees at the IRS - is encouraging its members to contact their congresspeople to protest the possibility that they could be forced to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) programs. Yes, they are worried about losing their wonderful Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and have to enroll in health insurance via the exchanges that are a part of ACA. The example letter offered to the employees by their union leaders states in part:

I am a federal employee and one of your constituents. I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Reflections on the 2012 Cycle

Excerpted from “How I Voted — 2012 Edition” at The Dangerous Servant.

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Obama won a large Electoral College victory, but he did not receive a mandate for his agenda

People more eloquent than I am (who probably had more coffee today than I did) have already made this point. I thought this tweet from left-of-center blogger Cory Doctorow summed things up pretty nicely:

When it’s a struggle for your most vocal supporters to root for you, that’s not a good sign about how effective you’ve been as a leader. To read more on how exactly Chicago pulled off this election, see thisTIME piece. That kind of attention to detail made the Obama reelection effort more nimble and better prepared to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and it’s really no surprise (from an operative’s perspective) that they won.

Democrats Take Mythbusters Approach to Facts

dirty_harry_reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has really sunk to new lows with his accusations of Mitt Romney not paying taxes for ten years. Supposedly, this is based on an “unnamed Bain insider” who saw Mitt’s returns, but as Doug Mataconis has noted, that’s next to impossible and is utter rubbish. (John Stewart joined in as well, as Jason Pye wrote last week.)

Now, we have Reid’s chief of staff calling Republicans “cowards” and “henchmen” for calling out Reid:

The war over Mitt Romney’s tax returns is getting more bitter by the moment, with a top aide to Senate Majority Harry Reid blasting Republicans as “cowards” and “henchmen” for their attacks on the Nevada Democrat.

“They’re a bunch of cowards, and they’re avoiding the issue,” said David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff, in an interview with POLITICO on Sunday night. “Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus — they’re a bunch of henchmen for Romney, and they’re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn’t hold a candle to Harry Reid.”

Krone added: “What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ‘liar’ and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.”

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The Road To Tax Reform: More Potholes Than I Like

Some panels are off in nowhere, little rooms here and there. Other panels are in giant ballrooms, like the Marshall Ballroom, second largest to the Marriott where all the major speakers are, well, speaking. (Perhaps “blustering” is a better word.) And sometimes, those ballrooms were not full. But then maybe I got there early.

It was certainly an illustrious panel, which explained why it began to fill up shortly after it officially began. It was chaired by Grover Norquist himself, President of Americans for Tax Reforms, and the legendary proponent of the “No New Taxes” Pledge he encouraged (some on the left would say “forced”) politicians to take up. To his right was Lew Uhler , chair of the National Tax Limitation Committee, and to his left were Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute and Phil Kerpen, Vice President for Policy, of Americans For Prosperity. I went because the subtitle implied there was going to be a debate between supporters of the Flat Tax, Fair Tax, a VAT, and maybe even 9-9-9—and that plan’s author, Rich Lowrie, did show up in the audience. But there really wasn’t any debate on that front.

And let’s face it, what kind of debate can we really have on taxes? Even the left admits that the tax code we have now is horrifically complex, prone to corruption and gaming the system. Though they disagree about “broadening the base and lowering the rates,” I don’t think any sane American, left, right, or center, can look at the miasma we have now and say, “Yeah, it works.” For whom?

There were some interesting points to be made, but ultimately I didn’t think the solutions that Norquist posed during question time were all that good. But let’s focus on the interesting first:

“Let’s Flatten This Joint”

One suspects that the above title might be the new slogan for the Republican Party, with the joint being the Internal Revenue Service’s buildings. Why? Because now Gov. Perry has unveiled a flat tax plan:

 

The code that Perry is proposing would feature a 20% personal income and corporate tax, the elimination of Social Security and capital gains taxes, and the preservation of popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving. Under the “cut, balance, and grow” plan, tax loopholes for corporations would be phased out while the standard exemption for those earning $500,000 or less would be increased to $12,500.

His economic team believes that those changes, combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms including a gradual increase in the retirement age, will encourage so much growth and save families and corporations so much in compliance costs that the budget could be balanced by 2020.

One thing I am glad Perry’s team admits is that the tax, by itself, will not fix our problems. They say “combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms”. That is what we need to fix our problems; however, if we need to have a discussion about tax policy first to get there, then so be it.

The Debt Generation and…Fireworks? Sort of…

Man, I looove me some fireworks. The bright flashes, the intense color, the wave of energy expanding across the room—

Oh, you thought I meant that stuff they light off at the Fourth of July. No, I was referring to the fireworks that occur in a debate. And what a debate we’re going to have!

The sparks started flying when Matt Yglesias, poster boy for the Center for Authoritarian Propaganda American Progress tweeted “David Boaz is dumb.” (Hmm, I wonder what he had to say about naughty rhetoric back in January…) Boaz then retorted that Yglesias had completely missed the point, which I guess is not surprising. Yglesias then decided to tackle Daniel J. Mitchell’s take on Paul Krugman’s…well, I’m not really sure what you could call it. Lunacy? Let’s be nice and just call it “absurdity.” Anyways, Yglesias basically stated that “money doesn’t matter” and that the broken window fallacy itself is broken. A very succint summary of modern progressive thought, I would imagine.

So why do I bring this all up?

Because tomorrow, Cato On Campus is hosting (at the Cato Institute, natch) a debate titled: “US Debt and the Millennials: Is Washington Creating a Lost Generation?” Attending will be Megan McArdle of The Atlantic, Matt Mitchell of Mercatus, and Matt Yglesias of Center for American Progress. Three guesses as to who will be moderating. Yes, Dan Mitchell of Cato.


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