Taxes

No, Tennessee Does Not Have the “Most Regressive” Tax System

[Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s blog.]

Mitchell on Taxes, Part 2: Now the White House Wants to Raise Taxes without Congressional Approval?!?

This was originally posted at International Liberty. You can read Mitchell’s thoughts on the Flat Tax here.

I’m not reflexively opposed to executive orders and other unilateral actions by the White House. A president and his appointees, after all, have a lot of regulatory authority.

This is because, for better or worse, many of the laws approved in Washington basically express a goal and identify some tools. It’s then up to the relevant agency or agencies to promulgate regulations to enforce and implement those tools in order to supposedly achieve those goals.

But here’s the catch. The executive branch has to make at least a semi-plausible case that any given action is consistent with the law.

And the problem with this White House is that it has been using regulations and executive orders to change laws, thwart laws, and ignore laws.

There have been several instances of the White House arbitrarily deciding to ignore or alter major parts of Obamacare.

EA Games seeks to raise up another generation of central planning-loving socialists

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If you were lucky enough to be a kid in the 1990s, you’re probably familiar with the urban planning megahit computer game series SimCity. It was first released in 1989 and spawned several sequels and spin-offs of varying popularity over the last two and a half decades, including the street-level, person-oriented, blockbuster Sims series.

If you were even luckier, you didn’t emerge from playing these games as a flaming utopian. The point of the games, after all, is to make the citizens of your electronic town happy by providing them with adequately zoned neighborhoods, utilities, parks, a modest tax rate, entertainment, and safety from occasional disaster scenarios.

The original SimCity did have a marginal laissez-faire premise, though. As mayor, you zoned specific areas for residential, commercial, or industrial construction, but the computer programming filled in the blanks with whatever kind of buildings your citizens might want.

However, a new version of the series for Android and Apple phones and tablets, SimCity BuildIt, removes all hints of spontaneous order and substitutes a Marxist paradise of master planning in its place. The new mobile game is rendered in smooth, stunning 3D graphics, so it’s a pleasure to play visually. But once you start to get into the weeds of the new mayor’s office, it becomes more of an annoyance than fun, especially as a lesson in economic theory.

Hey, Leftists, “economic patriotism” should mean getting government out of the way for business owners to succeed

Business owners will do anything to make sure their businesses are successful.

A strong feeling of apathy, sometimes, is the natural consequence of having experienced too many obstacles in the process of getting your idea off the ground. Every now and then, would-be entrepreneurs become frustrated and walk away. Others end up looking for diverse, creative ways of getting around what they deem too complicated.

What all business owners have in common is the urge to make things happen: a kind of acute dedication harbored only by people fired up by a strong sense of purpose. They are everywhere, from your favorite food truck’s owner to Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk. They will go to great lengths to get things done.

While on my trip to Detroit for a series of panels and interviews facilitated by the Virginia-based Franklin Center, I had the opportunity to talk to the owner of a small tavern in the downtown area known as Greektown.

The Firebird Tavern, Tony Piraino said, had gone under a series of small changes to its structure to please the ever-changing city health codes. Every now and then, the city’s health inspector appears to come up with a new thing the owner must do to make sure the place is up to date with the local regulations if he wants to continue to operate legally.

The latest changes, however, cost Mr. Piranio a couple of thousands of dollars. A quantity of cash not all small business owners have at their disposal with ease. And what was so pressing that needed such an urgent change? The doors inside of the tavern, which is housed by a Victorian style building with creaky wooden floor and charming, thick, exposed brick walls, needed panic bars. Were the doors not opening and closing before that just with a slight push?

Low incomers are better off now in spite of lower minimum wage

President Obama’s statement concerning the lack of solid evidence supporting that a higher minimum wage costs jobs, has already been fact-checked and the results were everything but favorable. To the President.

Supporters of a higher federal minimum wage often overlook the importance of observing changes to the conditions of those who would be affected by such policy. They simply assume that the results should be favorable considering that everybody’s wage would go up. Like magic, everyone would suddenly become a little richer.

Aside from the obvious disincentive companies will have to factor when looking into hiring once a higher minimum wage law kicks in, supporters of an increased federal minimum wage simply ignore the fact that we, as a nation, have not been relying on the minimum wage as much as Americans did 20 years ago. Policy has already shifted in order to focus on poor families, which has made low incomers earn much more today than they did 40 years ago.

While it’s true that the federal minimum wage is actually lower now than it was in the 1960s, people who are earning minimum wage now are not poorer than those earning minimum wage back in the day, and that’s due to other policies entirely.

Contrary to what Pelosi says, there are plenty of budget cuts to be made

It might not come as a shock to some of you, but the Treasury Department has announced that, unless Congress increases the country’s borrowing limit, it will no longer be able to pay its bills.

This announcement follows comments made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerning the efforts of Republican members to restraint government spending. According to the House Minority Leader, the conservative push for any cuts to the federal budget is pointless.

Pelosi stated that “it’s really important that people understand” that there’s no more cuts to make to the federal budget, which has increased to $3.8 trillion this year, as opposed to $1.9 trillion per year up until 2001.

What Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people can no longer afford to cover the expenses of a series of programs that could indeed be trimmed. With that in mind, experts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute decided to make a list of several programs that could be cut or trimmed to give Congress, and especially skeptics such as Nancy Pelosi, an idea of where they can start if they are indeed willing to ensure the American people are no longer forced to foot a bill they never signed up for.

According to the institute, about $1.2 billion could be saved if Congress took aim at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The EERE’s goal is to offer training, resources and funding toward “business, industry, universities and others” who are willing to focus on increasing the use “of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

Colbert Busch Beholden to Labor Unions, Leftist Democrats

Throughout her campaign Elizabeth Colbert Busch has fashioned herself as a candidate devoid of any ties to a party or agenda. Despite her opponent, former governor Mark Sanford, insisting she holds an allegiance to the left, Mrs. Colbert Busch has remained steadfast in her approach. In a race replete with negative ads and the typical disdain for corruption, partisanship and business as usual, what has not been discussed is what actually defines an independent.

The appeal to the politically-homeless and disenfranchised is commonplace and to be expected; particularly in the current political climate where even head lice is more popular than Congress. Needless to say, appearing to be a rebuke against the establishment is more crucial now than ever. The primary goal of the Colbert Busch campaign has been to capitalize on this bourgeoning cynicism.

To her credit, Mrs. Colbert Busch drove this point home early in Tuesday’s debate saying, “I will take that tough, independent business woman—independent business career and I’ll go to Washington with the help of all of you.”

Sanford would question this statement early and question it often. Citing on several occasions the amount of funding Mrs. Colbert Busch had received from the Democratic left, he stressed his concern that such financial support would not come without expectations. To this she replied, “No one tells me what to do except the people of South Carolina’s 1st District.”

The Specter of Internet Taxation

As the U.S. Postal Service closes 53 processing plants to trim $2 billion from its bloated budget, government officials - who earlier floated ideas to suspend Saturday service - look for other ideas to balance their budget. While USPS handles 40 percent of all the mail delivered in the world, it lost $15.9 billion last year with revenues of $65 billion. What’s more, its unfunded pension liabilities are nearly $50 billion.

Instead of privatizing the postal service - which would allow it to compete with FedEx and UPS, who seem to be able to make profits even up against a subsidized postal service - a California city councilman is proposing a tax on email as a fix:

Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak brought up taxing emails during a recent council meeting. He suggested the money collected, which would be part of a wider-reaching Internet tax, could be used in Berkeley’s case to save the local post office.

“There should be something like a bit tax,” he said during the March 5 meeting. “I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year.”

Plus, he said, there should be a “very tiny tax on email.”

Welfare Recipients Make More Than Honest Workers

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I think I may have finally found the most bothersome, noxious piece of information of all time, thanks to the editors at Townhall.com. The emphasis in the next quote is mine:

It’s official. Taxpayers are no longer simply helping the poor, they’re subsidizing the lives of welfare recipients at a better rate than their own. The Senate Budget Committee has released a report showing households living below the poverty line and receiving welfare payments are raking in the equivalent of $168 per day in benefits which come in the form of food stamps, housing, childcare, healthcare and more. The median household income in 2011 was $50,054, totaling $137.13 per day. The worst part? Welfare payments are equivalent to making $30 per hour for 40 hours a week. The median wage for non-welfare recipients is $25 per hour but because they pay taxes, unlike welfare recipients, the wage is bumped down to $21 per hour.

When I read this, I threw up a bit.

I’m going to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about my personal life, which I don’t typically do in the pages of United Liberty. And I certainly don’t want to start a pity party over me. But here’s the facts: I currently have a paying job, but not a great one. I’m an intern in DC. I make $30 a day. Let me repeat that: I make thirty dollars a day. Yet even though I work hard, create value, and do my damndest to support myself without forcing others to support me, the average welfare recipient receives 5.6 times what I make, paid for with my tax dollars.

Dear Media: This Isn’t About Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist is under fire. Unjustly.

With Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Peter King and others seemingly deserting Grover Norquist and the Taxpayer Protection Pledge created by his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, media outlets across the spectrum are declaring that the GOP is “Over Grover” and that his vicelike grip of eternal dominance on the GOP might not be so eternal after all. We have images like this one, showing Republican leaders bowing to him as if he is a god. And on and on and on.

What it really is, though, is just another round of misinformation, wrong data, and interpretations based on faulty premises. Yet another sideshow that is completely missing the point, the real debate we should be having in DC.


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