Now that the “fiscal cliff” deal is law, we move on to the next acts in this kabuki theater we call Congress. The fiscal cliff deal locked in most of the Bush-era tax rates permanently, raised taxes on the highest earners, allowed the payroll tax to increase on all earners (a shock to many Democrats, who thought the re-coronation of the Obamessiah exempted them from more taxes). It once again kicked the can of spending excess, specifically entitlement spending, down the road. It supposedly reduces the huge annual deficits, yet will bring in only $620 billion over ten years (enough revenue in a decade to pay HALF of THIS year’s deficit). Since entitlement spending drives our growth in debt, the fiscal cliff deal did not avert a fiscal crisis; it simply delayed it and insured that it will be much worse when it hits.
The irony is that Obama’s fiscal cliff deal theoretically demands higher taxes for “fairness,” to get the rich to carry more of the burden. However, a recent Huffington Post article quotes Professor Emmanuel Saez of UC-Berkeley, who reveals that income inequality is actually higher under Obama than it was under Bush. Or, as the writer explains, “That means the rising tide has lifted fewer boats during the Obama years — and the ones it’s lifted have been mostly yachts.” In other words, his uber-rich friends hit the jackpot even as the poor and middle class he supposedly protects suffer more.
Despite hand-wringing and breathless proclamations of impending doom, Congress and Obama showed they were completely unserious about fixing the problem, voting on the “fiscal cliff” bill without having a clue what was in it. According to Congressman Ron Paul, the bill was voted on in the House just 22-hours after the text was made available, and the Senate voted on the 154-page bill just three minutes after it was presented.
I moved to Washington, DC two years ago for graduate school — apparently, as a freshly-credentialed MPP entering the job market, my timing was impeccable. But I can’t say I’m really happy about what it means more broadly for the direction in which the country is heading.
Catherine Rampell at the New York Times Economix blog reports (emphasis mine):
In every state, a majority of residents think the economy is getting worse. In the nation’s capital, however, a full 60 percent of people think the economy is getting better.
Reader’s Digest version: the Bush-Obama spending binge has spurred more growth in Washington, DC than anywhere else in the country. That’s because new federal agencies with new missions (or new missions at existing agencies) need new personnel. But beyond a simple expansion of the government itself came an expansion of the special interest class, eager to get its mitts on new waves of federal spending.
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with millions unemployed across the country and new levels of uncertainty abounding, this doesn’t bode well for friends of the free market.
What can we do about it? Get involved.
What if we wake up one day and learn that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?
Happy Tax Day! Well, not really. Let’s not kid ourselves — we all dread April 15th. What is usually a lovely spring day has turned into a huge inconvenience as we all rush to get our taxes filed to keep the Internal Revenue Service off our backs.
The tax code is complicated. Americans spend 6.6 billion hours each year filing out tax forms and $163 billion in compliance costs. Unfortunately, the tax code has been made more complicated by politicians and bureaucrats who meddle with it on a daily basis. That’s not an exaggeration either. According to recent report from Bloomberg, the tax code has been altered 4,680 times since 2001 — more than once a day:
It started as 30 words. One hundred years later, it’s almost 4 million.
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which created the federal income tax, and the millions of words in the tax code today provide symbolic data points marking the evolution of a simple concept into a convoluted reality.
The statistics on the burden imposed by the byzantine tax code get wide circulation every year at this time:
Americans spend more than 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion complying with the tax code;
Most Americans hire a professional (60 percent) or use tax- preparation software (30 percent);
The tax code has had 4,680 changes since 2001, more than one a day.
“I think these big defined benefit programs from the New Deal, the Great Society are really showing their age. They don’t give you a good deal, they’re poorly designed. Market forces work so much better, and, you know, this America, why shouldn’t people be free?” — Dean Clancy
Today at noon, FreedomWorks will host grassroots activists at the New Fair Deal Action Day in the Upper Senate Park at the United States Capitol. The day is dedicated to the ideals that are being rolled out as part of the “New Fair Deal” plan, which is based on four basic principles — end corporate welfare, tax fairly, stop overspending, and empowering individuals. The New Fair Deal Action Day will include a number of speakers, including Reps. Justin Amash, Mick Mulvaney, Tom Price, Sen. Mike Lee, Rev. C.L. Bryant, and Julie Borowski.
On Friday, I sat down with Dean Clancy, Vice President for Public Policy at FreedomWorks, to discuss the four pillars of the New Fair Deal and the legislation that will be introduced by the team of House members who are working together to try to get the dozen bills that will be introduced to the floor for a vote.
“The New Fair Deal is a suite of legislation to try to reform and improve our country,” Clancy told United Liberty. “This is not just a ‘Tax Day’ protest — this is a positive reform agenda rally. And we do have folks getting on buses from all over the country and coming to it.”
“If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties.” - Ron Paul, in his farewell speech to Congress
Yesterday afternoon, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) gave his farewell speech in the House of Representatives. Paul, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, announced last year that he would not run for re-election. During redistricting last year, Republicans in the Texas legislature broke up the 14th District, bringing in some 300,000 new voters.
During his 48-minute speech, Paul hit on familiar themes, explaining the dangers of our current foreign policy and promoting free markets. Paul also said a couple of very profound points by noting that “our Constitution has failed” to protect Americans from government overreach and knocked “religious organizations, secular organizations and psychopathic authoritarians” seek to abuse our personal and economic liberties:
You can watch Paul’s farewell to the House below:
We’re a little late to the story on this, but as you may have heard President Barack Obama suspended a 15-cent Christmas tree tax that was to be applied this year on freshly cut trees for the holiday season:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets.
The well-trafficked Drudge Report is leading with the story, linking to a blog by David Addington, a former top aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, at the conservative Heritage Foundation assailing the president thus: “The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.”
Yesterday, I wrote about President Barack Obama’s hypocrisy about political discourse due to comments he made in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. Apparently in that same interview, President Obama also took shots at FreedomWorks, one of my favorite pro-free market organizations:
There’s no doubt that the infrastructure and the financing of the Tea Party come from some very traditional, very powerful, special-interest lobbies. I don’t think this is a secret. Dick Armey and FreedomWorks, which was one of the first organizational mechanisms to bring Tea Party folks together, are financed by very conservative industries and forces that are opposed to enforcement of environmental laws, that are opposed to an energy policy that would be different than the fossil-fuel-based approach we’ve been taking, that don’t believe in regulations that protect workers from safety violations in the workplace, that want to make sure that we are not regulating the financial industries in ways that we have.
FreedomWorks fired right back:
Today I had the chance to shadow a fellow University of St. Thomas graduate and lobbyist at the Minnesota capital. Many people have a very negative view of lobbyists. Perhaps it is because they have collectively gained a significant amount of power at every level of government. Perhaps it is because government has become bloated and oftentimes lobbyists pushing for more government intervention win out over those pushing for less.
What I find striking is that the blame has been shifted from the lobbyists and away from the representatives. What I mean by this is that hardly do we hear people singing the praises of lobbyists, but we oftentimes see people praising certain legislators for voting this way or that way. All lobbyists do is try to influence representatives to vote a certain way. They do this through funneling information, meeting with them, and presenting arguments.
I don’t think people realize how many lobbyists there are. You name an issue and there is likely a lobbyist - on both sides of the issue (sometimes there are even more than two positions). For all my libertarian friends out there who denounce lobbyists, you should know that statement implies that Campaign for Liberty, MPP, NORML, the NRA, and a whole host of organizations fighting for Constitutional principles and limited government are also “bad.”
The main thing we should all realize is this: there are many lobbying groups that are lobbying for things we are against. Yes, they may be powerful but ultimately the representative is responsible for their vote regardless of how influential these lobbyists are.