There’s been a lot of nonsense lately over Mitt Romney’s tax returns, with Barack Obama’s “truth team” claiming on Twitter that since Obama has released his forms for the past decade, he is better suited to lead this country. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, has called for them while refusing to give out her own. But she isn’t the only one. From Politico:
Over the past three months, McClatchy Newspapers asked all 535 members of the House and Senate to release their tax records. Only 17 — or just over 3 percent — handed over the documents. Another 19 percent said they wouldn’t release them. The remainder didn’t respond to McClatchy’s request.
While members of the executive branch are expected to release their tax records either while running for office or as part of the vetting process for Cabinet appointments, members of Congress aren’t held to the same standard. While they fill out annual disclosures, those forms aren’t as detailed as a tax return.
The problem with liars and obfuscators is that, over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your story straight. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the Obama administration. Is it a tax or is it a penalty (Obama’s Solicitor General argued both sides on consecutive days before the Supreme Court in order to get the ObamaCare law upheld). Is marriage an institution pre-dating government which unites a man and a woman in a spiritual and legal union, or an oppressive anachronism based on antiquated definitions of morality? Obama has argued both sides. Are massive deficits “unpatriotic,” as he accused George Bush of being, or is it a way to stimulate the economy, as he now claims? If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it under ObamaCare, right? Maybe not, as Obama now admits that nearly three quarters of current insurance plans will fail to meet new government standards. Is the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility the symbol of America’s violation of basic human rights as Obama repeatedly claimed? If so, then why is it still open nearly three years after he promised the doors would shut?
As a long-time leader in the conservative movement, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform become famous in recent years for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
The Pledge, which was rolled out in 1986 with the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, requires office holders to oppose increases in the marginal income tax rates (personal & business) and to vote against any net reduction or elimination of deductions unless the changes are matched, dollar for dollar, by further reducing tax rates.
With signers in every state, more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Liberals and wayward Republicans blame it (and Mr. Norquist personally) for deadlock in Congressional budget debates.
Mr. Norquist is also involved in many center-right organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, ParentalRights.org, and GOProud. He is also a Contributing Editor of The American Spectator.
Recently, Mr. Norquist co-wrote a book with Professor John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. It is a brilliant take down of President Obama’s radical policies, and you should buy multiple copies today.
With a dry sense of humor, Mr. Norquist tweets @GroverNorquist.
Steve Lonegan runs the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity and is a former three-term mayor of Bogota.
During Mayor Lonegan’s time in office, Bogota’s municipal spending remained constant for all 12 years. Lonegan stood up to powerful public sector unions while keeping debt and tax increases far below inflation, despite massive state mandates and aid reductions. Lonegan set the model for how conservative mayors across the country should govern.
In addition, Lonegan ran for Governor twice and was defeated in 2009 by current Gov. Chris Christie.
You can follow Lonegan on Twitter @lonegan.
Matt Naugle: I first learned of you when you were Mayor of Bogota, New Jersey from the hilarious political documentary Anytown, USA. Did you like how you were portrayed in the movie and should people watch it on Netflix?
Steve Lonegan: This film gets a big “thumbs up!”
The moviemakers apparently intended to portray me as some kind of villain who was supposed to lose. Instead I won a massive victory as a conservative Republican in a town that several years later gave Barack Obama 64% of the vote. It shows that the way to win is to stand up for what you believe, not change your views based on what some pollster or political consultant says.
It should be required viewing for the Republican Party leadership.
MN: How did you become a conservative?
Those of us that oppose President Barack Obama’s health care law are still no doubt wondering what exactly happened on Thursday when the Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, opted to keep the individual mandate in place under the Taxing Power of Congress. If you’re still trying to figure out the details of the decision, Philip Klein has put together a good primer on the ruling, breaking it down as simply as the bizarre, confusing opinion can be explained.
The decision does give a break to President Obama, who has been struggling with the weak economy and shaky polling as of late. But, as Michael Barone notes, it may all be short-lived thanks to the law’s unpopularity and now the headache that comes with a clearly defined tax hike on Americans.
But what do we make of the decision itself? There is a lot there to parse through, but here are some points that may help explain parts of the decision and the tenuous future of a push to repeal ObamaCare.
In the days leading up to the IPO (Initial Public Offering) of Facebook stock as it became a publicly traded company, much of the news surrounding the company was made not by founder Mark Zuckerberg, but by Eduardo Saverin, a young man who became very rich after he invested his life savings in that unknown company running out of a Harvard dorm room. Saverin had announced that he was renouncing his U.S. citizenship, preferring to make his ties with Singapore instead.
In the aftermath of his announcement, it was claimed that he was doing so in order to avoid the heavy tax burden placed on his wealth by the United States. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a man of whom former Senator Bob Dole once said that “the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera,” wasted no time in turning this into face time with the press to score political points, joining with fellow Democrat, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in announcing their intention to submit the “Ex-PATRIOT” Act.
According to Schumer, this law would “re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country.” Like a modern-day Rasputin, this would enact into law the assumption that politicians have supernatural powers of mind-reading, and would presume any person who renounced U.S. citizenship, while having a net worth greater than $2 million, or an average five-year income tax liability of at least $148,000, had done so for the purpose of tax avoidance. The law, eviscerating the Constitution’s presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” principle, would require the individual to prove to the IRS that they’d not done so for tax avoidance purposes, or risk additional capital gains taxes on any future investment gains.
As expected, President Barack Obama rolled out his budget proposal for FY 2013, which, as we noted yesterday, comes with a $1.33 trillion budget deficit. As you can imagine, there is a lot to parse through it the proposal, which has been all but declared dead-on-arrival in Congress.
Some of the budget proposals are familiar. President Obama is once again pushing tax hikes on individuals earning more than $250,000 — more than the millionaires and billionaires he so frequently targets. James Pethokoukis has a run down of the tax hikes in the budget:
Obama’s new budget isn’t about economic growth or cutting debt or creating a “built to last” economy. The Obama campaign is built around the idea of reducing inequality. So in his budget, Obama takes the populist whip to the wealthy and to business:
1. The top income rate would be raised to 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.
2. Under the “Buffett rule,” no household making over $1 million annually would pay less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.
3. Between now the end of a second Obama term, Obama proposes $707 billion in “net deficit reduction proposals.” Of that amount, only 16 percent is spending cuts.
4. The majority of small business profits would be taxed at 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.
5. The capital gains rate would rise to 25.0 percent (including the Obamacare surtax and deduction phase out) from 15 percent today.
6. The double-tax on corporate profits (including dividends) would increase to 64 percent based on the statutory corporate tax rate (58 percent using the effective tax rate), easily the highest among advanced economies.
On the campaign trail and during the third presidential debate with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that Americans would see a “net-spending cut” during his presidency.
The claim was met with a boatload of skepticism given that Obama was proposing massive expansions in healthcare and non-defense discretionary spending; however, we all crossed our fingers that he would follow through, but we didn’t hold our breath.
The skepticism proved to be justified. Just a couple of months after coming into office, President Barack Obama told Americans that under his budget that there would be trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
He wasn’t kidding. The Congressional Budget Office released its budget report for this current fiscal year yesterday, predicting yet another trillion dollar budget deficit and unemployment hovering around 9%:
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012.
The office also projected the jobless rate would rise to 8.9 percent by the end of 2012, and to 9.2 percent in 2013.
These are much dimmer forecasts than in CBO’s last report in August, when the office projected a $973 billion deficit. The report reflects weaker corporate tax revenue and the extension for two months of the payroll tax holiday.
If the CBO estimate is correct, it would mean that the United States recorded a deficit of more than $1 trillion for every year of Obama’s first term.
The choices for libertarian oriented Republicans in this year’s Republican field are, admittedly, better than they have in the past. Not only is Ron Paul doing much better than he did four years ago, getting more press attention, and seemingly surging into second place in Iowa, but we’ve also got Gary Johnson, former two-term Governor of New Mexico.
There’s been much to lament about Johnson’s campaign, of course, not the least being the near disaster caused due to a campaign miscommunication that almost kept Johnson off the New Hampshire ballot, as well as staff problems inside the campaign. At the same time, though, Johnson has largely been ignored by the media, and kept out of nearly all the debates due to low poll numbers (although, as Johnson has noted himself, it’s hard to do well in the polls when they don’t even include your name on the list of prospective candidates).
The possibility that Johnson could run for the Libertarian Party nomination for President next year is also encouraging. It’s not perfect, of course, and libertarian Republicans have had to sit back and watch a bunch of incompetents like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain rise in the polls and get far more media attention than either their qualifications or their accomplishments would seem to warrant while a two-term Governor is ignored. Nonetheless, it’s better than we’ve had it in the past, and hopefully a sign that libertarian-leaning candidates are gaining wider acceptance in the Republican Party as a whole.
I need to offer an apology. For the last couple of months I’ve been highly critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement, accusing them of being violent, misbehaved, clueless social malcontents. However, in light of recent events, I’ve concluded I was wrong, and we should embrace the philosophy of government enforced equality for all. No more disparities in anything we do or have, just an equal distribution of everything to everyone.
I had this epiphany a few days ago while watching ESPN and coverage of the NBA lockout, now nearing its 150th day. What it boils down to is multi-millionaire owners and multi-millionaire players arguing over who gets the biggest piece of a multi-billion dollar league revenue pie. I realized that all of this bickering could be resolved by implementing the demands of equality espoused by the Occupy Wall Street protestors.
So here’s the deal…since President Obama wants to increase taxes on “the rich” who need to “pay their fair share” so that we can “spread the wealth”, we simply set the maximum NBA player salary at the level Obama defines as “rich”, which is $200,000 for an individual. That is $50,000 more per year that what it takes to be in the Top 5% of income earners in this country (a threshold which starts at just under $160,000). In fact, that will be the salary for EVERY NBA player, because it is immoral to discriminate simply on the basis of talent, productivity or some other performance-based metric. Just because one player was not born with the natural talent of another player, or refused to succumb to the oppressive dictates of some evil corporation (after all, the NBA is basically a big corporation) with its constant demands to maintain physical fitness and practice all the time, doesn’t mean they should be punished.