Taxes

Ron Paul hits the airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who announced earlier this week that he wouldn’t run for another term in Congress, launched a six-figure airtime buy in Iowa and New Hampshire with an ad that is reminiscent of a movie trailer that criticizes Republicans for compromising on the debt ceiling.

Is a debt limit deal coming soon?

Yesterday was another fun day of watching President Barack Obama and Democrats and Republicans slam each other over the failures to get a budget deal put together, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) trying to incite panic by dishonestly claiming that if a debt ceiling increase wasn’t passed it would mean “no school for children.”

Other myths concerning default have been frequently repeated by the White House and Democrats, including the bluff on holding Social Security payments to seniors. Veronique de Rudy recently cleared the air on some of these and noted steps that could be taken to avoid default even though it may not be easy:

All government programs aren’t created equal

Over at Marginal Revolt, there’s an interesting post regarding government programs.  You see, a lot of folks have been arguing that most folks benefit from government in an effort to discredit folks who are against most government programs.  This particular post, written by Alex Tabarrok, points out that it ain’t as easy as it seems to slap around that broad brush, particularly when it comes to 529 college savings programs:

Nevertheless, there are dividing lines. In a laissez-faire world we don’t get rid of 529 programs, instead all savings, not just savings for college, become tax-free. A 529 program is not a government program like food stamps, it is the absence of a government tax. (N.B. I am not taking a position here on the best tax structure.)People who use 529 programs and who think that they have not used a government social program are not willfully ignorant, they are demonstrating a healthy if fading appreciation of the distinction between civil society and government.  What Rampell et al. implicitly imagine is that the natural state is slavery and any departure from that state a government benefit. Thus, if the government taxes your saving for a college education less than your other savings, you should be grateful for how government has benefited you and your children.

To go one better though, there is the simple fact that many folks may take advantage of a government program in a particular instance, but would use a private equivalent if it weren’t available.  For example, the 529 programs.  Yes, people take advantage of them because they are there, but if they weren’t available they would make do without.

GOP caving on debt limit?

For weeks now, Republicans have stood firm on the idea that any increase in the debt limit should be accompanied by significant spending cuts.  Democrats have offered up what they felt were significant, and the Republicans have said “nope…not enough”.  Now, Mitch McConnell is offering up a compromise that will lose any good will they’ve built with their base.  He wants to let President Obama raise the debt ceiling at will.

Courtesy of RedState:

Mitch McConnell is right now talking about making a historic capitulation. So fearful of being blamed for a default, McConnell is proposing a compromise that lets Barack Obama raise the debt ceiling without making any spending cuts at all.

[…]
McConnell’s idea is to make the debt ceiling automatic unless Congress, by a 2/3 vote blocks the increase. Oh yes, he put a salve on it by dressing it up in tough talk that, to quote the Wall Street Journal, “[a] ‘eal solution’ to U.S. fiscal problems isn’t possible as long as President Barack Obama remains in office.” So since no “real solution” is possible, McConnell proposes to go Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of spending, blaming Obama while doing nothing himself.

Now, I’ve said before that they should just do away with the debt ceiling.  After all, if they can raise it whenever they want, it’s not much of a barrier to increasing debt.  However, to hand this power over exclusively to the President?

Proof our tax code is screwed up

Anyone who follows baseball to some extent probably knows that Derek Jeter just got his 3,000th career hit.  That’s a milestone for any major league baseball player.  Fan Christian Lopez got his hands on the ball, a memento worthy of the Hall of Fame.  He gave it back to Jeter.  The Yankees, apparently in appreciation for his returning the ball to the man Lopez referred to as an “icon”, gave him prizes like luxury box seats for the rest of the season and signed memorabilia, among other thing.  Now, Uncle Sam wants a piece.

You see, these are categorized as “prizes” and are subject to taxes.  Lopez may well be on the hook for thousands of dollars.  Estimates seem to range from $5,000 to $13,000.

Lopez seems to not be bothered by the whole thing.

If it comes down to that, Lopez says he’ll pay the tax man because he’s not about to relinquish his seats. The young government major says his family and friends will help him out.

“The IRS has a job to do, so I’m not going to hold it against them, but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this,” Lopez told the News.

You know what would be really cool?  If our tax code took a few things into account, like prizes and/or gifts.  You have a 23 year old kid who does something incredibly cool (the ball could have sold at auction for at least a quarter of a million dollars), and now he’s going to get shafted by the whole ordeal.

Of course, why should I expect sanity from government?  You’d think I’d be past that by now.

Don’t Take The Budget Deal

“The deal,” of course, is the deal on raising the debt ceiling that Democrats have offered Republicans. It includes a purported cut of trillions in exchange for hundreds of millions in “revenue increases.”

As the Cato Institute highlights, these “cuts” aren’t much of anything at all:

Dr. Kevin Grier opines:

Let’s ignore the fact that our economy is still in a big mess with high unemployment and underwater homeowners and just look at the terms of the deal.

The “cuts” are over a 10 year window. People, we have seen this movie before. Presidents are elected for 4 years, House members for 2 years. Current decisions are non-binding on future politicians. The cuts are a joke.

The tax increases, I’ll wager, will NOT be coming over a 10 year window.

In other words, nothing has changed; no one is actually getting serious about fixing the problem. I say: No deal.

Obama chides Republicans on budget deal…again

Yesterday, President Barack Obama went after Republicans again on the debt ceiling. Instead of tongue-lashing them, he talked down to them and brow-beat them also claiming that he had “bent over backwards” to accomodate Republicans:

Mr. Obama has been seeking a deal that includes $4 trillion in budget savings over a decade, but House Speaker John Boehner said on Saturday that a mid-size package of reforms — closer to $2 trillion in savings, with no tax increases — is the only politically viable solution.

Mr. Obama said today that he appreciated Boehner’s efforts to try to reach a large deal with him, but that the rest of the GOP must now step up to the plate.

“I’ve been hearing from my Republican friends for some time it is a moral imperative to tackle our debt and deficits in a serious way,” Mr. Obama said. “What I’ve said to them is, let’s go.”

The president said today he would not accept a smaller, short-term deal. “We might as well do it now,” he said. “Pull off the band aid. Eat our peas.”

Press Release: Ron Paul Issues Statement on Rumored Debt-Ceiling Scheme

This was sent out on late in the evening on Friday (July 8). While Speaker John Boehner has backed away from a deal that involves tax hikes, it’s still worth posting.

Today, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul issued a statement strongly opposing a proposed deal on the debt-ceiling that is rumored to be in the works between the Obama administration and Republican House leaders. See statement below.

“Sources in Washington tell me that House Republican Speaker John Boehner is considering a deal to raise taxes as part of a debt limit ‘deal.’

“In fact, reports are they may be ready to cave in to Barack Obama’s demands for a trillion dollars in tax increases in exchange for mostly phony spending and tax cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling.

“House Republicans would be foolish to go for this ploy and be taken in by the Obama administration, only to leave American taxpayers on the hook again for more out-of-control government spending.

“The Democrats pulled a similar maneuver during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a deal that promised 2 to 1 spending cuts in exchange for tax increases. Taxes went up, but the cuts never came. They did it again in 1990, promising much the same deal, and delivering only on their tax increases.

“In Washington, if you hear about a so-called deal, you can be sure the taxes will come, but the cuts never will.

“Republicans cannot take the bait and get fooled again.

“This is exactly why I was the first Presidential candidate to sign on to the Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge — because we cannot continue to steer our country down this road to ruin with a massive federal budget and unchecked spending. We need to change course right now.

“Agreeing to this scheme by the White House would be a betrayal of the voters who put Republicans back in charge of the House in 2010.

Budget deal still out of reach

There were rumors over the weekend that House Speaker John Boehner was going to cave on tax hikes in a budget and debt ceiling agreement with the White House with a promise for tax reform down the road. No doubt such a move wouldn’t sit well with conservatives and tea partyers. Boehner faced opposition from inside the Republican caucus and backed down.

While the White House insists that a deal can still be made, talks between Republicans and President Barack Obama didn’t seem to get anywhere yesterday; though they’ll take another crack at it today. It does seem, however, that the administration is rejecting an end-run around the Constitution by raising the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.

Some have been pointing to past budget deals that included tax hikes and spending cuts as a blueprint for the deal that the White House wants. However, if history is any guide, those deals never seem to be implemented as they are agreed to, a Philip Klein notes:

Quit saying the rich aren’t contributing

It’s easy to pick on the rich.  There really aren’t that many of them for one thing, and since they’re not considered a minority they aren’t granted the protected status that decency gives to other minority groups.  They’re still fair game, and it seems like a lot of people are taking advantage of that fact.  Now, a vote in the Senate designed to put Republicans in a corner is being a bit misrepresented by the pundits.

For example, from the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:

So it’s come to this. Republican opposition to any kind of revenue increase as part of the deficit deal has grown so implacable that Dems will now hold a Senate vote tomorrow on the basic idea that millionaires and billionaires should help contribute to fixing our deficit.

It’s not a vote on any specific proposal to hike taxes or end tax breaks. Rather, it’s a vote that puts each Senator on record on the general question of whether the rich should sacrifice in sevice of deficit reduction.

[Bold emphasis is mine]

What’s the problem with this one?  Simple…the rich already “sacrifice in service of debt reduction”.  They pay taxes.  In fact, they pay a significant percentage of the taxes paid by Americans.  They sacrifice already, but you wouldn’t get that with comments like that, would you?

The truth is, Sargent should know better.  Later on in the same piece:


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