July 25, 2014 Leave a comment
July 22, 2014 Leave a comment
A quick hit:
My proposal is nothing new, nor is it so outrageous that it requires the invocation of Jonathan Swift. Elements of this have been discussed by many people over time. But here’s my synthesis:
Flat tax; single nominal rate, not to exceed 20%. (See Hauser’s Law for the underlying rationale behind the maximum.)
Poverty floor. Earnings equal to or below that floor are not subject to income tax. No carryforward/carryback.
Elimination of all tax credits.
Elimination of all deductions/adjustments except:
Charitable deduction. Phase out over time–say twenty years. The sudden elimination of this deduction would be catastrophic for private charities.
Home mortgage interest deduction. Phase out over time–at least twenty years. Possibly a quicker phase-out for non-primary resident property residences. Suddenly eliminating this deduction, in addition to being politically impossible, would seriously harm those currently holding mortgages. The deduction is priced into the price of housing, and into the cost of borrowing, and people have made the biggest investment decision of their lives based on that pricing, and on the expectation of the home mortgage interest deduction remaining intact. (See also, “Sacred Cows: The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.”)
Adjustment for family size, head of household, along those lines.
The only other deduction to possibly keep intact that comes to mind might be some sort of catastrophic medical expense adjustment–or at least a deferral of tax liability.
Treat capital gains as regular income AND eliminate the corporate income tax. If corporate income tax is not eliminated, capital gains would continue to be taxed at a lower rate than regular earnings (perhaps around half the nominal regular earnings rate). Elimination of the corporate tax eliminates double taxation, would spur economic growth, and would have the side benefit of eliminating the most of the controversy surrounding 501(c) tax entities, since taxation would no longer be an issue. (501 contribution deductibility might still be a sticking point though–I haven’t really thought this all the way through.)
If the states want to get cute on a state level, say with a progressive state income tax, they can knock themselves out. All of this only pertains to federal taxation.
I may expand on this later, but that’s pretty much my proposal. Again, none of it is very new.
And no, I am not a fan of a national sales tax. That’s a discussion for another post. Suffice it to say that a national sales tax would seriously screw existing savers by taxing the earnings, and then taxing purchases, thus harming existing savers–the very people who played by the stupid rules that we as a society have constructed vis. policy. There are other issues with national sales tax, as well, but the double taxation visited on existing savers is one of the worst.
And anyway, those who argue for a national sales tax would do well to find the political will to merely institute simplification of the existing tax regime as a starting point toward a complete overhaul–and interim measure, as it were. Otherwise, advocating for a national sales tax is pretty much the usual People For A Perfect World approach to politics and economics–which seldom works out well.
Additional note: Probably the biggest 800-pound gorilla in all this is what to do with social security and medicare.
July 21, 2014 Leave a comment
“If you look at two Republican two-term presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and two Democratic two-term presidents, Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama, and if I just were to compare Reagan’s eight years with Bill’s eight years, it’s like night and day in terms of the effects, the number of jobs that were created, the number of people lifted out of poverty, 100 times more when Bill was president,” she said….
“You have to know going into this that there is a deep divide between parties and between forces who support those parties about the right way to create growth and tackle inequality,” Clinton said. “I’m not sure there is some tablet somewhere that can be brought down from on high, but I think there are lessons to be learned about the best way to come forward with policies and to run on those policies and to then do everything you can to implement them and to make it very clear who is on the other side.”
July 19, 2014 Leave a comment
Well, this is interesting. While looking for something unrelated, this headline jumped out at me:
Far more interesting than the article itself, however, was a link therein: “Hijacking Immigration?” by Mario H. Lopez in The Human Life Review, 2012.
As a former member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), I was surprised to see connections made between the neo-Malthusian eugenics crowd and FAIR. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. (I’ve only scanned the piece so far, and will go back and read it after I post this.)
In 2013, NRO said:
Over time, the Human Life Review, a quarterly journal dedicated to the defense of human life, has had several important articles tracing the history of eugenics in America, and its insidious connection to abortion and population control; we have also devoted many pages to the fizzling of Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb.” Thus, although immigration policy is not a subject in our purview, Mario H. Lopez’s article, “Hijacking Immigration,” which asserts that there are disturbing connections between the population-control movement — including abortion and euthanasia advocates — and anti-immigration organizations is appropriate for our pages and our readers.
The Human Life Review is a quarterly journal published by the Human Life Foundation since 1975. It is devoted to explorations of life issues, primarily abortion, as well as neonaticide, medical genetics, prenatal testing, human cloning, fetal tissue experimentation, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and also publishes articles dealing with more general questions of family and society. It was founded by James Patrick McFadden, formerly associate publisher of National Review, who had also founded the Human Life Foundation, and is now edited by his daughter, Maria McFadden. It was launched from the offices of National Review, with the support of William F. Buckley.
Writers whose work has been featured in The Human Life Review include Nat Hentoff, Hadley Arkes, William McGurn, Thomas Sowell, Wesley Smith, David Quinn, Kathryn Jean Lopez and President Ronald Reagan.
Note that Maria McFadden is the author of the NRO piece quoted above.
Here are some brief excerpts from the much longer Human Life Review piece:
With some notable exceptions, FAIR’s board of directors, national advisory board, and staff include many population-control, pro-abortion, and forced-sterilization advocates. Their statements and membership in other pro-abortion population-control groups reveal their true ideological allegiances.
FAIR’s website openly touts environmentalist and population-control rhetoric….
That extreme population-control rhetoric is unsurprising, because FAIR’s executive director is population-control advocate Dan Stein. He routinely appears on radio and television shows arguing that immigration should be stopped because it increases the total population of the United States. Stein described China’s one-child policy as an “international family planning program.” He is married to Sharon McCloe Stein, the former executive director of Negative Population Growth (NPG)….
Planned Parenthood has many representatives on both FAIR’s main board and advisory board.
Perhaps I should have been paying closer attention to FAIR’s worldview. As it was, I was focused on immigration policy, rather than the underlying ideology that was presumably driving it.
Update: After having read the Human Life Review article, all I can say is…wow. Read it.
July 16, 2014 Leave a comment
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) emerged from the war over the Senate as the Democratic Party’s newest hero for his drive to take the Senate back from the Republicans. The Brooklyn-born senator popped up before the cameras last night as votes were still being counted to give a brief previctory speech. “We really care about taking our country back,” said a beaming Schumer. “So far, sooo good.
John Edwards press release: “Edwards called on voters to join him in his campaign to take our country back….”
July 15, 2014 Leave a comment
Woke up with the first line in my head this morning. No idea why. Think Gilbert & Sullivan meets Monty Python.
As always, copyright by publication.
A dispassionate recitation of the facts,
The who, the what, the why, the when, the where,
But journalists have lately gotten lax,
Though they dance around their bias like Astaire.
Reporters with agendas should be on the Op-Ed page,
But uninformed polemics are becoming all the rage:
Ignorance of the geographic–
Ain’t journalism grand?
Clueless about history,
Economics are a mystery,
Pivot now to Hillary–
So let’s strike up the band.
Dispassionate distillation of the news
Has seldom been much more than an ideal,
But now it’s gotten goofier than hell,
When the President smiles, reporters start to squeal.
Ignorance of the geographic–
Ain’t journalism grand?
Clueless about history,
Economics are a mystery,
Pivot now to Hillary…
So let’s strike up the BANNNNNNNNND!
July 11, 2014 Leave a comment
Yes, the Obama Administration, by their actions (and inaction) have managed to turn a huge border problem into a massive border crisis.
And yes, a law–called the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA)–that predated the Obama Administration, and which was intended to prevent or at least curtail human trafficking, heavily contributed to that crisis.
The two facts are not mutually-exclusive, notwithstanding the perennial American impulse to engage in team sports “Johnny did it” politics.
However, far from being a Bush-era law, as asserted by Democrats and the media, the law was merely a renewal of a bill that was originally signed into law by President Clinton, and periodically renewed.
While this does not absolve Republicans of culpability in this adject clusterfail by any stretch, the Blame Bush meme is a transparent lie.
Meanwhile, at least one prominent Democrat is balking at the Obama Administration’s claim that their hands are tied:
From The New York Times, “Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking,” published earlier this week:
The Obama administration says the law is partly responsible for tying its hands in dealing with the current influx of children. Officials have suggested that the White House might seek flexibility in the law’s requirements when it asks Congress to provide emergency funds to contend with the latest immigration crisis, a request that could come as early as Tuesday. About 52,000 minors without their parents have been caught at the Southwest border since October….
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who helped write the measure, said the White House does not need new power to act. “That law already provides the administration with flexibility to accelerate the judicial process in times of crisis,” she said. “The administration should use that flexibility to speed up the system while still treating these children humanely, with compassion and respect.”
However, one might wonder what kind of flexibility Ms. Feinstein has in mind–not the flexibility to deport without adjudication, presumably.
The Times goes on to say this about Republicans:
They say the effort to point to the Bush-era law is a meant to deflect attention from the administration and make both parties culpable.
Representative Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican and a chief backer of the original bill, said multiple factors contributed to the crisis, including “exploitation of our laws, the ungoverned space in Central America, as well as the desperate poverty faced by those deciding to cross.”
“With all these factors in mind, it’s hard to think that today’s situation at the border can be directly attributed to a law that’s been in effect now for six years,” Mr. Fortenberry said.
So Democrats, Republicans, and the media all agree–it was a Bush-era law. EXCEPT IT WASN’T!
From the lazy blogger’s research resource, Wikipedia:
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) is a federal statute passed into law in 2000 by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton. The law was later reauthorized by Presidents Bush and Obama. It offers protections for persons in the country illegally who may be victims of human trafficking.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was subsequently renewed in 2003, 2006, 2008 (when it was renamed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008). The law lapsed in 2011. In 2013 the entirety of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was attached as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act and passed. There are two stipulations an applicant has to meet in order to receive the benefits of the T-Visa. First, a trafficked victim must prove/admit to being trafficked and second must submit to prosecution of his or her trafficker. Because of this the law does not apply to immigrants seeking admission to the United States for other immigration purposes.
Since the law requires the applicant to become part of the prosecution of his or her trafficker, trafficked persons may be fearful of retaliation upon the self or the family and thus serves as a major deterrent to individuals even considering application. The law contains provisions for protection of those who are categorized as victims of human trafficking, primarily for sex, smuggling, and forced labor forms of exploitation.
Got it, people? The law did NOT commence in 2008. This is a bipartisan clusterfail.
But the law goes a long way toward explaining why those alien minors are running toward, not away from, border patrol personnel. “Mr. Border Agent, I was trafficked [but we kinda knew that didn't we--the traffickers are called "coyotes"]; the trafficker’s name was Jose but we never saw his face. Please give me my court date and a ride to my relatives’ house in America.” Something like that.
The Times goes on:
What many can agree on is that the Wilberforce law was not enacted with the idea of dealing with the current flow of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors or providing an incentive for children to reach the border.
“It is classic unintended consequences,” said Marc R. Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute. “This was certainly not what was envisioned.”
Hence the title of this post.
— John T. Bennett (@Jthomasbennett) July 14, 2014