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Archive for the ‘taxes’ Category

Give Me Liberty TV Interview with Governor Heineman

Posted by Dan Draney on September 4, 2010

Nebraska Governor David Heineman sits down with GML-TV’s W. A. Mitchell. The Governor talks about the state budget, federal spending, illegal immigration, the Cornhusker Kickback, and the states’ lawsuit against the ObamaCare “individual mandate.” Will he challenge Sen. Ben Nelson in 2014? He doesn’t say so, but he sounds like someone who’s thinking a lot about what a Nebraska senator needs to do.

via Give Me Liberty TV.

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Posted in GML-TV, government spending, healthcare, Nebraska, Senate, taxes, tea party | Leave a Comment »

The Individual Mandate and You

Posted by PLaplace on March 29, 2010

A fascinating tidbit came my way today (from more than one place) regarding the recently and regrettably passed health care bill.  Tucked away on page 33 of the recent Joint Committee on Taxation report on said bill comes this enticing nugget in regards to the penalty applied to those not maintaining “minimum essential coverage”:

“The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly.  The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.  However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty.  Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.”

In short, though the bill does stipulate a tax of $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater, on those without health insurance, there is no real mechanism in place for enforcement of this tax.  Many writers have already commented on how this is a possibly catastrophic flaw in the Obamacare machinery, for without any teeth the mandate will have no real effect.  If it has no effect people will not buy into the insurance risk pool, and as a result insurance premiums will soon begin an upward death spiral of sorts.

What interests me more is whether this omission was intentional, or simply a blunder.  While I always seek to credit ignorance over malfeasance, Morgen Richmond at BigGoverment.com makes the point (in the final paragraph) that this built in self-destruct provision could have been inserted with the intention of insuring the eventual death of the private insurance industry.  After all, it would most likely be easier to slip in a public option or single payer system somewhere down the line if the insurance industry had been jacking up prices in response to the last effort at “reform.”  This line of argument however presumes an incredible amount of attention to detail on the part of this bill’s architects, and while that is a possibility, my cursory observations of Washington lead me to believe it is highly unlikely.  Moreover, it seems that though this provision might make it easier to demonize the insurance industry, it would be even easier to point out how Democrats had set themselves up for failure in their own bill; a point which would provide a strong case against letting them do it again.  In that case we are left with ignorance on the part of the Democrats.  Given the size, scope, and general murkiness of the 2700 page bill itself, I find the explanation of ignorance highly plausible.

On a final note, for all of President Obama’s repetition that the mandate penalty is not a tax, even the Joint Committee on Taxation doesn’t buy it.  They title the section on the mandate as “Excise Tax on Individuals Without Essential Health Benefits Coverage.”

Posted in healthcare, taxes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Eye-Are-Ess

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 20, 2010

It’s almost April 15th, people!  Get cracking on those tax returns if you haven’t already, because Comrade Pelosi is depending on you to pay for a lifetime membership to her favorite Botox warehouse.

Oh, and one more thing: If you think you love the IRS now, just wait until America gets put in a stranglehold by the perverted “vote” that may or may not occur this weekend in re the government takeover of health care.

“If the Democrats’ health care bill becomes law, the IRS could have to hire more than 16,000 additional agents, auditors and other workers just to enforce all the new taxes and penalties,” said Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI).  “It is a dangerous expansion of the IRS’s power and reach into the lives of virtually every American.”

Highlights of report, which is entitled “The Wrong Prescription: Democrats’ Health Overhaul Dangerously Expands IRS Authority,” include:

  • IRS agents verify if you have “acceptable” health care coverage;
  • IRS has the authority to fine you up to $2,250 or 2 percent of your income (whichever is greater) for failure to prove that you have purchased “minimum essential coverage;”
  • IRS can confiscate your tax refund;
  • IRS audits are likely to increase;
  • IRS will need up to $10 billion to administer the new health care program this decade;
  • IRS may need to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees to investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans; and
  • Nearly half of all these new individual mandate taxes will be paid by Americans earning less than 300 percent of poverty ($66,150 for a family of four.)

Posted in healthcare, Obama, socialism, taxes | 3 Comments »

It’s the Spending, Stupid

Posted by Dan Draney on March 12, 2010

Via U.S. Monthly Budget Deficit Balloons to a Record – WSJ.com.

WASHINGTON—Even as government receipts posted a rare increase in February, soaring outlays pushed the country’s year-to-date deficit up to a record $651.60 billion.

The government’s fiscal 2010 year-to-date deficit is up 10.5% from fiscal year 2009.

The government in February alone ran its largest ever monthly deficit—$221 billion, the U.S. Treasury said in releasing its monthly budget statement Wednesday. The government in February 2009 ran a budget deficit of nearly $194 billion.

“The budget balance has deteriorated sharply over the past 2 years with outlays rising rapidly—mainly due to the government’s various stimulus programs–and revenues shrinking—both because of the weak economy and the various tax cuts meant to stimulate the economy,” Steven A. Wood, an economist with Insight Economics, wrote in a client note.

There are relatively few years prior to Obama when the feds borrowed that many dollars. Dividing by the US populations to put the numbers in perspective we see that in one 28-day month, the feds borrowed another $715 per person or $2861 per family of four. It’s even worse, because although receipts were up, spending was up even more:

Total Per Person Family of 4
Deficit Feb 2010 alone $220,910,000,000 $715 $2,861
Outlays Feb 2010 alone $328,430,000,000 $1,063 $4,252
Receipts Feb 2010 alone $107,520,000,000 $348 $1,392

Note that borrowing was more than twice the receipts. How long could your family keep spending three times your income and borrowing the rest? Even the feds can’t keep it up, although they are determined to try. The interest costs alone were $52 per person for February, despite the easy money, pro-inflation policy of the Federal Reserve which is (so far) keeping interest rates artificially low. Look for interest costs to go up sharply in the not too distant future.

Posted in government spending, Obama, taxes | 1 Comment »

National Debt 2: Electric Boogaloo

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 7, 2010

Scrooge O'Bama

An elusive federal bureaucrat photographed in his natural habitat.

Earlier tonight I posted an offhand item about the ongoing Obama v. CBO rumble.  Abe then weighed in here.

To keep a theme going, I want to reference something that Abe said in his post, something Very Important:

One big problem for enlightened debate about spending is the difficulty we all have in comprehending the magnitude of the numbers involved. We can all get outraged about millions of dollars for bonuses to Goldman Sachs employees without realizing how miniscule those are compared to the real problems we are facing.

It is hard to get your head around, and Abe — being quite the astute taxpayer — helped out.

But as an addendum I don’t think that it’s possible to really put both arms around a trillion here and a trillion there until we ask that age old question, “What does it mean to me?”  It’s a simple question, honestly, but it’s seldom asked by anyone endeavoring to do anything these days.

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the “real” national debt is currently $56.4 trillion dollars, and not the $11 trillion usually referenced.

How is it $56.4 trillion, you ask?  And not the paltry $11 or $12 trillion commonly referenced?  The “real” debt page explains.

How exactly does this $56.4 trillion bill add up? First, there are the federal government’s known liabilities that it is legally obliged to fulfill. These include publicly held debt, military and civilian pensions and retiree health benefits. As of September 30, 2008, these liabilities added up to $13.5 trillion.

Then there are various commitments and contingencies – i.e., contractual requirements that the government is expected to fulfill when, and if specified conditions are met. These include federal insurance payouts, loan guarantees, and leases. As of September 30, 2008, they added up to $1.4 trillion.

So where does the remaining $43 trillion or so come from? That’s what the government has promised to pay in Social Security and Medicare benefits in excess of related revenues. As of January 1, 2008, current and promised future Social Security benefits amounted to $6.6 trillion. And between Medicare’s three programs (hospital insurance, outpatient, and prescription drug), current and future promised Medicare benefits amounted to $36.3 trillion.

Yikes.  And also, gulp.

But imagine if America wanted to Do the Right Thing, and settle this $56.4 trillion up.  Say we threw all of our efforts as a blessed citizenry behind not only paying this down but paying it off.  What would it cost each of us?

Only a tidy $184,000 per person, or $483,000 per household.  That’s all.  Will that be cash or check?

Those of you who are real gluttons for punishment can also follow the “national debt” clock on Twitter here: @nationaldebt.

Posted in Obama, taxes | 1 Comment »

Understanding Trillions of Dollars

Posted by Dan Draney on March 7, 2010

As Ryne mentions, new 10-yr federal budget deficit estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the news is not good. The nominally non-partisan CBO has its own reputation to protect, so it is considerably less inclined to fudge the numbers for political purposes than either party alone or the Obama Administration.

One big problem for enlightened debate about spending is the difficulty we all have in comprehending the magnitude of the numbers involved. We can all get outraged about millions of dollars for bonuses to Goldman Sachs employees without realizing how miniscule those are compared to the real problems we are facing.

So let’s put those deficit projections into a form we can wrap our brains around. The current US population estimate from the US Census “population clock” is just under 309 million. This gives us:

Total Per Person Family of 4
CBO Est 10 yr Deficit $9,800,000,000,000 $31,715 $126,861
Obama Est 10 yr Deficit $8,600,000,000,000 $27,832 $111,327

Splitting the difference and rounding, over the next 10 years the feds are looking to borrow another $30,000 per person or $120,000 per family of four. This is in addition to all the debt, public and private, we already owe. It doesn’t count anything for the massive new ObamaCare entitlement, which Dems are still trying to rahm down our throats.

My guess is that both these estimates will turn out to be quite low compared to our actual experience. They are both based on optimistic assumptions about economic growth, interest rates, and Congressional actions.

The Obama recovery plan seems to be to tell business: The floggings will continue until morale improves. Economic growth is likely to be sluggish to none as long as Obama’s policies and proposals increase uncertainty and decrease incentives to invest and hire. This will reduce tax receipts and increase spending on unemployment benefits. A second downturn is a distinct possibility.

The higher tax rates will certainly bring in less money than expected, as people adjust their behaviors to the new reality. Past experience has shown that it’s hard to overestimate the federal government’s appetite for new spending of money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

Interest rates are currently quite low, as the Federal Reserve has kept the money spigot open wide out of fear of deflation. There is nowhere to go but up for interest rates, and any number of things could cause a spike: inflation fears; currency panic; massive federal borrowing (Oh, wait…); concerns about the solvency of the federal government; etc. Interest payments are a large and growing fraction of the total federal budget.

I remember when, during the Reagan Administration, the official “National Debt” hit $1 trillion. It was a pretty big deal; it was in all the papers. Now it’s “trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.”

Posted in Obama, taxes | 2 Comments »

Yes, We Can…

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 7, 2010

… add trillions to trillions.

WASHINGTON – A new congressional report released Friday says the United States’ long-term fiscal woes are even worse than predicted by President Barack Obama’s grim budget submission last month.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama’s budget plans would generate deficits over the upcoming decade that would total $9.8 trillion. That’s $1.2 trillion more than predicted by the administration.

The agency says its future-year predictions of tax revenues are more pessimistic than the administration’s. That’s because CBO projects slightly slower economic growth than the White House.

Prediction: someday soon the CBO will be outlawed by Presidential edict.  Those guys are always getting in the way of our future Greek way of living.

The article drones on for a bit before mentioning that a 18-member panel is being formed (what, no czar?) to come up with ways that reduce the deficit.  So sit back and relax, working class.

Posted in crazy leftists, Obama, socialism, taxes | 2 Comments »

Jim Bunning: Hero or Villain

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 2, 2010

Well, depends on who you ask.

Jim Bunning

To a few on the right — and your humble blogger — Bunning did something in the last week that few have actually dared to do: temporarily slow the inevitable march of the Federal spending machine.  That dapper young righty (no pun intended, but still) in the picture had the Senate logjammin’ with a filibuster over a $10 billion dollar spending bill.

The angry man of the Senate was at it again.Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher, played hardball on Capitol Hill, single-handedly holding up a $10 billion spending bill because it would add to the deficit.

Oh, the horror.  Damn you, “angry man,” for daring to stop the most excellent bread and circuses that have come to town.  Don’t you know that the Democrats are actively engaged in spending our way out of debt?

It takes a bit of slogging to get the general gist of what Bunning was so worked up about, because by my count there are around 20 paragraphs explaining just exactly how big of an a##hole Jim Bunning is.  Words such as ornery, cantankerous, possessing an “ungovernable mouth,” his “cursing” at reporters, and giving an ABC producer the finger.  Bunning is also described as “toxic,” and in the throes of “his last hurrah.” Mention is also made that Bunning has been referred to as “mentally unstable.”  Robert Gibbs, the spit-flecked penny whistle of the Obama administration, even made mention that you can’t “negotiate with the irrational.”

Do you think the AP might be trying to lead you, the reader, just a little bit?

All of these descriptive sentences go on and on until we reach something of an explanation as to what’s happening:

He had been holding up the spending bill since Thursday, saying he objected because it requires borrowing money. Bunning proposed to pay for the extension with unspent money from last year’s big economic recovery package, but Democrats objected.

By the Senate’s rules, that single objection was enough to block the bill, at least temporarily.

The move had forced some 2,000 federal employees into unpaid furloughs, put jobless benefits in jeopardy for millions and halted more than 40 highway projects.

The absolute horror of it all.  For one week he has held all of this stuff up, and temporarily.  It’s amazing that the Republic could withstand the onslaught of a 78-year old former Major Leaguer.

It may be convenient for me, a rather milquetoast libertarian, to point out that Republicans are… y’know, supposed to be in favor of fiscal restraint and all.  But in the Roaring 2010, it might also benefit the constituents of other Republicans (I’m looking at a few in particular here) to take note of that whole fiscal restraint thing as well.

“He’s hurting the American people,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said when asked Tuesday if Bunning was hurting the Republican Party.

Anyone here from Maine?  Please vote against this woman at your earliest opportunity, please.

I don’t think that Jim Bunning probably cares what anyone much says about him at this point, as surely he will not seek re-election.  The number of Senators who have blown billions or even trillions of dollars of taxpayer money on frivolity and pork are legion.  Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were and have been retained well past their natural shelf lives, thanks to their ability to catch money with dump trucks rather than buckets, but have generally been lionized in their golden years.  Lucky for those two old-timers that they never tried to get in the way of setting up the circus tents.

Byrd was a notorious ass in his salad days, not to mention a generally despicable racist.  Ted Kennedy goes without saying.  But Jim Bunning?  He took too long in line at the ATM.

We’ll all live to spend another day, folks.  Bunning has ended his filibuster.  The spending of new money over some other money can resume apace.

Addendum:

My inbox today featured this gem from my dad:

For those that did know and forgot and those that have never known and never cared:  Bunning was 10-15 against the Yankees and 24-15 against the Senators. (Circa 1955-1963) And 1-0 vs Senators 2010.

Posted in capitalism, crazy leftists, fake news, MSM bias, Obama, taxes | 1 Comment »

Lincoln Tea Party – Sat. April 11

Posted by Dan Draney on April 4, 2009

If you are here in Nebraska, you should attend the Lincoln Tea Party to be held at the Capitol building on Saturday, April 11, 2009. Follow that link to the home site for the event for updates. If you have a blog that covers Nebraska, please help publicize the event with the links below. If you know an appropriate blog/blogger, please pass this along to them.

KLKN TV (Channel 8) in Lincoln did a nice report on the event. Details and video here.


More links of interest:
Main web page (accessible to all)
Facebook group and event pages (all Faceboo members can join)

Attention Volunteers: Help needed in lots of areas from advance planning to day of the event and beyond. Please help if you can. Here’s a form to submit your contact info. Your privacy is important. The organizers will not sell or give away your contact information to others.

Other important links on the main site:

Posted in Nebraska, taxes, tea party | Leave a Comment »

 
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