Top golfer Phil Mickelson may leave California because of the tax increases on millionaires caused by passage of state ballot initiative Proposition 30. Proposition 30 raises sales tax 1/4 0f 1 percent for four years, and raises income tax on earnings over $250k for seven years, to fund state schools. The income tax increase will be mostly significant for those making more than $1 million.
Mickelson says his tax bite from state and federal taxes will be 62-to-63 percent, cutting his estimated $47 million earnings in 2012 to a paltry $18 million. Mickelson says he will have to make “drastic changes”, a statement many interpret to mean he will leave California, or possibly even retire from golf because it just isn’t worth the trouble to be a measly millionaire 18 times over.
The rest of California will be sad to see you go, Phil. Oh, and don’t let the border hit you in the ass on the way out.
House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” proposal to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases failed to get enough support from Republicans in the U.S. House Of Representatives to even be brought to a vote. The plan would have cut spending on government programs while raising taxes on those with income exceeding $1 million. In other words it was Boehner’s “Plan A” with the letter “B” instead of the letter “A”.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R – Georgia) is the latest high-ranking Republican in Congress to indicate a willingness to compromise with President Barack Obama and allow tax cuts for the rich to lapse.
Chambliss told a Georgia television station he no longer feels bound by his pledge to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, saying “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” The two-term Senator then added “It’s kind of like one of Newt Gingrich’s marriages: you stick with it until something better comes along.”
Chambliss admitted he is risking Norquist’s opposition when he runs for re-election. “But I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist,” he said, adding “we had a good thing for a while, but we’ve grown apart. Also Obama won the election and that’s a real warning sign for anyone who is coming-up for re-election to get our thumbs out of our asses and do something or the American people are going to show us the door – and on the other side of that door there are no lobbyists, perks, or secret bank accounts stuffed full of bribe money. So Grover can stuff it.”
In his latest response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that he paid no taxes for ten years, Mitt Romney says he has “never paid less than 13 percent” in taxes. Romney added “so that should lay to rest any of these claims that I’m part of the ‘1%’ – I’m part of the 13%! Maybe people like Bill Gates pay 1% – he’s a lot richer than I am so his tax rate must be pretty low.”
If the “middle class” is considered those making between $60k and $200k per year, then Romney has paid about half what the average middle class income earner pays, and about 1/3 what the high-end middle class income earner pays. Romney’s wealth is estimated at between $190 and $250 million. He has amassed twice the net worth of the last eight U. S. presidents combined,and would rank among the four richest in American history if elected.
Romney still has made no effort to release his tax returns to refute Reid’s claims.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has apologized to Jews, Germans, Americans, Latvians, Argentinians, Eskimo Peoples, dogs, cats, small rodents, and just about all other thinking, sentient, aware forms of life throughout the universe for saying the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act of 2010 will turn the Internal Revenue Service into a fascistic secret police organization.
LePage, who was elected in 2010 with support from the Tea Party (a group known for its reasoned and appropriate rhetoric), was making a speech Saturday when he said “This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S.”
The Gestapo were of course the Geheime Staatspolizei, “Secret State Police”, of Nazi Germany. This organization was responsible only to the leadership of the Nazi Party – they were not bound by any courts, political organizations, or other civilian or military authority. The Gestapo was responsible for political murders, social “cleansing” operations, and the arrest and torture of individuals deemed antagonistic to the Nazi Party.
So it’s easy to see why LePage would immediately think of them when trying to describe the I.R.S.’s role in collecting taxes.
In his apology LePage said “It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered, but really, how can anyone think that’s worse than having a negro in the White House? And he’s not just answering the door or serving the soup! He’s making policy decisions!”
LePage finished his apology by saying he was sorry if he angered anyone who works at the I.R.S.: “Please, please, please don’t audit me! There’s no way my books can stand-up to an audit!”
A senior adviser to Mitt Romney has said the candidate agrees with President Obama that the penalty attached to the “individual mandate” portion of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is not a tax.
Eric Fehrnstrom, in an interview on MSNBC, said Romney “agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax.”
When the interviewer asked Fehrnstrom if he meant Romney agreed with Obama and Democrats that the penalty is not a tax, Fehrnstrom said “That’s correct”.
Earlier this year Fehrnstrom famously referred to a political campaign as being like an Etch-A-Sketch, in that once the primary is won a candidate can shake-up their message and move toward the center to whore for votes.
Once the jubilation over the Supreme Court decision to uphold “Obamacare” dies down it will be time to fully enact the Affordable Care Act – including the provisions to pay for it.
Part of the money will come from cuts to the current health care costs incurred by the government, but the bulk of the $1 trillion that will be spent over the next ten years will come from taxes. Americans will pay an additional 9/10 of one percent on income over $200k to help finance the system. Those with investment income may be subject to a new 3.8% tax on some of their capital gains and dividends.
Businesses that offer what are considered “excellent” or “Cadillac” health care plans will also pay more: plans that cost over $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage will be subject to new excise taxes. Many business analysts claim businesses will try to avoid this tax by reducing their plan offerings or even cutting health care plans altogether. The theory is this will translate to higher wages or higher profits, and thus higher tax revenues – so either way the government is covered.
There is also a new tax deductible cap on “flexible spending plans”, and new regulations that limit what such plans can pay for, plus a 20% penalty for non-qualified expenses.
The limit for deductions for medical expenses will rise from 7.5% of income to 10% – although that provision will not kick-in until 2016 for those over 65 years-of-age.
Those who enjoy indoor tanning salons have been paying a 10% excise tax since 2010, supposedly because of the health care costs associated with irradiating your skin with UV light.
And finally there is the controversial “individual mandate”, that requires those who can afford health insurance but who choose not to get it to pay a penalty. This will be phased-in in a graduated plan between the years 2014 to 2016, starting at $285 per family or 1% of income (whichever is greater), and growing to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income (whichever is greater). Initially Obama resisted this provision but bowed to pressure from insurers who claim without it people will take advantage of the law’s lack of “preexisting condition” exclusions by waiting to buy insurance after they get sick. The insurers thus need the mandate to turn a profit and stay in business. Under the original proposed law these people would have been served via a “public option” offered directly through the government, but this was gutted from the law by Republicans who considered it to be “socialism” (unlike taking money from the insurance lobby, which is “capitalism”).
Ex-President Bill Clinton apologized for making statements that sounded like an endorsement of extending Bush-era tax cuts on wealthy Americans. “I thought something had to be done right away – I forgot the first rule of being a politician in an election year: doing things is dangerous. Election years are a time to talk specifically about things your party has done that you know are popular with your voters, and speaking in sweeping generalities about the future. Under no circumstances do you actually do anything!”
Clinton looked tired as he made his recantation – as if he had been up all night being brow-beaten.
Mitt Romney’s tax plan will benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations, increase the deficit by $480 billion in 2015 alone, and do almost nothing for everyone else. That’s according to the Tax Policy Center, a calculator, and the rules of arithmetic – all of which have a left-leaning liberal bias.
Romney’s campaign spokesperson says there will be no deficit increase because the cuts are paid for by a combination of “economic growth, base broadening and spending restraint,” and she added “we’re pretty-sure fairies and pixie dust will also be a big help”.
Conservative anti-tax guru Grover Norquist says he’s not responsible for the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s failure to reach a debt-reduction deal. As president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist encouraged Republican members of the “super committee” to sign a pledge that binds them to resist raising taxes. In an appearance on CNN Norquist claimed the pledge was between the country and its congressmen.
“I’m just the mid-wife, so-to-speak, who guides resistance to tax increases from the birth canal of fiscal conservatism, through the vagina of Republican political philosophy, and out into the world of fiscal legislation where I slap it on the butt to make it vomit forth the after-birth of freedom!”
Disgusted CNN viewers switched to reruns of “Gilligan’s Island”.
Members of the Congressional Super Committee charged with forging a bipartisan debt reduction agreement have been making the rounds of political chat shows, and are signaling they are no closer to agreement than they ever have been. There is one sign of movement: Republicans on the committee are saying the words “tax revenue” without the strained look of constipation they have shown in the past.
Republican mathematical theory is no better than ever though, as they insist they will increase tax revenue by lowering tax rates, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and gutting programs for the poor, elderly, and disabled such as Medicare – or “Communist Wealth Redistribution”, as they like to call it.
Democrats insist the Bush tax cuts must end, and that increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and moderate cuts to programs will ensure debt is brought under control without casting the low-income segment of the population to the wolves (i.e. Republicans).
Except for these differences they are in complete agreement as to how debt reduction can be accomplished. And if they don’t come to an agreement by November 23, and if Congress doesn’t pass legislation based on an agreement by December 23, draconian spending cuts will automatically be enacted, not only cutting entitlement programs but the Republican sacred-cow, the defense budget.
The smart money in Vegas is on Draco.
To counter the Obama administration and billionaire Warren Buffet’s call for tax increases on people making more than $1 million annually, the GOP majority in the House of Representatives has announced a “Buffet Bill” of their own that will allow voluntary over-payments on taxes.
“If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money toward paying down the federal government’s debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily,” said John Thune (R – S. Dakota), author of the bill. “And if other rich people want to keep paying their money directly to members of congress, they should have that right as well.”
Here is our proposal for a new, streamlined tax schedule:
A) If you don’t clean your own toilet, your taxes will be increased.
B) If you do clean your own toilet, your taxes will remain the same.
C) Unless you clean someone else’s toilet, in which case your taxes will decrease.
It’s the usual Republican chanting: lower taxes on corporations, do jack for workers, kill the unions, kill “Obamacare” even though Republicans re-wrote it in their own image, exterminate the EPA, repeal anything with Barney Franks’ name on it because he’s a big fairy, aggressively exploit fossil fuel resources regardless of the ecological damage, repeal inheritance taxes so rich people’s kids can be even richer, gut federal programs that don’t directly benefit corporate interests, do away with taxes on corporate profits made overseas, create the “Reagan Economic Zone” wherein I imagine it will be legal to harvest the organs of the poor before they die, delete carbon provisions from the clean air act, concentrate alternative energy funding on basic research so nothing is developed that threatens oil companies now, gut our own education system while granting permanent residence status to foreigners with advanced degrees because most of them will work for rice and onions, pack the NLRB with corporate stooges, cut wages and benefits for government employees (something that can’t actually legally be done), and most of all NOT A DIME IN TAX CUTS for those making less than $200k/year because someone has to pay for everything.
Here are the 59 Romney Plan points (yeah – 59 of ‘em. That should be a breeze to implement in a congress that goes to the brink of economic collapse over a single point). In particular notice the open-ended ones like number 58 – essentially saying nothing about HOW to restructure government programs – hint: it involves a meat cleaver.
1. Maintain current tax rates on personal income
2. Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
3. Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
4. Eliminate the death tax
5. Pursue a conservative overhaul of the tax system over the long term that includes lower,
flatter rates on a broader base
6. Reduce corporate income tax rate to 25 percent
7. Pursue transition from “worldwide” to “territorial” system for corporate taxation
8. Repeal Obamacare
9. Repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with streamlined, modern regulatory framework
10. Amend Sarbanes-Oxley to relieve mid-size companies from onerous requirements
11. Ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in regulatory process
12 Provide multi-year lead times before companies must come into compliance with
onerous new environmental regulations
13. Initiate review and elimination of all Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy
14. Impose a regulatory cap of zero dollars on all federal agencies
15. Require congressional approval of all new “major” regulations
16. Reform legal liability system to prevent spurious litigation
17. Implement agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea
18. Reinstate the president’s Trade Promotion Authority
19. Complete negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
20. Pursue new trade agreements with nations committed to free enterprise and open markets
21. Create the Reagan Economic Zone
22. Increase CBP resources to prevent the illegal entry of goods into our market
23. Increase USTR resources to pursue and support litigation against unfair trade practices
24. Use unilateral and multilateral punitive measures to deter unfair Chinese practices
25. Designate China a currency manipulator and impose countervailing duties
26. Discontinue U.S. government procurement from China until China commits to GPA
27. Establish fixed timetables for all resource development approvals
28. Create one-stop shop to streamline permitting process for approval of common activities
29. Implement fast-track procedures for companies with established safety records to conduct
pre-approved activities in pre-approved areas
30. Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview
31. Expand NRC capabilities for approval of additional nuclear reactor designs
32. Streamline NRC processes to ensure that licensing decisions for reactors on or adjacent to
approved sites, using approved designs, are complete within two years
33. Conduct comprehensive survey of America’s energy reserves
34. Open America’s energy reserves for development
35. Expand opportunities for U.S. resource developers to forge partnerships with neighboring countries
36 Support construction of pipelines to bring Canadian oil to the United States
37. Prevent overregulation of shale gas development and extraction
38 Concentrate alternative energy funding on basic research
39. Utilize long-term, apolitical funding mechanisms like ARPA-E for basic research
40. Appoint to the NLRB experienced individuals with respect for the rule of law
41. Amend NLRA to explicitly protect the right of business owners to allocate their capital as they see fit
42. Amend NLRA to guarantee the secret ballot in every union certification election
43. Amend NLRA to guarantee that all pre-election campaigns last at least one month
44. Support states in pursuing Right-to-Work laws
45. Prohibit the use for political purposes of funds automatically deducted from worker paychecks
46. Reverse executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field toward organized labor
47. Eliminate redundancy in federal retraining programs by consolidating programs and funding streams,
centering as much activity as possible in a single agency
48. Give states authority to manage retraining programs by block granting federal funds
49. Facilitate the creation of Personal Reemployment Accounts
50. Encourage greater private sector involvement in retraining programs
51. Raise visa caps for highly skilled workers
52. Grant permanent residency to eligible graduates with advanced degrees in math, science,
53. Immediately cut non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent
54. Reform and restructure Medicaid as block grant to states
55. Align wages and benefits of government workers with market rates
56. Reduce federal workforce by 10 percent via attrition
57. Cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP
58. Undertake fundamental restructuring of government programs and services
59. Pursue a Balanced Budget Amendment
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has announced it will hold its first meeting on September 8. The members will make opening statements and decide on committee rules.
“This first meeting is very important because it sets the tone for ones that follow” said co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). “We’ll be deciding who gets the comfortable chairs and who gets the ones with the broken casters and the loose armrests. I’m also going to propose a rule that the Democrats can’t speak unless they first say ‘Mother may I’ – which I think is fair.”
Co-chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) announced “Democrats will present a united front: we shall unanimously cave-in to all Republican demands. The President has given us strict instructions on this. The strategy is to say it’s all their fault when everything goes to Hell, as it inevitably will no matter what we do.”
About two weeks after this first meeting the committee will hold its first hearing on “The History and Drivers of Our Nation’s Debt and How Much Longer Will People Put Up With Our Political Bullshit Before They Rise In An ‘Arab Spring’-Style Revolt?”. The first witnesses will be Dr. Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Muammar Gaddafi, Pretty-Much Ex-Dictator of Libya.
By a solid majority the Republican House of Representatives voted to approve the latest debt ceiling increase, allowing the United States to borrow trillions more and go even deeper into debt than ever before in history. Fiscally responsible Democrats tried to defeat the bill but had no chance in the GOP-dominated House – and may have to pass the bill through the Senate even though they have a slim majority there, due to Republican threats of reprisals on future legislation.
So-called “Tea Party” Republicans were dancing in the streets around the country to celebrate their victory over liberals by passing legislation that may someday cut spending by some token amount while increasing debt almost infinitely, thus guaranteeing the advent of a fiscal apocalypse and bringing their ultra-rightist prophets predictions of economic doom to fulfillment.
Liberals all over the country were downcast as their attempts to inject some economic responsibility into government finances were swept away by the landslide GOP vote in the House. “It’s spend, spend, spend, baby!” House Speaker John Boehner announced as the final vote was tallied. “Cocaine and hookers for everyone!”
President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders announced today they have reached an agreement on the U.S. debt. The plan calls for increasing the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid default, and then convening some kind of congressional committee later sometime to do something about reducing the deficit, maybe.
The plan might reduce spending by a trillion dollars someday, and there might also be tax reform to increase revenues, although no one is sure.
The agreement does clear the way for both Republicans and Democrats to move forward with their election campaigns without the distraction of taking care of the nation’s business, and without being pinned-down to any real policy that might prove unpopular with one or the others’ constituencies.
So after weeks of fighting, arguing, whining, moaning, crying, threatening, and acting like spoiled children, the nation’s leaders have decided to go back to business as usual.