Irony At Its Best

The Trump tax cuts made life a little easier for most Americans. They made life a little more difficult for some middle class and wealthy people in states with high taxes. Oddly enough, many of these states with high taxes are blue states with large populations and huge state budgets. Some of the most affected states were California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all reliably blue states. Those states control 116 Electoral College votes and send 106 Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives (out of 435 total Representatives). Now, after all the complaining that the Trump tax cuts were tax cuts for the rich (which they were not), Democrats want to give the wealthy in high-tax states their tax cuts.

Real Clear Politics posted an article today about the Democrats’ plan.

The article reports:

Democrats often complain that tax cuts primarily benefit “the rich,” but apparently they only think it’s a problem when rich conservatives get a tax break, because they’re outraged that President Trump’s tax cuts scaled back a generous subsidy enjoyed by well-off taxpayers in liberal states.

A key provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a new cap on the so-called State and Local Tax (“SALT”) Deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax return. This provision forces taxpayers in low-tax states such as Florida and Texas to effectively subsidize those in high-tax states such as New York and California.

For years, blue-state Democrats have been able to raise state income and property taxes far higher than voters might normally tolerate. That’s because the SALT deduction softened the impact for taxpayers in those states, particularly for the rich campaign-donor class. Since the SALT deduction only applies to taxpayers who itemize their returns, its benefits naturally accrue to those in the highest income bracket.

There was previously no limit to how much taxpayers could deduct through SALT, but even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped the deduction at $10,000, almost 93 percent of American taxpayers will be unaffected. It’s likely that fewer taxpayers will elect to take advantage of SALT, since the law also doubled the standard deduction, but about 11 million of the highest-earning Americans living in high-tax states are seeing their federal income tax liabilities increase.

It’s curious that liberals who criticized Trump so vociferously for “cutting taxes on the wealthy” are so upset by an element of the tax reform plan that merely takes away a tax break enjoyed disproportionately by the wealthy.

The problem here is simple. The Democrats believe that President Trump cut taxes for the rich (which he didn’t), but it was the wrong rich. However, just for the record, since most of the tax burden falls on Americans who are relatively successful, their tax cuts are going to seem larger than those who pay little or no taxes.

The following chart is from a Pew Research article. The figures are from 2015:

People who make over $100,000 (which in some areas of the country is not a lot of spending power) pay over 80% of all income taxes paid. I think we need to reopen the discussion of a flat tax. Everyone needs to have an equal stake in the game.

It’s All A Matter Of Perspective

Yesterday Newsbusters posted an article about a recent ABC News panel that was absolutely hilarious (not intentionally of course).

The article reports:

With nearly the entire Democratic 2020 field sprinting to be the closest to socialism without using the label, folks in the liberal media were busy trying to spin their radical policy positions as something palatable. A great example of this occurred during ABC’s This Week on Sunday, when two panelists tried to suggest that it was Republicans who were the radical ones with Democrats supposedly as the centrists.

During the “powerhouse roundtable” discussion late in the show, Republican strategist Alice Stewart noted that the candidates could “run away from the socialism label” all they wanted “but you can’t deny the fact that the Democratic Party is moving very, very far to the left.”

“We’re talking about a lot of policies that are extremely left. The Cortezs of Washington and the younger generation of Democrats are really causing a divide in the Democratic Party,” she added before triggered faux-Republican Matthew Dowd couldn’t hold back anymore.

Talking over Stewart, Dowd emphatically insisted it was the Republicans who were the ones who were out of touch with Americans: “The Democratic Party — if you look at all the issues and where the public stands, the Democratic Party is actually closer to the center than the Republican Party is. The Democratic Party is much closer to the center.”

Meanwhile ideas such as socialism, free education, free healthcare, and generally free money are gaining acceptance in the Democrat Party.

Wow. So let’s look at some of the other issues.

President Trump supports strong borders (and a wall). In January a Rasmussen poll showed that 48 percent of Americans felt that the government was doing too little to stop illegal immigration. On March 13th, Rasmussen reported that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters say Democrats should allow Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, to host at least one of their intraparty debates. Just 28% disagree, while 15% are undecided. On January 18th, Real Clear Politics reported that more Americans may identify as pro-choice than pro-life, but more than six in 10 of those who say they are pro-choice (61 percent) join the three-quarters of all Americans in wanting abortion restricted to – again, at most – the first trimester. So do about six in 10 Democrats (59 percent), eight in 10 independents (78 percent) and nine in 10 Republicans (92 percent).

In January 2018, the Pew Research Center reported the following:

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 10-15 among 1,503 adults, finds that 42% say Donald Trump is “striking the right balance” in the situation in the Middle East, while 30% say he favors Israel too much (just 3% say Trump sides too much with the Palestinians; 25% do not offer an opinion).

At a similar point in Barack Obama’s presidency, 47% of Americans said he had struck a proper balance in dealing with the Middle East; 21% said he sided too much with the Palestinians, while 7% said he favored Israel too much.

I’m not sure it’s the Republicans who are out of touch with the American people. They are probably out of touch with the people in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., but I am not sure how out of touch they are with most Americans.

Unfortunately No One Wins In This Scenario

Lisa Page’s testimony stated that the Department of Justice prevented the FBI from charging Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. That may or may not have something to do with a meeting on an airport tarmac, but that is the situation.  Let’s take a trip back in time to reexamine the entire picture.

If the FBI had indicted Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information during the political campaign, Bernie Sanders would have been the candidate and Donald Trump would probably have won. The Democrats would have been up in arms that Donald Trump won unfairly. They are claiming that anyway, but not too many people believe them! Since the Democrats expected Hillary Clinton would win, they assumed the story of the private server would disappear as soon as she took office. Well she lost, and the story is back. But let’s take a look at the consequences of the server.

On October 27, 2016, Real Clear Politics posted the following quote by Charles Krauthammer:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: This brings us back full circle to the beginning. The question was originally: Why did she have the private server? She said convenience, obviously that was ridiculous…

It was obvious she was hiding something.

And think about it, she set it up in 2009, before becoming Secretary of State. So, she anticipated having exchanges that she would not want anyone to see. So, we’ve been asking ourselves on this set for a year almost, what exactly didn’t she want people to see?

Well, now we know.

And as we speculated, the most plausible explanation was the rank corruption of the Clinton Foundation, and its corrupt — I don’t know if it’s illegal, but corrupt relationship with the State Department.

And her only defense as we saw earlier– the Democrats are saying, well, there was nothing she did… that was corrupted by donations. You can believe that if you want, but there’s a reason that people give donations in large amounts, and that’s to influence the outcome of decisions. So, this — we are getting unfolding to us, exactly what she anticipated having to hide, and it is really dirty business.

I miss Charles Krauthammer.

But there is another aspect to this. On August 29, 2018, The Federalist Papers reported:

A new report shows that the Chinese hacked Hillary’s homebrew communication server and reports indicate the Chinese killed 12 CIA sources while the server was at her residence.

The article included quotes from the Daily Caller News Foundation:

…“The Chinese wrote code that was embedded in the server, which was kept in Clinton’s residence in upstate New York. The code generated an instant ‘courtesy copy’ for nearly all of her emails and forwarded them to the Chinese company, according to the sources.”

In other words, an American secretary of state who felt entitled to work on her own amateurish computer system had exposed all of her correspondence to one of the country’s most powerful and dangerous rivals in world affairs.

And it’s very possible that at least 12 operatives serving United States intelligence agencies paid for Clinton’s security breach with their lives.

According to a New York Times report from May 2017, a successful Chinese counterintelligence operation that started in 2010 “systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.”

“From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources,” The Times reported. “According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.”

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but 2010 was Clinton’s first full year as secretary of state.

So what do we do with Hillary Clinton? If she were anyone but Hillary Clinton, she would be sitting in jail somewhere. However, if she is charged under a Republican administration, the Democrats will cry that the charges are political. But if she is not charged with the mishandling of classified information, it will be political. How in the world do you solve the accountability problem and the political problem?

An Interesting Take On Tariffs

Real Clear Politics posted an article today titled, “Why Trump’s Tariffs Won’t Cost Consumers a Nickel.” I’m not sure I totally agree with that, but the ideas behind the statement were interesting.

The article states:

Critics also contend that President Trump’s tariffs will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers.  We’ve heard this before. They said aluminum tariffs would spike the cost of a six-pack. But soda and beer prices have remained flat.

Now Walmart has joined the chorus. But we have no more reason to believe officials there than other boys who cried wolf. To understand why, let’s review how tariffs work, and how specifically the president’s tariffs work.

…Tariffs aren’t imposed on the final retail price the way a sales tax is. They are also not imposed on the wholesale price. They are not even imposed on what the importer pays at the dock when the goods enter the U.S.  The duties are imposed on an even lower price than that – and that’s a scandal in itself.

Let’s say Black & Decker wants to sell a line of toaster ovens with a $60 retail price in the U.S.  It goes to a Hong Kong middleman who deals with Chinese manufacturers. The Hong King middleman pays his cousin at a Chinese toaster oven factory $10 for toaster ovens. Black & Decker agrees to pay the Hong Kong middleman $20 for the toaster ovens, and picks them up off the boat in Long Beach, Calif.

Let’s say there’s a 10 percent tariff on toaster ovens from China. (There isn’t.)  The tariff would only be $1 because it’s calculated on what the Hong Kong middleman (says he) paid his cousin at the toaster factory – the first sale — not what Black & Decker pays to take delivery at the port – what’s known in the jargon of the trade world as the last sale. 

As a result of this accounting flim-flam, Hong Kong middlemen and the importers who love them are getting rich while taxpayers are getting hosed for untold billions of dollars the U.S. Treasury is not collecting.

The article concludes with information that shows the wisdom of what President Trump is doing:

And here’s the beauty part, how the tariffs are designed to hurt China: The Trump tariffs target items available from sources outside China.  Buy from a supplier outside China, avoid the tariff.

President Trump’s surgical strike tariffs are sending companies a clear message: Do business anywhere but China.  

And the message is getting through. Companies no longer see China as a safe space.  China needs a continued influx of foreign investment to feed its economic growth, and the president’s trade policy encourages companies to look elsewhere.

This is the reason it is good to have a businessman in the White House instead of a politician.

Despite What The Mainstream Media Says…

Stephen Moore posted an article at Real Clear Politics today about global pollution. Remember all the hysteria when America didn’t sign the Kyoto Treat and didn’t institute a cap-and-trade carbon tax? Well, evidently Americans cared enough about keeping the air clean to reduce carbon dioxide emission on their own.

The article reports:

Yet the latest world climate report from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy finds that in 2017, America reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries. That’s especially impressive given that our economy grew by nearly 3 percent — so we had more growth and less pollution — the best of all worlds. The major reason for the reduced pollution levels is the shale oil and gas revolution that is transitioning the world to cheap and clean natural gas for electric power generation.

Meanwhile, as our emissions fell, the pollution levels rose internationally and by a larger amount than in previous years. So much for the rest of the world going green.

The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions is China. According to the invaluable Institute for Energy Research, “China produces 28 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. India is the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide and had the second-largest increment (93 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, more than twice as much an increase as the U.S. reduction.” This means it doesn’t really matter how much America reduces its greenhouse gases because China and India cancel out any and all progress we make. Those who think they are helping save the planet by purchasing an electric car or putting a solar panel on their roof are barking up the wrong tree. There is no way to make progress on greenhouse gases without China and India on board — which they clearly are not.

It is basically ironic that China and India, both countries that signed the Kyoto Treaty, have increased their carbon dioxide to the point where they are cancelling out the gains made by America.

The article concludes:

So there you have it. The countries in the Paris climate accord have broken almost every promise they’ve made and the nation (the U.S.) that hasn’t signed the treaty is doing more than any other nation to reduce global warming. Yet, we are being lectured by the sanctimonious Europeans and Asians for not doing our fair share to save the planet. It’s another case study in how the left cares far more about good intentions than actual results. What matters is that you say that you will wash the dishes, not that you actually do it.

Unfortunately the war on carbon has never been about making the earth a cleaner place–it has always been about money. The Chicago Climate Exchange was set up in 2003 so that powerful Democrats could make a ton of money once cap-and-trade legislation was passed in America. It closed in 2010 when the legislation was not passed, and those Democrats lost their investment. Its two biggest investors were Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Goldman Sachs–and President Obama, who helped launch CCX with funding from the Joyce Foundation, where he and presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett once sat on the board of directors. Had cap and trade gotten through Congress, all of those people would have made a lot of money. That is one of many reasons why they supported the legislation–clean air was simply a side issue. (References here and here).

 

 

Charles Krauthammer Had It Right

The following is a quote from Charles Krauthammer in October of 2016:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: This brings us back full circle to the beginning. The question was originally: Why did she have the private server? She said convenience, obviously that was ridiculous…

It was obvious she was hiding something.

And think about it, she set it up in 2009, before becoming Secretary of State. So, she anticipated having exchanges that she would not want anyone to see. So, we’ve been asking ourselves on this set for a year almost, what exactly didn’t she want people to see?

Well, now we know.

And as we speculated, the most plausible explanation was the rank corruption of the Clinton Foundation, and its corrupt — I don’t know if it’s illegal, but corrupt relationship with the State Department.

And her only defense as we saw earlier– the Democrats are saying, well, there was nothing she did… that was corrupted by donations. You can believe that if you want, but there’s a reason that people give donations in large amounts, and that’s to influence the outcome of decisions. So, this — we are getting unfolding to us, exactly what she anticipated having to hide, and it is really dirty business.

The quote was posted at Real Clear Politics.

This is a quote from then FBI Comey’s statement about Hillary Clinton’s emails. It is taken from the Los Angeles Times:

FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.

This helped us recover work-related e-mails that were not among the 30,000 produced to State. Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.

With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”

The underline is mine.

Regardless of how you feel about Hillary Clinton, mishandling classified information is a crime that ordinary people go to jail for committing. If there are not consequences for breaking laws, why do we have those laws?

 

 

With Friends Like These…

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about an amazing statement by President Obama. President Obama’s current approval rating according to Real Clear Politics is averaging about 41.4 percent this month (somehow the mainstream media is not reporting this fact). Keeping that in mind, consider this quote from a recent speech:

“Well, look, here’s the bottom line,” said Obama, “We’ve got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn’t win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turn-out. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. They are on the right side of minimum wage. They are on the right side of fair pay. They are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure. They’re on the right side of early childhood education.

“So, this isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. And I tell them, I said, you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn up.”

If you were a Democrat candidate running for Congress, how would you feel about that statement?

A Concise, Honest Statement About The Fiscal Cliff

Yesterday Real Clear Politics posted a video and transcript of a statement made by Senator Tom Coburn on Face the Nation.

This is the statement:

SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OKLAHOMA): The characterization is no matter where we raise taxes, what’s going to happen wit the money? We’re going to grow the government with it. We’re not going to reduce the deficit, because we refused to solve the bigger problems like saving Medicare, insuring Social Security Disability (SSI). We’re not going to use that money to do anything except continue to grow the government.

So, the characterization is that we’re wanting to protect — what we’re wanting to do is to make sure we have a dynamic economy. And I have no problems, I’ve been out there for a long time with saying those who are making more ought to contribute more, but where does that money go? And what do you do with the money? Do you do something with the money that will actually get us further down the road and fix our ultimate long-term problem, which is we’re bankrupt? And we went off the cliff two years ago when we covered 90% of our debt-to-GDP? And by the way, if you actually look at it the way every other country [does], our debt-to-GDP right now is 120%. Not 90%, not 100%, it’s 120%.

So, if you look at that, what’s ultimately going to happen — one last fact, the average Greek citizen‘s debt, for their country, is $36,000; we’re at $51,000 per person in this country. We’re becoming Greece, and we have a government where we’re willing to pay the taxes for 65% of the cost of it. We need to change that. We need both, we need to do both.

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