I Guess Legalization Was Not The Right Answer

A number of states have legalized recreational marijuana with the intention of collecting tax revenue on the sale of the drug after it becomes legal. There is little thought given to the possible effects of the drug or the long-term consequences–it’s about the money. As far as the long-term consequences, I posted an article in October of last year that included a first-hand account of the effects of continuing marijuana use. Yesterday (updated today) The U.K. Daily Mail posted an interesting article about how the legalization and taxation of marijuana  has worked in California.

The article reports:

California is increasing business tax rates on legal marijuana, a move that stunned struggling companies that have been pleading with the state to do just the opposite.

Hefty marijuana taxes that can approach 50 per cent in some communities have been blamed for pushing shoppers into California’s tax-free illegal market, which is thriving. 

Industry analysts estimate that $3 are spent in the illegal market for every $1 in the legal one.

The California Cannabis Industry Association said in a statement that its members are ‘stunned and outraged.’

The group said the higher taxes that will take effect January 1 will make it even worse for a legal industry struggling under the weight of heavy regulation and fees, local bans on pot sales and growing and a booming underground marketplace.

‘Widening the price … gap between illicit and regulated products will further drive consumers to the illicit market at a time when illicit products are demonstrably putting people´s lives at risk,’ the group said, referring to the national vaping health crisis.

Los Angeles dispensary owner Jerred Kiloh, who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, said the increased levies added to the heavily taxed market ‘seems like a slap in the face.’

The changes involve taxes paid by legal businesses, which ultimately get passed along to consumers at the retail counter.

Josh Drayton of the cannabis association predicted that an eighth-ounce purchase of marijuana buds, typically priced around $40 to $45, would be pushed up to $50 or more in the new year.

There are a few lessons to be learned here. First, increasing taxes on something results in people finding another source or buying less. In this case, people have found another source. A person buying legal marijuana can be reasonably sure that he is getting the product he is paying for; however, buying any drug illegally can be very risky. This is the Laffer Curve at work–raising taxes on something will at some point decrease revenue. Second, companies don’t pay taxes–increased taxes are passed along to the consumer in the form of increased prices.

Legalizing recreational marijuana use may have unseen consequences we haven’t even dreamed of yet. In California it has not ended the illegal drug trade, and the greedy government’s taxes have only exacerbated the problem.

A Nightmare For Healthcare In America

Issues & Insights posted an article today about Elizabeth Warren’s healthcare plan for America.

These are some highlights from the article:

So Warren simply waves her magic wand and makes $14 trillion in costs disappear. And how does she cut Medicare for All’s price tag by 41%?

By proposing:

    • impossibly deep cuts in drug prices,
    • devastating cuts in payments to hospitals and doctors,
    • and entirely unrealistic claims about overhead costs.

Even with Warren’s phony price tag of $20.5 trillion, the taxes required are truly astronomical. Warren says businesses would have to contribute $8.8 trillion in taxes to help finance Medicare for All. She says they should be grateful because under the current system they’ll spend $9 trillion on employee health benefits.  

But she doesn’t actually know that businesses will spend $9 trillion on health care over the next decade. It’s just a guess. And not a very good one, since businesses are finding new and better ways every day to keep their health costs under control.

Her plan is to pay for healthcare by doing the following:

Even the supposed business savings are phony since Warren would massively raise corporate income taxes. In her plan, she announces that she would:

    • repeal the Trump corporate tax cuts, reinstating the 35% tax rate that made U.S companies uncompetitive among industrialized nations,
    • enforce a “country by country” minimum tax of 35%,
    • and lengthen depreciation rules.

Combined, these and other new levies would raise corporate taxes by $2.9 trillion.And this doesn’t count the following:

    • the $800 billion tax on financial transactions she’d impose
    • the $100 billion fee on “big banks”
    • a 6% wealth tax
    • much higher capital gains tax rates
    • and a requirement that taxes be paid on cap gains every year, whether or not the stocks are sold

Guess who will be paying all those costs?

People need to remember that corporations do not actually pay higher taxes–they pass those tax hikes on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Consumers pay higher corporate taxes and higher corporate taxes drive businesses out of the country.

The article concludes:

Meanwhile, drug companies would be entirely at the mercy of whatever price caps Warren decides to impose (namely, 70% cuts for brand name drugs and 30% cuts for generics), since they’d have no other buyers.

Pharmaceutical companies that don’t play ball, she says, would risk losing their patent protection (through compulsory licensing) while the government takes over drug manufacturing. Say goodbye to the pharmaceutical industry.

In sum, Warren is peddling a health plan that, if it were actually enacted, would devastate the economy, wreck the nation’s health care, and put the government in control of just about every business decision. And she has a good chance of claiming the Democratic party’s nomination. That’s frightening.

And right now, she is one of the leading candidates for President.

Where Some Of The Money Would Come From

Gregg Jarrett posted an article today which explains how Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would pay for healthcare for people who are in America illegally.

The article reports:

Senator Warren and Senator Sanders have both publicly supported the dismantling of the United States healthcare system and want to rebuild it as a socialized government-run system. In this new system, illegal aliens would also be entitled to taxpayer-funded healthcare. Senator Sanders has admitted that to accomplish this, taxes on the middle class would need to increase. Senator Warren has refused to say how she plans to pay for such an expensive and expansive healthcare system.

The Washington Post interviewed a few “external economic policy advisers” to see what ideas they might be pitching to Senator Warren’s campaign. One advisor by the name of Robert Pollin suggested taking away money from the Department of Veterans Affairs and diverting it to a single-payer system.

“Robert Pollin, a left-leaning economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who has worked with the Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) teams, said he believes two-thirds of the single-payer fund can be raised by redirecting existing public health-care spending from Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pollin refused to discuss any details related to his conversations with Warren’s campaign.” – The Washington Post

So money will be taken away from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for healthcare for people who are in America illegally.

The article concludes:

Not only is Mr. Pollin suggesting that funds intended for the healthcare of America’s bravest be diverted to this new system, but also Medicaid and Medicare funds. This means that the government entities that are meant for the underprivileged, handicap, and elderly will lose funding. Even with redirecting all of these funds Mr. Pollin admits that they would need to raise an additional 600 billion dollars.

“Pollin suggests that the remaining third be raised by a $600 billion annual ‘gross-receipts’ tax on businesses.”

This means that in effect, taxes will go up on all citizens. If stealing money from the health plans of American veterans is their best solution, the American people will reject their radical ideas and reelect President Trump.

I hope so.

The Accounting On This Would Cost More Than The Gains

MSN Money posted an article from The Wall Street Journal today. The article deals with the Democrats’ latest plan to raise taxes on things that are not currently taxed. The Democrats don’t seem concerned with cutting spending–they just want more of your money.

The article explains the plan:

The income tax is the Swiss Army Knife of the U.S. tax system, an all-purpose policy tool for raising revenue, rewarding and punishing activities and redistributing money between rich and poor.

The system could change fundamentally if Democrats win the White House and Congress. The party’s presidential candidates, legislators and advisers share a conviction that today’s income tax is inadequate for an economy where a growing share of rewards flows to a sliver of households.

For the richest Americans, Democrats want to shift toward taxing their wealth, instead of just their salaries and the income their assets generate. The personal income tax indirectly touches wealth, but only when assets are sold and become income.

At the end of 2017, U.S. households had $3.8 trillion in unrealized gains in stocks and investment funds, plus more in real estate, private businesses and artwork, according to the Economic Innovation Group, a nonprofit focused on bringing investment to low-income areas. Most of the value of estates over $100 million consists of unrealized gains, said a 2013 Federal Reserve study. Much has never been touched by individual income taxes and may never be.

Under current law, when stocks and investment funds are inherited, the person inheriting them pays no tax on the capital gains that were accrued during the time the previous owner possessed the stock. At the point of inheritance, new capital gains begin to accrue. For example, if a person of modest means bought five shares of a stock a month over a period of ten years and his $3000 a year investment was worth $300,000 at his death, his heirs would receive the $300,000 worth of stock and pay capital gains when they sold it on the basis of that $300,000. The idea is to encourage people to invest. The Democrats want to change that.

The article reports:

In campaigns, Congress and academia, Democrats are shaping tax plans for 2021, when they hope to have narrow majorities. There are three main options.

President Obama left office with a list of ideas for taxing the rich that might have raised nearly $1 trillion over a decade. The most important was taxing capital gains at death.

The idea was too radical for a serious look from Congress at the time. Now, to a Democratic base that has moved left, it looks almost moderate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate most prominently picking up where Mr. Obama left off, has proposed repealing stepped-up basis. Taxing unrealized gains at death could let Congress raise the capital gains rate to 50% before revenue from it would start to drop, according to the Tax Policy Center, because investors would no longer delay sales in hopes of a zero tax bill when they die.

And indeed, Mr. Biden has proposed doubling the income-tax rate to 40% on capital gains for taxpayers with incomes of $1 million or more.

But for Democrats, repealing stepped-up basis has drawbacks. Much of the money wouldn’t come in for years, until people died. The Treasury Department estimated a plan Mr. Obama put out in 2016 would generate $235 billion over a decade, less than 10% of what advisers to Sen. Warren’s campaign say her tax plan would raise.

That lag raises another risk. Wealthy taxpayers would have incentives to get Congress to reverse the tax before their heirs face it.

Mr. Obama’s administration never seriously explored a wealth tax or a tax on accrued but unrealized gains, said Lily Batchelder, who helped devise his policies.

“If someone’s goal is to raise trillions of dollars from the very wealthy, then it becomes necessary to think about these more ambitious proposals,” she said.

Instead of attacking favorable treatment of inherited assets, Mr. Wyden goes after the other main principle of capital-gains taxation—that gains must be realized before taxes are imposed.

The Oregon senator is designing a “mark-to-market” system. Annual increases in the value of people’s assets would be taxed as income, even if the assets aren’t sold. Someone who owned stock that was worth $400 million on Jan. 1 but $500 million on Dec. 31 would add $100 million to income on his or her tax return.

The tax would diminish the case for a preferential capital-gains rate, since people couldn’t get any benefit from deferring asset sales. Mr. Wyden would raise the rate to ordinary-income levels. Presidential candidate Julián Castro also just endorsed a mark-to-market system.

For the government, money would start flowing in immediately. The tax would hit every year, not just when an asset-holder died. Mr. Wyden would apply this regime to just the top 0.3% of taxpayers, said spokeswoman Ashley Schapitl. Mr. Castro’s tax would apply to the top 0.1%.

The article concludes:

The Constitution says any direct tax must be structured so each state contributes a share of it equal to the state’s share of the population. A state such as Connecticut has far more multimillionaires per capita than many others, so its share of the wealth tax would far exceed its share of the U.S. population. How Ms. Warren’s wealth tax might be categorized or affected is an unsettled area of law relying on century-old Supreme Court precedents.

Still, the wealth tax polls well, and Democratic candidates are eager to draw a contrast with President Trump, a tax-cutting billionaire.

Republicans will push back. Rep. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) says tax increases aimed at the top would reach the middle class. “It easily goes down the slippery slope,” he said. “If it’s the 1%, it’s the top 20%.” he said.

The bookkeeping would be ridiculous. The tax forms would be intimidating. Let’s keep moving in the direction of simpler tax forms and less taxation. The next step should not be more taxes–it should be less spending.

About The Taxes You Pay On Your Social Security

In the past few days I have been getting notices on my phone to sign a petition to end taxing Social Security. I normally support smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes, but in this case, I want to keep taxing Social Security. I want to keep taxing Social Security until the federal budget is balanced. Who do I hold responsible for the unbalanced budget and the increasing debt? The voters. I will explain.

There are a lot of factors that went into my deciding that Social Security should be taxed (despite the fact that the money has already been taxed once). I will attempt to list them here. The majority of today’s Social Security recipients are the baby boomers. Those born in 1957 or before are now eligible to collect Social Security. In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18, and those people born in 1957 began voting in 1975. The gold standard ended in 1973. Up until that point, budget deficits were running between $1 billion and $23 billion.

I want to focus on the baby boomers. We were the generation that ‘had it all.’ We were the ‘me generation.’ Our parents had come through the depression and World War II and enjoyed the prosperity of the 1950’s. We were consumers. As adults, we began the serious use of credit cards. We took out student loans to send our children to college. We were seriously into instant gratification. We were idealistic–we wanted to end poverty. We also wanted to end communism. We tried to do both at once and spent money we didn’t have. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the deficits grew rapidly. We continued to elect people who helped them grow. We complained when they grew, but continued to elect people who overspent. We are the ones currently collecting Social Security. We deserve to be taxed on it because we are the ones who elected the people who have run up the deficit.

So who is responsible for the rapidly growing federal debt–the voters. Don’t talk to me about the money or lobbyists in politics–if your Congressman is voting against your interests because of lobbyists, it is your responsibility to vote him out of office. When the Republicans caved on repealing ObamaCare, they deserved to be voted out of office. We need to keep voting people out of office until we get what we want.

I would love for Social Security to be tax free, but let’s put people in Congress who will control spending first!

The Arrival Of Robin Hood

Remember teaching your children that money doesn’t grow on trees and that they have to earn it? Evidently some of our members of Congress never learned that lesson.

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about some recent statements made by Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Minnesota.

The article reports:

Far-left “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) spoke at the NAACP convention over the weekend and railed against the GOP tax cuts in a pitch for her anti-poverty BOOST Act, promising to take money from the rich and give it “back to the people that earned it.”

Tlaib introduced her anti-poverty legislation – the Building Our Opportunities to Survive and Thrive (BOOST) Act – last month and spoke about it at the NAACP convention over the weekend. The proposal offers a guaranteed income – up to $6,000 per year – to families and individuals under certain financial thresholds via a “refundable tax credit that can be paid monthly.”

The Michigan lawmaker’s BOOST Act serves as her response to what she calls the “GOP Tax Scam,” despite the fact that two-thirds of Americans will pay less in taxes in 2018, thanks to the tax cuts.

“Recently, I introduced the Boost Act. This legislation completely repeals the GOP Tax Scam that is only helping wealthy individuals – the rich, the corporations,” she told the crowd.

“And do you know what I did with that money? Do you know what I said? We’re going to go ahead and put it in the pockets of folks like everyday Americans,” she said, noting that families making less than $100,000 could get up to $6,000 per year.

Taking the moral route, Tlaib said it is important to give money back to the people who actually “earned” it, suggesting that wealthy individuals do not earn or deserve to keep the fruits of their labor.

 I guess the Democrats have decided that class warfare works better than racism. Their playbook is getting very old.

The article notes the impact of the GOP tax cuts:

The economy has seen a boost from the GOP tax cuts, with companies issuing employee bonuses and announcing plans to invest billions in the U.S., thereby providing thousands of new jobs.

Last year, Exxon Mobil announced that it would invest $50 billion in the U.S. economy, adding 12,000 new jobs, thanks to the GOP tax cuts.

Even Starbucks, a notoriously left-leaning company, used millions of its corporate tax cut to raise the wage for existing workers.

Under Tlaib’s economic plan, the people who would benefit are the people who are not working; and the people who would lose are the people who work for a living. How long would it be before those who are working to give those who don’t work a free ride would see the folly of their ways and quit producing? That’s where socialism always winds up.

When Perspective Is Missing

All of us have our sensitive spots. Sometimes we react to comments we find offensive that were not meant to be offensive at all. Sometimes we read meanings that were never intended into things based on our own experience. Some recent local events illustrate that point.

A local weekly newspaper called The County Compass (which I would consider a conservative news outlet) publishes a page written by members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The CCTA is composed of ordinary citizens who are concerned about the rapid growth of government and increase in taxes in recent years. Members attend local board meetings of various kinds and attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. They also post vetting reports of candidates on their website during elections to provide voters with information. The group is made of up people of all ages from different professional backgrounds and personal experiences. Recently the CCTA page dealt with the issue of bringing those to justice who have engaged in a soft coup attempt to undo the 2016 election. The writer of the article stated that she hoped those guilty would be held accountable for their violations of the civil rights of Americans and their attempted coup. At the top of the article was a picture of a noose, which to many Americans represents an old fashioned concept of justice. Unfortunately, for some people a noose, even in a totally non-racial context, represents racism. The professionally outraged saw the picture and swung into action.

A local young black woman chose to post that graphic on her Facebook page with a remark about the paper’s being racist for having published it; she chose to disregard the subject matter of the article entirely; therefore, her post was completely out of context.

The NAACP got involved, and a local TV station interviewed Jeff Aydelette, the publisher of The County Compass, and the NAACP on the subject.  Then this past Wednesday, about 120 members of the NAACP staged a protest rally outside the offices of the Compass.  Jeff offered them chairs, went around and shook hands, and behaved in his usual gentlemanly way.  Again, a report was featured on local TV.

Now The County Compass is getting calls from advertisers who are cancelling their ads.  They are saying that the NAACP is telling them that their businesses will be boycotted if they continue to advertise in the Compass.

Although I am willing to concede that the picture may represent different things to different people, I think it needs to be viewed in context. I believe that this protest is simply an effort by the political left and its allies to shut down a conservative news outlet. This should be a wake-up call to all Americans who value free speech and freedom of the press that our First Amendment rights are under attack.

 

A Well-Deserved Honor

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line Blog today about a Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Trump will be awarding to Arthur Laffer, the father of the Laffer Curve.

So what is the Laffer Curve. The International Finance website defines it as follows:

The term “ Laffer Curve” was coined by Jude Wanniski (former associate editor of the The Wall Street Journal) in 1978 when Wanniski penned an article named “Taxes, Revenues and the Laffer Curve”. In December 1974, Wanniski who was the associate editor of The Wall Street Journal along with Arthur Laffer, Professor at the Chicago University, Donald Rumsfeld ( Chief of Staff of to President Gerald Ford) and Dickey Cheney (Rumsfeld’s deputy) were discussing President Ford’s WIN (Whip Inflation Now)  proposal for tax increases at a restaurant in Washington, Laffer grabbed a napkin and a pen and sketched  a curve on the napkin illustrating the tradeoff between tax rates and tax revenues, Wanniski later named it as the “Laffer Curve”.  A humble and honest academician who served Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Advisory Board, Arthur credited the theory to 14th century Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun and eminent Economist John Maynard Keynes.

This is what the Laffer Curve looks like:

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The “Laffer Curve” is a theoretical curve showing the relationship between applied income tax rate and the resulting government revenue. The theory propagates the following points:

    • A tax rate of zero would result in zero government revenue
    • A tax rate of 100% will also result in zero government revenue
    • As the tax rate increases to above zero, there is an increase in the revenues of the government
    • As the tax rate continues to increase, the resultant increase in government revenue begins to slow
    • At a particular point the curve peaks and turns back towards the horizontal axis

The Laffer Curve is the reason that the federal government will collect more tax revenue this year despite the fact that President Trump lowered taxes. When taxes are raised, those with the money to hire good tax accountants find a way to avoid paying high taxes and tax revenues go down. Those of us without good tax accountants (usually the middle class) are stuck paying the increased taxes. The spending power of the middle class decreases, and the economy slows down. When the middle class has more money to spend, the economy does well.

Congratulations, Arthur Lapper. The recognition is well deserved.

Taxes For Thee, But Not For Me

Hot Air posted an article today about the infrastructure bill being discussed in Washington. No one doubts that we need to make major repairs on our infrastructure; the question is how to pay for these repairs.

The Hill reports on a suggestion by Republican Chris Collins:

A Trump ally on Capitol Hill is calling for the doubling of the federal gas tax and airline fees in order to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure package being negotiated by President Trump and Democratic leaders.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is urging Congress to double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, which has not been raised in more than a quarter century. He also wants to double the existing fee that airline passengers pay per flight.

“I not only support increasing the gas tax; I support doubling it. I support doubling the airline passenger fee from $4.50 to $8 or $9. Those are user fees. I won’t even call it a tax,” Collins told The Hill in an interview after Trump and Democratic leaders agreed Tuesday to try to fund a $2 trillion bill to improve the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Hold on there a minute, Congressman Collins. According to answers.com:

Members of Congress gets their gasoline free , although some pay for their gas out of pocket But don’t stop there. Those that pay for their gas will turn in their gas receipt and get their money back. Don’t believe me , just ask your friendly member of Congress.

Members of Congress also fly at government expense. So who is impacted by doubling the gasoline tax and doubling the existing fee that airline passengers pay per flight? It’s the ‘little people’–it’s not members of Congress. This is exactly the mentality that President Trump was elected to combat. This is another example of Congress putting a burden on the American people that Congress does not have to share. Any Republican Congressman that votes to increase any tax needs to be reminded why he was elected. Any Congressman that suggests a tax that will impact average Americans, but not Congress needs to face a primary opponent in the next election.

How Your Tax Money Is Spent

The Daily Signal posted the following today:

Obviously we have some work to do. The question that comes to mind is why do we always hear that Social Security is running out of money but we never hear that the Welfare State is running out of money. I think it is truly time to examine the bureaucracy that support each. I suspect we could save some serious money there without hurting the people who truly need government assistance.

Follow The Example Of The People With The Money Who Have A Choice

Today John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about Mick Jagger’s recent heart surgery. I was never really a Rolling Stones fan, but the Beatles aren’t there anymore. At any rate, the article includes the following Tweet from Mick Jagger:

That’s great news, but there is more to the story. Mick Jagger just underwent a successful transcatheter aortic valve replacement (in New York City). Wait a minute–if socialized medicine is so great, what is he doing in New York City? No long wait and up-to-date care. There is still enough of the free market left in American medicine that medical procedures are up-to-date and relatively easy to obtain.

The article explains:

I think it was Robert Conquest who said that everyone is a conservative about what he knows best. Likewise, the more you really care, the less wedded you are to liberal shibboleths. I need heart surgery? Goodbye, NHS. Some years ago, there was a woman who was a member of Canada’s Parliament. She was a fierce opponent of private medical care on the ground that the people should share health risks equally. Then she came down with a rare form of cancer. She was on the next airplane to the U.S.

The Rolling Stones have always had a good appreciation of the virtues of free enterprise. John Phelan, the British economist who works for my organization, likes to quote Keith Richards:

The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws…It’s why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all.

Further proving that a conservative is simply a liberal who has been mugged and that tax policies have consequences.

Voting With Their Feet

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about what is happening to the cost of living in New York City.

The article reports:

More than a third of all city residents say they can’t afford to live anywhere in the state — much less the Big Apple — and believe economic hardship will send them packing in five years or less, according to a dismal new poll.

That’s 41 percent of city dwellers who say they can’t cope with New York’s high cost of living, according to a Quinnipiac poll published Wednesday.

Separately, 41 percent fear they’ll be “forced” to pull up stakes and seek greener pastures where the economic climate is more welcoming.

“They are making this city a city for the wealthy, and they are really choking out the middle class,’’ said Ari Buitron, a 49-year-old paralegal and born-and-bred New Yorker from Forest Hills, Queens.

The cost of taxes and housing have driven many residents south:

Even well-heeled New Yorkers are being lured down south thanks to New York’s hefty tax burden and new federal tax policies that punish high-tax states, according to Miami property magnate Gil Dezer.

“Because of the city tax and the non-deductibility of your real estate taxes, we’re seeing a lot more people with piqued interest,” he told The Post.

The poll’s findings reinforce research done by the Empire Center for Public Policy that shows that New York leads the nation in terms of residents jumping ship.

“It’s not surprising. The out migration downstate is first and foremost about affordability. Rent and property taxes downstate are very high,” said the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon.

Right now, a very large percentage of Americans live in New York City and Los Angeles. If the electoral college were eliminated, these cities would essentially elect our President. However, if these cities continue to lose population, eliminating the electoral college, despite the fact that it would be a foolish move, might not have the effect those calling for its elimination desire.

Comparing Apples To Apples

Most of us understand that the media is biased and slants its articles accordingly. The challenge for voters is to look past the obvious to make sure what they are reading is actually true. One recent example of misrepresenting a basic fact is the way the Trump tax cuts are being reported.

On February 13th The Daily Signal posted an article illustrating the fake news regarding the tax cuts.

The article includes the following tweet:

The article explains the problem with her statement:

This is simply the latest episode in a long-running campaign to demagogue tax cuts that let the vast majority of Americans keep more of their hard-earned money.

Some of the biggest cuts are actually being enjoyed by the lowest-income Americans. A typical family of four got a $2,917 tax cut this year.

…So what’s the complaint about?

In an early sample of tax returns, the IRS has reported that average refunds are down $170 from last year and that they hadn’t changed much from 2017, the year before.

But this is not relevant, for two reasons.

First, the sample of tax returns cited by the IRS is very small, and some analysts expect refunds will actually go up this year.

But second, and more importantly, tax refunds have nothing to do with the size of anyone’s tax cut. A refund is what you get back if you’ve paid too much in taxes throughout the year. Your tax cut is the drop in total taxes you owed to Uncle Sam last year. The two are not connected.

Employers across the country already gave us our tax cuts by withholding less money from our paychecks every pay period. Americans saw a bump to their paychecks in February 2018.

Of course, withholding is never perfectly accurate, so your refund or tax payment at the end of the year is simply a last-minute adjustment. But that refund does not cancel out the overall bump in take-home pay due to the tax cut.

Do you remember when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the tax cuts “monumental, brazen theft,” or when former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted the tax cuts would kill 10,000 people every year? This most recent round of hysteria is just more of the same.

Be prepared for more false stories as the 2020 election grows closer.

Crony Capitalism Stopped In New York City

Heritage.org posted an article today about Amazon’s decision not to locate in New York City.

The article reports:

Based on Amazon’s public statement, it seems the company couldn’t rely on the deals it had cut or the political support it had received to last beyond the next election. And businesses can’t base long-term decisions like this on shifting political sand.

That’s part of the problem with crony capitalism. It may procure short-term wins for a select few politicians and for businesses that can afford to pay to play, but it’s not a strategy for long-term success.

Employers want to set up shop in places where they can grow and succeed. The best environment for that is a level playing field with minimal government interference and low, broad-based taxes—not picking winners and losers through special-interest subsidies

A favorable business environment is one where local leaders work to help all businesses equally, not a select few. Employers want leaders who can listen to their needs without telling them how to run their business, and they want communities and leaders that welcome the jobs and economic growth that employers bring, instead of protesting their presence. 

It turns out this is not what New York City had to offer. Amazon said that certain politicians “made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward.”

New York City is not a friendly business climate, and losing those special “relationships” would have left it exposed to the same burdens and barriers that other businesses face in New York. 

For most businesses, deciding where to locate really all comes down to the bottom line.

The article notes that businesses and people are leaving New York:

According to the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, “Rich States, Poor States,” New York ranks dead last in the overall economic outlook ranking, while Virginia ranks among the top 10. 

And Amazon isn’t the only company wary of locating in New York. Plenty of individuals, families, and businesses are fleeing the state, and they’re taking their income and tax revenues with them. 

In fact, between 1997 and 2016, every dollar of income that left New York was replaced by only 71 cents coming in. That deficit will only continue under New York’s current policies.

The article concludes:

States and cities should also take a lesson from this New York episode: Crony capitalism isn’t the way to win over more business. The key is to provide a level playing field that offers opportunity for all businesses to grow and thrive.

Most People Got Bigger Tax Refunds This Year Than Last Year

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about this year’s tax refunds. The article was in response to a Washington Post article claiming that people were getting lower tax refunds this year than last year.

The article at Hot Air pointed out a number of things that might result in getting a smaller tax refund:

But since we have to play this game, let’s figure out why your refund is smaller. Did you get a raise or a significant bonus last year? Did you perhaps start a new job that pays more? Were there any other major changes in your financial situation? Tax filing company Intuit has a list of possible explanations you could look for. They include things such as your filing status changing, the selling of assets or the possibility that you were hit with a penalty.

There will be a small number of people who lost out on part of their SALT (state and local tax) deductions, but that should really only have a significant impact on people in high-tax states like New York who are earning well into six figures. As for everyone else, if your income went up, did you adjust your withholdings accordingly? If not, perhaps you need to have a chat with an accountant.

The article also reminds us that a tax refund is a refund of the money that you gave to the government during the year. You allowed them to have that money interest free until you filed your tax return and they were obligated to give the money back to you. Ideally, your tax refund should be small–that means that you correctly calculated the amount of money you actually owed the government. The question is not how big your tax refund is–the question is how much money you actually paid in taxes. The size of your tax refund is simply a reflection of how much money the government took from you during the year.

The Need For A Reality Check

Green energy is a wonderful concept. Energy in Iceland is almost entirely green because the country sits on a number of volcanoes that supply it with thermal energy. I’m not sure that I am willing to live on a volcano to get thermal energy, but that is one way to go green. However, the quest for green energy where there is not such an obvious energy source has not been particularly successful.

CNS News posted an article yesterday about the statement put out by Speaker Pelosi to recognize Black History Month.

The article has the entire statement, but I think the focus is interesting:

Democrats will be pushing a “For the People” agenda that will include raising wages by building green infrastructure.

“And we are pushing forward a bold, ambitious agenda For The People to make good on the promise of the American Dream for everyone by lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, raising wages by rebuilding America with green, modern infrastructure, and strengthening our democracy by ensuring that our government works for the public interest, not the special interests,” Pelosi said.

Let’s talk about rebuilding America with green, modern infrastructure. Green energy is one of the major special interest groups in America.

In 2015, The Washington Times reported:

Taxpayers are on the hook for more than $2.2 billion in expected costs from the federal government’s energy loan guarantee programs, according to a new audit Monday that suggests the controversial projects may not pay for themselves, as officials had promised.

Nearly $1 billion in loans have already defaulted under the Energy Department program, which included the infamous Solyndra stimulus project and dozens of other green technology programs the Obama administration has approved, totaling nearly about $30 billion in taxpayer backing, the Government Accountability Office reported in its audit.

The hefty $2.2 billion price tag is actually an improvement over initial estimates, which found the government was poised to face $4 billion in losses from the loan guarantees. But as the projects have come to fruition, they’ve performed better, leaving taxpayers with a shrinking — though still sizable — liability.

It’s a good thing Speaker Pelosi didn’t say anything about lowering taxes–maybe the increased wages with increased taxes will pay for the green energy.

This green energy idea has not been successful when tried before.

In August 2014 The Daily Caller posted an article about Spain’s attempt to convert to green energy:

According to a new report by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, Spain’s green energy policies have resulted in skyrocketing electricity prices, billions of euros in debt and rising carbon dioxide emissions.

“For years, President Obama has pointed to Europe’s energy policies as an example that the United States should follow,” said IER in a statement on their new study. “However, those policies have been disastrous for countries like Spain, where electricity prices have skyrocketed, unemployment is over 25 percent, and youth unemployment is over 50 percent.”

Spain began heavily subsidizing green energy sources, like wind and solar, in the early 2000s with its“Promotion Plan for Renewable Energies. The country used a combination of generous feed-in tariffs, green energy generation quotas and green power subsidies to boost renewable energy development in the country and lower its carbon dioxide emissions.

…But what seemed like a booming green energy economy on the surface was really becoming a costly way to help drive Spain into economic recession. By 2011, Spain’s electricity prices stood at 29.46 U.S. ¢/kilowatt-hour — two and a half times what electricity cost in the U.S. at the time.

President Trump has helped all Americans. We have the lowest unemployment among minorities that we have had in a very long time. Wages are going up, taxes are going down, and the workforce participation rate is climbing. I suggest that if Speaker Pelosi truly wants to help minorities during Black History Month she should support President Trump’s economic agenda.

Government Health Care Comes To New York City

The Daily Wire is reporting today that New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has announced that the city will begin a ‘universal’ health care program that will provide for health care for all uninsured New York City residents, “regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status.”

The article reports:

ABC News reports that de Blasio’s new plan, NYC Care, isn’t exactly a “universal health care” plan, but rather a “guarantee” that the city will pay for preventative medical care for an estimated 600,000 who do not have insurance, but live within the boundaries of New York City.

Health care, De Blasio announced, is now a “right” for anyone who gets sick in NYC.

“We recognized that obviously health care is not just in theory a right,” de Blasio told media ahead of his announcement. “We have to make it in practice a right.”

“Health care is a human right. In this city we are going to make that a reality,” de Blasio repeated at a press conference on the expansion Tuesday morning.

The plan, which isn’t precisely a plan — details are scant on how the system will actually work — will cover everything from mental health services, to well visits, to maternity care for New Yorkers who choose to go without insurance, or who can’t afford even the basic, public insurance option that New York City already offers, and aren’t signed up for “Obamacare” options on the state exchange.

The article mentions Mayor De Blasio’s estimate of the cost:

As Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro pointed out on Twitter, de Blasio’s government estimates the plan will cost the city no more than $100 million per year — an amount that de Blasio says precludes having to raise taxes to cover the program. But the $100 million number assumes either that not all 600,000 uninsured individuals will need medical care, or that medical care will be provided at far below market value.

If anyone wants to start a pool on how long it is before New York City has to raise taxes to pay for this, I’m in. I wonder if this new service (and its cost) will speed up the exodus from New York.

Americans Often Vote With Their Feet

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about New York City’s shrinking middle class.

The article reports:

After decades of sharp income erosion in the face of relentless taxes, escalating living costs and wage reductions through technological changes, the full extent of this shocking exodus is laid bare in the latest US Census data.

That shows the city is losing 100 residents each day — with departures exceeding new arrivals.

“The rich in New York City are getting richer; the poor are actually getting richer, but not rich enough to be middle class,” said Peter C. Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, who has studied other data, noting the expansion in welfare and entitlement programs.

Earle said it isn’t unreasonable to assume middle-class incomes are falling even faster in New York City than in other major US cities, because of the city’s high — and rising — housing and other living costs.

New York City’s middle class comprises 48 percent of city residents, with median annual incomes between $30,000 and $60,000.

Thirty-one percent make lower incomes, and the ranks of the rich account for 21 percent of New York City residents.

By contrast, in the early 1970s, about 61 percent of New Yorkers were ensconced in the middle class; today, fewer than half are.

Recently Amazon opened a facility in Long Island City that received an estimated $3 billion in subsidies, increasing the tax burden on city residents. Although increasing the number of jobs is a good idea, having the taxpayers pay for those jobs is not.

The article concludes:

National chain-store locations have plunged in the city by 0.3 percent, to 7,849, this year, according to the Center for an Urban Future. And a record 18 chains, including Aerosoles and Nine West, vacated all their city sites in 2018.

One sector doing a booming “business” is food pantries. Despite a city unemployment rate of 4 percent, New York food pantries report elevated levels of demand, especially during the holiday season.

More than 1 million New Yorkers now worry they won’t have enough food for their families, according to recent studies.

Unless something changes in the economic policies of New York City, the city will no longer be the center of commerce and art that it has been. The voters in New York City need to take a good look at where there city is going and make the appropriate political changes.

The Real Numbers

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the federal deficit and federal revenues. The numbers tell a very different story than the one the media would have you believe.

The editorial reports:

The latest monthly budget report from the Congressional Budget Office shows the deficit jumping $102 billion in just the first two months of the new fiscal year.

…A true apples-to-apples comparison, the CBO says, shows that the deficit climbed by just $13 billion.

So, no, the deficit is not soaring.

The editorial explains:

In fact, the CBO report shows that overall tax revenues climbed by $14 billion in the first two months of the year, compared with the same months last year. Which means they continue to hit new highs.

The CBO report shows that combined income and payroll taxes were the same in the first two months of the new fiscal year as they were last year. That’s even though far less money was withheld from paychecks thanks to the Trump tax cuts.

It also found that corporate income taxes went up by $5 billion. That’s despite the “massive corporate tax giveaway” that Democrats want to repeal.

Why are these revenues flat or up? Simple: The tax cuts help spur accelerated economic growth, which create jobs and spark income gains. More workers and higher wages mean more tax revenues. On the corporate side, a bigger economy means more profits, which even when taxed at lower rates can produce more revenue. This is exactly what advocates of Trump’s pro-growth tax cuts said would happen.

Meanwhile, revenue from “other sources” climbed by $8 billion. (To be clear, at least some of that $8 billion came from the re-imposition of ObamaCare’s nefarious tax on insurance premiums, which Congress had suspended the year before.)

But while revenues climbed by $14 billion, spending in the first two months of the new fiscal year climbed by $27 billion.

The obvious solution to the deficit problem is to limit spending. If we can’t agree on that, we could lower taxes again to increase revenue further, but I suspect that would really cause some Congressional heads to explode.

The Economy Under President Trump

I am not an economist, but I have learned over the years to listen to the people with the best track records on analysis. One of those people is Stephen Moore, who posted an article at The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

The article reports:

Liberals are tripping over themselves to explain why the economy has performed so much better under Donald Trump than it did under Barack Obama. The economy has grown by nearly 4% over the past six months, and the final number for 2018 is expected to come in at between 3% and 3.5%. The U.S. growth rate has doubled since Mr. Obama’s last year in office.

When Mr. Trump was elected, many Democratic pundits predicted an economic and stock-market meltdown. Then the economy started surging and they abruptly changed their tune, arguing that Mr. Trump was simply riding a global growth wave. That narrative was shattered when U.S. growth kept steaming ahead even as global growth—especially in China and Germany—stalled.

The people who predicted an economic crash if President Trump was elected are now saying that the tax cuts have given us a ‘sugar high’, and the market will crash when the sugar wears off. That makes about as much sense as President Obama taking credit for the move toward American energy independence.

The article continues:

The real contradiction in the “sugar high” argument is that it ignores the slow growth of the Obama years, which featured an avalanche of debt spending. Deficits as a share of GDP were 9.8% in 2009, 8.6% in 2010, 8.3% in 2011 and 6.7% in 2012. Where was the sugar high then? Instead of the expected burst in output coming out of the 2008-09 recession, borrowing more than $1 trillion a year for four years yielded the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Even excluding 2009, Mr. Obama’s deficits averaged more than 5% of GDP throughout the rest of his presidency but produced less growth than Mr. Trump has with lower deficits.

This wasn’t what Keynesians expected. Mr. Obama’s economic team predicted 4% growth every year coming out of the recession. Instead the “sugar high” from record peacetime deficits produced measly 2% growth. By 2016 GDP was running about $2 trillion below the trend line of a normal recovery.

The fastest growth rate over the past three decades was recorded in Bill Clinton’s second term, when federal government spending fell from 21.5% to 18% of GDP and deficits disappeared into surpluses. So much for the idea that deficit spending is a stimulant.

Mr. Trump’s fiscal policies have produced more growth than Mr. Obama’s because they were designed to incentivize businesses to invest, hire and produce more here at home. The Obama “stimulus,” by contrast, went for food stamps, unemployment benefits, ObamaCare subsidies, “cash for clunkers” and failed green energy handouts.

The article concludes:

Those pushing the “sugar high” fallacy also don’t realize that the Trump tax cuts aren’t going away soon. The 2017 business tax cuts can’t cause a recession in 2019 or 2020 because they don’t expire until 2025. They aren’t sugar pills.

The biggest threats to the economic boom and financial markets today are a deflationary Federal Reserve and the specter of a global trade war. Solve those problems and the American economy can keep flying high on its own power. And Mr. Trump’s critics will be proved wrong again.

When you decrease taxes and regulations on businesses, we all gain. That combination, if allowed to continue, will bring us continued economic growth.

Mourning A Past President

I am not former President Bush’s biggest fan, but the fact remains that he was a patriot who served his country in various ways. I am amazed at how the very members of the press who treated former President Bush very unfairly during the time he was President have now bestowed sainthood on him while using that sainthood to attack President Trump. I am totally convinced that in the eyes of the media, the only good Republican is a dead Republican.

A TMZ article posted at November 30 posted the following about President Bush’s accomplishments:

Along with being President, Bush also served as the 11th director of the CIA and 43rd Vice President of the U.S. under President Ronald Reagan. Bush was inaugurated as President on January 20, 1989.

Foreign policy — in particular the Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolving of the Soviet Union — was the centerpiece of Bush’s presidency. Among his other accomplishments — instituting a ban on importing semi-automatic rifles and signing the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and 1991 Civil Rights Act.

The article also notes:

Bush’s zinger during his election campaign, “Read my lips: no new taxes,” became an unforgettable moment … something he reneged on during his presidency.

Those new taxes were the result of a budget agreement brokered with the Democratic Congress. The agreement was supposed to help deal with the deficit. President Bush was praised for his courage in passing those taxes and was actually given the 2014 Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for the tax increase. Yet that tax increase caused a recession even though the tax was only on ‘luxury items.’ No one in Congress stopped to consider that taxing those items would have a negative impact on the people who built them. George Bush lost the 1992 election because the Democrats blamed him for the recession that followed the tax increase. Somehow the Democrats avoided taking responsibility for their part in brokering the budget deal.

At any rate, may President Bush rest in peace.

 

What Is This Actually About?

On Friday, Breitbart posted an article about the debate over one of the questions that is supposed to appear on the 2020 Census.

The article reports:

Republican lawmakers are working with Democrats to ban the 2020 Census from asking United States residents whether or not they are American citizens.

In March, President Donald Trump’s administration announced they would put the citizenship question back on the census. It has not been included since 1950. For seven decades, all residents living in the United States have been counted on the census but have not been asked whether or not they are American citizens, making it impossible for the federal government to know the size of the citizen population versus the immigrant population.

The article explains why this question is significant:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has noted the citizenship question on the census is necessary to further implement congressional apportionment based on the citizen population rather than the current rules that base state representation on the total population — including ocitizens, illegal alien residents, legal immigrants, and nonimmigrants on visas.

Should congressional apportionment be based on the number of American citizens in each state — which is only possible through asking the citizenship question on the census — Democrat-strong coastal areas with large foreign populations like California and Florida could lose representation, while states with small foreigon populations like Wyoming and Ohio would likely gain representation in Congress. Such a rule change would shift power from coastal states to the heartland of the country, Breitbart News reported.

Keep in mind that there are some serious philosophical differences in the politics of the elites in Washington (combined with the elites in coastal America) and the average American living in the mid-west.

Congress has been discussing illegal immigration since the 1980’s. Why hasn’t the issue been resolved? It’s a matter of viewpoint–the Democrats see illegal immigrants as future citizen voters–the corporate Republicans (the non-conservative, country-club Republicans) see cheap labor.  Until we elect Congressmen who are willing to see the problem of having millions of people in the country who are not contributing to Social Security or taxes yet are receiving government benefits, we will continue to have the problem of a large population of illegal immigrants. They do not have the right to represented in Congress–they are not citizens,

The question belongs in the 2020 Census, but I sincerely doubt it will be there.

 

Ugly Rears Its Head In The House Of Representatives

Sometimes dumb ideas come from Republicans as well as Democrats. I am about to illustrate that fact. Yesterday Representative Ted Deutch of Florida introduced H.R. 7173 into the House of Representatives. The bills description is, “To create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations.” Never trust the government to create a trust fund–remember the Social Security Trust Fund–it was robbed during the 1960’s (by the government that created it).

Let’s talk about this trust fund for a moment.

The bill states:

“A carbon dividend payment is one pro-rata share for each adult and half a pro-rata share for each child under 19 years old, with a limit of 2 children per household, of amounts available for the month in the Carbon Dividend Trust Fund.”

Do you really want the government commenting or being involved in any way with how many children you have in your family?

The Hill posted an article yesterday about the bill. The article included the following:

…the bill would charge companies when they produce or import fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, based on their expected greenhouse gas emissions.

But instead of using the money to pay for health or community projects, the new bill would distribute it to the public. Its backers say those “dividends” would offset the increased costs from the carbon tax, like higher utility and gasoline bills, for about 70 percent of households.

Dividend funds would be handed out by the Treasury Department under the bill, based on the number of people in a household.

“It’s transparent and easily trackable. You know where the money is going. It protects the American family so that families are not adversely impacted. Dividends would protect most families from cost increases,” Ben Pendergrass, senior director of government affairs at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, told The Hill.

“The market signals should still be there to guide things like fuel efficient cars and dividends protect people who can’t make that transition immediately.”

The bill would also prohibit the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the sectors that are taxed, unless the taxes aren’t effective after 10 years. That is an effort to attract support from Republicans, who are nearly united in opposition to Environmental Protection Agency climate regulations.

Rooney focused on the economic benefits of the bill, saying in a statement Wednesday that the revenue carbon neutral fee is good policy and a way “to support emerging alternate sources of energy.”

This bill is a really bad idea. It paves the way for more government intrusion into our private lives and takes more money from Americans. America has cut its greenhouse gas emissions without crippling our economy. We are quite capable of doing so in the future without stifling economic growth and creating even bigger bureaucracies.

 

Choosing Winners And Losers

Fox5 is reporting today that Amazon has decided to open two new facilities–one in Alexandria, Virginia, and one in Long Island City, New York.

The article reports:

New York state is kicking in more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives for getting half of Amazon’s second headquarters located in a section of Queens.

The Seattle-based company made its long-awaited announcement Tuesday, saying Long Island City and Alexandria, Virginia, will each get 25,000 jobs. The online retailer also said it will open an operations hub in Nashville, creating 5,000 jobs.

…New York state’s incentives are nearly triple those of Virginia’s, while Tennessee’s are $102 million.

According to Amazon, the cost per job for New York taxpayers is $48,000, compared to $22,000 for Virginia and $13,000 for Tennessee.

In a statement released by Amazon, Cuomo called the agreement “one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history.”

I have a few questions. How many years will these tax incentives last? Will Amazon leave the state when the incentives end? If each job cost New York taxpayers $48,000, how much do these jobs pay? The company is getting tremendous tax breaks to come to New York and create jobs, can New Yorkers afford the increases in their taxes to pay for those jobs? Wouldn’t it be better to cut taxes for all businesses in New York and make the state more attractive to businesses looking for a place to relocate? Lowering taxes across the board actually increases revenue, choosing winners and losers simply makes people angry.