Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Taxes

What’s in the GOP Tax Bill?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 6, 2017:

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The GOP tax reform bill presented last Thursday attempts to be “revenue neutral” within 10 years. By giving most of the cuts to corporate taxpayers, there’s precious little left for the middle class to enjoy. The problem is not only the mathematics — trying to match the “give” with the “take” — but the politics: Democrats will work to scuttle any attempt to relieve fiscal pressure on entrepreneurs (i.e., capitalists) who are largely carrying the burden of supporting the government. Absent any attempt to cut spending — the tax bill’s 429 pages offer little help with that — what’s left, as has been said, is simply moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.

First,

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The GOP Tax Reform Bill: Sausage-making on the Titanic

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, November 6, 2017:

John Godfrey Saxe. Library of Congress descrip...

John Godfrey Saxe

The oldest attribution isn’t to Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor of Germany, but to an American poet, John Godfrey Saxe. Back in 1869, he said it best: “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire in proportion as we know how they are made.”

Imagine, then, making sausages on the deck of the Titanic just after it hit an iceberg on the glassy sea of the North Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. The wonderful smells might have distracted the passengers from the reality that within two hours and forty minutes the unsinkable ship would disappear beneath the surface of the icy waters, taking 1,550 passengers with her.

That picture may be too dramatic for our purposes. But

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Combined Social Security Spending for 2017 Tops $1 Trillion for First time

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 27, 2017: 

The Monthly Treasury Statement issued on Wednesday from the Social Security Administration showed that total spending for the three social welfare programs administered by the agency — the Old Age and Survivors Insurance program, the Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income program — topped $1 trillion for the first time in history in 2017.

The program first hit $600 billion in spending in 1997, and it took nine years to hit the next benchmark, $700 billion. From there it took between three and four years to hit subsequent $100 billion spending benchmarks. Accordingly, the agency estimates that it will spend $1.6 trillion in 2026. From there it will be just a few short years before all funds are exhausted.

Most sensible observers have been warning for years that the program is in dire jeopardy, with all manner of schemes being proposed to rescue it from oblivion:

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This Thoroughbred is Just Beginning to Feel His Oats

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 20, 2017:

English: Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Down...

Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs.

It’s tempting to push the analogy comparing the U.S. economy to a Thoroughbred horse too far. But it is tempting. The Thoroughbred breed began around the time of the Industrial Revolution, when an English mare was crossbred with an imported Oriental stallion with Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman breeding. All Thoroughbreds can trace their pedigrees to three stallions imported into England in the 17th century. They were exported to Australia, Europe, Japan, and South America during the 19th century, and today an estimated 100,000 Thoroughbred foals are registered worldwide every year.

A Thoroughbred is tall, slender, athletic, and built for competition, usually on racetracks. Among the most famous are Citation, Phar Lap, Old Rosebud, Whirlaway, Roamer, Seabiscuit, and Man o’ War.

And, of course, the United States economy.

Starting at around 1800, the U.S. economy grew at such a rate that

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Many Surprises in Latest Jobless Claims Report

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 19, 2017:

The first surprise from the latest jobless claims statistics is that new claims for unemployment insurance benefits last week fell to the lowest level in 44 years, according to the Department of Labor (DOL): “The advance figure … was 222,000 … the lowest level for initial claims since March 31, 1973.”

The second surprise is that the number of continuing claims (those lasting more than a week) also fell to levels not seen since 1974.

The third surprise is

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Tax Reform: The Sausage-Making Begins

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 29, 2017:

Otto von Bismarck is credited, rightly or wrongly, with two famous quotes about laws and sausages: “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” And “To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”

One of the more insightful comments on the whole business in today’s Washington comes from the President’s son, Donald J. Trump, Jr., (shown above) who said:

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Tax-reform Plan Called “Tremendous” by Trump, “Fake Math” by Schumer

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 28, 2017:

In unveiling the tax reform “framework” cobbled together by the Trump administration, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, President Trump called it “tremendous”: “This is a tremendous change, and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor and as wages start going up [to] levels you haven’t seen in many years.”

On cue, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed her concerns about deficits, perhaps for the first time in her political career:

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The IRS Continues to Hire Repeat Offenders

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 23, 2017: 

Following its investigation in 2014, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA, shown above) concluded that the IRS was hiring previously employed thugs with known criminal backgrounds, including backgrounds of failing to file or pay their income taxes, falsifying documents, accessing private records of American taxpayers in order to harass them, disruption while at work, and taking time off without permission.

It made various suggestions to the IRS, which were ignored. When an unnamed Senator asked the TIGTA to do an update, the IG found that nothing had changed: thugs were still hiring thugs at the IRS.

From the update released in July:

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Inspector General Says the IRS is Rehiring People Who Were Fired for Illegal Behavior

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 22, 2017: 

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS ignored a report issued in December 2014 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was rehiring people it had previously fired for misconduct. That misconduct included failure to file and pay their own income taxes, falsifying documents, and theft of and illegal use of sensitive taxpayer information. What’s to keep the IRS from ignoring that report’s update, released in late July?

The latest report from the TIGTA scorned the IRS for continuing the practice:

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Debt Ceiling Debate Charade Begins, Again

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 2, 2017:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Congress in a letter sent Friday that they had precious little time to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling before his department ran out of money. He even put a date on when that would happen if the ceiling wasn’t raised: “Based upon our available information, I believe that it is critical that Congress act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by September 29.”

That’s the day before the end of the government’s fiscal year, and closely coincides with the moment when the Treasury will be unable to pay the government’s bills. The Treasury’s cash balances are expected to drop close to $25 billion in September, dangerously low when compared to the government’s budget of $4 trillion.

Mnuchin no doubt is referring to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in June that reminded citizens that

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Democrats and Fiscal Reality Present Roadblocks for Trump’s Budget

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 1, 2017:

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Deciding to move on following the failure of the Senate to pass the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal bill, the Trump administration announced on Monday its accelerated plans for passing its budget bill. According to Marc Short, President Trump’s director of legislative affairs, background work on the budget will take place in August in preparation for committee action in the House in September. Assuming little resistance there, Short hopes for a floor vote in October, a Senate vote in November, and the president’s signature on it immediately thereafter.

It’s good to dream big.

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Texas Grows 3.9 Percent in First Quarter. California? 0.1 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, July 28, 2017: 

This map shows the incorporated areas in Colli...

This map shows the incorporated areas in Collin County, Texas. McKinney is highlighted in red.

Melissa, a resident of San Diego with degrees in psychology and Spanish, could find work only at a fast-food restaurant, recounted an article in (of all places) the Los Angeles Times about how some conservatives fed up with California are looking to Texas for greener pastures — and not just economically. The final straw for Melissa was when her daughter came home from public school one day with a “young adult” novel as homework. The book celebrated the use of cigarettes and pills to cope with stress, and Melissa decided it was time to leave the Golden State.

She found Conservative Move, a website just launched to help Californians

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Will Mulvaney Have Any More Success with MAGAnomics than Stockman did with Reaganomics?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 17, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney.

After serving in the House as a Republican representative from Michigan, David Stockman served as President Ronald Reagan’s OMB director from January 1981 until he quit 4½ years later in frustration. He got half of Reaganomics passed – the tax reduction part. He failed in getting the other half passed – the government spending cut part.

Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s OMB Director after serving in the House as a Republican from South Carolina. And his job is likely to be as difficult and frustrating as was Stockman’s.

It’s far too soon to speculate about Mulvaney.

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Illinois Republicans Override Governor’s Vetoes, Stiff Taxpayers in Budget Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, July 7, 2017:

Lisa Madigan, Illinois state attorney general,...

Lisa Madigan. step-daughter of Michael Madigan, and, not surprisingly, Illinois’ state Attorney General. Just a coincidence.

When House Speaker Michael Madigan finally engineered the override of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of his budget bill on Thursday, he called it a victory:

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The Wall Street Journal Tells Investors Not to Worry About Illinois. Really.

This article was published by the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 30, 2017:

Seal of Illinois. Center image extracted from ...

Seal of Illinois.

The Journal declared that although the state of Illinois is in deep trouble, that shouldnt be troubling to those investors holding billions of the states debt that is about to be downgraded to junk. On Saturday morning, barring a miracle, S&P Global will keep its promise and announce that Illinoiss debt rating is being reduced by at least one more notch, to junk status.

The Journal said that downgrade reflects the fact that the state faces large uncertainties and has major exposure to adverse conditions. But none of those need bother investors, said the Journal. Even though several bond mutual funds have bailed since the first of the year, offloading an estimated $2 billion of the states $25 billion in investor-owned debt, the Vanguard Group is standing firm. It has the largest exposure to Illinois in its seven mutual funds, holding $1.2 billion of its debt and claiming that it is comfortable with (its) risk/reward.

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Illinois Countdown to Junk Status Continues

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 29, 2017:

English: IL State Rep. Susana Mendoza 2011 Pho...

Susana Mendoza

Despite the clock’s ticking on the downgrade of Illinois’ $25 billion of indebtedness to junk status on midnight Friday, investors remain complacent. True, some mutual funds have offloaded $2 billion of Illinois debt in the last few months, but the Wall Street Journal provided salve to investors’ concerns that those remaining invested will be badly hurt. Unnamed analysts, wrote the Journal, “predict prices would drop only a few cents in the event of a junk downgrade.” They noted that Vanguard Group has $1.2 billion of Illinois bonds spread across seven of its bond mutual funds, with a company spokesman saying that it is “comfortable with the risk/reward” of investing in the state’s bonds.

Besides,

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Illinois Governor calls for “Unity,” Offers “Compromise” that is a “Capitulation”

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 23, 2017: 

When politicians call for unity, they usually mean “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” In the case of Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner (shown)’s Tuesday night closed door compromise offer to intransigent Democrats to get them to agree to a budget before the June 30 deadline was called a capitulation by The Wall Street Journal:

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Illinois Governor Gives Tax Increases to Placate Democrats Before Deadline

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 22, 2017: 

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (shown), speaking briefly to a closed session at the state house on Tuesday night, urged “unity” in solving the state’s staggering and rapidly accelerating financial problems. Those present reported afterward that the governor declared, “Failure to act [on his budget proposal] is not an option. Failure to act may cause permanent damage to our state that will take years to overcome.”

The state has already suffered massive damage.

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Illinois Sends “Dear Contractor” Letters Ordering Them to Stop All Road Construction

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 15, 2017: 

English: A photograph of the Springfield Capit...

A photograph of the Springfield Capitol Building

Illinois contractors working on the state’s roads just received a “Dear Contractor” letter from the state ordering them to halt work because the state is out of money to pay them:

At this time appropriate funding is not available after June 30, 2017. Thus, work shall cease effective June 30, 2017.

Please bring all projects to a condition that will provide a clear and safely traveled way….

On July 1, 2017, all work shall cease except for maintenance.… The department will notify you when work may resume.

Right now the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills, an increase of nearly $4 billion just since the end of December, with no end in sight. When Republican Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015, he promised he would bring order out of chaos by

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Democrats Love to Tax the Rich – Except When it’s THEIR Rich

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

The Trump tax reform proposal has put the Democrats into a deliciously difficult position. He wants to eliminate state and local deductions for income and property taxes (but leave charitable and mortgage deductions alone) as part of his attempt to keep his proposal revenue-neutral.

The amounts involved are enormous. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that, if passed, it would cost the rich $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years. The Tax Foundation ran the same numbers and came up with an even bigger number: $1.8 trillion.

The law currently allows state and local income and property taxes to be deducted in calculating an individual’s federal tax liability. But, as both tax groups noted, those benefitting the most from the deductions happen to live in liberal, Democrat-leaning and supporting states. This forces Democrats to face a conundrum:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.