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

Trump Floats Trial Balloon on Tax Reform; Wants Feedback

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Initially referred to as a statement of general principles, the one-page summary of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan looked more like a trial balloon. Said the White House, the administration “will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input … [in order to] develop the details of a plan that … can pass both chambers.”

Reiterating Trump’s goals of growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, simplifying the tax code, and providing tax relief to middle-income families, the trial balloon as summarized would

lower the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, including Subchapter S or “pass-through” corporations;

 

reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three: 10%, 25% and 35%, depending on income;

 

double the standard deduction, currently at $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly;

 

expand tax relief to families with child and dependent care expenses;

 

eliminate various tax breaks that apply mainly to the wealthiest taxpayers;

 

keep mortgage interest and charitable deductions while eliminating deductions for state income taxes paid;

 

repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT);

 

repeal the 3.8% ObamaCare tax that hits small businesses and investment income;

 

allow a one-time “tax holiday” for international corporations holding trillions overseas; and

 

eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called it “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while his Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said the plan represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

What’s really big is the potential deficits Trump’s plan could cause, with at least one critic estimating that it would result in $6 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

The underlying goal of the administration being pushed by Trump is that by cutting these tax rates the economy would awake from its slumber and start generating three percent annual rates of growth of the nation’s GDP. Although the Laffer Curve was not mentioned by Mnuchin or economist Stephen Moore (in his recent critique of the government’s economic outlook), it’s the same principle: lower tax rates to result in higher economic growth which will (in theory) result in higher taxes collected by the government.

The increase in the standard deduction is also designed to allow an estimated 27 million Americans who file a long form listing their mortgage interest and charitable deductions to use a “big postcard” instead. This “simplification” of the tax code has long been a stated goal of Trump as candidate and his administration after he was inaugurated in January.

Wednesday’s announcement is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a long war before anything reaches Trump’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a gift for the already-wealthy Americans who don’t need any more tax breaks. And Mnuchin referred to the Senate strategy of “reconciliation” that is likely to be needed to pass the Senate without Democrat votes. He noted that he hoped that the bill that finally passes Congress and is signed into law by the president will be permanent, but “if we have them for [just] 10 years, that’s better than nothing.”

Reconciliation would allow Republicans to pass it without a single Democrat vote, but would also cause the plan to expire in 10 years if it generates deficits. This is what happened to the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. When the projected revenue growth didn’t meet expectations, his tax cuts for the most part were automatically ended.

The obstacles are substantial, including determined if futile resistance from Democrats and complaints from the energy industry which might see its depletion allowance deductions cut or removed in Trump’s final bill. Those details will be revealed in June and could also negatively impact heavily-indebted public utilities and cable companies that might see some loss of their interest deductions.

On the other hand, winners could include companies that are currently most negatively impacted by high corporate rates in force, including engineering and construction companies, food wholesalers, publishers, and retailers.

The old proverb applies as Trump’s trial balloon gets translated into specific language in the tax reform bill in June: “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” A newer one is this from Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading, who has been following these events closely:

The sugar high of tax cut headlines could turn into a nagging headache once stakeholders return to the painstaking consideration of process and pay-fors.

Harry Dent, Meet Chris Hamilton

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 29, 2017:

For years Harry Dent (shown) has attempted to turn his demographic analyses into investment advice, with middling performance. It seems that when his advice doesn’t turn out well, he writes another book.

Take, for example, his The Demographic Cliff: How to Survive and Prosper During the Great Deflation Ahead. He contends that the economy can be traced and tracked using the behavior of consumers as they grow, mature and age. Young people marry, have families, buy homes, automobiles, and gadgets. Their acquisitions peak at around age 45 or so, and then decline over time into retirement.

His “waves” are like seasons: 

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Trump’s 2018 Budget Won’t Touch Social Security, Medicare

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 27, 2017:

English: The standard Laffer Curve

The standard Laffer Curve

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News on Sunday that cuts in entitlement programs — i.e., Social Security and Medicare — won’t appear in the president’s budget: “We are not touching those now. So don’t expect to see that as part of this budget, OK? We are very focused on other aspects and that’s what’s very important to us.”

Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2018 (starting October 1, 2017) is expected to be presented to the House on Monday, March 13, just two weeks away. And there are a lot of moving parts that must be glued into place before then.

Those parts include

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The Restoration of Liberty Begins with Budget Cuts

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 27, 2017:

English: Anti-United States Internal Revenue S...

For proof, look what’s happened to the IRS. A combination of pique and outrage has caused Congress to cut the agency’s budget each year since 2010, except for a slight uptick last year. As a consequence, it now employs fewer than 80,000 people, down from 94,722 in 2010, with its enforcement arm suffering the most, losing 30 percent of its field agents.

The consequence was predictable.

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Bill to Repeal Obamacare Represents Major Paradigm Shift

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 17, 2017:

English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Sec...

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said many things on which classical liberals and libertarians agree. The one most apropos to Obamacare is this: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Anything that requires government force (or threat of) to gain compliance is, on its face, immoral. But Obamacare did something else: it was a deliberate forced attempt to shift personal responsibility for one’s health care from a citizen to his government. Jefferson had this to say about that:

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Not All Travel Bans Apply to Foreigners

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 8, 2017:

The federal government published the final rules on Monday on just how the Department of Transportation, the Department of State and the Internal Revenue Service, working together, can disrupt one’s plans to travel abroad:

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Another Travel Ban: This One From IRS, for Back Taxes

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 7, 2017:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released its final details on just how it can revoke American citizens’ passports for being behind in paying their taxes. Effective Monday, February 6:

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Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order: One In, Two Out

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 30, 2017:

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

White House officials described President Donald Trump’s Executive Order for “Reducing Government Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Cost” as Trump’s “one in, two out” plan: For every regulation promulgated by a federal agency, that agency must “identify” two existing regulations to be targeted for extinction.

The order also sets a cap of $0 for the cost of new regulations, with the only exceptions being military and national security regulations. The president said when signing the order,

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Trump Pick for Management & Budget Talks Raising Retirement Age

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 25, 2017:

Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C., shown), President Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), touched the famous “third rail” of American politics during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Mulvaney was pressed hard for his views on Social Security by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.): “Do you think we need to look at adjusting the [retirement] age yet again because we live longer?”

Replied Mulvaney, “I do, yes sir.”

His response was unsettling to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who declared,

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ALEC, United Van Lines Studies: People Moving to Lower-tax States

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 23, 2017:

State Seal of South Dakota.

State Seal of South Dakota.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) just released its latest Rich States, Poor States study showing how states measure up in economic performance based on three variables, and then ranking them in a forecast based on 15 variables. Its conclusion is the same this year as in the past:

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Charles Rangel, 23-term N.Y. Democrat, Finally Packs It In

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 30, 2016:  

English: U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel's ...

In one of his last interviews with reporters, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said it was finally time, after 46 years, to leave Washington: “I did not ever think about leaving. I have mixed feelings. But the way the political races have turned out, I can’t wait to get out of here,” he declared.

Those tracking his dismal political performance over 23 terms in Washington, along with his breathtaking moral and ethical lapses and failures, no doubt feel the same way. A reporter with the Washington Times summed up his career nicely:

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LOL Illinois: Corporate Group Works to Keep State From Becoming a Laughingstock

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 28, 2016:  

English: 1987 Illinois license plate

The name of the group LOL Illinois can taken two ways: Land of Lincoln, or Laughing Out Loud. As Scott Santi, chairman of Illinois Tool Works, which employs 48,000 workers around the world, noted:

There’s a crisis of confidence in terms of a plan to address some pretty significant structural problems in the state. It’s challenging for Illinois to be competitive given the uncertainty around the fiscal crisis.

“Crisis of confidence”? “Challenging”? “Uncertainty”? Illinois was headed into oblivion until Bruce Rauner, the first Republican governor in 12 years, faced reality.

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Will Mick Mulvaney Pull Trump’s Financial Fat Out of the Fire?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 19, 2016:  

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

Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (shown) rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 into Congress, replacing a 14-term Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th District. He has been handily reelected ever since. He took his oath of office seriously, saying in 2010 that “If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.”

He remained as true to his word as any of those riding the same wave,

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Simmering Greek Financial Crisis Explodes Once Again

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 15, 2016:  

Under the terms of its last bailout, Athens (above) was required not only to continue to impose harsh austerity terms (higher taxes, less government spending, better accountability, and increased tax collection enforcement onto Greek citizens) but to inform the unelected “higher” European authorities of any change in those terms by Athens.

Last week Athens unilaterally

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Texas Congressman Proposes “Permanent” Fix for Social Security

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Saturday, December 10, 2016:  

Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, presented his plan, the “Social Security Reform Act,” on Thursday, which he called “a plan to permanently save Social Security.”

His proposal involves the same solutions often proposed by others trying to keep Social Security from going broke: cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, adding “means” testing, and cutting or eliminating altogether the COLA — Cost of Living Adjustment.

According to Michael Linden, an associate director at the liberal Center for American Progress, the cuts to benefits would be severe — between 11 percent and 35 percent — and they would include those already receiving Social Security benefits. Social Security actuaries who analyzed Johnson’s plan (at his request) came up with different numbers: Cuts would range from 17 percent to 43 percent but over a longer time period and with the same conclusion: everyone in Social Security (with the exception of the lowest-income participants) would take a hit under Johnson’s plan.

Nowhere in Johnson’s plan is any mention of privatizing the program, which is surprising, as it was a topic of discussion during the Republican presidential debates. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz all expressed their support for privatizing Social Security as the best way to solve its myriad problems.

Here are some of those problems:

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“Upside Sensitivity” the New Buzzword as Companies Plan for Trump Economy

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 9, 2016: 

English: Photo of the AT&T Midtown Center in M...

AT&T Midtown Center in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia.

AT&T’s Chief Executive, Randall Stephenson, spoke to a UBS investment conference on Tuesday, introducing a new phrase that more and more American companies will shortly be adopting: “upside sensitivity” studies. He spoke of how less government oversight and lower taxes would impact his business, expressing optimism that “a more moderate approach to some of those regulations is in the making under a Trump administration.” He then added:

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Trump Picks Former Goldman Sachs Banker for Treasury Secretary

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 30, 2016:  

English: Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc....

One of the first criticisms over Donald Trump’s nomination of former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday for Treasury secretary came from the Democratic National Committee: “So much for draining the swamp … nominating Steven Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary is a slap in the face to voters who hoped [Trump] would shake up Washington.”

Just the name “Goldman Sachs” sends shivers down the backs of Americanists.

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Trump “Saves” 1,000 Carrier Jobs

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 30, 2016:  

Boston

Carrier Corporation, a division of United Technologies, announced on Tuesday that it will, after months of negotiations, keep some of the jobs in Indiana that it earlier planned to ship to Mexico. Indiana Governor and now Vice President-elect Mike Pence, as governor of the state, was the initial driving force behind the negotiations. Both he and President-elect Donald Trump will start their “thank you” tour on Thursday, beginning with Indiana, where the details of the agreement will be spelled out.

That’s why Trump was able to tell his crowd of supporters in Indianapolis in April that the deal was all but done:

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Dallas to Declare Bankruptcy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 21, 2016:  

The New York Times just reported that the Dallas police and firefighters pension plan is $7 billion short of meeting its obligations and needs an immediate bailout of $1 billion just to stay afloat. The problem is that Dallas’ annual budget is $3 billion.

Three years ago Dallas wasn’t on anyone’s “watch” list.

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Democrat Senators Pushing Muslim Keith Ellison to Chair DNC

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 14, 2016:  

English: Keith Ellison on 9-21-06, taken by user.

Keith Ellison

During an MSNBC conference call on Thursday night, Senators Charles Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren weighed in on their pick to replace Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile: Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Warren told MSNBC that Ellison would make a “terrific DNC chair.”

Ellison mouthed homilies about how the Democrat Party must

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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.