• Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for June 2nd on 11:02

    These are my links for June 2nd from 11:02 to 11:42:

    • California State Senate approves bill allowing counties to raise vehicle fees – Individual counties could vote to raise vehicle fees under a bill that earned Senate approval today.

      "This gives counties a tool they currently don't have in a time of crisis," said bill author Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

      In 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the rate of what essentially is an annual tax on a vehicle's present value. The rate change from 2 percent to 0.65 percent took away a chunk of revenues counties relied on to pay for public safety and social services. A temporary increase to 1.15 percent went into effect in May 2009 and expires at the end of this month. Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan calls for moving the expiration to 2016.

      The proposal that passed the Senate by a 23-15 vote today allows a county board of supervisors, with a two-thirds vote, to authorize a vote for higher fees on county residents. If a majority of county voters signs off on the plan, their vehicle fee effectively would return to the original 2 percent rate.

      Leno introduced the same bill last year, but it did not clear the Assembly floor.

      Automobile manufacturers and dealers are opposed to attaching fees to vehicles, saying there's already a long list of hidden government costs.

      None of the Republicans present voted for Leno's bill.

      "This is another example of the insatiable appetite we have for raising taxes around this building," Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said on the Senate floor.

      Senate Bill 223 is one of several measures moving through the Legislature with a goal of giving local officials a chance to collect more revenues. The most high-profile proposal has been Senate Bill 653 by Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.


      A tax is a tax to Californians – either from the state or the county.

    • Job Data May Be Key to Obama’s Job – No American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.

      Seventeen months before the next election, it is increasingly clear that President Obama must defy that trend to keep his job.

      Roughly 9 percent of Americans who want to go to work cannot find an employer. Companies are firing fewer people, but hiring remains anemic. And the vast majority of economic forecasters, including the president’s own advisers, predict only modest progress by November 2012.

      The latest job numbers, due Friday, are expected to provide new cause for concern. Other indicators suggest the pace of growth is flagging. Weak manufacturing data, a gloomy reading on jobs in advance of Friday’s report and a drop in auto sales led the markets to their worst close since August, and those declines carried over into Asia Thursday.


      Read it all

      It is all about the economy going into the Presidential race of 2012.

    • Why Barack Obama may be heading for electoral disaster in 2012 – To say this has been an extremely bad week for the Obama administration on the economic front would be a serious understatement. As The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, home prices in the United States have sunk to their lowest levels since 2002, falling 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011. At the same time, employment growth is stalling, with only 38,000 Americans added to the workforce in May, the smallest increase since September. This compares with 179,000 jobs added in April. There has also been a steep slowdown in the manufacturing sector, and a downturn in the stock market on the back of weak economic news.

      Bill Clinton’s labour secretary Robert Reich summed up the grim mood in a hard-hitting op-ed in The Financial Times, which took aim at both the administration and Congress:

      The US economy was supposed to be in bloom by late spring, but it is hardly growing at all. Expectations for second-quarter growth are not much better than the measly 1.8 per cent annualised rate of the first quarter. That is not nearly fast enough to reduce America’s ferociously high level of unemployment… Meanwhile, housing prices continue to fall. They are now 33 per cent below their 2006 peak. That is a bigger drop than recorded in the Great Depression. Homes are the largest single asset of the American middle class, so as housing prices drop many Americans feel poorer. All of this is contributing to a general gloominess. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence is also down.


      Read it all

  • Government Spending,  Polling,  Texas

    Poll Watch: Americans Blame Wasteful Government Spending for Deficit – Favor Spending Cuts

    According to the latest Gallup Poll.

    The large majority of Americans say spending too much money on unneeded or wasteful federal programs is to blame for the federal budget deficit, while 22% say the deficit is a consequence of not raising enough in taxes to pay for needed programs.

    These results are based on an April 20-23 USA Today/Gallup poll. Given a forced choice, Republicans almost uniformly place blame for the deficit on too much federal spending, rather than a shortage of tax revenue. Majorities of independents and Democrats agree, albeit by somewhat smaller margins.

    And, Americans generally favor government spending cuts versus increasing taxes as a way to reduce budget deficits.

    Here is the poll chart.

    This is not surprising and why the Tea Party has been so successful in framing the economic issues, particularly during the 2010 elections. Americans WANT government spending cuts and prefer that to taxes.

    End of story.

    This question asks Americans to choose among five ways of reducing the federal deficit, ranging from a total reliance on spending cuts to a total reliance on tax increases. The responses cluster at the “spending cuts” end of the spectrum. About half (48%) of Americans say reducing the deficit should be done mostly or only with spending cuts. Another 37% say it should be done equally with spending cuts and tax increases. Eleven percent say mostly or only with tax increases.

    Thus, overall, 85% of Americans explicitly favor spending cuts as at least part of the solution to reducing the federal deficit, with more than half of these favoring only or mostly using cuts. This compares with 48% who explicitly favor tax increases as at least part of a deficit reduction strategy — a number consisting mostly of those who want an equal emphasis on spending cuts and tax increases.

    The major partisan distinctions in response to this question reflect the choice between mostly/only spending cuts versus the equal use of spending cuts and tax increases. Republicans are most likely to favor the former; Democrats, the latter. Independents’ views are between these two extremes. Relatively few Americans of any partisan identification favor mostly or only using tax increases to reduce the deficit.

    What does this all mean?

    Americans are likely to tell their elected representatives to cut spending rather than rely on increasing taxes. And, it seems the Democrats in Congress can read the polls and are veering away from the tax increase mentality of the Obama Administration.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 25th on 15:13

    These are my links for April 25th from 15:13 to 15:45:

    • President 2012: Karl Rove warns candidates about late start – For a long time, it's been the cool-candidate thing to take your time coming to a 2012 decision.

      Casualness may soon be a casualty, Karl Rove said today on Fox.

      "There gets to be a point at which you don't have enough time to raise the money you need, and you don't have enough time to get organized as deeply as you need to be organized for these contests.

      That period is probably sometime in June or July."


      No later than Memorial Day.

      BTW Ron Paul is announcing tomorrow in Iowa.

    • Online Sales Tax a Bad Deal for California – In California there are 25,000 thriving small businesses known as “affiliate marketers” and right now the very existence of this industry is being threatened by misguided legislation; in these economic times can California afford to lose 25,000 more businesses?

      The supposition of AB 153 (Skinner) and SB 234 (Hancock) is that by implementing an “affiliate nexus” tax, California will collect additional sales tax revenue.  That is simply not true.

      What is true is that if these bills pass, California affiliate marketers will have their incomes devastated, and the state will collect no new sales tax dollars.

      Affiliate marketers are California companies that earn income from ads placed on their websites. In 2009, California affiliate marketers earned $1.6 billion and paid $124 million in state income taxes (plus business taxes, employment taxes, etc).  Legislation such as AB 153 and SB 234 guarantees elimination of these fiscal contributions.

      Proponents allege that because out-of-state retailers place ads on California-owned websites they should collect sales tax. But placing an ad on a website does not constitute a “nexus,” nor does it obligate out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax in California.

      This holds true for California retailers that advertise in other states – they are not obligated to collect sales tax in states simply because they advertise there.


      Read it all.

      And, it is a very bad idea.

  • Day By Day,  Taxes

    Day By Day April 19, 2011 – Taxing

    Day By Day by Chris Muir

    The Super Rich that President Obama and Congressional Democrats wish to surcharge are not stupid. They will move their enterprises/investments offshore where a willing country will tax them less.

    Then, guess what?

    Yes, they will lower the definition of Super Rich and/or add a National Sales Tax or a Value Added Tax. And, keep on spending.

    Tax and spend Liberals – haven’t we heard this failed tune before?


    The Day By Day Archive

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 18th on 13:43

    These are my links for April 18th from 13:43 to 13:47:

    • Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement will defend DOMA – Speaker John Boehner announced that former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement will defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the House of Representatives, in the wake of the Justice Department's decision to no longer defend the law.

      "At last we have a legal eagle on this case who actually wants to win in court! Paul Clement is a genuinely distinguished lawyer, a former solicitor general of the United States, who we are confident will win this case. Thanks to Speaker Boehner's actions, President Obama's attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to work," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, in a release.


      See President Obama's pattern?

      Fight like mad for legislation and when you lose either ignore the law with signing statements or refuse to defend it when the Left challenges it on court.

      How Undemocratic, right?

    • Arthur B. Laffer: The 30-Cent Tax Premium – WSJ.com – There is a lot more to taxes than simply paying the bill. Taxpayers must spend significantly more than $1 in order to provide $1 of income-tax revenue to the federal government.

      To start with, individuals and businesses must pay the government the $1 in revenue plus the costs of their own time spent filing and complying with the tax code; plus the tax collection costs of the IRS; plus the tax compliance outlays that individuals and businesses pay to help them file their taxes.

      In a study published last week by the Laffer Center, my colleagues Wayne Winegarden, John Childs and I estimate that these costs alone are a staggering $431 billion annually. This is a cost markup of 30 cents on every dollar paid in taxes. And this is not even a complete accounting of the costs of tax complexity.

      Like taxes themselves, tax-compliance costs change people's behavior. Taxpayers, whether individuals or businesses, respond to taxes and tax-compliance costs by changing the composition of their income, the location of their income, the timing of their income, and the volume of their income. So long as the cost of changing one's income is lower than the taxes saved, the taxpayer will engage in these types of tax-avoidance activities.

      A complete accounting of compliance costs would also include the efficiency losses created when individuals and businesses invest in tax-avoidance activities that lower their tax liability at the expense of creating more jobs and economic growth. These lost opportunities are impossible to measure but could be the largest cost of all.


      Read it all

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 8th on 16:42

    These are my links for April 8th from 16:42 to 16:48:

    • San Jose Democrats Dress Up Corporate Tax Dodges – But It is Crony Capitalism – San Jose's John Vasconcellos presided over the Assembly's budget committee for many years in the 1970s and 1980s and, liberal Democrat that he was, frequently railed about a lack of money for what he considered to be vital public services.

      Peculiarly, however, Vasconcellos also carried into law one of the most outrageously unfair and illogical corporate tax breaks ever enacted in California. It exempts custom computer software programs from sales taxes, but leaves in place taxes on consumers' off-the-shelf software.

      The exemption costs state and local treasuries an estimated $120 million a year.

      Perhaps there's a chemical in San Jose's water that compels liberal Democratic politicians to carry water for corporate interests because one of Vasconcellos' successors is doing the same kind of favor for airlines.

      Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, is carrying Assembly Bill 81, which would protect airlines from paying higher sales taxes on their fuel purchases in California when prices spike upward. It would levy taxes on the average of spot fuel prices for the preceding five years, rather than on the current price.


      Crony capitalism by California Democrats in the Legislature at their worst.

    • Maryland House OK’s Illegal Immigrant In-State College Tuition – As many southern states pass news laws to crack down on illegal immigrants, the Maryland General Assembly is moving to allow them to pay in-state college tuition, if they meet certain conditions.

      The Maryland House voted 74-66 on Friday for the measure. The Senate already has approved similar legislation.

      Illegal immigrants would have to complete two years at a community college and show that their parents paid state income taxes for the three years before they enrolled to qualify for in-state tuition.

      Democrats say it creates opportunity for people who have lived in Maryland for years, but Republicans contend it rewards illegal behavior at taxpayers' expense


      Maryland is a deep blue state and they are rewarding their Latino constituency despite the fact that it is unfair to native born taxpayers.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for March 24th on 08:00

    These are my links for March 24th from 08:00 to 09:50:

    • How television created and then killed Sarah Palin’s political prospects – It was television that destroyed Sarah Palin, just as it made her. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again – the arrival of Palin as a major political figure in 2008 was an emanation of the reality-TV culture, anchored in the belief that ordinary or “everyday” people, inarticulate though they may be, and with all the baggage of messy personal lives, are truly compelling public figures. Palin was the political equivalent. A figure who refracts national identity as it is shaped by the culture’s most powerful medium. Authentic, populist and dismissive of sophistication in thought and action.

      Then, television duly destroyed the Palin authenticity. The arc of her national political career began with a defining speech at the Republican National Convention in September, 2008, and ended in November, 2010, a few episodes into Sarah Palin’s Alaska. The show, a cringingly inevitable reality-TV series, gave her a huge platform and she blew it. If her exposure on TV in 2008 brought out the authenticity, the show brought out Palin’s inner princess. She talked about being a mom 87 times an episode (I’m exaggerating , but only a little) and made dubious attempts to make political parables linking her family, the outdoors and wildlife. It was ego unbounded. And this after quitting her job as governor of Alaska.

      Interesting enough Sarah Palin's next career will most probably be on television.

    • Why is Jon Huntsman running for president? – This is like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) without the war record and without the bona fides on national security. And speaking of which, Huntsman’s hiring “key members from McCain’s team at the helm.” That alone is enough to freak out many in the base, who came to detest the McCain campaign crew for incompetency and disloyalty to its VP pick.

      I’m trying to figure out who a “Huntsman voter” is. Rudy Giuliani attracted moderates before his campaign imploded (fizzled, actually). But he led New York through Sept. 11, governed like a no-nonsense fiscal conservative and offered up conservative positions on school choice, health care and tax policy. And he never served in a liberal president’s administration. Perhaps there is an untapped segment of the electorate to the left of Giuliani who doesn’t think that poorly of Obama. Unfortunately for Huntsman, they likely are Democrats.

      You do have to wonder how Huntsman, an intelligent man with business experience, was sold on taking the plunge. And you really have to wonder how thrilled his family will be if he decides to risk a chunk of the family fortune.


      Good question – because he has the massive fortune to do so?

    • California must enforce ‘use’ law — now – Or Support Internet Taxes – So be it. Holding affiliates hostage in a desperate effort to continue tax-exempt merchandizing shouldn't be condoned. Barnes & Noble, which does collect the sales tax, has offered to pick up some of the Amazon affiliates. Other online retailers could, too.

      If the tax-free e-tailers retained their affiliate marketers and began collecting the taxes, Skinner estimates, her bill would net between $250 million and $500 million annually for the bleeding state general fund.

      But California this year will be stiffed much more: $1.7 billion in taxes that should have been paid on Web purchases, according to a University of Tennessee study.

      Another bill, by state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), would grant the Board of Equalization more power to force tax collections. She estimates it could gain the state more than $1 billion annually.

      A key backer is Democratic equalization board member Betty Yee.

      "Amazon used to argue that it didn't have the capability to collect the taxes, given the various different tax rates," she says. "They can track individual consumer preferences about products but can't track sales taxes? That's kind of crazy."

      Runner says, "The only way to solve this problem is with a national solution. You can't do it piecemeal."

      Perhaps. But a lot of California retailers could fold before the feds ride to their rescue. Meanwhile, deficit-plagued states are denied the taxes they're owed.

      Sacramento politicians should move swiftly to protect local businesses and demand the state's legal share. They should get off their inertia.


      George Skelton, the LA Times Columnist is an old tax and spend liberal who never met a tax he didn't like.

      He supports the loss of jobs to California affiliates of Amazon.com and Overstock.com.

      I suggest that those affiliates cancel their paid subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times.

      Oh wait, they already read the rag for free on the internet.

      Internet taxation is a bad policy for California and America.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for March 22nd on 09:10

    These are my links for March 22nd from 09:10 to 09:12:

    • Can California tax Internet purchases? – California's severe budget squeeze and a stagnant economy have rekindled a political war over how Internet purchases should be taxed – if, indeed, they could be taxed.

      California already has one of the nation's highest sales tax rates, approaching 10 percent in some communities. But it's applied only to transactions inside the state or to mail order and Internet sales when the seller has a "physical presence" in the state.

      The latter condition – decreed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 – is the rub.

      Technically, Californians who buy from distant sellers are supposed to pay an equivalent "use tax" on state income tax returns. Few do, and enforcement is virtually impossible.

      That would seem to be that, but the potential revenue gain – officially at least a few hundred million dollars a year – and pressure from brick-and-mortar merchants about untaxed competition have sparked efforts to mine the Internet and mail sales vein.

      The situation's bête noire is Amazon, the huge Internet seller of almost everything. New York seized upon Amazon's use of affiliated sellers as the "physical presence" or "nexus" that would require it to collect sales taxes. But the New York law is tied up in the courts, and Amazon has threatened to cancel affiliate relations in any state that follows suit.

      Some California legislators want to emulate New York, prompting Amazon to issue a declaration that it not only opposes four pending taxation bills as violating the Supreme Court decision, but "would be compelled to end its advertising relationships with well over 10,000 California-based participants in the Amazon associates program." Overstock.com issued a similar warning.


      Read it all.

    • Levin 1, Wehner 0 – Advantage, Levin. Even if you don’t believe the seemingly apocryphal stories about Reagan regretting the 1986 bill, it clearly failed. (The amnesty part worked. The border enforcement part was blocked.) It’s one thing to say Reagan supported this policy the first time. It’s another to claim he would have supported making the same mistake a second time–and that this is the “conservative” approach. … P.S.: It’s particularly disingenuous for Wehner to claim that Bush “never supported” a Reagan-like “amnesty.” The main difference between Reagan’s approach and Bush’s is that Reagan was honest enough to call it what it was (“amnesty”).  Bush and his apparatchiks preferred poll-tested confections like “path to citizenship.” …  Also, Bush’s amnesty was bigger. …


      Bush's Amnesty Plan or Path to Citizenship would have been a MAJOR disaster.

      Reagan's "Amnesty" was bad enough – Mark Levin was correct.

  • Barack Obama,  Democrats,  GOP,  Taxes

    House Democrats Reject Obama-GOP Tax Cut Deal in Current Form

    Yes, the Democratic Party has suddenly become the “Party of No.”

    The House Democratic Caucus has voted to reject President Barack Obama’s tax deal with Republicans in its current form.

    By voice vote, the rank and file Democrats passed a resolution Thursday that said the tax package should not come to the floor of the House for consideration. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced the resolution.

    Said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas: “If it’s take it or leave it, we’ll leave it.”

    Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said “it’s a pretty clear message. We don’t like the bill.”

    So, what happens if President Obama’s own party does not affirmatively act on the Obama-GOP compromise tax rate/cut bill by the end of the lameduck session next week?

    Taxes will go up on January 1 for everyone.

    Of course, the GOP which in January will control the majority in the House will quickly vote to change the tax rates as soon as the new Congress meets, but, this will take time, Senate action (which is always slow) and economic uncertainty will do nothing positive for America.

    Will the far-left House Democrats of Speaker Nancy Pelosi prevail over their own President?

    Stay tuned here and on Twitter ———->

  • Mitch McConnell,  Taxes

    GOP Senators to Block All Bills Until Tax Cuts Are Addressed

    Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, accompanied by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., center, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    As they should.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will announce this morning that Republicans will block any legislation from coming to the Senate floor until two key economic issues are addressed: funding the government (the “continuing resolution” which must pass to prevent a government shutdown) and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.

    McConnell will say that members of his caucus are united in the pledge to use procedural votes to prevent any other non-economic issues — including the new START treaty, the DREAM Act, or the defense authorization bill that contains a potential repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy – from coming to the floor for debate.

    Power politics to force Obama and the Democrat’s hand on the Bush era tax rates. If they expire, then the GOP will re-enact them in January (the next Congress) and force Obama to either sign the bill or use his veto.

    Believe me, Americans care about jobs and taxes – not whether gays can serve in the military and amnesty for illegal aliens.