Cut Spending, Leave Money in Hands of People, Small Businesses
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Posted by Howard Rich | Issues
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, Taxes
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, Term Limits
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| Tuesday 2 February 2010 11:13 AM

From TheLedger.com

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This year is starting off better than 2009, despite Congress and President Barack Obama accomplishing nothing to help small businesses. While some believe increasing taxes and deficit spending will solve the problems (by giving the Congress more to spend), it is small businesses and families that pay the majority of taxes that allow President Obama and the Congress the money to spread the wealth.

So far, Wall Street got a bailout and the American people got stuck with the bill. If you want to make a difference, contact your representative and senators and demand:

Energy independence.

Fiscal responsibility.

Term limits. (Yes, I know the act of voting has the effect of term limits, but many politicians were or are there for life, e.g., Strom Thurmond, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Helms, Robert Byrd, Jay Rockefeller, Carl Levin, Bill Nelson.) It’s a millionaires’ club, and the members are good at spending the taxpayers’ money.

As for energy independence, we have the resources and technology.

For fiscal responsibility, cap the budget. That’s what we have to do with our household budgets and businesses.

With respect to term limits, 10 years in the House and 12 years in the Senate, that’s it. The American citizens were able to term limit the presidency after Franklin D. Roosevelt. We can term limit the bums who have spent us into $12 trillion in debt.

As long as conservatives, liberals and moderates, independents, Democrats, Republicans (and the countless minor parties) keep fighting amongst themselves, nothing will get done except more damage to this country. Divide and conquer!

That’s pretty much what the two parties have done while driving us further and further into debt, and into further dependence on foreign energy sources.

ROBERT STANZ

Lakeland

A Merry TARP Christmas
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Posted by Howard Rich | Issues
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, Taxes
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| Monday 16 November 2009 10:00 AM

From The Wall Street Journal

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The Journal reports that the White House may abstain from some payouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as a way to reduce the deficit. That would be good. But after bequeathing to the children of America the largest deficit since World War II, with plans to generate more than $9 trillion in new debt, Team Obama should go all the way and put TARP out of the taxpayer’s misery.

All Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has to do is avoid signing a TARP renewal by its statutory expiration date on December 31. Judging by the reader comments on our Web site, we’d guess that millions would happily leave out cookies and milk for the jolly Washingtonian who shows up with a sack full of nothing for auto makers.

Alas, the signals remain mixed. Despite the news about TARP repayments, Treasury continues to make TARP “investments” and as of last week had spent $472.5 billion with plans to spend more than $560 billion of the total $700 billion available under the law. This leak about partial TARP repayment could be an attempt to reduce any outrage if Mr. Geithner does decide to renew TARP for another nine months. On the other hand, a decision not to renew TARP would immediately return more than $200 billion to the Treasury.

Deciding not to renew the program would be the gift that keeps on giving, because it would prevent any money returned in the future from being recycled into other politically-favored subsidies. End it, Mr. Geithner, don’t spend it.

California Stealin'
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Posted by Howard Rich | Issues
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, Taxes
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| Wednesday 4 November 2009 1:05 PM

From ,a href=”http://online.wsj.com”>

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Desperation grabs for revenue are nothing new in politics, but California is once again leading the way in creative financing.

To help close yet another gaping budget deficit, now estimated to be $7 billion this year and reach as high as $20 billion next, Sacramento lawmakers have authorized a 10% increase in the amount of taxes withheld from worker paychecks starting November 1 and through 2010. The extra withholding tax will reduce Californians’ take-home pay by about $1.7 billion for the year. But the lawmakers say this isn’t a tax increase. OK, how about calling it a compulsory interest-free loan from taxpayers to the state?

According to the Franchise Tax Board, 10,004,000 Californians overpaid their state taxes last year and received an average refund of $903. The withholding penalty is expected to snatch between $20 and $90 a month from middle-class families. For those feeling the pinch of recession and living paycheck to paycheck, that penalty will hurt.

Of course, the government is obliged to return this money next spring when workers get their tax refunds, so this is the ultimate budget gimmick. It borrows from taxpayers now and deepens the budget hole next year. And we almost hate to ask: What happens come April if the state doesn’t have enough money to pay the tax refunds it owes its citizens? Will taxpayers get IOUs the way state contractors did last year when Sacramento ran out of money?

Meanwhile, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the legislature now face their sixth “extraordinary session” to balance the budget. Income tax rates went up last year by 0.25%, bringing the top rate to 10.55%, but receipts are already coming in $1 billion below projections, according to the state controller.

The politicians could use this continuing crisis as an opportunity to reform the state’s tax code with lower rates and fewer deductions and loopholes, as recently proposed by the governor’s tax reform commission. But that plan has been panned by the ruling classes in Sacramento. They claim to want to steal only from the rich, but their latest withholding ruse is showing that they’ll steal from anyone with a paycheck.

Residents should demand flat tax and term limits
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Posted by Howard Rich | Issues
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, Taxes
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, Term Limits
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| Monday 2 November 2009 1:05 PM

From The Daily Journal

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Does anyone remember the quaint term called payola? It was popular when I was young and stood for the practice of paying someone to play a record repeatedly in order to boost its sales. The shenanigans foisted upon us by our elected officials and the bunch in Congress remind me a lot of payola, although I am sure other words would also apply.

How convenient is the fact that Congress has released a chunk of stimulus money just before the elections. Also, how convenient is it that the most money went to the teachers and construction workers, two of the strongest power bases of the Democratic Party. They then had the gall to trumpet the fact that they had saved many jobs with this cash infusion.

It’s funny, but I don’t recall any teachers in bread lines and a local contract was just settled with 5 percent raises for several years. The starting salary for a teacher is now $48,000, and very seldom published is the cost of their benefit package, which I think would amount to at least upwards of 30 percent of salary with pensions vested early and medical benefits for life, including their families. When teachers go on strike, “It’s always about the children,” but in a short while, it always comes down to money.

Notice that the candidates for governor haven’t touched the third rail of the public sector and teachers’ pay and pension funding. They keep looking for painless (for them) ways to raise taxes and the contortions they go through to pander to their power base are blatant. I have never been particularly interested in politics, but wherever I go, it is the topic of conversation and none of it bodes well for the ham-handed way the state and the country are being managed.

We need term limits and a flat tax to get rid of pork. Let the states handle funding of projects, and Congress should have to abide by the same rules for health care that we are all forced to share. You can bet Medicare and the economy would get straightened out in a big hurry.

Robert Linton

Vineland

Obama’s Middle Class Betrayal
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Posted by Howard Rich | Columns
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, Issues
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, Taxes
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| Wednesday 14 October 2009 9:00 AM

As much as the Beltway chattering class refuses to admit it, Barack Obama’s electoral victory last year had nothing to do with his oft-repeated, generic pledge to bring “hope and change” to Washington, D.C. Sure it sounded good at the time, but Americans have always voted based on their wallets and pocketbooks – not lofty-sounding campaign promises or rhetorical flourishes.

The real key to Obama’s victory a year ago – indeed his “signature” issue – was his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

“You will not see any of your
taxes increase one single dime,” Obama promised tens of millions of Americans making $250,000 or less. In fact, candidate Obama promised the middle class billions of dollars in tax cuts, part of his whole “spread the wealth around” plan.

“If you’re a family that’s making $250,000 a year or less, you will see no increase in your taxes,” Obama promised. “Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your personal gains tax, not any of your taxes.”

Never mind the fact that Obama’s plan would have hit income and payroll providers especially hard, rendering “middle class tax relief” irrelevant to the millions of workers heading toward already-crowded unemployment lines.

No matter how you look at it, though, what a difference a year makes.

As an unprecedented string of multibillion-dollar government bailouts and a viral explosion of new discretionary spending continues to wreak havoc on the deficit, does it really surprise anyone to learn that Obama’s “middle class tax cut” was the very first thing to wind up on the cutting room floor?

Of course not. “Class warfare” may have succeeded in getting Obama elected, but it cannot pay for the political promises Obama has made with our borrowed billions.

But that is just the beginning of the great middle class betrayal. Not only are middle class American families getting no tax relief, Obama administration officials are refusing to rule out the possibility that taxes on middle class families will actually increase in an effort to help the government pay for all of this new spending.

So much for Obama’s plan to “bleed the rich” in order to fund middle class tax relief – now everyone must bleed as the President and his Congressional allies scramble to pay for all that “hope and change” they’ve created.

Aside from the obvious demerits of “Robin Hood-style” tax policy (it’s never a good idea to go after the people creating the jobs, is it?), the reality is that Obama’s now-scrapped middle class “tax cut” would have barely made a dent when compared to costly new government mandates being forced upon American families.

For example, according to an unreleased report prepared by Obama’s own Treasury Department, the cost of the administration’s “cap and trade” energy tax on the typical American household came out to $1,761 a year. On top of that, we learned this week that the latest multibillion-dollar proposal to “reform” the health care industry would cost the typical American family of four over $4,000 a year by the time the plan is fully implemented.

Altogether, that’s nearly $6,000 a year in additional energy and health care costs being heaped on American families struggling to make ends meet during one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history – again, with no tax relief to offset the additional financial burden.

Based on these numbers, it seems clear that the American middle class was (and is) nothing but a means to an end for Obama.

It also seems clear that rich or poor, Obama’s plan to “rescue” the American economy involves taxing all of us back to the Stone Age

VAT's The Matter?
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Posted by Howard Rich | Issues
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, Taxes
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| Wednesday 7 October 2009 4:45 PM

From Investor’s Business Daily

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Fiscal Policy: Sometimes the worst ideas are the most tempting. So it is with the value-added tax, or VAT — a potential money gusher for strapped governments but a massive new levy on all Americans.

At least twice a decade, it seems, desperate politicians latch on to the idea of a VAT as the best way to raise lots of money for their spending schemes. No wonder. Unlike our current system, a VAT would impose a uniform levy at each level of production, from raw materials to finished goods, so the revenue potential is huge.

Which is why it keeps coming up in our free-spending Capital.

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, fresh from crafting a $700 billion bailout for the banks, a $787 billion “stimulus” package and untold billions more in other spending, suggested that a good way to pay for it all might be a VAT.

In recent days, as Congress feels the public’s ire over its gross fiscal irresponsibility, the VAT is getting even more attention.

White House economic adviser and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker suggested it’s one way the budget deficit could be closed, and another former Fed chief, Alan Greenspan, went a step further by calling it “the least worst solution” to our budget problems.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked point blank by TV interviewer Charlie Rose if she’s considering a VAT, answered: “I would say, put everything on the table and subject it to the scrutiny that it deserves.” She went on to extol the virtues of the VAT.

So, we’ve been warned. The VAT is a bad idea, however, and should be rejected out of hand. It wouldn’t solve the core problem of fiscally incontinent politicians; it would only give them more money to waste, and lead to even bigger government.

This massive levy would fall on all Americans, including those earning less than $250,000, the group President Obama promised would not pay a dime in higher taxes.

Tax analyst Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation notes that, because of the way it’s structured, a VAT tax even at low levels would be a disaster.

Using data for 2008, a VAT of just 1% would raise an added $63 billion. Make it “just” 5%, and it’s a $315 billion annual tax hike on all Americans — or roughly $2,670 on every household, including the poor and middle-class.

To sell the idea to gullible taxpayers, politicians play down these problems, focusing instead on tax “efficiency” and the idea that the VAT is a low rate applied against a broad base of taxpayers.

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