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March 13th, 2015 - 12:02 pm

Vermont is this close to putting a tax on thingy:

The House Ways and Means and Health Care Committees are considering a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages yet again, following a similar failed proposal in 2013. H. 235, proposed by Reps. George Till and Alison Clarkson, would impose a 2-cent per ounce tax on any beverage with added sugar, from sweetened iced tea to two-liters of Coca-Cola (excluding dairy products. Dairy lobby, you know).

Jim Harrison of the Vermont Grocers & Retailers Association outlined what the 2 cents per ounce tax would mean for a number of popular products (SEE VIDEO). A 20 oz bottle of Coca-Cola would have its price increased by 40 cents, a 22 percent increase in the cost of the product. The tax levels are even more obscene on drinks sold in larger volumes. Arizona Iced Tea, which is sold in gallon jugs at most grocery stores for $2.99, would see an increase in price of $2.56 with a 2-cent tax, or a 46 percent increase. Ocean Spray juice, which is sold by the half-gallon at Walmart for $2.28, or 3.6 cents per ounce, would see a $1.28 increase, or a 35 percent increase.

But, have no illusions. This is just the beginning.

Vermont’s state motto is “Freedom and Unity,” but reality lets you choose only one of those at a time.


January 5th, 2015 - 8:33 am

George Will calls Bob Corker “the Senator to watch” in the new year:

Standing at the intersection of three foreign policy crises and a perennial constitutional tension, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, may be the senator who matters most in 2015. Without an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) tailored to novel circumstances, the United States is waging war against an entity without precedent (the Islamic State). Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons during negotiations that should involve congressional duties. And Russia is revising European borders by force and, like Iran, is the object of a U.S. experiment testing the power of economic sanctions to modify a dictator’s behavior. As Congress weighs its foreign policy role regarding these three matters, Corker treads the contested terrain between deference to presidential primacy in foreign policy and the need for collective wisdom and shared responsibility.

Read the whole thing — it’s an interesting portrait of a man who came into office in 2007 with virtually zero experience in foreign policy, who is already a foreign policy powerhouse.

But then there’s this, from a weekend NY Times story:

“If something like this is going to be done, now is the time to do it,” said Bob Corker, a Republican senator, who noted that gas prices in his home state of Tennessee fell below $2 a gallon this month. Senator Corker and Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, unveiled a proposal in June to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over the next two years and then index further increases to inflation.

My first response to this story was a simple, two-word imperative which cannot be repeated on a family blog. The longer version is, with middle class incomes shrinking and Washington enjoying record tax collection, now isn’t the time to be raising taxes on any of life’s necessities.

The vile progs of course want to raise the tax (“skyrocket,” anyone?) so that poor stupid Americans will choose “smarter” alternate fuels. It’s just sad to see a smart conservative like Corker in with the vile progs.

If Washington, or even just Corker, is serious about infrastructure, they have plenty of money already. The rest of us are enjoying a temporary respite at the pump; let us enjoy it a while longer.


December 18th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Single-payer is so great, they couldn’t even make it work in Vermont, with a comparatively healthy population, and a healthy median income, too. Jazz Shaw explains why Governor Peter Shumlin has given up his dream of socializing medicine in the Green Mountain Worker’s Paradise State:

Far more of a problem was the fact that the project couldn’t be funded in a self-sustaining way without causing an all out revolt among the peasants. Individual taxpayers would have been subjected to a 9.5% “premium assessment” while businesses would have been paying an even larger tax hit. And all of the money wouldn’t have resulted in an actual single payer system anyway. Shumlin was going to have to exempt large companies with their own healthcare plans and people would have still been eligible for Medicare. The competing plans would have gutted the system which would have needed essentially 100% buy-in and contributions from every citizen to even have a chance of working.

But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars.

Vermont ran out of other people’s money — and mercifully quickly, too.


May 13th, 2014 - 8:33 am

The European Central Bank is officially out of ammo:

Germany’s central bank is willing to back an array of stimulus measures from the European Central Bank next month, including a negative rate on bank deposits and purchases of packaged bank loans if needed to keep inflation from staying too low, a person familiar with the matter said.

A negative rate on deposits is the last act of a desperate central bank. It could also been seen as a stealth method for implementing Europe’s long-sought-after “wealth tax.” Whatever you want to call it, it will hurt the middle class more than anyone else. The poor will get their subsidies and the rich will move their money and assets to safer locales or equities.

And right before hitting “Publish” another story caught my eye:

The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, slid to 33.1 from 43.2 in April. The gauge is at the lowest level since January 2013. Economists forecast a decline to 40, according to the median of 33 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The index has dropped every month since reaching a seven-year high of 62 in December.

Investor caution in Europe’s largest economy reflects concern that the slow recovery in the 18-nation euro area leaves it vulnerable to shocks.

High taxes, big subsidies, and centralized decision-making have become the model here, too, yet somehow we remain as “vulnerable to shocks” as Europe.


April 15th, 2014 - 2:45 pm

Speaking of new taxes, Jonathan Cohn can’t get enough:

Naturally, there are arguments to be had over how high taxes should go, exactly who should pay more, and what form those levies should take. Personally, I’d opt for some combination of taxes on wealth and taxes on carbon, figuring it’d be good to fight inequality and stop global warming. And while taxes should go up for most people, they should be a little lower for some of the working poor.

Gosh, it’s nice of Cohn to admit there are two sides to the argument — whether taxes should go higher or whether they should go much higher. (Think I’m kidding? Re-read the first sentence in the graf above.) What I find most interesting however comes earlier in the piece, among the reasons Cohn loves his higher taxes:

Sometimes, of course, your tax dollars pay for supports and services you won’t use. And you might resent that. But even taxes that pay for someone else’s benefits can benefit you. Why does the U.S. not have the massive underclass that characterizes many third-world countries—or the incipient danger of violent upheaval that accompanies it? The safety net your taxes purchased, tattered as it is, buys a degree of social harmony, too.

Taxes are how we pay poor ethnic people not to riot in nice neighborhoods like Cohn’s.



December 9th, 2012 - 11:30 am

Just a reminder, taxes are already going up on “the rich” in just three weeks:

Starting Jan. 1, investment income for individuals earning over $200,000 and households earning over $250,000 will be subject to a new 3.8 percent tax. Further, regular income above those thresholds will be hit with a .9 percent Medicare surtax. Should the Bush tax rates expire for those workers, those increases will be compounded.

What Obama wants is additional tax increases on top of the ones he and the Democrats imposed two years ago.

UPDATE: I almost forgot why I put “the rich” in quotes. And that is, you’re now “in the top 2% of earners” if you’re in the top 20% of earners. The NYT has that story for you:

Affluent people are much more likely than low-income people to have health insurance, and now they will, in effect, help pay for coverage for many lower-income families. Among the most affluent fifth of households, those affected will see tax increases averaging $6,000 next year, economists estimate. [Emphasis added.]

That top fifth includes households making $75k or so a year. But, yes, please let’s do keep talking about “millionaires and billionaires.”

It’s Obama’s party. We’re just paying for it.


July 9th, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Obama’s “middle class tax cut” will include tax hikes on nearly a million small businesses — by his own admission.

A while back, I coined the Clinton Rule of Thumb, that any tax hike will generate — at best — two-thirds of the expected revenue. Unexpectedly, of course.

Incentives change behavior. And Obama is hell-bent on disincentivising investment and employment. And that’s one vicious circle. Suppress investment, and there are fewer jobs created, creating lower demand, reducing employment further. Which, of course, further suppresses investment. And so on.

This, Obama says, is Forward!


April 20th, 2012 - 9:32 am

Back in 1986, President Ronald Reagan teamed up with House Speaker Tip O’Neil and they did something amazing together: They simplified the tax code. But they didn’t just simplify it. Fewer and lower brackets is nice and all, but the really important thing they accomplished was to de-corrupt the tax code. Loopholes, shelters, perverse incentives, stupid deductions — mostly gone. It was a wonderful, beautiful thing. Government was (mostly) out of the business of corrupting the economy, business, and people through the tax code.

Then rates went up under Bush. They went up again under Clinton. Then down under the next Bush. But forget the bouncy rates. All these guys went to Congress to reintroduce loopholes, shelters, perverse incentives, stupid deductions — and as a result, we once again have an amazingly corrupt tax code.

But Brett Arends spent some time — nearly a whole morning! — cleaning it back up. Here’s what he came up with:

I figure a good tax code should be simple, efficient and fair. So I wondered if we could just combine a national sales tax, which is simple and efficient, with a drastically simplified but progressive income tax, which would be fair.

Scrap the regressive payroll tax. Scrap the regressive corporation tax, too: Instead tax the business owners, and treat all investment income and capital gains as income. No loopholes. No breaks. Easy.

The IRS says 2011 taxes total about $2.3 trillion. A 10% national sales tax would bring in about $1.1 trillion, or nearly half of what we need. That would ensure everybody pays something, and it would be relatively easy to collect.

What about income taxes? I played with three tax rates: 0%, 25%, and 40%. (Notice I have shunned the cowardly “39.6%,” as well).

Single filers would pay zero percent up to about $50,000 in income, then 25% up to $200,000, and 40% on everything over that. For joint filers, I just doubled the limits: zero percent up to $100,000, then 25% up to $400,000, and 40% above that.

Based on the IRS numbers for 2009, the most recent available, this would have raised just over $1 trillion that year compared to the $915 billion that income taxes actually brought in. In 2011, when the economy was stronger, you have to figure it would be well over $1.1 trillion.

Which means, of course, that we are at our goal: $2.3 trillion.

I remain wary of any plan that taxes income and spending. I’d rather go with the Fair Tax. But Arends has given us an great election year starting point. And most importantly, he’s come up with a way to de-corrupt the tax code.


July 20th, 2011 - 8:17 am

If you’re getting the feeling the debt ceiling deal will look more like what the Senate is proposing than the House’s “cap, cut and balance” plan — well… me, too. Here’s why:

Obama urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Democrat, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to start “talking turkey” about it.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, one of the six Democratic and Republican senators who have been working since December on a deficit-reduction plan, said the proposed $3.75 trillion in savings over 10 years contains $1.2 trillion in new revenues.

Plenty of new taxes, and no real cuts. Yep, that’s the ticket.

I’m waiting to see the details on the tax half of the plan. Are the new taxes going to hit just “the rich?” You know, those “millionaires and billionaires” who got that way on $200k a year?

Here are the tax hikes Obama already plans on getting, even before a deal:

In his most recent budget request, the president proposed letting the top two income tax rates revert to 39.6% and 36%, up from 35% and 33% today. He also called for an increase in the capital gains and dividend rates to 20% that high-income households pay, up from 15% today. And he would reduce the value of their itemized deductions and personal exemptions.

In addition, ObamaCare removes the cap on Medicare payroll taxes, and adds a Medicare tax on investment income. (My hurting retirement fund thanks you in advance, Mr. President.)

So if the new new taxes coming out of the Senate fall only the rich — well, how many times can we go back to that well before it runs dry?

Please, also keep in mind that the ObamaCare taxes are deficit-neutral at the very best; they pay for the new program. If, that is, you believe it when Rosy Scenario tells you ObamaCare itself is deficit-neutral. Now also remember that the expiring Bush tax cuts only amount to an extra trillion over the next tens years. At current spending, those ten years of tax hikes cover a mere nine months of deficits.

Something’s gotta give. And it ain’t the rich.

They’re coming for you and my, baby — and they’ve gotta come soon.


June 30th, 2011 - 1:47 pm

The California Assembly has gone and killed a few thousand more jobs in the Golden State (11.7% unemployment) with the new internet tax. Amazon thinks the tax is “unconstitutional and counterproductive” and so has killed its Affiliate program, effective today.

Ken Rockwell is my favorite sources for photography advice, and he’s long made a nice income as an Amazon affiliate — and he lives in San Diego. I hope he can make up the lost income, because I’d hate to see him close up shop. But his one-man shop has been going strong since 1999, so I suspect he’ll weather the storm.

Smaller, younger Affiliates won’t do nearly as well.


May 12th, 2010 - 2:17 pm

Here’s the good news: Americans are paying less in taxes than at any time since 1950.

Here’s the bad news: Incomes are down, reducing income tax receipts; employment is down, reducing payroll tax receipts; consumer spending is down, reducing sales tax receipts.

And on the horizon: Perhaps a VAT, increased income taxes next year, increased taxes on medical expenses, medical devices, etc. Oh, and a spending binge that will have to be paid for, oh, somehow. Where does government get money again?

Oh, right — taxes.

So you’ll excuse me if I’m not feeling too grateful to my masters in Washington.


April 28th, 2010 - 12:51 pm

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of American families will receive a net tax cut — unless a roomful of guys tells him otherwise.


April 21st, 2010 - 7:47 pm

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of American families will receive a net tax cut.

Unless they buy a house or a car or a vacation or some toys or a DVD or dinner out or a dinner in or a Coke or anything for sale anywhere at all. Because the venal, grubby, power-mad Washington Democrats need your money to buy your neighbor’s vote, and eff you if you disagree.


April 7th, 2010 - 5:11 am

The Obama Plan promises a net tax cut for all American families earning less than $250,000 a year — unless they happen to buy any one single thing ever at all.


January 6th, 2010 - 8:28 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of American families will receive a net tax cut — except for the ones who have taxes withheld from their paychecks.


Big Government’s SusanAnne Hiller broke the story:

The trick, when looking at the new withholding tax tables for 2010 as compared to post-stimulus 2009, buries an increase in federal withholding taxes–for all income categories–basically giving the government an interest-free loan until current year taxes are filed next year.

Go Galt, young man!


December 29th, 2009 - 9:10 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of American families will see a net tax cut — except for middle class folks with nice insurance policies. That’s what Bob Herbert found in the HarryCare bill:

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do. [Shhhhh -- it's not a tax. -ed.]

More taxes, less care. Where do I sign up?


December 12th, 2009 - 11:05 am

Under the Obama Plan, no one making less than $250,000 a year will see a tax increase — except for 68 million middle class Americans who happen to buy health insurance.


October 28th, 2009 - 9:18 am

There’s John Galt action going on in New York:

More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.

The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City — meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

“The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource — people,” the report said.

You know why people are leaving? Because their government considers them a “resource.”


September 26th, 2009 - 9:05 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of Americans won’t pay higher taxes, except for the ones who buy stuff.

I’d be happy to switch to a consumption tax and abolish the income tax. But, no — we’d likely get both.


September 16th, 2009 - 10:47 am

Under the Obama plan, 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut, unless they happen to heat or cool their homes.


August 2nd, 2009 - 9:55 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% er… 80% uh… maybe half ah, hell… we’ve given up trying to find any Americans who will receive a tax cut.


July 27th, 2009 - 5:37 pm

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut, except for the ones who want boob jobs.

UPDATE: On second thought, maybe the top five percent should pay more. We’ll call it a What Were You Thinking? tax.
That's Not Eyeshadow - She Went Jogging Earlier


July 23rd, 2009 - 11:33 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of Americans will get a tax cut, unless they’re in the middle class.


July 7th, 2009 - 9:29 am

Under the Obama Plan, only taxpayers making more than $250,000 per year will see a tax increase, except for the ones making more than $200,000.

It’s tax code limbo!


June 25th, 2009 - 7:22 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of all Americans will receive a tax cut, except for the 180 million or so who get their insurance at work.


February 20th, 2009 - 11:11 am

The trade-in value on your Prius, fortwo, MINI, etc., is about to take a hit:

Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood is considering a transportation tax based on miles driven, to replace gasoline tax revenue. “We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled,” La Hood tells the Freep, echoing proposals being considered by Oregon, Idaho, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and North Carolina. La Hood argues that gasoline tax revenues “can not be relied on” to fund infrastructure maintenance, presumably because relatively high prices have caused a downturn in gas tax revenue.

Increasing the gas tax would have the effect of getting more people out of SUVs and into hybrids and smaller cars. Charging everyone the same amount for the miles they drive… well, doesn’t.

They told me if I voted for John McCain, the government would encourage people to waste gas — and they were right!