Archive for the ‘Taxation’ Category

A possibly-obvious preamble: other parties, including Democrats, are also inconsistent and shift priorities based on opportunism. The main thrust of this article is that Republicans are much more consistently opportunistic, to the point that the only reliable party platform it has consistently held in the past few decades is to simply obstruct the Democrats. 

An old example that I can bring to bear is how the party that is most beloved by the National Rifle Association supported and passed gun control legislation under Reagan, when he was governor of California. What on earth would cause this? Because disarming politically active minorities was a bigger priority than their sacred second amendment rights. And before anyone dismisses the Black Panther Party as a violent extremist group, which is how it was painted in mainstream media, it bears noting that most of their fears turned out to be correct: it turns out the police were unfairly targeting black people and the federal government was illegally monitoring them

Even before that, the Republican party’s Southern Strategy was only opportunistic. Before the party leadership to make it an issue because they realized it could drive a wedge between southern voters and the Democratic party, Evangelicals favored abortion rights for women. The Southern Baptists, the largest evangelical organization in the US,  passed resolutions to that end at their Conventions of 1971, 1974 and 1976. However, once the party saw the opportunity, evangelical organizations pivoted and made it a political issue

Despite being the laissez-faire party of economic and personal liberalism, Republicans started and supported the War on Drugs as a way to control minorities during the war and civil rights protests of the 1970s. And not necessarily because they were racist – merely politically convenient

More recently, before the health care framework was implemented in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, it was originally concocted by the very conservative Heritage Foundation and then adopted by Republican then-governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. And while I’ve criticized the legislation before (let’s face it, it’s a gift to the private health care insurance industry to require folks to carry health care insurance), taking it down now has become merely a battle-cry for Republican leadership, even though they decided not to do anything about it when they held both houses in Congress and the Presidency.

Perhaps most recently, the Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnel, as well as many other Republican Senators, had championed the idea of not even considering presidential appointees to the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, during the last year of their term. This was called the Thurmond rule, after the Senator who blocked president Lyndon B. Johnson’s appointment of Justice Abe Fortas as Chief Justice. Oddly, the Republicans only seem to apply it when the president is a Democrat, if at all.

Famously the party of fiscal responsibility, The Republican presidencies have consistently seen increases in the government’s debt, the debt-to-GDP ratio, and economic recessions. To the point where president Trump was not only outspending prior presidents before the Coronavirus epidemic, but even used the epidemic to pass a $1.2 trillion bill while refusing any oversight on it. Further, they’ve perpetrated the myth that lower taxes (the purple line in the graph below is the top income tax rate, and the blue line is the effective average corporate tax rate) boosts the economy, even though it has no impact on median wages or employment (the red line in the graph below).

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Of course, no party can stay in power without voter support. Again, like the other main party, the Republican party’s messaging has a significant impact on its supporters. However, it is either more effective, or the supporters have similarly malleable positions on policy, depending on whether their party favors or opposes it at any given point in time. For example: 

I’d love for this observation to age horribly, or even be inaccurate, because I personally espouse many of the ideologies that Republicans have occasionally espoused, and have frequently voted for Republicans. But, as of late 2020, it seems very much to be the case that obstructionism is the only ideology the Republicans consistently espouse. 

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This post was triggered by a few recent articles noting the power of large companies. But first, out of fear that some may dismiss these words as some commie fringe commentary, I should clarify immediately that I’m talking about a small handful of truly enormous business entities. And I use the generic term (business entity) because although some may be corporations, there are a legion of types of such entities. Repeating this for emphasis: I’m not talking about the extraordinary majority of businesses entities, which are small and absolutely healthy endeavors. On to the meat of the post.

I assume that most have heard of the row between Apple, Ireland, the European Union and the United States tax agencies, which I will not go into here. But it was contemporaneous to this bit of news from Austria, where entities such as Starbucks and Amazon pay less in taxes than businesses that are, by comparison, microscopic. These news are hardly surprising, given that most of these policies are written by or for those very companies. This goes even farther than pro-business legislation: some companies, such as Samsung, have grown so big that they are practically sovereign countries. To the point that the bulk of carbon emissions can be traced down to fewer than 100 companies worldwide. The point I’m making here is illustrated by this quote from that last link:

I, as a consumer bear some responsibility for my own car, etcetera. But we’re living an illusion if we think we’re making choices, because the infrastructure pretty much makes those choices for us.

As another example, in the face of catastrophic climate predictions under the best information we have, the pinnacle of worldwide environmental regulatory response (because it’s a planetary issue at this point), is a demand that countries to state their goals, explain whether they meet them and why not. With basically no enforcement power. And that was really the most feasible deal we could achieve, given the point I’m making here.

These matters would not be quite so troubling if open-market economic systems did not have an irrefutable tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of few, basically turning into monopolies. Worse, under the current business scheme, it’s very difficult to trace the root decision makers of problems, so liability shielding has achieved unprecedented levels. Worse, the ongoing increase in our automation abilities (which I favor) is eroding the income and purchasing power of a large fraction of the consumer population, which is the main motor that keeps economies going.

I try to keep my alarmism to a minimum, but it might be time to consider panicking.

Local Philly Politics: Soda Tax

Posted: July 19, 2016 by Nazim in Taxation

From the insightful blog post regarding the Philadelphia Soda tax linked below:

What do I suggest? The federal government should either stay out of agriculture entirely, or start to subsidize local CSA’s like GreensgrowWeaver’s Way, and Philly Cow Share. We should be spending money teaching lower income families how to cook, and encouraging those on the SNAP Program to shop at local farmer’s markets. It wouldn’t be such an outrageous proposition to start connecting individual people to the land again.

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via Why I Support the Philadelphia Soda Tax | Philly Law Blog

Tax & Spend

Posted: July 3, 2016 by Nazim in Federalism, Money Money!, Taxation

A nice, unbiased breakdown of the federal budget, courtesy of nationalpriorities.org (more detail in link).

budget-graphic

Obamacare

Posted: April 5, 2015 by Nazim in Public Health, Taxation

Brett and Nazim discuss King v. Burwell, a dumb case based on dumb facts and dumb law that will probably have a dumb outcome.  Making lemonade out of lemons, Nazim shares a wealth of great knowledge about the background and current state of the law, while Brett shares how many hotdogs he can eat in one sitting. Libsyn link

Protesters standing near the United States Capitol during the Taxpayer March on Washington in September of 2009. Source: ProgressOhio's flickr (linked).

Protesters standing near the United States Capitol during the Taxpayer March on Washington in September of 2009. Source: ProgressOhio’s flickr (linked).

The Constitutionality of Income Taxes

Posted: February 15, 2015 by Nazim in Taxation

The thesis of this week’s episode is that taxes are nothing to be trifled with.  First, Brett and Nazim discuss the many ways that citizens have failed trying to make income taxes unconstitutional.  Afterward, Brett and Nazim discuss Comptroller of Maryland v. Wynn, in which the Court is asked to determine if a State is required to credit taxes paid to other states under the Dormant Commerce Clause.  Finally, Brett’s wife Jess comes on to confuse the issue entirely. Libsyn link

Source: Tom Dilatush’ blog, JamulBlog, Ponders from the chapparal… (linked)