Posts Tagged With: taxes
President Obama’s press conference yesterday was another, in a long list of, missed opportunities to bridge the growing political divide in America which is ripping us apart. If you pay careful attention to the words Mr. Obama uses, and the context in which he uses them, you will notice a consistent, and troubling, pattern. Mr. Obama rarely uses any data or evidence when he talks about the economy and taxes and he carefully, and deliberately, uses terms which are impossible to define. He does this because he is employing a marketing technique, to sell to Americans, economic policies which are failing us.
For example, President Obama uses terms such as “fair-share” when talking about taxes without discussing what exactly that means. What is a “fair-share?” Is there a number he can provide us to assist us in managing our finances? Is there evidence that his tax rate number actually generates growth and tax revenue? He avoids all of these “complexities” because he isn’t really interested in growth. But, he is interested in control of your money and, when you are ideologically committed to state-control of a free economy, you use slick marketing to separate people, from their hard-earned money.
Here’s another example; did you ever notice that when President Obama discusses the economy and growth, he always discusses them in terms of what he will “allow” and “not allow?” “Allow?” What kind of country have we morphed into where American’s economic prosperity and security are held hostage to the ideology of one man? We are not a monarchy; yet.
Sadly, the administration is lording over the transformation of a once free economy into a state-controlled, economic monster. In this new economy, friends and donors to the politically-connected class move directly to the front of the line for government-approved “credit” in the form of tax-payer subsidies and they write their own regulations to ensure that their competitors are buried in red-tape.
These regulations are being put into place to bankrupt ideological enemies of the President and his crony faux-capitalist friends (i.e. coal, derivatives markets, the petroleum industry), with zero regard for the millions of lives negatively impacted by the administration’s ongoing assault on economic liberty. These regulations double-down on economic destruction by bankrupting small businesses, not connected to the political cocktail-party-class, who are unable to handle the massive legal fees associated with complying with the thousands of pages of red-tape, regulatory measures slapped on their backs as they are trying to get up from the near knockout-punch the recession delivered to them.
Finally, I need to address a counter argument which many of the President’s supporters are using in a bait-and-switch tactic. It goes something like this, “The President is doing a great job! The stock market is up, fuel costs are down, and the economy is adding jobs.” While these statements are factually correct, they completely ignore the role of the President’s policy initiatives.
First, the stock market is up in spite of the President’s policies, and here’s the evidence. American businesses are doing quite well, but not here. Much of their bottom-line growth is coming from overseas sales and the cutbacks on expenses such as labor. In other words, many of these companies, due to our corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the industrialized world, are leaving us to stay profitable in a globally competitive market. If we refuse to fix this problem, both outsourcing and off-shoring will continue and American employees will suffer.
Second, fuel costs are down because petroleum-extraction technology has enabled us to tap into our, once-hidden, wealth of oil and gas. We are floating on petroleum wealth here in the United States and this is driving down fuel prices. But, and this is crucial, this is happening on PRIVATE land, not PUBLIC land. The President is actively standing in the way of us responsibly developing a limited subset of public land, and the hidden wealth underneath. That the President takes credit for the decrease in gas prices, despite his numerous attempts to block bi-partisan energy-development plans (i.e. Keystone, ANWAR, continental-shelf exploration), is utterly outrageous. If he would just get out of the way, gas prices would be likely be dramatically lower.
Third, although we are adding jobs, we are doing slow at the SLOWEST rate of any economic recovery in modern times. In the eight years of both the Reagan and Clinton administrations, they were both in office while the economy created over 15 million jobs. For President Obama to leave office with the same results the economy would have to generate 10 million MORE JOBS in his final two years alone.
In conclusion, Mr. Obama’s state-controlled “capitalism” model is an abysmal failure that has only succeeded in increasing the paper-wealth of America’s crony faux-capitalists. Surely, many of you remember the real economic recoveries of the Reagan and Clinton years where your neighbor and you both had smiles on your faces. The only people smiling now are the jokers who made big investments in expensive Washington DC cocktail parties to cater to the elected oligarchs who get to pick who wins and, tragically, who loses in our new, government-controlled “free-market.”
Inequality is replacing the American dream, because the U.S. economy — thanks to Washington’s mismanagement — is underperforming.
America still produces one-fifth of the world’s goods and services, but accounts for a much smaller share of global growth. Many U.S. products are no longer the best in class. Consequently, the economy can’t adequately employ many of its college graduates, and wages are stagnant or falling for ordinary folks.
America still has great strengths. High labor productivity, coupled with rising wages in Asia, make American workers a good value for global investors. Along with cheaper energy, thanks to the onshore oil boom, that should attract new factories, but the promised flood of new jobs has only been a trickle.
Simply put, the bureaucratic quagmire created by complex and ineffective business regulations makes it easier to produce in Asia than in America. The highest corporate tax rates among major industrialized countries make the cost of investing here too high.
It is increasingly difficult to refine and efficiently move oil to California and the Northeast — gasoline costs too much in Monterrey and heating oil costs too much in Massachusetts.
Whether businesses are taxed or directly pay for healthcare, higher costs than in Europe or Japan require radical reforms in delivery and pricing that Obamacare will not accomplish and Republicans refuse to discuss.
Germany punches above its weight. Whether in aerospace or web-based businesses, its companies compete effectively for customers in rapidly growing developing country markets by emphasizing proven technologies, execution and patience.
Cities from Bangkok to Lagos are too congested and cluttered with street vendors to support a middle-class drive to the mall retailing. German firms like Rocket Internet are recruiting suppliers and sending young women with tablets into marketplaces and workplaces to demonstrate their websites.
American companies eschew such boring approaches in search of big profits to pay for Uncle Sam’s terribly burdened regulations and taxes.
Apple will only sell the very best for the highest price, while Microsoft ties up PC customers with awkward software. Now, too few Americans can afford an iPhone and even fewer want a Windows smartphone. Korea’s Samsung offers state-of-the-art handheld devices and gives American companies fits.
In a globalized economy, America must play its strengths. It can’t continue to permit China and other Asian nations to rig their currencies, and otherwise lock out competitive U.S. exports with subsidies and protectionist regulations. In Asia, the Bush and Obama administrations have placed higher priority on other goals.
America shouldn’t import 6 million barrels a day of oil and pay the cost of policing the Persian Gulf, when opening up offshore drilling and smart conservation could eliminate foreign purchases.
Together, the trade deficit on otherwise competitive manufacturers and oil is costing Americans 5 million good-paying jobs — many that would go to struggling working-class families.
America’s best and brightest can earn big bucks by heading for Wall Street, Silicon Valley and industries that innovate and sell in global markets. Meanwhile, the army of more ordinary workers remains underemployed and underpaid.
A slow growing economy is the cause of increasing inequality, and the best way to reverse those is to clear a path for investment and entrepreneurs. The ticket is to streamline regulations, simplify and cut taxes, open up offshore energy production, radically reform healthcare and make exports and jobs America’s number one foreign policy priority.
With lower taxes how would Washington pay for entitlements and a big defense budget? Simply, an American economy growing at 5 percent and producing its own energy would need less of both and would generate a bounty of government resources for good purposes like the world has never seen.
Written by Allen West on November 16, 2013
The Office and Management and Budget (OMB) is expecting record Fiscal Year 2014 tax revenues of $3 trillion, the highest in our history. So, why is it that Democrats continue to talk about raising taxes for more revenue?
Government spending is increasing and our debt has breached $17 trillion, with close to $7 trillion in new debt over the past five years. The only reason our deficits are declining is because of the sequester cuts — which President Obama claimed would bring forth Armageddon. Of course he takes credit for the smaller deficits.
Just consider what would happen for economic growth if we reduced the tax burden on Americans. The choice for our elected officials is whether they covet more of our resources for their wasteful government spending or would prefer to create a free market economic boom.
Right now, our economy is dependent upon government largesse, and we still have a record government spending to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of over 24 percent. Our debt to GDP ratio is inverted to the tune of America owing more than it produces.
There has to be a point when Mr. Obama, someone, anyone, finally says the debt clock must stop and reverse. However, that is not going to happen when our mandatory spending programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — continue to grow. Insolvency is a real issue.
We must grow our economy and get more Americans off Medicaid, not surrender and expand this program. We need to get more people back to work in order to sustain Social Security and truly put it back into an untouchable lock box, as the ravenous appetite for spending in our federal government has raided it.
Lastly, we need to focus Medicare on those who truly need it. We must understand our actual debt when unfunded liabilities are included is closer to $90 trillion.
Finally, if we continue to believe that the Federal Reserve, through its quantitative easing, can keep interest rates at this rock bottom rate, we are setting ourselves up for a REALLY big wake up call. Eventually Moose and Rocco will call in their chips.
The bottom line is that we do not have a revenue problem in America. We have an incessant spending disease. This is the 100th year of the personal income tax, established in 1913. At that time, the top marginal tax rate was seven percent. Today it is 39.6 percent. This is why I am a proponent of ending the progressive tax system, which punishes productivity. And just in case you missed it, a progressive tax was one of the ten planks outlined by Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto.
President Obama is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States, but when have you heard him address economic growth by way of tax relief? Instead, we hear more talk about more subsidies for a bloated new entitlement program called Obamacare, which originally cost the taxpayers $940 billion, but is now estimated to cost $1.7 trillion. Now I know where the new tax revenues are going.
DETROIT — It took less than 24 hours for the legal wrangling to start around the Detroit bankruptcy filing.
First a county judge ruled the filing unconstitutional under Michigan law.
Then the state’s attorney general said he would appeal the ruling and asked that the judge’s orders be stayed until the appeal.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said the bankruptcy filing violated the state’s constitution, which she says prohibits actions that will lessen pension benefits of public employees, including those in Detroit.
She ordered Gov. Rick Snyder to ask Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr to immediately withdraw the bankruptcy filing and that no further Chapter 9 bankruptcies be filed that threaten pension benefits of public employees.
“I have some very serious concerns because there was this rush to bankruptcy court that didn’t have to occur and shouldn’t have occurred,” Aquilina told the Detroit Free Press.
Later in the day Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he will appeal Aquilina’s ruling and ask for a stay so that the bankruptcy can proceed until the appeal is heard.
Aquilina has a Democratic background. Snyder is a Republican.
Earlier in the day, an adamant and focused Snyder said he decided to authorize the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history because “now is our opportunity to stop 60 years of decline” in Detroit.
Snyder cited years of financial mismanagement, deterioration of city services and a decade of having the worst crime rates in the nation as reasons to file for bankruptcy.
“The city is basically broke. It is $18 billion in debt,” Snyder told a packed news conference at Wayne State University in Detroit.
It was the governor’s first public appearance since the filing of a 16-page document on Thursday to place Detroit in Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy protection.
The expectation is that the bankruptcy will allow Snyder, Orr and Detroit city leaders to set aside lawsuits and work on gaining financial stability for the beleaguered city by offering protection from creditors and unions.
Snyder said the decision to file for financial protection was a difficult one but one that had to be made.
“It’s been a long period of decline,” he said. “It’s time to do something about it.”
Orr, who spoke to the media alongside Snyder, blamed years of mismanagement on the city’s economic decline.
“The depth of some of the practices … and the tolerance of this behavior for decades is, at its best, unorthodox,” said Orr, who was given 18 months when he took office in March to find a financial fix for the city. “I wish there had been a lot more outrage over the last 10 to 20 years.”
Orr was asked if he had discussed Detroit’s financial difficulties with the White House, and he declined to comment.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a briefing later in the day in Washington, D.C., that senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan have been in conversations with leaders in Detroit and Michigan.
Carney said he was unaware if President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden have been involved in any of those conversations.
“I would simply say that clearly the situation in Detroit is unique at this time given the declaration and the size of the city and the size of the challenges that Detroit faces,” Carney said.
Snyder and Orr took questions from local and national media for about 45 minutes behind a simple podium adorned with a photo of the city’s iconic skyline and the slogan “Reinventing Detroit.”
Several of the questions focused on which of Detroit’s prized assets, or city “jewels,” including artwork and city parks, would be sold to appease creditors.
“Right now there is nothing for sale, including Howdy Doody,” Orr said referring to the TV puppet that is in storage at the Detroit Institute of Arts that some say is worth $1 million.
Synder touted the investment in the city from benefactors such as Quicken Loans chairman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who has bought up millions of square feet of real estate in the heart of the city and invested about $1 billion to move the city into a technology hub of the Midwest.
He also credited Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch for years of investment in the city and a new commitment to build a new hockey arena downtown.
“There are so many tremendous things going on,” Snyder said. “Young people are moving to Detroit.”
Both Synder and Orr said the process will involve working with creditors, pension fund managers, civil servants, citizens and government leaders to improve neighborhoods and get the city back on a solid financial foundation.
“People may say this is the lowest point in Detroit’s history,” Synder said. “This is the day to stabilize Detroit.”
The so-called “Cadillac Tax” facing employers who offer premium healthcare plans to their workers already is affecting employees, even though it doesn’t kick in until 2018.
Employers say they have to get started bringing down costs now, The New York Times reports, so employees who are used to $20 co-pays at the doctor’s office and $500 deductibles are learning a new reality. Many now are looking at deductibles as high as $6,000 for families.
That’s exactly how Obamacare planners designed it, the Times story says. The intent of what is officially known as the Affordable Care Act all along was to get companies to drop plans that protect workers from the high cost of healthcare, which can lead to unnecessary tests and procedures.
“The consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits,” Cynthia Weidner of the benefits consultant HighRoads told the Times.
Still, the tax is one of the most controversial parts of the healthcare law. It imposes a 40 percent tax on the portion of a health plan’s cost that exceeds $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family. That cost includes what both the employer and employee pay.
Some employees are feeling the pinch already. The Times talked to a nursing assistant who had to drop out of school and get extra jobs to pay for medicine for her husband, who has cystic fibrosis.
“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” said Abbey Bruce.
“The reality is it is going to hit more and more people over time, at least as currently written in law, ” said Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Herring estimated that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade — unless employers manage to significantly rein in their costs.
President Obama has plenty of big taxes in his budget proposal.
To achieve $1.8 trillion in new revenue, the president suggested a few of the policies he’s raised while battling Republicans over the past four years: taxing higher incomes by capping itemized tax deductions, rolling back domestic-production credits for oil companies, instituting the “Buffett Rule” of a 30 percent minimum tax rate for people making over $1 million in a year, and taxing investment managers’ “carried interest” profits as regular income top the list.
But the tax code is a jungle of odd rules, and the penny-pinching side of Obama’s budget raises some new taxes (or closes some “loopholes”) that might not readily occur to most taxpayers filling out run-of-the-mill 1040s this weekend.
As laid out this week by the Treasury Department in its “green book,” a massive spiral-bound document that explains tax changes in the White House budget proposal – it is pale green, and 246 pages – here are some quirky maneuvers the president suggests to offset spending and keep the deficit just a bit lower:
1. A Tax on Flavored Vodka
President Obama wants to tax your Stoli Razberi.
Distilled spirits currently get a tax break if they include flavors, but the president’s budget proposal does away with that. Spirits are taxed at $13.50 per proof-gallon (a gallon of 100-proof liquor), but if distillers add flavorings, they can roll back some of that tax: Up to 2.5 percent of the alcohol in those flavoring mixtures is exempt from the spirits tax.
It doesn’t sound like much, but the Treasury claims this tax break gives an unfair advantage to flavored liquors, particularly foreign producers whose flavor quotients aren’t restricted, as they are for U.S. producers. Heavily-flavored, foreign-made spirits can be sold cheaper, and consumers might be more likely to buy them than they otherwise would, Treasury argues.
The new rule would be good for Jack Daniel’s, bad for Absolut Citron.
2. Golf Courses Are No Longer Tax Havens
In a creative tax maneuver, an Alabama land developer was able to deduct part of his golf course.
E.A. Drummond bought real estate on a Gulf Coast peninsula in the 1990s, created a business to build a golf course on it, and developed the land around the golf course. In 2002, he had the business place a conservation easement – a partial restriction of what can be done with a piece of land, for the purpose of conserving it or preserving “recreational amenities,” golf among them as the tax code is written – donated that easement to a conservation land trust, and claimed the value of the easement as a charitable-giving tax deduction.
Under Obama’s budget proposal, that couldn’t be done.
In explaining the proposed change, Treasury protests that such moves have “raised concerns” that the deductions, often claimed by the developers of homes around golf courses, “are excessive,” and that they mainly advance “the private interests of donors” not “bona fide conservation activities.”
3. A Higher Tax on Cigarettes
President Obama smokes from time to time, but he proposes hiking the tax on cigarettes to pay for early-childhood education.
Cigarettes have been taxed at just under $1.01 per pack, to help pay for the 2009 expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In his budget proposal, Obama suggests raising that to $1.95 per pack.
The administration’s rationale is, essentially, that cigarettes are harmful.
Citing statistics on smoking-related deaths, Treasury writes, “Excise taxes, levied on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products, are one of the main ways that policymakers can affect tobacco production and consumption.”
4. Corporate Jets
Perhaps a dead horse by now, Obama is still beating it.
The so-called “loophole for corporate jets” works like this: Companies can write off the value of their equipment as it depreciates – to encourage investment, the government lets businesses recoup some cost of buying equipment by letting them count its depreciation against their income. The IRS has a schedule for how fast different kinds of equipment “depreciate,” and how much of their value can be written off when.
When it comes to airplanes owned by businesses, commercial and freight-carrying planes can be written off in full after seven years. Planes that aren’t used for those purposes – corporate jets, crop-dusters, and planes used for firefighting, for instance – can be written off after five years.
Under Obama’s budget proposal, noncommercial passenger aircraft are lumped in with commercial and freight planes, meaning businesses can deduct the value of their corporate jets after seven years, not five.
5. Businesses Can’t Deduct Punitive Damages
Say you’re a business, someone wins a lawsuit against you, and you’re required to pay damages. You can write them off.
Not so, under Obama’s budget proposal.
The White House plan would not only prevent businesses from deducting punitive damages from their taxable income, it would tax damages paid out by insurers, too: If a business takes out an insurance policy for some kind of liability, and that insurer ends up paying out damages on behalf of the company under its policy, those damages would be added to the business’s taxable income.
The U.S. tax and regulatory environment inflicted another casualty last week. ViaMat, a Swiss firm providing vaulting and transport services for bullion and other valuables, threw in the towel and instructed U.S. customers they will need to go elsewhere:
“We are currently experiencing rapid and substantial changes in the general regulations within this business. The changes mainly relate to the tax structures and taxation systems of various countries. As a consequence of these changes VIA MAT INTERNATIONAL has taken the decision to stop offering this service at its vault [sic] outside of the U.S. to private customers with potential U.S.-tax liability.”
The move mirrors action taken by Wegelin, the oldest bank in Switzerland, back in 2011. The bank stopped accepting business from the U.S., rather than buckle under pressure from U.S. regulators and hand over confidential account information.
To be clear, the regulations impacting ViaMat and other firms are focused on U.S. citizens with assets overseas. Investors storing precious metals inside the U.S. are not subject to any new rules — at least for now.