Category Archives: Taxes

Hurricane Sandy Relief and the Debt Ceiling

179 Republicans do not think this is worth cleaning up.

179 Republicans do not think this is worth cleaning up.

So we have another standoff on the debt limit, this seriously cannot surprise anyone. House Republicans are threatening to default if there are not spending cuts while President Obama has refused to negotiate with “terrorists”. At a breakfast I had with Speaker Boehner at the end of last year, he said that Congress would raise the debt limit because it was their responsibility to do so. Now I am not convinced this will happen. The sanity of Speaker Boehner is being vetoed by the extremism of the Republican Party. The Speaker is coming dangerously close to losing control of his members.

Why do I suddenly think Republicans might push us into default? Hurricane Sandy. The fact that 179 of 233 House Republicans voted against giving aid to Hurricane Sandy victims shows they would rather make an ideological stand than help the American people. No matter how bad it hurts the American people and economy, Republicans might push us to bankruptcy to prove a point.

Patriotslog has been a loud advocate for spending cuts since our beginning, so I understand the Republican concern. But I find myself more in the President’s corner on this issue. The simplest way to explain the debt ceiling standoff, in case you just returned from Gilligan’s Island and have not heard anything about it, is that Congress passes laws telling the Government how much it can tax, then passes laws telling the Government how much it can spend. Now a significant group of Congress is telling the President he must break one of those laws they passed by taxing more or spending less than they have allowed, or our nation will have to declare bankruptcy. Congress has racked up the credit card bill, now half of them are suggesting we refuse to pay it. Maybe Warren Buffett was right. Jokes aside, our deficit problem would go away faster than Michele Bachmann’s support for her presidential campaign if these guys were disqualified for re-election because of too much red ink.

77% of Republicans voted against the aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims. Many of whom are the same Republicans who voted for more defense spending. It is crazy that these people would rather see our military–already bigger than the next ten largest militaries combined–get even larger than help someone rebuild their home, their business, their school, and their life after blunting the second most destructive hurricane in our history. Only Hurricane Katrina was more destructive.

So I got to thinking, how many Republicans voted against Hurricane Katrina relief? Only 11. Then I decided to look further than that. I looked at every disaster I could find since 2000 with over $10 billion in damages, and what I found made me even more concerned about the Hurricane Sandy relief vote. The 9/11 relief package had zero Republicans oppose. Ditto for Hurricane Ivan. Hurricane Rita? Only 19. When additional hurricane damage burdened the gulf region zero Republicans opposed additional aid. There was no vote for wildfire relief, but I think it is safe to assume it would have had large support.

So why the lack of support now? It could be because the Sandy hit heavily Democratic states, so it provided a convenient opportunity for Republicans to prove a point. If this sounds farfetched, consider–this and keep in mind I am not a Democrat, so I have no party bias against Republicans. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, cut his own states firefighting budget, then criticized FEMA because he thought Texas deserved more aid for wildfires. Republican Congressman Steven Polazzo of Mississippi lobbied heavily for Hurricane Katrina relief, then voted against Hurricane Sandy relief. The Kansas City Star highlighted a handful of Congressman that voted against Hurricane Sandy relief after heavily benefitting from federal disaster aid themselves.

So the question that I think all 179 Republicans need to be asked is, “if your district had needed the disaster relief, would it have changed your vote?” I would have serious moral concerns about any representative that answers yes. American people are suffering; United we stand, divided we fall. To discriminate aid and relief because of geographical location or political party is beyond low. If these Republicans would vote against aid to every district, including their own, this might not concern me, but I just cannot believe that would happen. It would appear they care less for the good of the American people than the finances of the nation. That is why I cannot be so sure our debt ceiling will be raised. Default would be catastrophic both for our nation and the world. But if pulling the rug out from under our economy and livelihood proves a point, it seems conservatives are all for it.

What concerns me most is that last year’s ultra-conservative caucus–Representatives like Eric Cantor, Tom Cole, Scott Garrett, and Frank Lucas –voted for the relief bill. So exactly how extreme is this new Republican House to vote overwhelmingly against it? Extreme enough to take the unprecidented measure of default? It seems plausable to think so now.

 

–Matt Young

16 January, 2012

Government Solves Nothing with Fiscal Cliff Deal

To kick off the New Year I was hoping to send a fond farewell to Senator Joe Liebermann, a true statesman in an era of partisan radicals, but with the government choosing to fix nothing with their fiscal cliff deal, a goodbye send off for the retiring CT stalwart seems shallow. But ironically, there is probably no better way to write a tribute to Joe Lieberman than by highlighting the disturbing failures of our government on the fiscal cliff deal. It is really troubling to think that the biggest financial problem our nation has is not our debt or deficit, it is Congress.

President Obama and Congress were unable to make a deal to avert the fiscal cliff; Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell came to a deal that does nothing but kick the can down the road. It raises taxes on families with incomes over $450,000 per year–which we needed–but does nothing to cut spending–which we needed so much more. This failure perfectly illustrates what our nation has become. The era of moderate deal makers, like Sen. Liebermann, is now over; the fiscal cliff failure was the closing ceremony. Olympia Snow, Joe Liebermann, Richard Lugar, and Daniel Inouye were some of the last of a dying breed–the breed that governed.

In 2012 the biggest fear during elections was the primary race. State governments have so thoroughly gerrymandered districts that we have only? 35 “swing districts” left in the entire nation, down from 103 just 20 years ago. The solution to this is simple. Use the California style voting system. If every state voted to institute this system, in which redistricting is not done by a partisan legislature, and the top two vote earners go to the general election, no matter the party, we could get some political sense into Congress. For now, Congress is more worried about getting re-elected than fixing our problems.

Joe Lieberman was not. He left the Democratic Party after losing a primary because he was not extreme enough. For those of you who do not speak French, that means he was not crazy. He was a problem solver, not a party hack. The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 and very nearly the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2008. I did not always agree with Sen. Liebermann, but in the age of zero compromise, he was always admirably pragmatic. The 112th Congress was not.

What better way for the most unpopular and unproductive Congress in history to give us the finger as they walk out the door than refusing to solve the fiscal cliff? This deal is an embarrassment to Congress, and an embarrassment to the United States. The rest of the world laughs at us. We are proving to our creditors that the only way we can pay our loans is with more debt. With close to 40% of the budget being borrowed and added to our children’s ransom one has to wonder how much longer this can go on. Europe scolds us because we first have to cast the beam out of our own eye.

Worst of all, China, our largest creditor, may not accept this much longer. The Chinese national television–which is essentially a statement from the Chinese Government–warned us this week that it is time to fix this. Congressmen have to stop worrying about re-election, and start fixing problems. Politically unpopular solutions, they say, have to stop being avoided. China said it best; we “simply cannot live on borrowed prosperity forever”. What will it take for Congress to get serious? When will China say enough is enough? If they cut off our line of credit we would dream for tax increases and spending cuts. Instantly we could lose 20% of our federal programs! Going off the fiscal cliff would have been better for us than the deal just reached. We need solutions, and we need them now; instead, Congress and the President insult us and continue to leverage our nation’s stability. We need more legislators like Joe Liebermann.

At least 4 times in the last four years we have had the opportunity to take a big step, first, the Republicans refused to give up revenue, and some great deals were scrapped. Now, after the election victories Democrats refuse to budge on entitlements, and deals continue to be scrapped. When President Obama could have–should have–been working on a compromise to solve the fiscal cliff he was meeting with business leaders, labor groups, bankers, and people who responded to his tweets rather than the Congressional leaders. I guess he missed the memo that his campaign is over, and he won the election.

Unfortunately this political atmosphere silences people brave enough to step outside the politically popular; people like Joe Liebermann. We need more can catchers, not can kickers. Any other person in America would have been fired for missing as many deadlines as Congress. The markets are watching, our lenders are watching, the world is watching, and hopefully we will all be watching too. But if Congress stands by watching much longer we may run out of road.

 

–Matt Young

1 January 2013

Would Going off the Fiscal Cliff Really be that Bad?

So, it is official. With the one of the largest political and financial crises of our lifetimes set to hit every American in just over a week, the people you and I elected to solve problems are MIA. At the first opportunity Congress bailed faster than a Kardashian in a marriage. We assume they will be back sometime toward the end of next week, just in time to have a good two or three days of work before the fiscal cliff actually sets in. This is the pessimists ultimate “I told you so” moment; the “throw ’em all out and get new blood” caucus is having holiday; Christmas will come twice for them. So the question is, would you rather make Congress actually do their job, or let them spend Christmas with their families? There probably is not a right answer here, but the fact that they are getting out of dodge just before the shootout once again shows why we as a nation do not trust them or approve of their performance.

So with the probability of driving off the fiscal cliff edging closer to a sure thing, maybe it is time to ask the bug question; would going off the fiscal cliff really be that bad? If a simple yes or no answer would do, I would have to look into writing sports articles or screen plays. Before you call me crazy, hear me out; the media and government are telling you it is the end of the world, but is it? By now everyone in the most remote parts of the world is aware that going off the fiscal cliff means an end to the Bush era tax cuts, the long term unemployment benefits, the payroll tax holiday, and the alternative minimum tax alongside the “sequester” spending cuts; across the board spending cuts of 9.4% for all Pentagon departments, and 8.2% for nondefense discretionary spending totaling $1.2 trillion. So what would your post-cliff world look like?

The question on everyone’s mind is, how will this affect me? What does this mean for the economy? Those on long-term unemployment will be hit the hardest. Typically unemployment benefits run for 26 weeks, or six months. However, during the brunt of the recession they were extended to 73 weeks, or just under a year and a half. This means people that might lose their jobs after the fiscal cliff will be in trouble if they cannot find a job. To gauge that we need to figure out how far the fiscal cliff freefall will be. The answer, according to most economists, is between 3-5% next year. To most normal people that number means nothing, so to interpret, that is about a little less than the 2008 recession; meaning this would not be an end of the world scenario like cable propaganda channels might tell you.

jobsc                Even if you look at layoff estimates, digging into the numbers makes the fiscal cliff seem more like a fiscal diving board–maybe not even the high dive at that. Estimates are that we may lose in the neighborhood of 1.5-2 million jobs if we go off the fiscal cliff. That seems like a huge number, but we have to remember that when President Obama took office, as he so readily reminded us during the campaign, we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. So the total job losses from the fiscal cliff might be about as bad as two or three months of losses at the beginning of 2008; maybe even less. I know that is a tough pill to swallow, but we know from 2008 it is not impossible to overcome. Moreover, business experts have been saying the reason businesses and banks are sitting on their hands is the uncertainty of the future. We now know Obamacare will stand, we now know who the President is, and after Jan. 1, whether a deal is struck or we go off the cliff, we will know exactly what the taxing and spending picture looks like as well–no matter what happens we will have certainty. With certainty businesses will know what to expect and what they can do. We may recover faster from a fiscal cliff dive than from the recession.

So the bad news might not end up being as bad as many expect it to be, but is there good news? Yes, the good news is that going off the fiscal cliff will make a significant dent in our federal spending, and with the increased revenue, our deficit as well. Going off the fiscal cliff will mean we have a solvent, respectable nation to hand over to our children. Going over the fiscal cliff means we will return to the tax rates that we had under Clinton, and similar to those under Reagan–the two highest growth periods in our lifetimes. The first rule of philosophy is that just because something happened after does not mean it happened because of. Yes there were other factors in those growth years, Republicans love to point out the internet boom under Clinton, but we cannot let them forget Reagan got us out of a recession at the same time he raised taxes.

Unfortunately that was a different era. An era of moderate Democrats in the south and progressive Republicans in New England; an era without cable and talk radio propaganda; an era where doing what the nation needed was applauded by your party, even if you had to go against your party to do it. Congress is far too polarized now for Speaker Boehner and President Obama to strike a Reagan—O’Neal type deal; the two party system has made it that way.

Yes, going off the fiscal cliff will hurt, but it might just be a sprained ankle or broken arm; it will not be suicide. We have had a 5% GDP drop at least 8 times since WWII, and we always came out stronger. Unless we get a real deal, a real grand bargain that raises significant revenue and makes major spending cuts we will stay on the path we are on. Congressman are more worried about their own re-election than they are their own children’s future. The path we are on is the same path as Greece; another decade one this path and we may have to face austerity as well–that would hurt much, much more then the fiscal cliff, and our children would be paying for that for generations.

historical_revenue

Going off the fiscal cliff, or any other big deal for that matter, will be bad in the short run, but it is manageable. And in the long run we will be the better for it! It will put us on a fiscally responsible path, and be I first step to the major spending cuts we need to make sure we have programs for the future. Going on a diet always sucks, but after you have trimmed down your fat it is worth it.

We can and we will recover from the fiscal cliff, should we take the dive, and we need a painful solution to our problem. Nobody wants higher taxes, but we cannot have low taxes and big government programs without becoming Greece. This is the corner we have painted ourselves in; if you do not like it, vote for someone else in two and four years. A small deal will not help, and a big deal seems unlikely. Unfortunately the most likely scenario is more of the same–extending everything at its current state, kicking the can down the road, as they say. Unfortunately we are close to kicking the can down our children’s’ throats. The fiscal cliff is our CPR. If we do not get a major deal, it might even be our best option.

–Matt Young

26 December 2012

If the United States Were Run Like Apple

The other day I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across something that I thought was really intriguing. The Tweet said that electronic goliath Apple now has more money than the United States Treasury. This is laughable, but true. Apple has $76 billion or so in cash, while the treasury has only $74 billion. Technically the treasury has no actual money, they only have $74 billion left to spend, but as soon as Congress raises the debt limit that $74 billion will get a lot bigger.

Regardless, borrowing mind blowing amounts of money to finance a government (or a company) is a terrible financial practice; so I got to thinking…if Apple is in such a good place financially, what would our nation look like if the United States government was run like Apple?

For starters our nation would obviously be hugely profitable, but profits do not tell the whole story. To meet the types of profit margins Apple is able to produce our nation would be fundamentally transformed. The bottom line would define the purpose of the government, people become secondary to finances. 90% of all our government jobs would be outsourced to save money on cheaper labor. The IRS, EPA, CMS, Department of Education, and many more federal agencies would be given to the lowest bidder. If we can find a conglomerate company that could specialize in each of these departments, that would be even better. Apple, for instance, uses Foxconn to manufacture their products; these facilities are shared with other electronic products such as HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba, and others. So if there were a company that already handles the taxes for France, South Africa, and Malaysia they could also implement our revenue management with little overhead, thereby cutting costs and saving money.

If we ran like Apple we would tax at a rate far larger than other similarly developed nations. You may have already asked the question; if Apple uses the same manufacturer as other tech giants, why are their products so much more expensive? The answer is simple: people think their products are worth it. A recent study at Foxconn showed that an average worker worked over 60 hours each week and took home around $600 per month. For those of you doing the math at home, that means one new IPad or IPhone pays an entire month’s salary for a Foxconn worker…still wondering how they can have such high profit margins? If other Foxconn manufactured products can sell for one third that price and still make a profit, then immediately Apple has a 200% profit margin over their competitors.

So, to be like Apple, our nation would tax nearly three times that of our peers; that certainly helps create a healthy profit. We could most likely expect a minimum tax rate of 50%, and some brackets as high as 90%. There would be no citizenship, anyone who wishes to be part of the United States need only pay the hefty taxes and they will be a citizen with all the benefits of becoming such. If at any time a citizen is fed up with the ridiculously high taxes, they can stop paying and lose citizenship, and can go to another nation.

What would we get for our totalitarian taxes? Not much more than other nations that tax far less than we would, and not as much as nations that tax at a rate similar to ours. With every election (assuming there would be elections) or every tax payment each year we would ask when we were going to receive some of the benefits or capabilities other nations have. If our government were to try to implement anything new we could expect a lot of hiccups in the process requiring many updates and upgrades. Even something as simple as mapping our nation would cause fits for us and our nation’s outsourced employees.

We would allegedly steal some of our best features from other nations, then sue those other nations for having government structure that included a head of state, vice head of state, and separate legislative body. If this sounds ridiculous to you, you are not alone. Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement; what high tech strictly patented technology did Samsung “steal” from Apple? Among other nonsense, they had the gumption to make a rectangle device with rounded edges! Oh, the audacity of those buffoons! The judge in the case thought this was as stupid as you probably think it is, and removed the injunction on Samsung. This means that because the jury found Samsung guilty (which they technically were, because they do have a rectangle phone with rounded edges) they still have to pay the penalty to Apple, but they will still be allowed to sell their phones.

Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed claiming that Apple stole actual development technology, technology Apple has used to advertise their products no less, such as the retina display and the push to talk system Apple calls Siri. If America were run like Apple, we could expect the same shenanigans from our government. Maybe Massachusetts would sue the federal government for stealing parts of the Romneycare health plan. Maybe the Federal Government would sue Arizona for modeling their immigration law after the federal immigration law…oh, wait, they already did that!

If America were run like Apple it is doubtful there would be any elections. Following the corporate model, the most successful Americans would be our CEO (rather than having a president), COO (rather than vice president), and board of directors (rather than cabinet/Congress). This means the likes of Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett would be running the show. These profit-first corporate tycoons would obviously care more for the national “company” than the people. As long as they can make our product appealing (even if we do drastically overcharge for it) so we can get people to become citizens, they are doing their job.

The United States of America is the greatest nation in the world. We have our problems, but it continues to befuddle me that people can run around talking about how bad our nation is at the same time they talk about how good Apple is. In the United States everyone has an equal opportunity, everyone can gain as much as they are able to achieve, our only limitations are our own imaginations and abilities. We fight for the freedom of others, and stand up for the daughter who is raped in the Middle East and killed by her family for it. We stand up for the girl who is beaten for learning to read. We stand up for those imprisoned for speaking their mind and wanting freedom; but somehow that makes us the bad guy? All the while, many of these same people that slander the nation for these things carry a religious commitment to Apple, a company that outsources as many jobs as possible, charges far more for their products than their competitors, is slow fixing errors they have with their systems, places their workers in harsh and dangerous conditions, and does not have the capabilities that many less expensive products have. But America is the one in the wrong here? If we ran our nation like Apple we would be far worse off than we are now.

Apple can have more money than the U.S. Treasury; that is fine with me. But I am proud to be an American, and I am happy to know that our nation is not run like Apple, or any corporation for that matter. We are the beacon of freedom to the world, and we stand up for that freedom for others, even when it may not be our fight. Of course we have our problems, and we need some fine tuning, but not any more than any other nation, or any Apple product for that matter.

–Matt Young

27 November, 2012

The Government is Violating the 4th Amendment and Spying on You

               Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all have it for free. Even Apple is attempting to develop it. We know that the private sector can often do things much more efficient than the government can, so why are we spending billions of dollars on a government agency to map the earth for the military? Our army has internet access…right? Or at least a smart phone, don’t they? So why is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) syphoning billions from tax payers to fly drones around the world, and, more particularly, around our nation? Hasn’t the topography of the United States been mapped hundreds of times already? Don’t we have satellite capabilities to take detailed pictures of anything the government needs?

So why the drones? The answer is simple; the government is spying on you. Satellites cannot be everywhere at once because they have an orbital timeframe, but drones can be anywhere the government wants them. Wait, isn’t spying on an American citizen illegal? Of course it is; so what better way to break the law than fly hundreds of drones over and over to “map” the same nation that has already been thoroughly mapped? If the drones “happen” to be gathering data and surveillance on citizens while they do then there is really nothing the government can do about that. They figure they might as well use the intelligence to feed the top secret community. Read the rest of this entry

Suicide of the Republican Party

It was never 1980. Barack Obama was not Jimmy Carter and, of all the uncertainties in this election, one thing was always certain; Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. People liked Reagan as a person. As a person, Romney was very unpopular, he was not trusted, and he was generally viewed as out of touch. Republicans told themselves it was “1980 all over again” to provide hope. When I heard this become a common phrase in right wing political circles I know the GOP was fishing in the dark for something to keep their supporters enthusiastic. It was never 1980; that was clear to anyone that looked below the surface. In 1980 winning 62% of the white male vote (60% of the overall white vote) meant almost a certain victory; Mitt Romney won that demographic, and was not nearly enough. The demographics continually shift against the ultra-conservative base of the Republican Party. Regan had a history of raising taxes; Romney said out right, the rich need to pay less in taxes.

The Republican Party is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. If someone does not step in, they will bleed to death. There are already whispers that Mitt Romney lost the election he was not conservative enough . This is just the bitter excuse of a party that is becoming irrelevant. The national elections show that, if anything, the Republican Party is to blame for the defeat of Mitt Romney; Mitt Romney is not to blame for the defeat of the Republican Party. While the wild swing of the base of the Republican Party to the right won House seats in the 2010 election, the nation has now seen the fruits of the tea party; and it is a bitter drink. There was more dysfunction from this last Congress than any time since the Civil War era. The nation has seen that the Tea Party does not govern, they just protest and oppose.

                The Republican Party did not fix anything after the 2010 election, and their blatant opposition to everything pushed them out of favor in the national scene. If Ronald Reagan were to run today he would not even make it out of a Republican primary. The base of the Republican Party has forced politicians to become more and more conservative in order to run. Mitt Romney, a middle of the road politician for his entire political career, had to shift so far to the radical right in his primaries that rather than highlight his inconsistencies and flip flops, the Obama campaign decided it would be more effective to paint Mitt Romney as a far right extremist. This was not an asset to the party, it was a liability. For the GOP to insist they need a more conservative candidate is to plunge the dagger back into their own belly.

                For evidence we can first look at Indiana and see the most obvious example. First it must be made clear: Indiana is a lock for Republicans. It was sure from the beginning that Romney would win Indiana, and the President did not even campaign there. So logic would dictate it would also be a lock for Republican Senate. Six months ago the Democrats would not have even hoped to win; Dick Lugar was a 36 year senator who had been instrumental in many major events in recent United States history, including winning the Cold War. But nobody voted for Dick Lugar on Tuesday. Why? Richard Murdock, a tea party candidate now infamous for saying that a pregnancy resulting from rape is the will of God. There is sound logic in that, if one believes that God chooses when a woman gets pregnant; however, the comment was interpreted as cold and chauvinistic. The radical right wing elected Murdock as their candidate when they defeated Lugar in a primary. How did the independents and sane republicans reward the tea party for this? By electing a Democrat to a Senate seat that has been 36 years Republican. Murdock was so far to the right wing that the rest of Indiana could not see fit to vote for him.

While Richard Murdock lost because of his right wing extremism, his rape comment was at least understandable. Todd Akin is a different story. In Missouri the Republicans expected to pick up an easy senate seat; first time Democrat Claire Mccaskill had become hated for her antics, which included the use of a private jet which she tabbed to the tax payers. Then Missouri heard Todd Akin speak. He stated that if a woman is “legitimately” raped, her body can shut down the reproductive system, and keep her from getting pregnant. You cannot make this stuff up. Patriotslog has wanted to ask Mr. Akin, if somebody is “legitimately” shot, does your body have a way to shut that down so you will not bleed? Needless to say, if his recent medical discoveries did not cost the Republican Party the election, his ultra-right wing mentality did.

Scott Brown, the Senator from Massachusetts who won the special election in 2010 during the Tea Party honeymoon also lost his race to challenger Elizabeth Warren. The Tea Party momentum that swept him into office in a rigidly Democratic state had become his burden. Moderates that have seen the effect of the tea party on government voted for Elizabeth Warren, and the GOP lost another Senatorial Race.

In Utah, gerrymandering had so thoroughly negated the Democratic vote that it was widely assumed Mia Love, the far right candidate in the Utah 4th district, would be able to finally unseat long time sitting Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson. Matheson’s previous district had been spilt into thirds, all heavily offset by Republicans in their new district. Salt Lake, the only remotely Democratic area in Utah was now voting in three separate districts; Love had good reason be optimistic. In the end, she too was too conservative for even Utah voters (many Republicans, and most independents voted for Matheson) and Matheson is once again representing Utah.

Throughout the entire nation citizens largely voted their disapproval of the Tea Party and the ultra-conservative Republicans. Rep.  Joe Walsh (R, IL), former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, Rick Berg in North Dakota, George Allen in Virginia, and Josh Mandel in Ohio are among the many seats the republicans had hoped to pick up or maintain this election. It was being too conservative which cost them the Presidency, and possibly the majority in the Senate. If the Republican Party decides their problem is not being conservative enough, it will diminish into total irrelevance. If their base continues to put unqualified, radical candidates into the general elections the nation will continue to reject them. In a nation where less than half of Democrats approve of Obamacare; in a nation with higher unemployment than on this day four years ago; in a nation that is statistically recovering from a recession at a pace slower than the great depression; in a nation $16 trillion dollars in debt; in a nation headed toward a fiscal cliff, Republicans still could not make any gains on election day because the voters clearly do not approve of the radical conservatives the GOP had to offer.

For the Republican Party to have a chance in the future they need to make three distinct shifts from their ideology. First, they must agree to raise taxes. The assertion that we do not need to raise taxes to balance the budget is asinine and ignorant. A majority of Americans would support higher taxes because they are logical enough to see that, while spending is the majority of the problem, our historically low tax rates also contribute significantly. Second, they must be first to immigration reform. Patriotslog predicts that President Obama will propose immigration reform that will be rigidly partisan and hardly beneficial to the nation, intentionally designed have a hard time passing. This is because he broke his promise during the first term, when he had a Democratic majority in Congress, and now can blame a failure of immigration reform on the GOP House.

He will design the bill to fail because not having immigration reform actually helps the democrats. They make immigrants believe the Democrats are on their side, because Republicans talk tough on immigration, but Democrats do nothing to help immigrants. If the GOP proposes an immigration bill before Obama, and heavily press the message that they are the party to reform immigration, thereby ensuring immigrants do not work below minimum wage, live in overcrowded housing, and can have healthcare outside of the emergency room, while the President lied to immigrants and did not help them and deported record numbers of immigrants, they can make huge strides in the changing demographics. Third, they must nominate Reagan style candidates, not Paul Ryan, for president.

The best hope for the Republican Party is the politician a most similarly resembles Reagan in policy: someone like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Because of his policies Utah has been named the best managed state in the Union. Because of his policies Utah was among the states least affected by the recession. Because of his policies, a state that ranks about 30th in population is now 7th in financial services assets. Utah is rivaling Wall Street. If the Republican Party continues to insist on radicalism they will die. Unfortunately, most of the party will not realize this, or they will refuse to believe it. Biased talking heads worshipped as idols in the conservative world like Shaun Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the Fox Propaganda crew will feed the fire of unyielding conservatism, insisting Mitt Romney lost for being too moderate. If the party does not turn off their propaganda, they will die. Remember, it was Reagan, not Carter, that raised taxes and granted amnesty.

 

–Matt Young

8 November, 2012

Mitt Romney’s 47%

                Mitt Romney is a terrible candidate. If elected, he may make a fantastic President, but as far as campaigns go, he fits in about a well as a figure skater on a football field. This week another political gaff has come to light: in May, Mitt Romney went on a rant about the 46.4% of Americans that do not pay federal income tax. This was videotaped in secret and released in the liberally biased blog Mother Jones. The Statistic that 46.4% of people do not pay income tax is the conservative response to President Obama’s proposition that the richest people in America “pay their fair share“. It has been the right wing rallying cry for the policy battle both sides have sides have escalated with ludicrous labels like “class warfare“. 46.4% of people not paying income tax is not an exaggeration, it is a fact; however, it is very misleading, and Patriotslog is sick of hearing it.

My issue is not as much with Mitt Romney as it is with the number in general. Though Mitt Romney classifying half the nation as welfare dependents that “rely on the government” is distasteful, the bigger problem is that people–apparently Mitt Romney included–do not understand the number. People see that nearly half the nation does not pay income tax and they get worked up into an ideological rage without actually understanding what it is that is spiking their blood pressure.

               It is true that 46.4% of people do not pay income taxes, but this does not tell the whole story. Many of the 46.4% (as much as 1/5) are retired. Retirees have paid taxes for decades and now have no earned income with which to pay taxes. Also, active duty military members are given special tax credits for their service to our nation; these credits often result in them being net non-income tax payers. These two groups contribute to a significant portion of those who pay no income tax. The other elephant in the room that is not discussed when people talk about 46.4% of the nation not paying income taxes is the fact that income taxes do not tell the whole story. Most of these people still pay taxes, just not income taxes. Consider this tax breakdown: a family with one or two children that has an income under $30,000 per year. Can you live off this income? Yes, it is possible, but money will be very tight. This is why they do not pay income taxes, but they do pay taxes. For a family that is living on $30,000 per year, odds are they will have to spend the bulk of that to live; maybe even upwards of 90%. Depending on where they live, sales taxes can be between 6%-10%. For those of you not following along with a calculator at home that means they are already paying as much as 8% or more of their income in taxes. Moreover, they also have to pay payroll taxes–FICA, unemployment, etc.–on each paycheck, and state income taxes. The point is, added all together these families which pay no income tax often pay between 9%-12% of their total income in taxes. For a man like Mitt Romney who has the bulk of his income generated by investments and capital gains, he will not pay the payroll taxes that most Americans pay. Where is the public outrage that the richest people in our nation pay no Social Security and Medicare taxes! The rest of the country is letting these privileged few become dependent on the government! This is class warfare! Everyone should pay taxes! How can we let them get away with this!

In all seriousness, the math is quite simple. Mitt Romney does not pay payroll taxes, and logic tells us that because of the size of his income he does not need to spend even close to 90% of it to survive. This means Mitt Romney’s total tax rate is not much higher than the 13% he says he pays. Factor in sales taxes and it is unlikely he pays more than 15-16% in taxes. In fact we can take him at his word when he says his effective tax rate was around 15%. To break that down for those of you still do not have a calculator (who knew politics could be a math lesson?) this means Mitt Romney, for all the fuss, hardly pays any more in taxes than the “dependents” that do not pay income taxes. So the best question to ask Mitt Romney is why this is a big deal? Is it right for these people to have their income taxed at 8%-10%, therefore making them pay more in taxes than Mitt Romney would?

There are two more aspects of the 46.4% number that I find comical, if not downright hypocritical. Republicans who fuss about some not paying income taxes seem to have forgotten; it was their party that demanded tax cuts. If the political right did not have an anti-tax religious conviction many of these people would be paying income taxes. They wanted to play in the mud, then cry when they have to clean up their mess. This is the anti-tax party, isn’t it? Why is the anti-tax party crying foul over people not paying taxes? This is the kind of thing that makes liberals believe the Republicans only care about the rich. Moreover, the income tax is only responsible for about 43% of the government’s revenue anyway. The second aspect is the Republican assertion that “we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem“. Despite the fact that government spending is down, Patriotslog agrees that we have a spending problem; but Republicans need to see that we do have a revenue problem as well. We are well below the historical average for revenue, but that is beside the point. If Republicans insist that we do not have a revenue problem, why are they fussing about people not paying income tax? The standard answer is going to be “because that is fare”, but we need to remember. Those not retired or in active military service pay nearly as much in taxes as Mitt Romney, so fairness is not the issue. Moreover, the same fairness argument can be made the opposite way, and in fact it has. Warren Buffett revealed that his secretary pays more in taxes than he does. Is that fair? So if fairness is not the issue, revenue is. If Republicans believe we do not have a revenue problem, why does it matter that people are not paying taxes?

There is one more thing that I think most people who get angry about 46.4% of people not paying income tax do not understand. Many of them, Mitt Romney included, think that those not paying taxes “depend on the government” for much of their needs. This may be true, welfare spending has exploded; more on that later. However the assumption is that most of those who pay no income tax depend on the government and will vote for Obama.This may not be true. Dean Lacy, Professor of Government at Dartmouth, measured the amount of government money going into states and counties compared to the amount of money paid out in taxes. He found that states and counties that vote heavily Republican actually receive much more federal money as compared to the taxes they pay than do counties or states that vote heavily Democratic. So it would appear that the spending problem is not dependency of Democratic voters, rather, it is Republicans mooching off the Government.

Now there is no measurement for sheer welfare spending in that study, and there are many more aspects which go into that research, so Republicans may still be right, it just does not appear so. However, Mitt Romney is right when he talks about welfare spending. It has grown exponentially–up 724% since 1960. Taking into account inflation and population growth and that number is not quite so extreme, but the point remains: welfare spending continues to grow, and if it keeps the current pace this nation will have to be a nation that takes from the rich to give to the poor. The more welfare there is the more taxes there must be in order to keep a balanced budget. This means those with money have to provide for those without–that system is not fair and can lead to major problems. We currently have more people on food stamps than any other time in history. Now, welfare is not bad, but welfare abuse is. Government welfare should only be available as a last option. The tax payers can and should support those truly in need, but the government owes it to the tax payers to ensure there are not scammers and free-loaders abusing the generosity of the American people. Welfare is growing, and that can lead to dependency, but Mitt Romney should not assume that people are dependent because they are in need. For conservatives to be upset that 46.4% of people do not pay income tax is not only hypocritical, it is misleading, and the general attitude is derogatory.

–Matt Young

19 September, 2012

Sex Change in Prison

The title alone is going to be enough to make some people angry; this is the climate in our nation. Is a sex change a legitimate medical surgery? Or is it merely a cosmetic procedure to make a person more comfortable with their own body? Is there even a correct answer? Surely somebody who feels they are stuck in the wrong body; that their mind and body do not match gender, is not in any medical danger which would require surgery. Then again, when I nearly severed two fingers and had to have all major structures repaired in surgery, one could argue that I was not in any medical danger. If I cleaned and bandaged up the wounds, or just cut off the little remaining skin there was, I could live without being in medical danger minus two fingers. Then again, a sex change is elective, whereas cutting my fingers off was not. Moreover, with my fingers there was a chance for major blood loss and infection.

As if a sex change surgery alone is not controversial enough, my next question only intensifies the debate. Should a convicted murderer be allowed to have a sex change surgery in prison, paid for by tax payer dollars? That is exactly what U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf has done in Massachusetts for a convicted murderer in Massachusetts who sued for a sex change. A man–at least for now–in a Massachusetts prison strangled his wife to death, and was convicted with a life sentence. Now Michelle Kosilek will have a sex change surgery, and you and I will pay for it. Read the rest of this entry

Medicare on the Campaign Trail

Medicare. Mention the word at a dinner party, and you will engender some of the most passionate and diverse opinions available to public debate. Google it and you get 106 million results. Yet both presidential candidates are attempting to reduce it to a few sound bites. I am not going to attempt to summarize the Medicare program; last time I did that for a candidate it took me several thousand words of jargon that amounted to less excitement than a party with your in-laws extended family. All you need to know is this: Mitt Romney says Barack Obama is lying, and Barack Obama says Mitt Romney is lying. The irony in it is that they are both right.

It aint right.” Four years ago that was President Obama’s stance on an $800 billion cut to Medicare. Now, Obama proposes a cut from Medicare that will add 8 more solvent years to the program. At $716 billion, that is the most expensive, and hypocritical Band-Aid in history. President Obama claims it to be a fix, that the money is targeting waste and fraud, and that retirees will not lose any coverage or benefits. What he does not say is that it will be used to pay for the massive spending that will come from Obamacare; not a penny will cut the deficit. Read the rest of this entry

The Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

You heard it here first. Patriotslog reporting live from the Supreme Court on the decision finally made regarding the Obesity Initiative for Nutrition and Care act of 2048, commonly referred to as OINK. After being tied up in the court system for six years we finally have the verdict. According to the 8 to 7 split decision on the Supreme Court, the government can in fact create mandatory diet plans for all residents (both citizens and illegal immigrants via the Immigration compromise of 2023) of the United States. It is expected that former First Lady Michelle Obama will be delivering an address on her lifelong initiative from her home any minute now. After her many years of hard work and dedication to “save Americans from themselves”, we may finally see the national obesity rate drop below 96%. Former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is refusing to comment on the ruling, and in an apparent attempt to starve herself to death in protest has barricaded herself in her nursing home room, refusing to speak to anyone. Her only correspondence is a hand written sign taped to the outside of her door which states: “They can tell me what to eat, but the sure can’t force me to eat it.” Not yet, anyway. However, one has to wonder how long it will be until legislation is passed which states they can. Read the rest of this entry

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