The House leadership released its tax reform package last week. The odd thing, though these days maybe it’s to be expected, is that the immediate criticisms of the plan were the same old arguments and, in this case, didn’t really apply in most cases.
The tax plan had two major goals: simplifying the tax code and trying to get US corporations to keep and move assets back to the US. Along the way, it doubles the tax income threshold for low income individuals and increases the child tax credit.
Immediate attacks on the plan said it was a tax cut for the rich. However, the only tax bracket unchanged in the plan was the highest bracket for those with the highest incomes. And it also takes away deductions for people who own more than one home and whose home is worth more than half a million dollars. So you have to immediately also question the credibility of criticisms from those people and groups. They are against something, but not sure why they are against it so they just say anything they have used before that comes to mind. Continue reading “House Introduces Tax Reform Plan With Big Breaks for Low Income Families”
The Republican majority in the Senate has given up and will not be considering a healthcare reform plan after failing to get enough Senators to back the measure, even after a number of revisions. Thus, healthcare reform and the repeal or replacement of Obamacare is probably dead. Continue reading “GOP Saves Obamacare”
After a short vacation, Thinking Man is back with quick takes on several and widely-varied topics. Most just make you want to shake your head in disbelief. Continue reading “Quick Takes: A Sexless Baby, CNN, NPR and Illinois junk bonds”
For ardent environmentalists, the topic of ‘climate change’ is one of the most impassioned areas of political thought. It has become a position held with religious zealotry in certain circles, with adherence to a strict dogma and any thought of opposition to the fundamental belief is considered almost blasphemous. It is considered by passionate adherents to be ‘science’ and even the slightest disagreement is a sign of ignorance and analogous to believing the earth is flat.
It is not surprising, then, that President Trump caused quite a controversy when he announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Treaty,
So what is the debate and why would the President pull the largest economic power in the world out of the Treaty? To fully answer that question, we have to look at the overall issue of ‘climate change’ and then at the Paris Treaty itself. Let’s take these in order. Continue reading ““We Will Always Have Paris”…But Should We?”
Two news items this week give a glimpse of life in ultra-liberal California.
The first is that, despite already having the highest taxes in the country, Governor Jerry Brown has decided that isn’t enough and wants more. He has proposed a 12 cents a gallon increase on gas and a roughly 15% increase on vehicle fees. This, he said, is needed to pay for road repairs and for the underfunded state pensions and comes after other tax increases when he first came to office. With the free spending style of California government, there will never be enough taxpayer money to go around and it will be a short time before there is another tax increase after this one.
The other news is that the California Attorney General announced he will file felony charges against two conservative activists who secretly filmed conversations with Planned Parenthood employees about buying body parts from aborted fetuses.
Isn’t it the ultimate sense of how far pro-abortion backers will go to defend even the most extreme outrage? To be sure, filming without obtaining someone’s permission is illegal. But it’s not often enforced, just ask all of the celebrities in Hollywood and Los Angeles, California. And aside from that, California is prosecuting two people who filmed conversations but are taking no action on those who offered to sell human body parts! These two were filming potentially illegal activity, but the illegal activity is ignored. Why? Because abortion must be protected at all costs, in the minds of the California Attorney General. Even if that means locking up a whistleblower.
Last week President Trump released his budget proposal for discretionary spending (deficit projections and the budget projections for entitlement programs are released later and they actually make up over 70% of the federal budget, but I digress). One thing you have to say about Donald Trump is that he is not a man of half measures and his first budget is no exception.
The proposed budget increases defense spending by $54 billion and has cuts in other places of roughly the same amount, which seems to indicate that Trump intends to bring down the huge federal spending deficits by simply freezing spending, rather than increasing it every year as has been the case almost routinely.
Before we get into some of the details, let’s remember a couple of things that happen during budget time when budget cuts are being discussed, and these are true in government, in business, and in pretty much any context when talking about budgets (even family budgets often). Every time, without exception, when there is talk of budget cuts, here is what will happen:
- The person or department who is threatened with cuts will tell you that they will have to cut the most popular thing, or the thing that will have the biggest impact or the thing that is most critical. Why? As a tactic to ‘show what could happen’ if they don’t get all their money.
- They will scream that the program in question only costs _____ cents a day or _____ dollars person and so it doesn’t even save much money. Well, that is really somewhat of a silly response. Overall, when divided among 350 million people in the US then most things are small by comparison. Almost everything is cheap when you look at it like that. But a savings of a hundred million here and a hundred million there—which is less than 30 cents per person—adds up to some real money.
Budgets are about choices. Very rarely do opposing sides disagree that some program needs money or some issue would be better off with increased funding. The disagreement comes in making choices about how much money and where the money is going to come from. Any responsible politician (which I realize is somewhat of an oxymoron) realizes that the money supply is not endless. Continue reading “Proposed Budget Released”
This week, Republicans offered their long awaited plan to replace Obamacare. They had long opposed Obamacare and had vowed to replace it, but the calls became even louder and more widespread this year. Many major insurance companies left the health care exchanges, leaving very little choice of plans for people to choose from in a number of areas of the country and even a small number of counties with no choices at all. Additionally, costs for Obamacare exchange plans skyrocketed with premiums in Minnesota, for example, increasing roughly 50% while at the same time the average deductible had gone up dramatically in the last few years.
It became pretty obvious—and the exit of every major insurer from many or most of their markets made it clear—that Obamacare was in a death spiral and something dramatic had to be done. To keep it, it would have to have had a major overhaul and an infusion of additional tens of billions of dollars. Or it could be replaced with something easier to manage and with a lot less bureaucracy.
The proposed plan is roughly 130 pages, compared to Obamacare’s roughly 1100 pages plus volumes of bureaucratic rules that were developed to implement it. If the length of the respective bills is an indication of the size of the bureaucracy needed to oversee it, then that has to be a good first step. The IRS alone added thousands of staff to handle Obamacare, and we all remember the problems with even such seemingly simple things as building an Obamacare website. At some point, simpler almost can’t help but be better. Continue reading “Republicans Offer Obamacare Replacement”