Government Spending

Obama Transforms Tax Hikes Into Spending Cuts

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Behold the awesome power of my words: On the very same day that I condemn the bewildering complexity of our tax code and recommend swapping credits, deductions, and exemptions for lower rates, President Obama gives a speech in which he calls upon Congress to "reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple—so that the amount of taxes you pay isn't determined by what kind of accountant you can afford." Coincidence? Well, yeah, but the lip service to reform does seem to reflect a consensus that might actually result in action. The president's fiscal commission, the budget plan that House Republicans are considering this week, and the president himself all support the goal of cutting tax rates while "broadening the base" by curtailing or eliminating so-called tax expenditures. But while the Republicans want reform to be revenue-neutral, Obama's debt reduction plan (such as it is) relies on revenue from limiting deductions for wealthier taxpayers, and his vision of tax reform probably includes additional money grabs.

Tellingly, The New York Times defines "tax expenditures" as "payments to taxpayers for deductions for charitable donations or home mortgages," as if letting people keep more of their own money is the same as giving them subsidies.* The Times notes that "the use of the phrase 'tax expenditures' allows the administration to lump tax-related issues into the spending category"—i.e., to describe tax hikes as spending cuts, which is a pretty neat trick. Similarly, it reports that "Mr. Obama attacked the demand by Republicans to make the lower tax rates permanent as emblematic of their plan to enrich the wealthy on the backs of the elderly and poor." This description of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's fiscal plan reflects the president's view that people have whatever money they have only by the grace of government, which has the legal and moral authority to rearrange it at will. Hence declining to raise taxes to pay for open-ended, ruinously expensive health care entitlements is the same as robbing the poor to pay the rich. These dueling perspectives have a Randian ring.

Philosophy aside, there is a pragmatic case for keeping the tax reform issue separate from the question of whether dealing with deficits requires additional revenue. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson puts it this way in her latest report to Congress:

We cannot pretend that broadening the tax base means eliminating someone else's tax break while preserving our own. everything must be put on the table, and we must make clear that, in exchange for lower rates, some tax breaks will be eliminated immediately and others will be phased out. But it is equally important to make clear that, assuming revenue neutrality, the average taxpayer will not pay more tax and the tax code will be much easier to understand and comply with….

We are mindful that leaders of both parties have expressed deep concerns about the long-term structural imbalance between government revenues and government spending, and that in addition to spending cuts, tax revenues at some point may have to be increased. We are also mindful that the question of whether and to what extent to raise revenue is extremely contentious.

If structural tax reform and revenue levels are considered together as part of a package, we are concerned that the debate over revenue levels could overshadow and derail meaningful tax reform. therefore, we suggest that congress consider addressing these issues separately. First, Congress could enact structural tax reform on a revenue-neutral basis. Second, Congress could decide on appropriate revenue levels and adjust the tax rates as it deems appropriate.

I would prefer that Congress skip Stage 2 altogether. But even those who share Obama's fiscal preferences have to recognize the political reality that Olson highlights: It is hard enough to persuade people to give up their cherished deductions in exchange for a promise that their tax bill won't go up as a result. If reform is tied to tax hikes from the beginning, as Obama already is doing, what hope is there for selling it to the public?

I commented on Obama's view of tax deductions in a 2009 column.

*Addendum: While refundable tax credits are tantamount to subsidies, since you can get them even if your tax bill is zero, deductions are not, since they simply reduce the amount of money the government takes from you. That does not mean they are good policy (they're not), but the distinction is important for anyone who rejects the view that all resources belong to the collective. For a more detailed consideration of deductions vs. refundable credits, see Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge's recent testimony to the House Budget Committee.

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on Obama's Attack on Paul Ryan's Budget

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      1. ^^THIS^^

  1. Is there a difference between a tax credit and a subsidy check? The $1,500 tax credit for solar panels is functionally the exact same thing as the government writing you a check for $1,500 if you have solar panels.

    A lot of farm subsidies are in the form of tax rebates and credits rather than a check from Uncle Sugar (see: ethanol tax credits).

    1. the exact same thing as the government writing you a check for $1,500 if you have solar panels.

      Not if you don’t already have a tax liability it’s not. If you don’t already have income on which you would otherwise have to pay taxes, a tax benefit is useless.

      1. That is true with deductions but not necessarily with credits. Sometimes with tax credits you’ll get a rebate and pay negative taxes.

        1. This is the difference between a refundable credit and a nonrefundable credit.

          1. I know. My comment was written before the Addendum was added.

        2. luv those negative taxes babieeee!

      2. True, but how many people do you know that have solar panels, yet no taxable income?

      3. True, but how many people do you know that have solar panels, yet no taxable income?

    2. When I launch my career as a revolutionary porn director, I’m totally using “Uncle Sugar” as my industry name.

      1. Your first video will be titled “Uncle Sugar Glazes Some Donuts.”

        No homo.

        1. Thankfully, I make a comfortable enough living with my current job that I don’t need to go gay for pay.

          1. Wait, you can earn money off of going gay?

            If only I had been informed earlier!!!

            1. If you’re a straight male, the easiest way to make money in porn is to pretend you’re gay.

              If you’re a gay male, the easiest way to make money in politics is to pretend you’re a socially conservative straight Republican.

  2. How many years have politicians been bloviating about simplifying the tax code and doing away with the deductions anyway? It feels like it has been most of my lifetime.

    Let’s dispense with the silliness and get real: it’s never going to happen folks. The byzantine tax code is a massive industry that supports an enormous number of people, not to mention that the control of tax law and dispensation of tax favors comprises a big slice of congress’ power base.

    Godot will show up and Jesus will make his return before the Great Tax Code Simplification ever takes place.

    1. Agreed. The tax industry is massive, involving tons of people with highly specialized knowledge. Their entire industry is founded on a complex tax code. They will lobby harder than a police union to keep it that way.

      1. The thing that nobody talks about is this huge complex of people is a massive drag on the economy — they produce nothing.

        1. And then I wonder why I feel like my clients hate me.

          1. Are you sure it’s not just personal 😉

        2. Indeed.

        3. Just like lawyers.

    2. The 1986 tax reform did something very much like what’s being called for here

      1. Yes and those deductions that were given up are, for the most part still gone.

        But rates always go back up eventually.

        1. What deductions were done away with in 1986 and haven’t come back? Honest question.

  3. Hey, we’re always being asked how we’re going to “pay for tax cuts”. Tax cuts seem to be a thing to be purchased with the government’s money. This is an extension of that mentality.

    1. The same way I “pay” for my compulsory wage cuts the government takes from my paycheck – I spend less.

  4. These dueling perspectives have a Randian ring.

    For that matter, this “tax expenditure” nonsense Newspeak is also worthy of Orwell, too.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      Apparently NOT stealing is Theft.

  5. A simple tax code is a anathema for them . The whole point of the tax code is to control and exert power over the middle class. Without all those difference incentives, breaks, penalties, and loopholes, the role of congress is vastly diminished. Even more sore than by just reducing spending.

    1. True, but by having these Tax Reform movements that Put Everything On The Table, they can force the formerly-favored groups to go back to square one and woo them all over again. And that is where the big money is.

      Even more sore

      Schadenfreudian slip.

    2. “The whole point of the tax code is to control and exert power over the middle class.”

      And to exert control over industry. Subsidies are just a way for government to control the means of production, to coerce private enterprise into serving the national interest.

      I believe that the governments of modern day, industrial nations are envious of the economic policies under Hitler’s Germany, and are continuously working toward that end.

  6. The Times notes that “the use of the phrase ‘tax expenditures’ allows the administration to lump tax-related issues into the spending category”?i.e., to describe tax hikes as spending cuts, which is a pretty neat trick

    And people just can’t understand why I am as cynical as I am.

    1. Oh, I can.

      Where’s shriek to defend this shit?

      1. Fuck you, you cunting christ fag.

  7. America, I have deep concerns about the long-term structural imbalance between government revenues and government spending, and I won’t rest for one minute until the problem is solved. Now I’m going to grab a bite to eat.

    1. I doubt Frank Dreben could make the US tax code more absurd than it is.

      As a Canadian, I pay more tax than an American with comparable income, but I can still complete my return myself in an hour and claim every deduction or credit I am entitled to. I’m not recommending you adopt Canadian tax rates, but Jesus H Christ your tax law is seriously f****d up.

      1. A person completing a tax return in an hour?

        Start building the pyre folks- I know a witch when I see one.

        1. I’m not sure Canadians have personhood.

      2. Fuck. Even SIMPLE tax returns take more than an hour. It seems that just getting your personal info takes more than an hour.

  8. This magazine is going to have to make up its mind on what all these weird, narrow, hyper-targeted tax deductions are really about.

    Are they really about letting you “keep your own money” (provided that the way you “keep” your money is by spending it on the Salvation Army or the Catholic Church or the San Francisco Ballet or a light manufacturing facility in an “empowerment zone” or solar panels or gas fracking or a hybrid car or a first-time down-payment on a house within a given window, etc.)?

    Or are they tricks that the legislature uses to insidiously manipulate our individual choices and funnel money into items on their pet agendas?

    Make. Up.

    Your. Mind.

    Already.

    1. Re: Danny,

      Are they really about letting you “keep your own money”

      Anything that allows you to use YOUR OWN MONEY on what YOU want is about “letting keep your own money.”

      Government produces no thing, it can only steal what others produced.

      1. OM the land you park on probably once belonged to a tribe of Native Americans before it was raped and pillaged out of them. You didn’t produce shit. You got your grubby hands on some portion of the universe and saying finders keepers.

        1. Actually, production and legal ownership are different things:

          1) The factory down the road is on land that wa probably stolen from native americans (who probably stole it from their predecessors etc ad nauseam)

          2) The factory by plating zinc plating metal components produces metal components that are more useful to end users.

        2. Historical fact Tony: Indigenous, non-agricultural people get fucked.

          The only reason Americans feel bad about it is that ours are still around. You don’t see too many Chinese bemoaning the fate of Mongolian herders.

        3. Please forward your physical address, I am coming to claim what is not rightfully yours, your grubby hands shall be removed and your possessions shall rightfully returned to the masses.

        4. OM the land you park on probably once belonged to a tribe of Native Americans before it was raped and pillaged out of them.

          Hey dip shit Old Mex is a fucking Mexican!!!

          A random guess says he is not 100% of Spaniard decent.

          He is a Native American you dipshit!!!

          1. I find Old Mex to be 100% decent. Except for that one time!

            1. Hey! The picture of fishnet girl wasn’t THAT revealing!

              http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_BW9P…../Aleida+Nuñez+2.JPG

            2. decent = descent

              =P

        5. The natives did own some land that was stolen from them. However, they did not possess every fucking square acre of land in North America when it was colonized by Europeans, in fact much of the land was uninhabited. Neither natives or Europeans or anyone could claim all the land just because they lived on or “discovered” some of it.

          1. How about you don’t get to “own” part of a planet AT ALL. You may rent it from a democratically-organized caretaker entity provided you leave it in equal or better shape for the next generation.

            1. If only the right people could own all the land. And make sure it is made better in such a way that everyone will agree with. And provide no compensation or protection for those actually responsible for making those improvements.

            2. Tony’s slave mentality in all its glory, boys and girls.

        6. GO.FUCK.YOUR.SELF!

        7. You didn’t produce shit. You got your grubby hands on some portion of the universe and saying finders keepers.

          “I hate you, Daddy! HateyouhateyouhateyouhateyouHATEYOU — !!!”

        8. Re: Tony,

          OM the land you park on probably once belonged to a tribe of Native Americans before it was raped and pillaged out of them.

          Yes, it was, by gringos. And I am coming back to reclaim what is mine.

          So there.

          1. If I had the power, I’d give everything south of Dallas back to Mexico.

            1. Re: Adonisus,

              If I had the power, I’d give everything south of Dallas back to Mexico.

              It already belongs to Mexico. Just go to any taqueria.

            2. So long as Arizona gets a beach on the Sea of Cortez in return, I’m on board.

        9. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter or something and stop spending all your time posting inane drivel here.

          1. As soon as you go make a billion dollars being entrepreneury.

        10. “You didn’t produce shit.”

          People produce labor, and by occupying and using an area of land they create ownership of it.

          1. How? Ownership fairies sprinkle magic dust on it? Property is a government handout.

            1. So none of the settlers who went west before the US gov’t extended itself actually owned any of the property they homesteaded? What about in ancient times, when very few organized gov’ts were on earth: did nobody own any property, except in China, the Indus River valley, and the Mediterannean basin?

        11. Weren’t you arguing the other day that inheritances only exist because society has chosen to recognize them? Well, society chose not to recognize the land rights of Native Americans.

      2. I disagree, if someone is being allowed to keep more money because they did some thing that I didn’t do.

      3. I like orange PEZ.

        Maybe I can get a law passed that makes all money spent on buying orange PEZ tax deductible.

        Not raspberry PEZ.

        Not strawberry PEZ.

        Just orange PEZ.

        Not Tic Tacs. Not Necco wafers. Just PEZ. And only if it’s orange.

        Is this orange PEZ deduction just me “keeping my own money?” Is this fair to people who want orange Life Savers or who want peppermint PEZ?

        1. Depends on how much your lobbyist will give your congressman.

        2. It’s not “just” (as in only) you keeping your money. But it still is you keeping your own money.

          1. Okay. Now let’s say that I like orange PEZ okay, but I really like orange Sweet Tarts. But since orange PEZ is deductible and orange Sweet Tarts aren’t, I decide to switch over to orange PEZ, since my budget is tight.

            By offering me a deduction for orange PEZ, even while denying me a deduction for orange Sweet Tarts, is the government “letting me keep my own money?” Is that still how you see it?

            What if I decide to stick with orange Sweet Tarts, and take the harder tax hit. Is the decision not to switch to orange PEZ a voluntary choice to pay the government more money rather than an involuntary taking of my wealth? Is this now morally or materially different than a tax system in which there is no deduction for any orange-flavored candy?

            1. A flat tax cures your moral dilemmas.

            2. It’s both taking your money and forcing certain choices on the individual. Why do you think they are mutually exclusive? It’s like if a mugger tells you to eat shit or give him your wallet. The choice to eat shit doesn’t make the mugging any less of a mugging. Don’t be a retard Danny.

              1. You should be changing your spots.

      4. The effect of these tax deductions, loopholes, whatever you want to call them is letting someone keep their own money. However, they are “about” rewarding a particular activity that the central planner has a favorable view of.

        1. ^^THIS^^

          The only way to simplify the tax code in a way that makes sense is either chunking the entire idea of income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax, or by going with a flat tax with NO deductions for anything.

          1. I would be fine with one or both. Or neither. But not something different, like progressive taxation or a dumb ass carbon tax.

    2. Truly idiotic logic, they are not one or the other, there are so many tax laws, that both occur, thousands of times over.

      1. Yes. Important to remember that tax laws are passed by hundreds of individuals voting. The same tax deduction could be motivated by both the desire to let people keep more of their money on the part of some legislators and by desire to control people’s choices by others.
        The tax code doesn’t get the way it is because someone planned it that way for a reason. IT just is.

    3. I can’t figure it out either Danny. You and I are just too retarded.

    4. I think Jacob and Reason do a fine job of covering the innate conflict found in any libertarian discussion about taxes.

      There is the absolute truth that all taxes are bad.

      There is also the more nuanced truth that we are going to be taxed and if we are all going to be screwed equally we are going to be better off and it would be more fair.

      Then the third truth that if government is allowed to pick and choose who gets taxed a lot and who gets taxed a little essentially you are taking the free market out of the economy and handing it over to central planners.

      libertarians (including “this magazine) not only have an interest in discussing all these items but IMHO a duty.

      Simply saying taxes are bad does not end the discussion…in fact it is only the beginning.

      1. Your third truth is why I would be willing to accept a plan that completely strips away loopholes even if it is not revnue neutral. I want businesses to compete based on products, services, etc. rather than who sends the better lobbyists to Washington.

        1. Agreed. This is one item that appears in both Ryan and Obama’s proposals, and seems the one area most likely to receive anything resembling bi-partisan support, from the masses at least.

          I would like to see this as a stand alone proposal.

      2. “Then the third truth that if government is allowed to pick and choose who gets taxed a lot and who gets taxed a little essentially you are taking the free market out of the economy and handing it over to central planners.”

        Spot on. Cronyism is the worst option of all. To often, these tax loopholes are lobbied for by industry, with the aim of protecting themselves from competition.

        When the left waves their collective fists in the air, shrieking at the top of their lungs about the evil corporations, they seem to forget that the government acts as their enablers.

        1. They don’t forget, they conveniently and willfully ignore that government enables the corporate bullshit they act like they hate.

  9. Obama is headed toward a fatal collision at the next zebra crossing.

  10. Where was Mr. Big Brass Taxballs when he was caving to the Republicans on taxes four months ago? Now he’s all tough and visionary again? Give me a break.

    1. Let me be clear: My liberal base has been getting really pissed off at me lately, and I just announced my reelection campaign.

      I do not want to be Lyndon Johnson, so if “Tax the Rich” and “Republicans are evil” is what they want to hear- how can I refuse?

      1. It makes sense. And it also probably explains why he gave the speech at two in the afternoon: because his base consists mostly of unemployed losers.

        1. My base would probably not consist of unemployed losers. But I, too, would give my speeches to the press corp during 9-5 work hours so as to not interfere with anyone’s prime time line-ups or sports. He’s given preemption speeches before and it pisses everyone off. I’m sure he’s not learning from his mistakes but someone in his cabal probably is. Maybe the new press secretary knows something?

          It has the double purpose of allowing the pundits to digest and regurgitate all afternoon so by evening everyone knows what is what. Of the several hundred moves Obama has made in 2.5 years this is one of the handful of good ones.

          1. Also, by doing it at a time when most people are working, the media is going to report more on the tone and overall message of the speech, and show clips, rather than replaying the whole thing.

            Thus, if played correctly, Obama gets to control the narrative of the nightly news, even if there is a GOP response because the Press will always favor the Presidents speeches over the oppositions in primetime.

            Thus, the story became, “President Obama layed out his plan to reduce the deficit this afternoon, laying out plans to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% while taking measures to rein in wasteful spending, especially in Medicare and Medicaid.”

            And because the nightly news is thirty minutes, any lack of specifics gets glossed over due to time constraints, and cuts to the Washington Bureau for politicians reactions.

            It is actually pretty smart.

            1. You can just see Brian Williams warmly smiling, letting his audience know that everything’s gonna be alright because Obama’s got your back.

            2. If people can’t actually watch it themselves, they MUST rely on the narrative presented by the media. And that only plays well for Obama.

  11. Since your tax accountant’s fees are a deduction, anyone can afford an accountant that charges less than their AGI.

    1. Um, no. If I paid an accountant $20000, I would still have to pay thousands in taxes in addition to the accountant. My taxes would be much lower, but not by $20k.
      A lot of people seem to have a hell of a time differentiating deductions from credits.

    2. Why do we have to choose? Both seem apt.

  12. TURBO[tax] is Hard!

  13. IF we stopped electing lawyers, would the abuse of language (i.e., taxcuts = spending; spend=save; yours=mine) stop?

  14. Under the Obama weight loss plan, if I only gain 3 lbs this year, compared to the 5 lbs I gained last year, I am losing weight.

    Awe shucks, I suddenly feel all warm and fuzzy.

  15. Talking about taxes using creative language isn’t as big of a crime as using creative logic. Tax cuts pay for themselves. Tax hikes don’t increase revenue. Stuff like that.

    1. I was wondering when you were going to come over here to defend your “tax cuts = the rich stealing from the poor” meme. Oh and you’re being a hypocrite too!

      1. I’m a hypocrite because I don’t condemn Obama for not applying Strunk & White to his tax policy rhetoric when you guys and Republicans are completely batshit Orwellian on the issue?

        1. I have great news for you, Tony. My cock is diseased.

          1. come to kenya for treatment bro

          2. I have great news for you, Tony. My cock is diseased.

            That’s never stopped me before, Messiah!

        2. Which kind of Orwellian is this where the government takes less stuff from people and wants to control fewer aspects of people’s lives?
          You are right that tax cuts don’t necessarily pay for themselves (not a major consideration for libertarians who want the government to have less money) and that tax increases will often increase revenue. The big falsehoods is that tax cuts are equivalent to spending and that tax increases will bring in revenue in proportion to the increase. Believe it or not, tax policy does have an effect on economic behavior.

          1. Then just say you want to destroy government institutions most people want to keep and stop pretending that it’s necessary to do so because of an imbalanced budget, and stop making up Orwellian lies about the effect tax policy has on the economy in order to justify this dishonest plunder.

            1. Plunder? You fucking slaver, keeping more of my own money is not plunder, it is the exact fucking opposite.

              Your idiocy is weapons grade.

              1. First, I highly doubt you are in an income bracket that will have its rates raised. Second, if it’s earmarked for elderly medical care, it’s not in fact your money.

                1. “Second, if it’s earmarked for elderly medical care, it’s not in fact your money.”

                  Yes it is in fact his money.

                2. Actually, it is my money. I produced it, poor long dead Huecos notwithstanding, and therefore it’s mine, no matter what you want to use it for.

                  True story.

          2. This whole debate has a rolling snowball effect. I think we just need to keep in mind everything else that Obama has done to cut the deficit before having a hysteria over his tax cut reduction plan.

            I found this blog recently. Chck it out, it’s the best!
            http://leobrownweeklyresponse.blogspot.com/

    2. And you fail. Economic evidence shows that tax cuts and hikes don’t change revenue, because wealth changes according to the tax rate.

      1. The evidence shows just the opposite. Try a source that doesn’t have an obvious bias on the issue.

        1. The evidence shows just the opposite.

          Link or it did not happen.

          Come on Tony you say the evidence shows the opposite, how about you actually show some unbiased evidence to support your bullshit.

        2. I mean look at California, the revenue is increasing as more taxes come along.

          1. And productive people are leaving as the taxes come along too.

            1. EXTERNALITIES!!!1!

              1. Fuck off, Tony, that’s MY line!

          2. That’s fucking awesome Tony! But can I remind you that we are talking about federal taxes and federal revenues?

            Numbers don’t have bias: http://www.fundmasteryblog.com…..194014.gif

            1. I like your graph and want to join your newsletter.

              I think the issue is more of – since the government’s take is 20 percent does the GDP grow faster or slower with tax cuts/increases.

              I think it’s been proven that GDP shrinks with tax increases.

              1. Yes, that’s my point. What else besides GDP shrinkage would be negating increases in tax rates?

                1. What else besides GDP shrinkage would be negating increases in tax rates?

                  Capital flight, perhaps.

                  1. Which causes GDP shrinkage…

            2. That’s fucking awesome Tony!

              You do realize that that was a Tony spoof (not by me) and that revenue in California is falling despite ever rising taxes.

    3. I’m just creative logic!

      Fuck off Tony.

      1. Come on. Please don’t be what Tony imagines us to be. The laffer curve goes up then down. Increasing tax rates to a certain level will increase revenues. We may be at the maximum now, but I doubt it.
        There are good reasons to be against ta increases, but “they won’t increase revenue at all” is not one of them.

          1. So what does the Laffer curve look like then? Is it really nearly a straight line?

            I’ve seen that data many times recently, and I think it is valuable. But I suspect it leaves out some information. The fact that it is based only on maximum rates makes me suspect that some information is not there. What was happening with the lower tax rates during that time period?
            The idea certainly appeals to me that it is impossible to get more than 20% of GDP from income taxes, but I want to have my facts straight so I don’t sound like an uninformed ideologue like Tony.

            1. Tax revenue will look straight no matter what tax rates you compare them to.

            2. The main issue with that graph is that it is primarily a distraction to the real discussion. The one below is more informative and you will notice that the line varies between 15% and 20% of GDP. When discussing funding, 5% differences are important differences. An additional 1% of GDP can make a meaningful difference in terms of the overall picture. No one serious about the discussion is proposing that 50% of GDP go to the government. Discussions about tax increases are typically about small marginal increases in revenue to covers specific spending needs. When you are looking at a deficit that is a round 10% of GDP, you can’t get all the way there with tax increases, but you can certainly make a dent in the spending cuts by increasing revenue a few percentage points.

              1. Hmmm…that was below when I wrote the comment. Both graphs are above.

              2. The top graph also shows the same variation, but it looks small compared to the changes in marginal tax rate. Yes a difference of 1% matters, but the point of the top graph is that there it shows no proportional correlation (in fact a small inverse correlation) between tax rate and revenue.

                1. Can’t help but notice once graphs and math start the trolls bail. Only with global warming – where you can get spoon-fed very pretty, mostly inscrutable charts n’graphs from internet media designed specifically for such, do the trolls toss numbers around here.

                  Just say’in.

                  1. I don’t know about that. The particular graph that heller threw up first is used by trolls frequently. Typically without any understanding of what it does or does not imply. I seem to remember, even, a reason post/article some time ago that used it to make many arguments that it did not support. Numbers seem to be misused more than anything else on the internet as far as I can tell.

                    1. Statistics as they say can be the worst lies of all, but you just don’t see a whole lot of interest in the actual machinery of something like tax policy with a lot of people…especially on the left.

                      Outside of the rhetorical and ideological theater, the whole thing is just a black box with two or three magic inputs like marginal rates to a lot of people, but especially a lot of people on the left.

                      Fitting, because a significant plurality of the ‘left’ either:

                      1. Pays no taxes.
                      2. Is somehow paid by taxes.
                      3. Has a spare Jew for doing their return.

                    2. just a black box with two or three magic inputs like marginal rates to a lot of people, but especially a lot of people on the left.

                      I don’t see that the left is worse about this than the right. I mean the “cut taxes” hammer of the right sees every problem as a nail. I think numbers and “machinery” are of diminishing interest the closer you get to arguments based on “values.”

                    3. Re: Mallet Diction,

                      I mean the “cut taxes” hammer of the right sees every problem as a nail.

                      You don’t think they can be in favor of cutting taxes out of a sense of shame for taking something that does not belong to them?

                    4. Shame? We are talking about politicians, right?

        1. Art Laffer himself has said that lower tax rates doesn’t always mean increasing revenue. The Laffer curve suggests a rate at which government maximizes revenue. If taxes are to high, lower rates will increase revenue. If they are to low, increasing rates increases revenues.

          But to hell with that, tax rates shouldn’t be based on “maximizing” governments revenue stream. Remove as little money as possible, and let me keep the result of my labor.

          1. AKA: equilibrium.

    4. Re: Tony,

      Talking about taxes using creative language isn’t as big of a crime as using creative logic.

      You mean when a tax was called a “penalty,” and then a “tax” back again, as everybody witnessed during the ObamaCare theater of the absurd?

      1. I would have thought you would endorse the idea that taxes are penalties.

        1. Re: Mallet Diction,

          I would have thought you would endorse the idea that taxes are penalties.

          Why? I would not call the money I give to the nice man who has a gun pointed at my head, and carries the IRS tag, a “penalty.” I didn’t do anything wrong.

  16. Tax cuts pay for themselves. Tax hikes don’t increase revenue.

    There is solid proof that some types of tax cuts pay for themselves.

    Only an idiot would deny that Kennedy’s or Eisenhower tax cuts did not pay for themselves. And you would have to be pretty daft to say Reagan’s tax cuts did not as well.

    Then you have a near absolute truth that since WW2 despite wildly changing top tax rates revenues as a percentage of GNP have remained flat at about 18+% and no correlation between increased top tax rates and increased tax revenues exists in the historic record.

    1. I wonder what the correlation of average tax rates and revenue is, though. Raising income taxes on the very rich won’t do much because they can do things other than generate taxable income with their money. For non-rich people, reducing your taxable income because of tax increases is less of an option. I have no idea how it works out, but I would be interested to see some analysis of this based on more than just the maximum income tax rate.

      1. See what heller said above. Taxes since the 16th Amendment tend to bring in between 18-20% of GDP no matter what the rates or brackets look like.

        1. Yeah revenue tends to be in a smallish range, but that doesn’t mean rates have no effect. Higher rates bring in higher revenues.

          1. Higher rates bring in higher revenues.

            Only if real production rises to stay ahead of the curve.

          2. No Tony, higher rates have brought in slightly lower revenues.

    2. Reagan’s cuts didn’t pay for themselves. That’s why he raised taxes repeatedly and ran up a massive deficit.

      1. That’s why he raised taxes repeatedly and ran up a massive deficit.

        Nope if his Democrat controlled congress had kept spending at 1980 levels there would have been no deficit spending.

        Just like to day revenues were not the problem, spending was.

      2. If we went back to 2003 spending levels we’d have a surplus.

    1. B-b-b-but we have to do it… for the children.

      1. If you are one of the children they adopted, you are probably pretty happy about it.

        1. For now. Wait until they grow up and get the bill.

        2. Although, if it didn’t cost upwards of $30K to adopt a child, people might adopt without the promise of a tax credit.

          1. Indeed. There is no way I would adopt a child the way it works now even if there were a $30k tax credit. Without the massive expense and intrusion into my life, I might consider it.

            1. Yup. Adoption is heavily regulated out of fear of people abusing the system for profit. Meanwhile, kids continue to grow up without a good home.

              It’s something my wife and I have considered. I can’t think of a better way to pull some kid out of poverty. That, and my wife isn’t to excited about having her body mangled during pregnancy.

            2. Without the massive expense and intrusion into my life, I might consider it.
              I think you pretty much summed up all kids.

  17. I think it’s appropriate to use inscrutable terminology when talking about the tax code.

  18. Revenue is revenue

    Spending is spending

    Cutting revenue is the not same fucking thing as spending money….not ever….not in any universe!

    1. It is in my universe. Now excuse me, I have a unicorn to feed.

      1. Hurry up and feed that unicorn, wouldja, I need it to poop a baotload of jellybeans.

    2. Dear Prez. TwinkleTongue

      So if I get a paycut does my tax liability increase given the rise in disposable expenditures the paycut represents?

      1. Yes we can!

  19. From NYT comments:

    It’s time for the Baby Boomers to take to the streets again. Our new motto should be “Never Trust Anyone Under 55.” The focus of our demonstrations has shifted from Southeast Asia ( where our jobs have been outsourced by the Robber Barons) to every state capital in Middle America where meanspirited miserly Republican governors are determined to neuter the civil service and reduce what’s left of the Middle Class to groveling servititude. We Baby Boomers are going to stick it to the Man again, just like the good old days.Only this time around we’re goingto circle the wagons to defend our Social Security benefits, including Medicaid and Medicare.

    Peace folks!

    That about sums it up

    1. Seriously, I’m wondering how long it will take some Gen-Xer or younger to write a history of the Boomers called “The Greediest Generation”

      1. It’s time for the Baby Boomers to take to the streets again. …Only this time around we’re goingto circle the wagons to defend our Social Security benefits, including Medicaid and Medicare.

        Excellent. They’ll all be in one place at the same time.

        BWAHAHAHAHAHA

        1. Yeah, but even that article still falls into the trap of, “Boomers are being unselfish when they are liberal.” The thing is, all Boomers, conservatives and liberals, were selfish assholes, and it can not be said enough.

    2. Do people like this have any idea how pathetic they sound? A lot of 60’s activism was pretty dumb, but then at least they were fighting to change a system they saw as corrupt and destructive. Now they just want to defend the status quo in a dying system.

      1. Really, and they call themselves “progressive” to boot!

        1. the burbs, infested w fat gop’ers, will be most effected if the home mortgage deduction is eliminated.

          1. Yes, lets take the home-mortgage deduction behind the barn. And twenty thousand other pages of shit.

            And that’s still only a good start.

          2. You mean like the ‘burbs around Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, DC, Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles? Those ‘burbs are full of ‘fat goper-ers’? I think you need to get out more, and find a clue.

            1. Don’t mind OO, he’s just another token retard.

    3. A fitting screed for a generation confronting its own Epic Fail. First they blamed their parents, now they’ll blame their kids.

      1. A+

        Baby Boomers. Still Babies and still Crying.

      2. As a friend of mine from that generation once said, “Every generation robs their parents, we’re the first to rob both our parents and our children.”

    4. The Baby Boomers cannot die off fast enough. Fucking parasitical, “we did drugs but our kids can’t handle it”, “we did shit that was IMPORTANT!” scum.

    5. Someone should tell them they’re going to lose “The War on Math”.

      1. War on Math? That’s pretty good one. +1

    6. I’m thinking (hoping?) this is satire.

  20. This whole discussion is hopeless.

    No matter how simply you explain that we’re in a fucking disaster because of govt spending, morons like Tony ALWAYS change the subject to taxing the rich.

    I just heard a (liberal) radio program (in the Bay Area) where the host was trying to explain that reinstating the Clinton-era tax rates would do nothing to reduce our massive deficit. Three people called in to:

    a) complain about how hedge fund manager make “billions” and pay no taxes

    b) complain that we need more teachers, “for the children”

    c) complain about the deficits under Bush, and demand more “investment” in “green technologies”

    I fucking hate this country.

    1. This TOTAL BULLSHIT….there is no such thing as liberal talk radio!

      That’s why we have to fully fund NPR! Nice going Orange Junior!

    2. No matter how simply you explain that we’re in a fucking disaster because of govt spending, morons like Tony ALWAYS change the subject to taxing the rich.

      Even that wouldn’t be so bad if they could just discuss it rationally rather than emotionally. Try raising the issue, for instance, that confiscating even 100% of rich folks’ wealth wouldn’t pay the bills the government is running up. All you get is more pissing and moaning about how mean-spirited you are.

  21. Better than “X-ray Specs”

    “Taking a page from Officer Alex Murphy, police officers in Brazil will soon be adding a layer of cyborg tech to their law enforcement toolbox via glasses rigged with facial recognition tech. The glasses, dubbed “RoboCop” glasses, scan faces in a crowd and check them against a criminal database, and officers in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo have already been through demos with the technology.”

    http://www.popsci.com/technolo…..-out-crowd

  22. The George Soros-backed Institute for New Economic Thinking’s just-concluded Bretton Woods weekend conference of leading economists didn’t actually focus on America’s future, but the sum of the discussions produced a pretty grim outlook.

    The current political and cultural polarization of the country was seen as probably worse today than at any time since the outbreak of the Civil War exactly 150 years ago. The geography of this polarization is also similar to that of the Civil War period and the issue of a powerful federal government versus states’ rights remains pretty much the same.

    The polarization today is being propagated by wealthy and powerful elements on Wall Street and elsewhere that fund bitter, attack dog politics and sharply polarized media commentary.

    The power of big financial and corporate lobbies is such that they overwhelm reform efforts with huge lobbying campaigns. The effort to regulate the banks and establish accountability for them has failed to a large extent. The Dodd/Frank law that is supposed to re-regulate the banks fails badly because the reform of the banks to date has involved actually making them bigger and fewer. The biggest 50-odd institutions are being designated as too big too fail, but are not being subjected to any rigorous or vigorous oversight and regulation.

    By dint of being understood to be too big to fail these banks are effectively in a position to “short” the government, meaning that they can essentially force the government to subsidize them by pursuing risky investment policies that the government must then support. The cost of capital of the big boys is lower than that of the medium and smaller fry by reason of the “too big to fail” designation. Thus, they will eventually squeeze the other banks out of the game. So bye bye community banking and ever getting to a real person at the end of the endless telephone menus.

    But it gets worse. Americans are far too indebted and are trying to repair their personal balance sheets and cutting consumption to pay down debt. But this is retarding recovery and forcing the government to spend more in order to keep some kind of growth going and unemployment falling. To avoid falling back into recession, the government spending will have to continue for quite some time. But this will exacerbate the U.S. trade and current account deficits and increase overseas dollar holdings.

    The rest of the world is pretty strongly dedicated to export-led growth. The Germans are forcing the rest of Europe to deflate and the only way for Europe to get any growth is through exports. China says it wants to rebalance its trade and focus more on domestic consumption led growth. It’s nice that China wants to do this, but it will be extremely difficult if not impossible in practice for China actually to reverse its export led policies.

    The result is likely to be a continued shift of the production of tradable goods and the provision of tradable services outside of the United States to off-shore locations.

    These trends will see a continued erosion of America’s ability to provide a good, middle class standard of living at home and to extend security abroad.

    The really smart people have already put their wealth in gold bars and moved to New Zealand.

    http://prestowitz.foreignpolic…..or_america

    1. THE CHINKS ARE GOING TO RAPE US! RUN!!!

      1. Doesn’t STEVE SMITH have dibs on the raping?

        1. Would a STEVE SMITH victim even feel a Chinese raping?

          1. STEVE SMITH OUTSOURCE RAPING TO YETI! IT CHEAPER, THOUGH RAPE HAVE LEAD IN IT!

            1. STEVE SMITH RAPE EPI HARDER THANK ANY CHINESE YETI! STEVE SMITH OFFENDED BY ACCUSATION OF RAPESOURCING! ALL STEVE SMITH RAPE OCCUR IN AMERICA’S VERDANT NATURAL FORESTS! STEVE SMITH MAKE RAPE IN AMERICA!

          2. Like throwing a spring roll through a pagoda….

            1. Laaaaaacists!

    2. GLOBAL WARMING DID IT!

    3. The polarization today is being propagated by wealthy and powerful elements on Wall Street and elsewhere that fund bitter, attack dog politics and sharply polarized media commentary.

      I’m confused. Did Soros just get hoisted on his own petard?

    4. The polarization today is being propagated by wealthy and powerful elements on Wall Street

      It’s always about the class envy. It seems whomever wrote this pulled all of their economic ideas out of their ass.

    5. The Law of Comparative Advantage is hard to understand.

      “duh truff” would rather stick with the disproved theory of absolute advantage trade model because it requires two less addition and subtraction calculations.

      Math is hard.

      1. The law of comparative advantage no longer applies in a world where capital is mobile.

        Ricardo developed his law assuming capital is immobile. Globalized world,fucker.

        1. “The law of comparative advantage no longer applies in a world where capital is mobile.”

          1.) A plethora of resources are spent moving a factory from one country to another. You act like this observation is new. Mises pointed out how the Ricardian law of association still applies with mobile capital in “Human Action” over sixty years ago.

          2.) The law of comparative advantage shows that because America has such an advanced capital stock as compared to, say, China, we have a higher opportunity cost for producing textiles or other basic consumer goods. We benefit by producing things that are capital-intensive (America still manufactures cars, airplanes, etc.) and things that we are very specialized at (entertainment, medicine, etc.) The rest we can buy abroad.

          3.) Because human desires are unlimited yet our resources are limited, the very definition of the economic problem, absent government taxation and regulation all resources in an economy will, by nature, be employed in producing something.

          Right when I think you’re learning more about economics, you go and disappoint me.

        2. Why would capital behave differently then any other good?

          Hey Truffy I hate to break it to you but trade by definition involves the mobility of goods.

          By the way before “capital” gold was used for trade….why again would Ricardo think gold was not mobile?

  23. The George Soros-backed Institute for New Economic Thinking’s just-concluded….

    Well thank god it’s finally over.

  24. NY’s income tax form (also retrofitted to collect use taxes) is waaayyy more complicated than IRS’s. I remember in some years going thru a very involved comput’n on IT-214 before finally realizing the parameters were such that practically nobody could squeeze thru them to get a deduction.

    But as to long form 1040, did you notice the goodie buried on line 63, referring to schedule M? They printed and documented it in a way that would lead you to think it would be a rare $400 credit, but actually almost everyone qualifies for it.

  25. Simply saying taxes are bad does not end the discussion…in fact it is only the beginning.

    If only that were true. Too often it indeed ends the discussion, quickly descending into phrases like “taxes are theft” versus “taxes are fee for service.” The discussion becomes about why taxes are or are not bad, rather than about how to fix the tax code to achieve a result.

    1. Re: Mallet Diction,

      Too often it indeed ends the discussion, quickly descending into phrases like “taxes are theft” versus “taxes are fee for service.”

      Which concept do you think is wrong?

      The discussion becomes about why taxes are or are not bad, rather than about how to fix the tax code to achieve a result.

      “A Result”?

      1. Which concept do you think is wrong?

        That would be off topic. I think the distinction is unimportant.

        “A Result”?

        In a discussion about how to reduce the deficit/debt “a result” would to achieve a reduction in the deficit/debt.

        1. Re: Mallet Dillon,

          That would be off topic. I think the distinction is unimportant.

          Oh… Right…

          “But, sir, what you suggest… Why, that would be immoral!”
          “Immoral, schimmoral! That’s besides the point!”

          I understand you even better now, MD.

          1. “But, sir, what you suggest… Why, that would be immoral!”
            “Immoral, schimmoral! That’s besides the point!”

            While the discussion of morals is important at some level, sometimes moral outrage is beside the point. Particularly when you realize that all acts will outrage someone. You can’t please everyone all the time.

  26. Let’s please make a disctinction between non-refundable credits and deductions.

    Refundable tax credits are a subsidy. They are fairly called expenditures, since you get them regardless of you what tax burden otherwise is.

    Non-refundable tax-credits reduce your tax burden, but not below zero. still technically very unfair since they give back chunks out of your tax bill.

    Tax *deductions* reduce the amount of your INCOME that is TAXABLE. Manipulative, wrong and inequitable, but cannot resonably be called “expenditures”. All it does it make some people pay slightly less in taxes which varies according to income (weighted more heavily toward lower income people, since the fixed deduction reduces their income by a larger percentage). A deduction can often have little to no effect on the actual amount you pay in taxes.

    Not saying that deductons are awesome or nothing to worry about. I’d favor eliminating plenty of them. But it’s crazy to call them “tax expenditures”.

  27. SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) ? A man was hospitalized Wednesday evening with life-threatening, third-degree burns after catching fire inside a San Francisco porn store, authorities told CBS 5.

    The fire occurred at an adult arcade at Sixth and Mission streets just after 6 p.m.

    Police officers across the street from the porn shop saw a man run out the front door of the store “engulfed in flames,” an SFPD spokesman said.
    Some firefighters who happened to be about a block away at the time were immediately summoned and extinguished the flames.

    Arson investigators said it was not exactly clear how the man caught fire. Police indicated he had apparently been watching videos in a private booth when the fire ignited.

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.c…..porn-shop/

    1. That must have been some seriously fast wanking to create that kind of friction.

      1. I was thinking that solvents and lube are not the same thing.

    2. Where there’s smoke there’s masturbation?

    3. If only that poor bastard had had some lotion, or at least a foreskin.

      1. Asbestos fleshlight.

        1. Speaking of foreskins, apparently CNN-viewing normals are starting to consider the idea of consent: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH…..cision.ep/

          1. My parents did plenty of things to me without my consent, because I had no ability to consent. Maybe we shouldn’t be schooled at all until we’re teenagers so that we can decide where we want to go to kindergarten and elementary school? HERP DERP?

            1. Don’t start this again.

              I only point this out to SF because it’s the argument he and I make all the time, and it’s surprising to see it appear somewhere as stupid as CNN.

          2. My belief is that if we’re going to wag our finger at those who practice female circumcision, because those girls can’t consent, we should do the same for dudes.

            Although different, the principle is the same.

            1. I’m not circumsized. It sucks…risk of infection is higher, I had phimosis at one point…

              Maybe let the parents field that one. I sure wish they had had me cut (it’s nowhere near as traumatic or sick as female genital mutilation.).

    4. Thou shalt not view covetous images, so sayeth the Lord.

  28. No matter how simply you explain that we’re in a fucking disaster because of govt spending, morons like Tony ALWAYS change the subject to taxing the rich.

    The morons are the ones that see the spending versus tax increase discussion as about only one or the other. The cause may be up for debate, but even if your premise is true, the response that solves the problem may include a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. To exclude tax increases from the discussion is disingenuous, at best.

    1. How would it be disingenuous? I can give you a clear, realistic plan on how to balance the budget without raising taxes.

      1. And that would require us to exclude them from the discussion because…?

        1. Re: Mallet Diction,

          And that would require us to exclude them from the discussion because…?

          Because its not the government’s money, perhaps?

        2. Well first of all what Old Mexican said. Second of all, you’re moving the goal posts. You’re the one who claimed that we need tax increases in the discussion. We don’t need them.

          1. heller,

            Sure we do. Even if it is to convince ourselves why they are not included in the final plan. Any serious budget discussion should include both spending and revenue as topics.

    2. Re: Mallet Diction,

      The morons are the ones that see the spending versus tax increase discussion as about only one or the other.

      Yes, my wife would agree with you. You see, when I point out she has to spend only what I receive and no more, she calls me a moron for not wanting to get that second job as a night watchman, so she can continue to spend.

      Maybe you haven’t thought of this, MD, but people simply do not like it when spendthrifts admonish them for being stingy.

      The cause may be up for debate, but even if your premise is true, the response that solves the problem may include a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. To exclude tax increases from the discussion is disingenuous, at best.

      “I need money to pay for the things I promised!”
      “But, why should I pay for something YOU promised?”
      “You’re being selfish and a moron and disingenuous!”

      The mind of the Statist Fuck. In a nutshell.

      1. “I need money to pay for the things I promised!”
        “But, why should I pay for something YOU promised?”
        “You’re being selfish and a moron and disingenuous!”

        The mind of the Statist Fuck. In a nutshell.

        Your pronoun usage is telling Old Solipsist.

        1. Re: Mallet Diction,

          Your pronoun usage is telling Old Solipsist.

          Your moral relativism tells so much about you, MD.

          1. I actually think you can think of morals as secondary qualia of the action context. There are definitely some inherent or intrinsic moral aspects to all decisions that will be more or less universally recognized. The shading that the particular cultural context provides to those moral colors may result in subtle differences, but for the most part they will be recognized. Not all aspects of the action context will have important moral qualities, of course.

            As to your pronoun use. Your wife might appreciate your recognition that you and she are part of a single household that has a budget most properly identified with the pronoun “our.” If you lived in a dictatorship, I can see where you could justify the us/them stance. But as imperfect as it is, democracy American style means the “we” get to take some responsibility for “our” choice of representatives.

            1. HAHAHAHAHA, get out your pooper-scoopers we’ve got a bullshit artist on our hands.

    3. Yes, but taxing the rich isn’t anything to do about revenue or fixing anything.

      Pop quiz: How much revenue did Obama say that raising taxes on the rich would produce? Per year?

  29. There is a reason I refer to der fuhrer as “Orwellian Obama.” The man like all progressives loves redefining the language.

    So keeping the Bush tax cuts becomes a “tax break.”

    Stealing from the rich becomes “spread the wealth.”

    Destroying the coal and oil industry becomes “cap and trade.”

    And criticizing Obama becomes “racism.”

    Hamilton College Hates Men, Loves Women.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl…..women.html

    1. GREGGGOOOOOO

      1. I refer to EpisFabamaS as EpisFabamaS, that’s Episiarch the Fascist Obama Supporter.

        1. I prefer EpiFascObSuppository.

          1. I refer to suppositories as funs. As in, “Mom, we’re fucking out of funs again, you stupid skank!”

    2. There is a reason I refer to der fuhrer as “Orwellian Obama.” The man like all progressives loves redefining the language.

      Never happens in libertarian world, of course /sarcasm

      So keeping the Bush tax cuts becomes a “tax break.”

      You see a logical contradiction between tax cut and tax break? Maybe you are stuck on the “keeping” thing. But, of course, Bush’s tax break was for a defined period of time. If there is a distinction between “tax cuts” and “tax breaks” it might be that tax cuts are permanent. Making Bush’s “tax break” permanent would transform it into a “tax cut.”

      Stealing from the rich becomes “spread the wealth.”

      This one is more Orwellian. It reminds me of its companion phrase “trickle down.”

      Destroying the coal and oil industry becomes “cap and trade.”

      I think you have this one backwards. The Orwellian language here is transforming “a complex mechanism for pricing carbon” into “destroying the coal and oil industry.”

      And criticizing Obama becomes “racism.”

      Only in your head.

      1. Just call Grego names. It’s easier.

        1. Aw, you must be a progressive, insulting people is your greatest talent, is it not?

          1. Heh. Sure thing, Grego.

      2. “You see a logical contradiction between tax cut and tax break? Maybe you are stuck on the “keeping” thing. But, of course, Bush’s tax break was for a defined period of time. If there is a distinction between “tax cuts” and “tax breaks” it might be that tax cuts are permanent. Making Bush’s “tax break” permanent would transform it into a “tax cut.””

        —No, it would transform them into a tax EXTENSION. A tax cut means turning 30% into 25% or whatever the number. You have to CUT. But if Bush is taxing me at 20% and Obama is taking me at 20%, where’s the cut? There is none.

        This one is more Orwellian. It reminds me of its companion phrase “trickle down.”

        —What’s wrong with trickle down? When a rich man spends $45 grand on a watch, does that not benefit the state, the salesman, the store, the manufacturer, the people who work for the manufacturer, etc, etc, etc? It does trickle down.

        “I think you have this one backwards. The Orwellian language here is transforming “a complex mechanism for pricing carbon” into “destroying the coal and oil industry.”

        —Obama himself said that under his cap and trade plans electricity rates would skyrocket. Why? Because producing oil and coal would become too expensive. Besides, Obama is at war with oil.
        http://www.investors.com/NewsA…..l-War.aspx

        And criticizing Obama becomes “racism.”
        Only in your head.

        —I don’t have time to dig up millions of quotes of people using the word “racist” next to Tea Party, birther, conservative, libertarian, Republican, etc.

        In fact, I’ve been called racist so many times that the Klan is suing me! They’re jealous! (I’m being sarcastic)

        1. —No, it would transform them into a tax EXTENSION. A tax cut means turning 30% into 25% or whatever the number. You have to CUT. But if Bush is taxing me at 20% and Obama is taking me at 20%, where’s the cut? There is none.

          Nothing is permanent. A “tax break” is a specifically targeted deduction, whereas the Bush tax cut was a reduction in the general tax rate, doesn’t matter if for a determined period of time or until the sun turns nova.

          I started by saying that there is no meaningful difference between the terms. Orwellian language requires the term to be an oxymoron, self-contradictory. I tried to give an example of how you could make a distinction in meaning between the two things. Certainly, the distinctions both Greg and Old bring up are as legit. But the fact that we all disagree on the difference between a tax cut and a tax break seems to strengthen the case that they are largely synonymous…and therefore not examples of “progressives redefining language.”

          A tax break might mean “a targeted deduction” or it might mean “a temporary break from the standard tax rate.” A tax cut might mean “a reduction in the tax rate” or “a permanent reduction in the tax rate.” But in no sense is it redefining language to say that making the temporary change in the tax rate implemented by Bush a permanent change is “giving a tax break.”

          1. Hey, Mallet Diction, over here! Over here! I am over HEEEEeeeeeeeeree….

            (Have the courtesy to reply to my own post, please.)

              1. Damned squirrels ate my post…

                Have the courtesy to reply to my own post, please.

                You realize that you interjected yourself in our discussion right? It is your job to keep up. I ain’t your threaded comment bitch.

          2. Re: Mallet Diction,

            I started by saying that there is no meaningful difference between the terms.

            There’s a difference between what “is” and what you actually “wish,” and just “wishing” that there is no distinction does not mean there isn’t one. The distinction is clear enough to make the appellative “Orwellian,” that you presume to give the terms, absurd.

            A tax break might mean “a targeted deduction” or it might mean “a temporary break from the standard tax rate.”

            *smacks forehead*

            Temporary like… 1 year? 10 years? 100 years? 1 billion years? Because EVERYTHING in this universe is, alas, temporary.

            1. Re: Mallet Diction,

              A tax break might mean “a targeted deduction” or it might mean “a temporary break from the standard tax rate.”

              So you understand what I am talking about, MD, if the price of bubblegum drops from a dime to a nickle in 1980, and rises back again to a dime in 1985, what happened was a price CUT in 1980 and then a price HIKE in 1985. yet you’re rationalizing the event as a “temporary price break.” That’s ridiculous, it’s nothing more than a mental handjob. For the bubblegum buying public, it was first a price CUT and then a price HIKE, not some “temporary break.”

              1. Old Mexican,

                I have had no trouble following your argument. You are not, however, very convincing. Just because you wish there to be an important and meaningful distinction between the terms “tax break” and “tax cut” does not make is so (I seem to have heard this argument recently). So, for instance, the bubblegum example confuses two different types of issues. A tax rate operates much differently that a price in the market. You know this. One is a policy which may have a specific time period attached to it. That time period may be “from now on” (which really means “until a new policy modifies the policy”) or it may be “until 2010 after which the rate reverts to its original value.” This temporary break from normal practice is appropriately called a “tax break”. Extending that period beyond 2010 is appropriately called an extension of the tax break. But, of course, you can also say that, since the tax rate will revert to its original value at date X, that any reduction in the rate, past that date is a tax cut. You are cutting the rate that would be paid otherwise. Neither use is Orwellian as both accurately describe what happened.

                I do find it harder to argue that allowing a tax break to end, which results in the tax rate returning to its previous value is an example of a “tax hike” when the policy that temporarily reduced it included as a provision of the law that return to previous values. In other words, no active change in the plan has been implemented. The tax rate was predetermined to fluctuate at a specific time. To complain about the current administration allowing the established plan to play out as planned by accusing them of perpetrating a tax hike may not be Orwellian, but it seems mighty disingenuous.

          3. “Nothing is permanent. A “tax break” is a specifically targeted deduction, whereas the Bush tax cut was a reduction in the general tax rate, doesn’t matter if for a determined period of time or until the sun turns nova.”

            —Well, the GOP wanted to make the tax cuts permanent, but the DNC wouldn’t let them.

            “I started by saying that there is no meaningful difference between the terms. Orwellian language requires the term to be an oxymoron, self-contradictory.”

            —Oh right, like Ministry of Love (concerns itself with torture) and Ministry of Plenty (starvation) and Ministry of Peace (with war). I know what you mean.

            Still, I was listening to Mark Levine and he mentioned how Obama sees the mortgage interest tax deducation as a government expenditure. In other words, when the goverment lets you keep your money, they’re spending it it! Yet when they actually spend waste money building $450,000 outhouses, then that’s an “investment.” So you see? This is why I use the term “Orwellian” for Obama, even if a purist may disagree with me.

      3. Re: Mallet Diction,

        Never happens in libertarian world, of course

        Never say never.

        You see a logical contradiction between tax cut and tax break? Maybe you are stuck on the “keeping” thing. But, of course, Bush’s tax break was for a defined period of time. If there is a distinction between “tax cuts” and “tax breaks” it might be that tax cuts are permanent.

        Nothing is permanent. A “tax break” is a specifically targeted deduction, whereas the Bush tax cut was a reduction in the general tax rate, doesn’t matter if for a determined period of time or until the sun turns nova.

        This one is more Orwellian. It reminds me of its companion phrase “trickle down.”

        Or “trickle up poverty.” Or, “only government can build roadz!”

  30. It is insane to think that increasing taxes alone can help the US grow out of deficit. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to cut the government spending? The US political system is in a terrible condition and it will take the whole country down with it unless the government spending is reduced.

  31. My view is I am allowed to “keep my own money” when exactly this set of circumstances obtains and no other:

    I am allowed to keep my money in my
    pocket until I spend it, in whatever lawful way I choose, with no other strings attached by the government.

    If the government says “spend your money on a charity, or a mortgage payment, or a solar panel, or a hybrid car, or else we will take it from you,” then I am not really being allowed to “keep my own money.” I am only being allowed to choose between (a) giving my money to the government or (b) giving my money to some one else chosen by the government.

    Are Libertarians so beat-down and pathetic that they have come to see “empowerment zone” tax deductions as an oasis of economic liberty?

    1. Does Danny know what he’s talking about?

      Let me answer that for you: no.

      1. Whatever, heller. Danny is beating the snot out of the libertarians that only exist in his mind, and that’s all that matters.

        1. It’s from all the tiger blood.

    2. Concern troll is concerned. Yawn.

      1. Nihilism troll says nothing again.

        1. Fascist troll is fascist.

    3. when exactly this set of circumstances obtains

      Obtains? How the fuck do you confuse pertains with obtains? You are the stupidest shitstain to stink up this joint in a long time.

      1. Careful Warty.
        Pedantic comments like this are full of loop holes.

        “Obtains” means “generally recognized/established” so the phrase “when exactly this set of circumstances is established” would be correct enough.

        “Pertains” doesn’t work in the context.

        1. Fucking RC’z law.

          1. Looks like we’ll need some Kinetic Rhetoric Grammar Action from Samantha Powers real quick.

          2. How the fuck do you confuse pertains with obtains?

            I dunno, Warty. You tell us.

          3. And isn’t this Joe’z Law, anyway?

    4. Re: Danny,

      Are Libertarians so beat-down and pathetic that they have come to see “empowerment zone” tax deductions as an oasis of economic liberty?

      You mean, you don’t?

    5. Read Nudge, Danny, the agenda of the Marxist Mulatto and his comrades is to nudge you into making the “right” choices. Yet because Obama is so cool and so black, a lot of libertarians are afraid to criticize him with the same venon they have for the right.

      1. Tulpa might think you are a racist for employing language like “marxist mulatto” to describe our brown bolzhevik of a president.

        1. colored communist?

  32. That does not mean they are good policy (they’re not), but the distinction is important for anyone who rejects the view that all resources belong to the collective.

    Many apartment leases specify discounts on the rent for various instances of good behavior, like paying your rent five days early, passing housekeeping inspections, performing maintenance of the premises, etc.

    One need not be a collectivist to consider these to be expenditures on the part of the landlord.

  33. I myself believe that one good way of improving our tax system would be to allow us, the taxpayers, to decide where we want our tax dollars to be going.

    Basically, the government would send out a form that lists all of the various departments that our tax dollars go to. Then, we get to decide what percentage of our tax dollars go to which department, all the way down to the last penny. You could spread it all around, or send it all to one department, or split between two, or three, or whatever.

    1. We could even have some system which allowed us to choose some sort of a representative that could fill this form out for us.

      1. It’s worked so well in the past!

    2. I’ve always been enthusiastic to that concept. I call it ‘Fiscal Democracy.’

  34. I was doing my taxes yesterday and I saw a deduction you could take if you were a “Qualified performing artist”.

    I nearly spontaneously combusted.

    1. Mind of a government official (most likely has a BS in public affairs ):
      Ah yes, because performing artists are people who provide a vital service to society, unlike those dirty and evil machinists, engineers, computer programmers…

      Those guys are useless.

  35. And people think we’re not Europe.

  36. Would you give up whatever “etitlements” and tax deductions for a plan like this?

    1. All persons residing in the U.S. shall come together in households for the purpose of reporting all income from any source, each item to be identified by payer’s and payee’s tax number, and for receipt of federal and state benefits. Members of a household need not be related, need not reside together, and a household may consist of as few as one person.
    2. Each year congress shall set by legislation a “minimum wage” and a “tax rate”.
    3. The following income shall not be subject to taxation:
    ? An amount equal to a year’s earnings at the minimum wage rate, for each adult (age 20-65) member of the household, decreasing 10% per year to 50% at age 15, and increasing 10% per year to 150% at age 70.
    ? All payments for what is classified as necessary health care for all members of the household including medical care, any pharmaceuticals prescribed by a recognized health care professional, vision and hearing aids, and membership fees for health-enhancing entities such as gyms or other exercise facilities. Health care insurance premiums may be deducted but not health care expense paid for by such insurance.
    ? All educational expenses including day care for young children or legally incompetent persons, that portion of state and local taxes identified as spent on education, that portion of parochial school tuition, fees and other expenses identified as going for non-sectarian education, tuition, fees and educational materials for private school education at any level, and a per-diem allowance for students traveling more than 50 miles from primary residence for education.
    ? All income saved into an identified account from which investments may be made. All withdrawals from this account for the benefit of any member of the household shall be reported as income to that member.
    4. The “tax rate” shall be applied to any income over and above the deductions listed above, regardless of amount.
    5. At the request, by legislation duly enacted by any municipality having greater than 100,000 inhabitants or any state, a surtax may be imposed on citizens of that municipality or state which shall be applied in a manner exactly as applied for the Federal tax.
    6. For households whose deductions exceed total income, the Federal Government shall make payment equal to the tax rate multiplied by the shortfall in income, as shall municipalities and states.
    7. There shall be no federal tax on corporations or other business entities.
    8. The Office of Management and Budget shall compute revenues to be expected using the newly set tax rate and minimum wage, applied to the previous year’s reported incomes. No expenses in excess of that amount may be authorized or made by the federal government without approval by 75% of each house of Congress.

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