Monthly Archives: June 2012
James Delingpole provides an example that is almost a caricature of the enviro-whacko movement – except it is real. He received an email from a reader who encouraged him to get behind carbon credits. The person writing the email points him to this website for a company that sells carbon credits.
For whatever reason, he clicked through. And here’s an example of what he found among the tips one can use to cut down on their carbon emissions:
- Euthanize Your Old Pet
Pets have become a common feature in most homes and are an attribute of the modern, Western lifestyle. We all love our dogs and cats, but really, when you think about it, pets are a major producer of excess carbon. One of the best ways to reasonably enjoy your pet and reduce your overall Carbon Footprint is to determine in advance how long your pet should live. As a family, set a date when your pet will be euthanized. One great way to teach children the value of pet euthanasia is to turn the occasion into a family celebration. Let’s say you’ve set March 10, five years from now, as your pet’s euthanasia date. For the next five years, celebrate March 10 as your pet’s special day, with a family party and perhaps a visit to your pet’s future burial spot. Teach your children to think of the occasion as a birthday in reverse. A predetermined euthanasia date will encourage your family to love and care for your furry friend while it’s still young and playful. What’s more, pre-planing for pet termination not only works towards reducing your family’s Carbon Footprint, but guarantees long term reduction in veterinary expenses.
Yup, Fluffy’s day’s are numbered, or should be, literally. And make death day a “celebration”. Woohoo, Fluffy’s room temperature!
This is what some people come up with to “save the planet” when gulled into believing a trace gas that’s been a lagging indicator for centuries is suddenly a cause of warming.
Oh, and do this too:
- Stop Having Children
I know! I know! Children are as cute as all get-out, but have you ever really considered how much carbon one child puts into the atmosphere? Over a single lifetime, the amount is practically immeasurable. One of the best all-around things for the environment would be fewer people in the world. Until governments wake up and start passing "one child per-family" laws, the best way you can help reduce the collective Carbon Footprint is through voluntary sterilization. Most insurance policies cover the cost of tubal ligations as well as vasectomies, and for the poor, many clinics will do these procedures for free. And let’s face it–there are just too many poor people in the world!
Wow … if anyone ought to be euthanized … okay, not going there, but holy crap Batman! You just can’t make this stuff up!
UPDATE: I’ve been spoofed. LOL. Can’t help it though … given those who claim the earth should only have 500k people, it seemed to me not too far fetched at all. In fact, it makes me feel all that much better. I mean kill Fluffy?
I guess you can make this stuff up.
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
Personal income rose 0.2% in May, while personal spending was unchanged. The PCE price index fell -0.2% for the month, though the core rate rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis the index rose 1.5% overall, while the core rate rose 1.8%.
The consumer sentiment index fell to 73.2, which puts the index down to a new low for the year.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index rose slightly to 52.9, but the new orders component is the weakest since September 2009, pointing to slowing conditions this summer for Chocago businesses.
These via the Americans for Tax Reform. Says the ATR:
Taxpayers are reminded that the President’s healthcare law is one of the largest tax increases in American history.
Indeed. Tax increases which took place in 2010 after the passage of the bill:
1. Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals (Min$/immediate): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,961-1,971
2. Codification of the “economic substance doctrine” (Tax hike of $4.5 billion). This provision allows the IRS to disallow completely-legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to reduce taxes owed. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 108-113
3. “Black liquor” tax hike (Tax hike of $23.6 billion). This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel. Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 105
4. Tax on Innovator Drug Companies ($22.2 bil/Jan 2010): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,971-1,980
5. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike ($0.4 bil/Jan 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,004
6. Tax on Indoor Tanning Services ($2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,397-2,399
By my count $53.4 billion plus that collected in point 1.
7. Medicine Cabinet Tax ($5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957-1,959
8. HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike ($1.4 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,959
$6.4 billion more ($59.8 billion and counting).
9. Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2 (Min$/Jan 2012): Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957
No actual number but let’s just say “billions and billions” as the middle class gets taxed for its health benefits. Next year (2013), these kick in:
10. Surtax on Investment Income ($123 billion/Jan. 2013): Creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income: Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 87-93
Also known as a “tax on the rich”. To what effect? Well in 2012 capital gains is taxed at 15%, dividends at 15% and “other” at 35%. If you’re wondering what constitutes “other” here’s how it is defined:
*Other unearned income includes (for surtax purposes) gross income from interest, annuities, royalties, net rents, and passive income in partnerships and Subchapter-S corporations. It does not include municipal bond interest or life insurance proceeds, since those do not add to gross income. It does not include active trade or business income, fair market value sales of ownership in pass-through entities, or distributions from retirement plans. The 3.8% surtax does not apply to non-resident aliens.
In 2013 capital gains will be taxed at 23.8%, dividends at 43.4% and “other” at 43.4%.
11. Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax ($86.8 bil/Jan 2013): Current law and changes. Bill: PPACA, Reconciliation Act; Page: 2000-2003; 87-93
12. Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers ($20 bil/Jan 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax. Exempts items retailing for <$100. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,980-1,986
13. Raise "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI ($15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994-1,995
14. Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax” ($13 bil/Jan 2013): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited). Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. Bill: PPACA; Page: 2,388-2,389
15. Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D ($4.5 bil/Jan 2013) Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,994
16. $500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives ($0.6 bil/Jan 2013). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,995-2,000
Your running total through next year? $322.9+ billion in taxes.
And on to 2014:
17. Individual Mandate Excise Tax (Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following:
Of course, there are exemptions (Catholics need not apply regardless of what it says):
Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS). Bill: PPACA; Page: 317-337
“Undocumented immigrants” get a bye … more of the DREAM Act?
18. Employer Mandate Tax (Jan 2014): If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees. Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Bill: PPACA; Page: 345-346
Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years
19. Tax on Health Insurers ($60.1 bil/Jan 2014): Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year. Phases in gradually until 2018. Fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,986-1,993
20. Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans ($32 bil/Jan 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family). Higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions. CPI +1 percentage point indexed. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,941-1,956
At this point, we’re very near if not past half a trillion dollars in new taxes.
Never mind the perverse incentives Dale outlines in his post about ObamaCare and the fact that they’ll work very hard to make it one of the largest failures in American history. Imagine the horrific effect these taxes will have on the middle class, on investment, on innovation and, frankly, on the level of care. Not to mention the drain on a very shaky economy (and the possibility of Taxmageddon hitting as well).
This is the pig-in-the-poke a Democratic Congress passed and the Supreme Court upheld yesterday.
Really something to celebrate, isn’t it?
George Will has a column out today declaring that conservatism won “a substantial victory” yesterday:
Conservatives distraught about the survival of the individual mandate are missing the considerable consolation prize they won when the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional rationale for the mandate — Congress’s rationale — that was pregnant with rampant statism.
The case challenged the court to fashion a judicially administrable principle that limits Congress’s power to act on the mere pretense of regulating interstate commerce. At least Roberts got the court to embrace emphatic language rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale for penalizing the inactivity of not buying insurance:
“The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. . . . The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. . . . Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and — under the government’s theory — empower Congress to make those decisions for him.”
If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power — the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration’s Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: “Under our written Constitution . . . the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.”
The court held that the mandate is constitutional only because Congress could have identified its enforcement penalty as a tax. The court thereby guaranteed that the argument ignited by the mandate will continue as the principal fault line in our polity.
I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling it. What part of the “tax” isn’t “pregnant with rampant statism”? Why did John Roberts feel compelled to save the mandate by helping the administration identify it as a tax?
And more importantly, since when did taxation go from simply being a means for funding the functions of government to a means of incentivizing/controlling behavior? To me that’s what approving the mandate as a tax has sanctioned. We make fun of the nannies who want to control what we do, eat, say, etc. This precedent just sanctioned a method of doing so. It says it is okay to coerce desired behavior through taxation.
Perhaps, as Will opines, it will limit the Commerce clause which is already insanely overstretched in application. Maybe it finally does draw a much brighter line around the clause, at least marginally.
However, the downside is worse than any upside. The ruling essentially sanctioned the state’s requirement to purchase health insurance and gave it the okay to “tax” those who don’t comply. I’m sorry, you may want to play the word game with them and call it a tax, but it is clearly identifiable to me as a penalty.
That’s just wrong.
One of the more interesting ironies is that within the same ruling the Court found that the Federal government was being coercive toward the states by requiring they comply with the new Medicaid mandates or lose their current Medicaid funding.
How is that anymore coercive than the “tax” required to be paid if an individual decides not to purchase health care insurance?
Taxation as a mechanism of control and/or enforcement of desired behavior is as coercive as the part on Medicaid which was struck down by the court. At least in my opinion.
There may indeed be a silver lining in the ruling as Will outlines. But a “substantial victory”? It sounds like David Axlerod trying to spin the Wisconsin results as a huge win for Obama and trouble for Romney, doesn’t it? If this was a “substantial victory”, then so was Pearl Harbor.
OK, we now have Obamacare. Absent a November election of Mitt Romney and Republican congressional majorities, we’ll simply have to live with it. Except, of course, we won’t, because Obamacare simply will not work. Its design practically ensures that it will meet none of the goals its proponents claim it will meet. The end result will inevitably be more people uninsured, higher costs, greater government spending, and higher debt.
If you want to see how a policy will work, then ignore all the claims made by it’s proponents—and opponents. All that is necessary is to look closely at the incentive structures the law creates. Those incentives will tell you how people will respond to the policy.
So, let’s take a brief look at just a few of the incentives Obamacare creates.
- First, health plans are more highly regulated. They must cover a wide range of preventative procedures, like pediatric or maternity care. This means that stand-alone catastrophic coverage will essentially be a thing of the past. This increases the cost of premiums across the board, and eliminates an entire class of individual insurance coverage.
- At the same time, insurers are forced to cover pre-existing conditions, with premiums limited to 2.5x that of the lower-risk groups. People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, generally incur costs far in advance of 2.5x that of healthy people—as I well know, being diabetic—and the care for the seriously ill, such as cancer patients, is far higher still. This will, again, raise the costs of premiums overall to recoup the extra costs of insuring the chronically or seriously ill.
- Individuals who do not have have health coverage will be forced to pay what we learned this morning was a tax to the IRS instead. Rational people, then will choose not to buy insurance until their health costs + the penalty is greater than the cost of a health plan.
- Lower income people, with a family income of less than 400% of the poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) receive a subsidy of varying value, declining with income increases until the 400% of poverty level, at which point it drops to $5,000. At 401% of the poverty level, the subsidy ends. So at that $88,000 level, any increase of income results in the loss of $$5,000. At that point, it is uneconomic to accept any increase in income to less than $93,000, as it will result in a net loss of income, or the family will have to forego medical insurance. This will trap low-wage workers.
- Companies with less than 50 employees that currently provide health coverage to their workers will face a broad range of new costs, mandates, regulations and coverage mandates. They will have to either require more costs to be paid by employees, or simply drop health coverage altogether and simply pay a nominal tax penalty. I suspect many companies will choose the latter, thereby forcing employees to pay for higher-cost individual plans, or forego coverage. Even worse, companies that employ fewer than 50 people have a huge incentive to ensure they never have more than 50 people on the payroll, lest they then be required to provide health insurance, and subject themselves to a much higher administrative burden.
These perverse incentives will result in higher health insurance costs, and an increase in the number of uninsured people. Additionally, the macroeconomic incentives will result in less income growth and lower employment. We will then be told that the "free market" has failed yet again, and be forced to submit to a fully government-run health care system.
Ultimately, Obamacare is nothing more than the latest in "a long train of abuses and usurpations" about which we have done nothing, and will do nothing. I mean, let’s face it, no one is going to call for a new constitutional convention, much less get together with a lusty, gusty group of fellows and head off into the hills with rifles.
But, there’s always a silver lining to every cloud. In this case, it’s that when we default on or monetize our debt and destroy the currency and economy, Obamacare will be irrelevant, as there will barely be enough money for food and shelter, much less expansive health coverage programs.
So, we got that going for us.
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
The Commerce Department’s final estimate of first quarter GDP was unchanged at 1.9% annualized.
Initial claims for unemployment were a higher-than-expected 386,000. The 4-week moving average dropped 750 lower to 386,750.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -36.1, the highest level in two months.
The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index rebounded 6 points to a reading of 9 in May.
Apparently the entire law has been upheld with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal side of the court to declare the individual mandate survives as a tax. The political elite have once again wiped their collective rear ends with the Constitution.
You are now all destined to be required by law to purchase (via “tax”) whatever in the hell Congress decides it wants you to purchase. And this will, of course, translate into doing whatever Congress decides you need to do (again, I’m sure the clever totalitarians among us will find some way to accomplish those things through “taxation”).
Welcome to the new “America”.
Wait … didn’t we once revolt over unfair taxation?
UPDATE: Apparently CNN is reporting the mandate was struck down. SCOTUS blog says:
The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate.
CNN just corrected their previous release and said the entire ACA had been upheld (and they wonder why they’re losing viewers?).
The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power.
In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
Just marvelous. Thanks Justice Roberts. </sarc>
SCOTUS opinion/decision here.
Me, I’m taking the rest of the day off. As an old libertarian I mourn for the freedom we just lost. It is another reason, in a long, long line of them, to clean that cesspool of Washington DC out. And, frankly, perhaps it is time we contemplated bolder measures.
Sorry … but this ruling all but guarantees the twilight of a great experiment. It lasted over 200 years, but it is definitely in its nadir now. This only accelerates the decline. We’ve just put ourselves in the same place as Europe, and we see who gloriously that’s going, don’t we?
Wow, just wow.
Just some random thoughts as we await the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare.
I can’t help thinking the title is precisely what is on the line today. Given the implications of upholding that odious law, I can’t help but feel this is indeed the most momentous decision in my lifetime. Oh, certainly, there have been many other important ones, to be sure, but never one that had the potential, at least as I see it, to give government carte blanc to expand and intrude into my life.
I’ve said it often, liberty (freedom) equals choice. Today’s decision will either uphold our ability to make individual choices (to include not having health insurance for whatever reason) in our lives or limit them – severely.
You know, when I was a kid I had to read the Constitution. I didn’t find it either difficult to read or understand. Yet since then, we’ve seen veritable oceans of words telling us what we read and the common understanding of what those words in the Constitution mean isn’t what they really mean. And the way the Constitution is treated by our politicians is simply shameful (and that applies to both sides).
It has also been ironic to me to see the “living Constitution” crowd whine and complain that the SCOTUS may be overturning “years of precedent”. That’s a true traditionalist argument. In fact, though, if it does strike down the mandate, then it will be a traditionalist ruling.
I’m not sure how the left will reconcile that without their heads exploding.
I’m also convinced that even if overturned, either partially or completely, this is only the beginning of the fight to have government take over health care. Next step? Single payer.
In fact, there are probably many on the left who actually hope this monstrosity will be overturned so they can proceed to what has always been the extreme left’s dream – single payer, government run health care. And, of course, Medicare provides precedence for that, doesn’t it.
So as we sit here waiting and hoping, it might behoove us to consider that even if the decision goes as we hope it will go, spiking the ball will be premature.
A ruling against the law won’t signal the end of this fight. I’m afraid it will only signal the end of round 1 of a multi-round championship fight.
Whatever the ruling, I worry for our country.
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
Durable goods orders came in much better than expected, with an overall 1.1% increase in May. On a year-over-year basis, orders rose 4.6%. The increase was mainly the result of a big increase in aircraft orders. Ex-Transportation, orders rose 0.4% for the month, and 3.8% on a year-over-year basis.
The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports mortgage applications fell -7.1%, with purchases down -1.0% and re-finance apps down -8.0%.
The National Association of Realtors reports that the Pending Home Sales Index rose 5.9 points to 101.1.
John Hinderaker at Powerline makes a point that I wish more people would make:
President Obama has decided to make the claim that Mitt Romney “outsourced” jobs as head of Bain Capital a major theme of his reelection campaign. Today in Waterloo, Iowa, Joe Biden repeated the “outsourcing” mantra.
I’m not sure that either Obama or Biden has any clear idea what outsourcing means, and their application of the charge to Romney’s business career is dubious at best.
I’m not sure they understand the term either. It is entirely probable that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital did outsource jobs – but that’s not necessarily bad.
As I understand outsourcing, it can be as simple as a company deciding, for whatever reason (but usually because of cost and/or efficiency) to quit doing something internally and contract the work outside the company. So instead of making widgets to go in their gadget, they contract with another company to make the widgets for their gadgets. The savings in cost and efficiency go to the bottom line and make the company more profitable (and, obviously, helps the bottom line of the new widget maker as well). Depending on the circumstances, such outsourcing could end up with a net job gain.
Offshoring, of course, is when the job is moved, well, offshore. To another country. A net job loss. Certainly an outsourced job can also be offshored.
The Obama campaign spent nearly $4,700 on telemarketing services from a Canadian telemarketing company called Pacific East between March and June, a Washington Free Beacon study of federal election filings shows.
Pacific East is not the only overseas telemarketing firm raking in cash from the president’s reelection campaign. Obama paid a call center in Manila, Philippines$78,314.10 for telemarketing services between the start of the campaign and March.
Pacific East is headquartered in British Columbia, Canada, though the campaign issued more than a dozen checks to a P.O. box located in Washington State—about 1,000 feet from the Canadian border and 9 miles from its headquarters in Canada.
Neither Obama for America nor Pacific East returned requests for comment.
I’m sure they didn’t. Ironic, no?
Someone pass this along to Joe Biden, will you?