Free Markets, Free People
I know there are some out there that will say, “hey you were whining the other day about taxing the winnings of Olympians”, weren’t you? And now a politician plans to fix it and you bitch?!”
Yes. Yes, I do. Because this is exactly the wrong way to go about it:
Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill Wednesday to eliminate the federal government’s tax on Olympic medals, saying the levy amounted to yet another way the government tries to punish those who succeed.
Athletes who win a gold medal also earn a $25,000 honorarium — and with it an $8,986 tax bill to the IRS, according to Americans for Tax Reform, which crunched the numbers. That covers both the honorarium and the tax on the value of the gold in the medal itself.
The silver medal tax comes to $5,385, and the bronze medal tax is $3,502 — including $2 for the value of the bronze medal itself, and the $10,000 honorarium.
That could leave amateur athletes — in many cases still teenagers — facing stiff tax bills when they return to the U.S.
Mr. Rubio said that shouldn’t happen.
Of course you can make special pleadings for all sorts of types of special interest taxpayers, can’t you?
But isn’t taxation supposed to fund the legitimate functions of government and be fairly applied to everyone?
How does exempting special constituencies because of their, well, “specialness”, do that?
Certainly Olympic level (and other) athletes compete in other competitive venues and it wouldn’t be at all unusual for them to win some sort of honorarium there. So why is that taxable and this isn’t?
Quite simply visibility and outrage.
That’s no way to run a government. There’s nothing rational about this exemption. It is as arbitrary as many of the taxes we suffer under.
Important issue? After the economy is up and running again, it is time to push – and push hard – for a total revamping of the tax structure and code in this country.
We suffer one of the least representative and certainly the least fair or equitable tax codes in the world.
Time to take it apart and start over again. And this time, let’s make it impossible for Congress to fiddle with it in terms of rewarding or punishing special constituencies arbitrarily at its whim
New Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been getting a lot of attention since he took office. He has a piece in Foreign Policy magazine on line arguing that the US has an obligation to at least react to the massacres in Syria in a strong way. He outlines precisely what President Obama should do:
U.S. President Barack Obama needs to make clear whose side America is on, back up our rhetoric with action, and clearly articulate why Syria matters to the United States.
Wow – he means actually lead for a change. Rubio says at a minimum, this should happen:
Clearly, we should be on the side of the Syrian people longing for freedom and challenging the regime’s corrupt and repressive rule. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s hesitancy to weigh in has been mistaken for indecision at best and indifference at worst. The president needs to speak directly to the Syrian people to communicate American support for their legitimate demands, condemn Assad’s murderous campaign against innocent civilians, and sternly warn Assad and his cohorts that they cannot continue grossly violating human rights, supporting terrorism, and sowing instability among Syria’s neighbors.
Of course none of it, to this point, has. Libya, yeah, easy pickin’s, (or so it was thought), but Syria, well, that’s the land of the “reformer”, Assad and they have heavy ties with Iran (another country about which Obama was essentially silent).
Rubio also says even more stern action should happen as well:
But his words must be backed by clear, firm actions. As ill-advised as it was to restore diplomatic relations with Syria by sending an American ambassador to Damascus last year, we should now sever ties and recall the ambassador at once. While Syria is already under heavy U.S. sanctions as a designated state sponsor of terror, we should expand sanctions to include persons identified as authorizing, planning, or participating in deplorable human rights violations against unarmed civilians. Our partners in Europe, Turkey, and the Arab Gulf share many of our interests in Syria and play a large role in that country, and the president must put the full diplomatic weight of the United States behind an effort to convince them to adopt meaningful economic and diplomatic sanctions targeting Assad and his enablers in the regime.
America has an obligation to weigh in strongly about the situation in Syria. For years, its regime has aided the terrorist operations of Hezbollah and Hamas, supported Iran’s destabilizing policies, and helped terrorists kill Americans in Iraq. The regime has not only destabilized the region but also directly acted against the national security interests of the United States. We simply cannot sit silently as innocent people peacefully challenge a regime committed to undermining the United States and its allies.
Notice that Rubio hasn’t rattled a single sabre. He’s talking about very basic first diplomatic steps – both words and action – which don’t involve military action. Side with the oppressed, condemn the regime’s actions, withdraw the ambassador, impose sanctions, etc. It is a regime that supports terrorists and terrorism. How hard is this?
Apparently pretty hard when your modus operandi is to “lead from behind”. This must be the part of that “open hand” Obama claimed he was going to offer regimes like Syria. That’s working out well, isn’t it?
In two short years, foreign policy has gone from bad to worse – despite all the promises of how it would be so much better under the Obama administration. Another example of talking the talk, but not being able to walk the walk.
Write it off to me being cynical about what any politician says, but while I like what I hear from Rubio in this WSJ op/ed, I wonder if, in fact, he’ll end up sticking to his guns:
Americans have built the single greatest nation in all of human history. But America’s exceptionalism was not preordained. Every generation has had to confront and solve serious challenges and, because they did, each has left the next better off. Until now.
Our generation’s greatest challenge is an economy that isn’t growing, alongside a national debt that is. If we fail to confront this, our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a country worse off than the one their parents were given.
Current federal policies make it harder for job creators to start and grow businesses. Taxes on individuals are complicated and set to rise in less than two years. Corporate taxes will soon be the highest in the industrialized world. Federal agencies torment job creators with an endless string of rules and regulations.
So to summarize, Rubio sees a need to find ways to help the economy grow and to keep the national debt from not growing. Okay, sold. Next he sees existing federal policies – those, one assumes, include taxes and regulations – as one of the main obstacles to economic growth and one of the main contributors to national debt. Again, check. I think, in the main, he’s right.
Here’s the QotD:
We’re therefore at a defining moment in American history. In a few weeks, we will once again reach our legal limit for borrowing, the so-called debt ceiling. The president and others want to raise this limit. They say it is the mature, responsible thing to do.
In fact, it’s nothing more than putting off the tough decisions until after the next election. We cannot afford to continue waiting. This may be our last chance to force Washington to tackle the central economic issue of our time.
Well yes and no. The defining moment in American history seems to arrive every couple of years when Congress routinely raises the limit again and again. We’re now at a level that almost matches the yearly GDP with no end in sight if you look at the projected budgets for the next 10 years. So is this particular vote on the debt ceiling really a “defining moment in American history”? Only if Congress refuses to raise it. Otherwise, it is business as usual.
Wit ill it be business as usual or a “defining moment in American history”? I agree with Rubio that as it stands Congress and the president have obviously decided covertly that they’re not going to “tackle the central economic issue of our time” at the moment. So where does that leave Rubio?
Well, here’s his position:
I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
No tax reform, regulatory overhaul, cuts to discretionary spending, balanced budget amendment as well as reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, no Rubio “yes” vote?
That’s what his statement says to me and anyone familiar with the “goings on” in Congress know -given Rubio’s list of “must haves” before he’d vote “yes” – it is a virtual impossibility. Not going to happen – at least not anytime soon.
I would then deduce that Rubio is a permanent “no” on any legislation coming along in oh, the next 20 years, that raises the debt ceiling. Because, watching politics in Washington for all these years has convinced me that until it all crashes and burns, those folks aren’t going to really do a thing.
And I think Rubio knows it too:
Whether they admit it or not, everyone in Washington knows how to solve these problems. What is missing is the political will to do it.
I’ve seen no indicator that there is now a real will to do it, even after the wave election washed over 60 Republican freshmen into the House and upped the minority numbers for the GOP in the Senate. Oh there’s talk, of course, but I see the usual turf protection and re-election concerns already beginning to cloud the once clear mandate that said “fix this mess”. I see knees becoming weak and spines beginning to buckle.
Rubio stakes out a pretty unambiguous position here – not that I think he’s going to be able to stop the debt ceiling from being raised. On the contrary, I think we’ll see it raised many more times in the coming years. But I’m wondering how true Rubio will remain to his pledge here. It will be an interesting exercise to watch a supposedly principle driven and incorruptible Tea Party candidate work in the atmosphere of Washington DC that almost demands “team play” and compromise to “get along” or advance. He and Rand Paul, along with Allen West (R-FL) in the House are my “white mice” in this Tea Party experiment. I want to see how true they stay to their pledges, how well they resist the Washington gravitational pull and resultant sell-out that usually occurs.
I, for once, hope my cynicism isn’t rewarded as it usually is.
Ask Kendrick Meek, the Democratic Senate candidate in Florida. Even the UK’s Telegraph noticed some interesting things, such as Meek never mentioned Obama once at the rally with Gore.
But, then, neither did Gore.
In Tampa, neither Mr Gore nor Mr Meek made direct reference to Mr Obama’s historic health care legislation, his proudest achievement, or the financial bailout. Both measures are unpopular with all but hardcore Democratic supporters.
Two years ago, every Democrat in the country was invoking Mr Obama’s name as they hoped to ride on his coat-tails to electoral victory. This year, he is a near-pariah, with many of the party’s candidates doing everything they can to distance themselves from him.
Gore also came in for a bit of heckling. When he mentioned “giving in to corporate special interests”, someone in the crowd yelled, “like you!”
But interestingly most of the people there seemed more nostalgic for Clinton/Gore than Obama/Biden. Meek called the Clinton/Gore team, "stellar public elected figures who once served and are still giving". People interviewed while leaving the event seemed resigned to the fact that the Obama administration was probably not long for this world:
"I was thinking that if we could get Clinton back in and Gore back in we might do something in this country," said Robert Henry, 62 a retired soldier. His wife Susan, 59, said that Obama was unlucky because he "got handed an absolute train wreck" while Gore "reminds us of good times, of prosperity and peace".
When the partisans have concluded that the “good times” are no more, support is most likely not going to develop on election day as Obama and the party hope it will.
Meek and Gore were there to rally support for Meek and tell them how well he’s starting to do. Said Gore, "Kendrick’s going up like a skyrocket", while Marco Rubio is just “bumbling along”.
Rubio leads Meek 46 to 18 in the most recent polls. Charlie Crist is at 33.
And a reminder as the media tries to paint all the Tea Party candidates is extremist and out of the main stream – unlikely to win in the general election. Rubio is the Tea Party pick in FL.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the economy, Charlie Crist, and the Times Square bombing attempt. Billy Hollis checks in, too.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
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