Iguess we’ve moved into the realm of “guilty until you prove yourself innocent”:
The Republican House of Representatives may soon follow the Democratic Senate and give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport on mere suspicion of owing taxes. There’s no place like home, comrade.
‘America, Love It Or Leave It" might be an obsolete slogan if the "bipartisan transportation bill" that just passed the Senate is approved by the House and becomes law. Contained within the suspiciously titled "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act," or "MAP 21," is a provision that gives the Internal Revenue Service the power to keep U.S. citizens from leaving the country if it finds that they owe $50,000 or more in unpaid taxes — no court ruling necessary.
Note … “mere suspicion”. Like the IRS screws up its audit and thinks you owe more than you do (and at least $50k), your passport is yanked without going to court.
Let freedom ring, eh?
And, as the lede points out, it isn’t just the Democrats. Another attempt by both parties to shred the Constitution.
This is not the sort of power an unaccountable agency should be given. Any idea of how many people will suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of a suspicion they owe $50k or more in taxes? Whether true or not, with the power to grab your passport and only a suspicion needed (no court order), the IRS will likely “suspect” many people owe at least that much.
That’s certainly consistent with the history of such granted power. Go to the extreme quickly – there’s no reason not too. No penalty for them, certainly. Oh, you don’t owe $50k? Here’s your passport.
“Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century”?
Since when is changing the IRS to a form of the KGB a “move ahead?”
The quote comes from a Heritage Foundation post on taxes and notes that today is “tax freedom day”, or the day in which what you earn from now on actually is supposed to belong to you:
In other words, for the first 111 days of the year, everything you earned went straight to Uncle Sam. Compare that to back in 1900, when Americans paid only 5.9% of their income in taxes and Tax Freedom Day came on January 22.
And in 1900, Americans felt that amount was outrageous. But this puts in context the huge growth of government in the last century.
Here’s the problem though, it’s going to get worse – 2013 would be the year of the Obama tax increases if he’s re-elected and Congress doesn’t move to keep the current tax rates (which the left insists on calling the “Bush tax cuts” but which have, instead, been our current tax rates for years).
If those tax rates are allowed to expire, you can tack on another 11 days before we see “tax freedom day”.
That’s all due to Taxmageddon — a slew of expiring tax cuts and new tax increases that will hit Americans on January 1, 2013, amounting to a $494 billion tax hike. Heritage’s Curtis Dubay reports that American households can expect to face an average tax increase of $3,800 and that 70 percent of Taxmageddon’s impact will fall directly on low-income and middle-income families, leaving them with $346 billion less to spend.
Like sequestration, these tax increases are scheduled to happen on January 1st of next year. Both are likely to have huge negative economic impacts.
On the tax side, Heritage’s Dubay points to immediate impact of some of the taxes that will become effective on that day:
If Congress fails to act, workers won’t have to wait very long to feel the effects. Every payday, they would see a jump in their payroll tax as it takes a bigger bite out of every paycheck. And that only reflects one of the direct hits they’ll face. They’ll feel the pain of other tax hikes they won’t pay directly, like the health care surtax on investment income and salaries over $250,000 — which begins in 2013 along with five other Obamacare tax hikes — because these hikes will slow job creation by taking away resources from businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs.
James Pethakoukis puts it into a chart for you:
If you combine all the other tax increases from 1980-1993, they add up to 3.3% of GDP, according to the brilliant budget team at Strategas Research. The coming “taxmageddon” of 2013 surpasses all those tax hikes combined! How could the Obama White House even toy with the idea, which it has, of letting them happen?
If they happen, can anyone guess what will happen to the economy?
So obviously, stopping this is a priority with President Obama, right?
That fact, though, isn’t making its way into President Obama’s talking points. He’s not mentioning that, absent action, Americans will pay higher income taxes, payroll taxes, and death taxes. He hasn’t spoken about the impending increase in the marriage penalty, the decrease in the child tax credit and the adoption credit, or how those who get tax breaks for education or dependent care costs will see them decreased. He hasn’t mentioned the new taxes under Obamacare, or how middle-income families will be forced to pay higher taxes under the Alternative Minimum Tax — a measure that was only supposed to impact “the rich.” Sound familiar?
Instead of dealing with Taxmageddon, President Obama wants to change the subject with a gimmicky policy like the “Buffett Tax.” The Senate obliged him yesterday by voting on this distraction. Fortunately, it was rejected. Still, while President Obama trains his fire on this class warfare policy, he ignores that if Taxmageddon strikes, the lower and middle class Americans that he says he is fighting for will pay substantially more in taxes to the federal government starting on January 1. Call it the unadvertised side effect of Barack Obama’s failed leadership.
So many “unadvertised” leadership failures in so few years. Let this happen and watch the economy head toward the bottom again. Of course, Obama won’t particularly care if he’s re-elected. He’ll no longer be answerable to the American people. He’ll have more “flexibility”. He’ll be free to move more to the left.
A wonderful scenario and, in answer to the question in the title – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Whore-gate? Who is going to hang the “gate” on the Secret Service scandal?
But it is interesting, isn’t it? The head of the Secret Service claimed yesterday that the behavior of this team was not “indicative” of the rest of the Service’s behavior.
Yeah, sorry, I find that hard to believe, at least at this point. Something gave this team the belief that they could do what they did and get away with it. Leaders claiming such nonsense are always suspect. I just don’t buy into this one advance team being an outlier.
I would assume, as a matter of leadership, that more senior members of the service make it a point to travel with advance teams without advance notice just to see how well the teams function and do their job. Or at least I’d hope so.
Leadership is about supervision. It’s about getting off your rear and checking out how well your unit functions, how closely they follow SOP and how well leaders junior to you do their jobs.
Why am I getting the feeling that’s not the case in the Secret Service? Because of this fiasco in Columbia.
Now its been revealed that the President’s schedule was laying around in the hotel rooms they brought the hookers too. Security? Where?
I’ve also heard it said, mostly as an excuse, that they were “off duty”. Sorry, that’s a no-go. There are certain standards of conduct that are required in particular organizations that really never allow one to be “off duty”. What a member of that unit does even when not actively engaged in their job reflects on their organization and could compromise their integrity.
For instance, in this case, how difficult would it be to blackmail a Secret Service agent who knows that revealing his consorting with prostitutes would cost him his job?
This isn’t the first case of Agent misconduct. But it is the most widespread and possibly one of the worst cases. It speaks of a leadership problem to me. Someone in a leadership position was trusted to lead an advance team. That means those in higher leadership positions trusted this person to carry out the job professionally, morally and with integrity. Someone was very mistaken. That puts the entire leadership of the Secret Service under the microscope, not just this team.
The seriousness of this had me shake my head when I read this:
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, is weighing whether to launch an investigation into the prostitution allegations.
Weighing whether to launch an investigation?
Okay, yes, it’s a bit of a sarcastic title, but in a sense I mean it:
For those who need proof that the Senate was a do-nothing chamber in 2011 beyond the constant partisan bickering and failure to pass a federal budget, there is now hard evidence that it was among the laziest in 20 years.
In her latest report, Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson revealed a slew of data that put the first session of the 112th Senate at the bottom of Senates since 1992 in legislative productivity, an especially damning finding considering that it wasn’t an election year when congressional action is usually lower.
For example, while the Democratically-controlled Senate was in session for 170 days, it spent an average of just 6.5 hours in session on those days, the second lowest since 1992. Only 2008 logged a lower average of 5.4 hours a day, and that’s when action was put off because several senators were running for president, among them Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain.
On the passage of public laws, arguably its most important job, the Senate notched just 90, the second lowest in 20 years, and it passed a total of 402 measures, also the second lowest. And as the president has been complaining about, the chamber confirmed a 20-year low of 19,815 judicial and other nominations.
Frankly, I think Congress should be a part-time job. That was the way it was designed at the founding. Come in, do the work necessary – you know, such as pass a budget? – and then go back to your real job.
So, in reality, I’m not against a Senate that doesn’t do much. Unfortunately, we have an activist president who is more than happy to use the Senate’s laziness as a pretext for issuing executive orders and accomplishing his agenda via executive agencies with no accountability to the people.
And, it appears, Harry Reid is fine with that – not that anyone should be particularly surprised by that.
It is the only way Reid can apparently assist the President in doing what he wants to do. You know, provide an excuse. “We can’t wait on Congress”, something that is only a problem since the GOP took the House one assumes. Of course somehow even lazy Harry Reid managed to at least rouse himself long enough to pass that abomination we know as ObamaCare.
Once that was done, he went back into tax-payer subsidized hibernation.
But with Reid, how do you tell?
So let’s see, the two votes I’ve seen on the two Obama budgets that at least one of the houses of Congress has voted on in the past two year, neither has garnered a single vote from any legislator regardless of party.
Yesterday the House voted unanimously against President Obama’s current budget. Last year the Senate went 0 for and 97 against his previous budget.
The House Democrats claim to have their own budget which closely mirrors the Obama budget deficits but differs in the details.
Senate Democrats have said they will not bring a budget to the floor this year, though Republicans in the chamber have talked about trying to at least force a vote on Mr. Obama’s plan there as well.
Thank you Harry Reid for your strong fiscal leadership. What is it? Well over 1,000 days and Senate Democrats have yet to produce a budget.
My guess is it’s Bush’s fault.
Remember when Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Democratic Congress and Barack Obama all told us that the cost of ObamaCare would only be $900 billion? And because of that, Obama said it “saved” us money. He also said that if it had been more than that, he wouldn’t have signed it.
Well, as the critics rightly pointed out, it was always more than that. It was just hidden from view, because of the way Democrats structured the law to hide most expenditures for a few years. That way, the CBO, who was charged with scoring it, would score it below a trillion dollars because the CBO, by law, can only score a law within a 10 year window.
Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO’s standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama’s pledge that the legislation would cost "around $900 billion over 10 years." When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.
Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.
“More than double”. We were flat lied too. We’re now stuck with another outrageously expensive entitlement program we can’t afford barring repeal or judicial overturn.
And yet, after the most deceitful, least transparent and most abusive legislative process I’ve ever seen used, you’re going to be asked to trust this guy with another 4 years at the helm.
Remember the official line from the White House when Obama rejected the pipeline in January?
Obama rejected a cross-border permit for the Keystone pipeline in January.
He said the decision was not based on the merits of the project, but instead in response to a 60-day permit decision deadline that Republicans demanded in a December payroll tax cut bill. Obama said the deadline would short-circuit review.
Of course the State Department had previously favorably reviewed the pipeline and recommended its approval (08/29/11)
David L. Goldwyn, who until earlier this year had served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, said in an interview aired over the weekend that Clinton would likely approve plans for a contentious pipeline to deliver oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.
"I think that balancing jobs, energy security — a country which has increased production potentially the size of Libya — I think the case for a pipeline is overwhelming, and she will approve it," Goldwyn said, speaking to Platts Energy Week, an energy-themed television program.
On Friday, the State Department issued its final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would have "no significant impact" on the environment and recommending that the project move forward, despite warnings from environmental groups that, among other things, the project would help accelerate the warming of the planet.
So, in reality, other than petulance, politics and an agenda, Obama had no real reason to not approve the pipeline. The review had been completed. In fact it seems clear, given his disapproval, that the process was irrelevant to him in reality and the Republicans were just the latest excuse not to approve the deal.
Republican Senator Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced an amendment to the transportation bill concerning the pipeline:
The amendment, unlike previous GOP efforts to simply create a deadline for an administration permit decision, would have bypassed the administration and approved construction, although the legislation would still require Obama’s signature.
Of course Obama didn’t want to be seen vetoing something which polls have repeatedly said the vast majority of the nation is for. So he actively lobbied against the passage of the amendment.
Obama lobbied wavering Senate Democrats before yesterday’s vote. He urged them to reject an amendment to legislation funding transportation projects that would have overturned his administration’s decision to deny a permit for the pipeline until an alternative route was proposed to bypass an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska.
But, as reported previously, many pipelines already criss-cross the Oglala aquifer in Nebraska with no problem. Additionally, the governor of Nebraska made it clear that it wasn’t necessary to reject the pipeline – there were some pretty easy workarounds.
So here, in the midst of rising gas prices and high unemployment, a politician is presented with a positive way to impact both and declines it based purely on ideology vs. what’s best for the nation.
Unfortunately he has allies in the Senate – enough to defeat the amendment that would have either allowed the pipeline to be built or forced Obama to veto it.
The vote was 56-42 with 11 Democrats defecting. Most of those, as you might imagine, are from states in which oil production is important.
And, as usual, opponents were scraping the bottom of the barrel for reasons not to vote for the amendment:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other Democrats opposed to the project argued oil would end up going to Asia, and that the pipeline could even raise costs in the U.S.
As well as the usual nonsense:
“Once again Republicans are trying to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed, and despite the claims that this would somehow solve the pain families are feeling at the pump today, according to the company it would take years before it transported a drop of oil,” [White House spokesman Clark] Stevens said in a statement.
But history gives lie to Stevens claim. Remember when President Bush lifted the moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the East and West Outer Continental Shelf in 2008. Not a single well had been drilled when it was announced and the price of oil took a significant drop:
The politics at issue here are those which are detrimental to the nation.
And those would be the ideologically driven politics being played by the White House, and none other.
Watch this … it’s stunning (or it should be):
If you haven’t seen the Heritage Foundation report on government dependency for this year, you need to spend some time at least perusing it. Some of the charts will shock you.
I’m planning on looking at different parts of it over the next few weeks as appropriate and I get the time.
We often hear the Democrats cited as the reason we’re in this mess today, but that’s a cop out. The right in the guise of the Republican party are just as guilty as the Democrats. In fact, I’d argue they’re more guilty. The reason we’re in this mess today is because over the years the Republicans have accommodated the Democrats by compromising their principles.
The most recent examples are Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind – two huge government programs one of which put a new entitlement in place and the other which increased federal control of education (at an equally huge cost).
Here’s a quote from the Heritage Foundation report I’d like you to focus on:
The last decade has seen a significant expansion of benefits provided by Medicare, including the new prescription drug benefit created under Medicare Part D. From 2004 to 2010, Part D was responsible for $214 billion in federal spending. Though the role of competition in its defined-contribution model has caused estimates of its 10-year cost to drop 41 percent from initial CMS projections, the program has added substantially to health care entitlement spending. Additionally, the publicly funded Part D program has crowded out private coverage alternatives. Research by economists Gary Engelhardt and Jonathan Gruber suggests that before Medicare Part D was enacted, 75 percent of seniors currently receiving public coverage held private drug coverage. Part D also increased average spending on prescription drugs by seniors, an expense that is funded by an increase in public spending of 184 percent, accompanied by a reduction in seniors’ out-of-pocket spending of 39 percent and private insurance plan spending of 37 percent.
First, remember that we’re talking about the “richest” demographic in our country when we talk about seniors. Yes, everyone knows that, like every demographic, there are exceptions, but for the most part, seniors are pretty well set.
Now, notice the effect that this program has had. It has “added substantially to health care entitlement spending” It has “crowded out private coverage alternatives”. And it has “increased the average spending on prescription drugs by seniors … funded by an increase in public spending of 184%”.
So A) it increased public spending in an ear in which we can’t afford increased public spending, B) it basically destroyed a market that was apparently working prior to its implementation C) the taxpayer is on the hook for more spending as seniors, who now pay less out of pocket, shift the cost to them.
This wasn’t a program supported just by the left, folks. This was negotiated, passed and signed into law with the blessing of a Republican President.
THIS is why we’re in the mess we’re in. THIS is where the precedent for ObamaCare was set.
As much as the other candidates want to hit Mitt Romney on RomneyCare (and they should), one should remember that Rick Santorum voted for Part D (although he now says that was a “mistake”) and Newt Gingrich lobbied for it.
It is those sorts of compromises and accommodations which have put us in the mess we’re in today. The party of smaller government has consistently caved in to larger government programs all the while hollering about the left.
This is one reason there’s so much disgust on the right with the party, at least among activists and Tea Party types.
As I said, I’m going to be spending some time on this report, but this is one area that needs to be illuminated and discussed. If the GOP ever wants to recover its soul, it has to quit compromising its principles and find a way to explain, in a compelling way, why programs like this are the wrong way to go. They managed that with ObamaCare. They need to take that lesson and translate it into all future actions.
They need to back away from the trough of federal money and truly embrace smaller less costly government. In terms of entitlement and dependency, if we’re not at a tipping point, we’re very close. The critical nature of this upcoming election can’t be over emphasized.
If ObamaCare becomes law, we’re sunk. I believe it was Margaret Thatcher who said the reason she wasn’t able to accomplish as much as Ronald Reagan was because of the National Health Service.
Unfortunately, since Reagan’s time subsequent Republican administrations have helped build one here.
Most of us have known about it for decades:
A U.S. senator from Alabama directed more than $100 million in federal earmarks to renovate downtown Tuscaloosa near his own commercial office building. A congressman from Georgia secured $6.3 million in taxpayer funds to replenish the beach about 900 feet from his island vacation cottage. A representative from Michigan earmarked $486,000 to add a bike lane to a bridge within walking distance of her home.
Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation.
This is why earmarks need to go away for good.
Ask yourself how a person elected to office who essentially has nothing (in comparative terms) and ends up sleeping in his or her office to save rent somehow, after years in office, ends up going home worth millions.
It’s a common DC success story. And yet, no one seems to question it. It’s just quietly accepted as something that just happens apparently. It certainly isn’t a result of their salary, unless they are budget wizards and live on dust and water.
Most disturbing though is this:
Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.
Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.
Earmarks have long been controversial, with the focus on spending that unduly favors campaign donors or constituents. The Post’s review is the first systematic effort to examine the alignment of earmarks with lawmakers’ private interests.
Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget, and the numbers uncovered by The Post are relatively small in the scheme of the overall Congress, but the behavior by lawmakers from both parties points to a larger issue at a time when confidence in Capitol Hill is at an all-time low.
Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget – that’s true. But they are a perk that Congress has granted itself where lawmakers have the ability to loot the treasury in the name of their own interests (while using the façade of helping their district or state).
And it’s not the only perk. Insider trading for instance. President Obama brought it up in the SOTU address:
In response,the Senate last week passed legislation that would require lawmakers to disclose mortgages for their residences. The bill, known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, would also require lawmakers and executive branch officials to disclose securities trades of more than $1,000 every 30 days.
I have about as much hope for that happening as Congress moving to prevent the use of earmarks. At the same time the Senate introduced the insider trading legislation it defeated an amendment, 59-40, that would have permanently outlawed earmarks.
Read the whole article – it’s a litany of what is wrong with our system. It incentivizes behavior like this and, it leave the policing of that system to the very people who benefit from it.
It is the very definition of “dysfunctional”.