Free Markets, Free People
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.
Remember the hot air Obama has given regulatory reform?
In January 2010, he announced a government-wide review of federal regulations to restore "balance" by eliminating those "that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive." He emphasized that concept again in his 2011 State of the Union speech, referring to "rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses."
Of course that was all said to deflect a growing belief that his administration was anti-business. Politically, that was unacceptable. So, as usual, he said the appropriate things, things that would help sooth the business community and others who believed that about his administration.
Meanwhile, other than a few fairly insignificant regulations that may have been removed, his administration was piling on new regulations at an unprecedented rate. The Heritage Foundation has put it in a chart for simplicity’s sake:
Heritage issues this disclaimer:
Excessive regulation, of course, cannot be blamed on the White House alone. A great many of the rules and regulations imposed each year are mandated by Congress, and many others are made possible by intentionally ambiguous statutory language. Others are promulgated by so-called independent agencies not subject to White House control (although they are run by presidential appointees). Regardless of responsibility, the result is the same: more burdens for Americans and the U.S. economy.
A reminder for all that for the first two years when most of these regulations were passed into law, Obama enjoyed a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.
And, huge surprise here, even more regulation is in the pipeline:
The most recent Unified Agenda (also known as the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda)—a bi-annual compendium of planned regulatory actions as reported by agencies lists 2,576 rules (proposed and final) in the pipeline. The largest proportion—505 rulemakings—is from the Treasury Department, the SEC, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission—all tasked with issuing hundreds of rules under the massive Dodd–Frank statute. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for 174 others, while 133 are from the Department of Health and Human Services, reflecting, in part, the regulatory requirements of Obamacare.
Of the 2,576 pending rulemakings in the fall 2011 agenda, 133 are classified as “economically significant.” With each of these expected to cost at least $100 million annually, they represent a total additional burden of at least $13.3 billion every year.
So pardon me for giving whatever this President says a health eye roll of skepticism. He’s not serious about what he says when it comes to regulation and the actions that have taken place under this administration, strictly on the executive side of things, says he’s actually quite fine with increased regulation, regardless of the impact on business.
Bottom line: he remains as most have perceived him to be – anti-business. He continues to be at the head of an administration that does indeed “stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive” through over-regulation.
His deeds belie his words.
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.
And why when government tells you how you must spend your money a certain, the unintended consequences are usually terrible:
Look, this isn’t rocket science, and the business owner in this video explains very well what happens when government dictates how you will spend any profits you make. Take a moment and listen to what he has to say near the end of the vid especially. He talks hard numbers and why, if forced to do what the government dictates, it will cost future jobs.
One of the things I’ve always said throughout this health care debate is health insurance should be something someone buys outside of employment. If Congress would deregulate the industry to the point that buyers were able to shop across state lines for a competitive insurance policy to cover their family and be a part of a huge nation wide pool to boot, prices for insurance would come down.
What is being mandated here puts no pressure on insurance companies to be competitive but it does require companies who are presently unable to provide it to do so. That will have an impact in employment. Owners like the one featured here will figure the cost per employee and most likely reduce the employee pool at a point where he thinks he can manage the mandate and still make a profit.
Of course he most likely won’t make the profit he was and so more restaurants won’t be built and more people won’t be hired.
The solution for lower cost health insurance does not lie in more government control or mandates. It is to be found in a real market that allows buyers the leverage they need to force health care insurance providers to field a competitive product. Until that happens, none of the solutions tendered through ObamaCare will increase coverage and decrease cost. It is an absolute impossibility the way that law is structured.
With much fanfare, President Obama announced an executive order which directs a regulatory review that ostensibly will remove conflicting, unnecessary and onerous regulations, streamline the reporting process by moving much of it online and further, get rid of regulations that aren’t needed and are impeding business from hiring.
That’s the official line, or should I say, ‘spin’. However, as Conn Carroll points out over at the Heritage Foundation, some context should be given this airy promise. And when put in perspective, it again points to an administration on the one hand saying one thing and on the other doing exactly the opposite.
In fiscal year 2010, the first full fiscal year under the Obama Administration, the federal government issued 43 major new regulations. According to the Administration’s own estimates, the total cost of these rules was $28 billion. Only two of the new rules reduced measured regulatory costs, and then by only $1.5 billion. On net, the Obama Administration inflicted $26.5 billion in new regulatory costs on the economy last year, an all-time record. This was on top of the $1.75 trillion in existing regulatory costs already inflicted on the U.S. economy by the federal government.
The 2,319-page financial regulation bill requires 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies. The 2,700-page Obamacare bill contains more than 1,000 instances where Congress instructed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to regulate the health care industry. And, in the ultimate example of power-hungry federal regulators providing “solutions” where no problem currently exists, for the first time in the history of the Internet, the federal government will begin to regulate service providers with “net neutrality” regulations.
Message? Take this Obama promise with a grain of salt. It’s more posturing than reality. Don’t believe me? Well the devil’s in the details isn’t it?
Analysis of the EO Obama signed says nothing real will be happening, and if it does, it won’t be soon. And then there are the exemptions:
First of all, the President’s executive order doesn’t actually require federal agencies to identify harmful regulations during the next 120 days. It merely requires that they submit a “preliminary plan” for reviewing regulations sometime in the future. This is not an order to reduce a single regulation. It is an order to plan to plan to maybe someday reduce regulations! Second, the order exempts “independent” agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Finally, even if an existing rule is found that stifles job creation, it will take years to actually repeal it. Kauffman Foundation Vice President Robert Litan tells The New York Times: “It’s more of a talking point than a policy. Even if you find a rule you don’t like, and they probably will, then they’re going to have to go through rule-making and then it’s going to take a year or two or longer.”
Triangulation has begun in earnest. The move to the center is on. This, like many of the administration’s programs, sounds great, but in reality it is all smoke and mirrors. There is no real plan to identify and kill harmful regulations, there is no plan to reduce them and some of the worst offenders of onerous and intrusive regulation are exempt.
All in a day’s work for the political propaganda machine that is the White House. We’re now in “whatever It takes to win in 2012” whether or not it is real or even desirable, it will be promised in some form or another (just words) to make the current occupant of said White House seem more centrist and appealing.
Fool me once, shame on you …
Discussing the START treaty that right now is being considered by the Senate, the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll reminds us and the Senators considering the treaty of some objective reality:
Senators should keep in mind this Administration’s hostility toward missile defense to begin with. Within months of assuming office, the Obama Administration announced a $1.4 billion cut to missile defense. The successful Airborne Laser boost-phase program was cut, the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor was terminated, and the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California were canceled. Adding insult to injury, President Obama then installed long-time anti-missile defense crusader Phillip Coyle as Associate Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology … by recess appointment. That’s right—this President not only appointed the “high priest” of missile defense denialism as his top adviser on missile defense, but he did so in a way to purposefully avoid Senate consultation on the matter. This is the President some Senate conservatives want to trust? On missile defense? Really?
One way to make nuclear weapons obsolete or less desirable is to make them undeliverable. That’s the purpose of the missile defense technology we’ve been developing over the years. Then, when you negotiate a treaty like START you negotiate from a position of strength.
Instead, we’ve seen a unilateral decision to throw missile defense under the bus, even while rogue nations like Iran and North Korea develop bigger and more powerful missiles every year. Not to mention the fact that both countries are supplying the technology to others and, according to news reports, providing missiles to proxies and planning on basing missiles in Venezuela.
The cuts to these programs is short-sighted and ignores a very real and growing problem. The Airborne Laser boost-phase program, for instance, has successfully intercepted ICBMs in the boost phase in tests and is able to quickly kill and engage multiple targets as they boost out toward their targets (a time when the missiles are at their most vulnerable). It is the first layer in a multilayered missile killing system which would provide this country and its allies a virtually impenetrable shield against rocket launched nuclear weapons.
Instead, we have an administration going around killing off the systems that will protect us all the while telling us that START will do the job and we should just trust the Russians (and Iranians and North Koreans one supposes).
The easiest way for a nuclear weapon to be delivered successfully is via an ICBM. Killing off our successful and front-line missile killers like the Airborne Laser boost-phase program is short sighted and dangerous. If President Obama wants START, make him negotiate. Reinstate the anti-missile programs. Then, the next time he or anyone else (hopefully) negotiates a like treaty, it will be from a position of strength that essentially renders rocket delivered nukes obsolete. That would be a nice change from the obvious unilateral disarmament we’ve seen in the anti- missile shield area and a subsequent negotiating position of weakness.
That’s what our president should be doing, instead of giving away the farm for a piece of paper. I wonder if the new START promises “peace in our time”?
Of course, they can’t fix it except by drastically cutting spending or drastically raising taxes, or both – so this is not something that will be “fixed”. They run the program completely, determine the benefits and the rates they’ll pay and they blame private insurance for the growing cost problems in health care? Yeah, let’s give them the rest since they’ve done so well with this portion of it.
As Congress members slink back into Washington DC to get trauma treatment for their townhall wounds, a new Rasmussen poll indicates cap-and-trade legislation isn’t much more popular than health
care insurance reform.
The survey of 1,000 adults showed 35 percent of Americans favor the climate change bill, while 40 percent oppose it.
Nearly one adult in four — 24 percent — are not sure whether passage of the bill is a good idea — findings which reflect virtually the same results as in late June.
While that may not seem overwhelming, it changes dramatically when the question of cost to the person being polled is brought up:
On economic impact of the legislation, 56 percent said they are unwilling to pay more in taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming, the same number who expressed that opinion in June.
Another poll mirrored the results. Of those polled in a Washington Post/ABC poll 52% supported cap-and-trade legislation, until cost was introduced into the questioning:
When asked if a cap and trade program “significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly electrical bill by 25 dollars a month” – then only 39 percent support cap and trade while 59 percent oppose it.
The Heritage Foundation modeled the current pending legislation and found that on average it would increase electricity prices by $32.67 a month. But that’s just part of it:
But that’s just one small chapter in the book on how an average family of four’s pocketbook would be hit. Cap and trade is a massive tax on energy across the board – so your electricity bills will rise and so will everything else – gasoline, natural gas, and home heating oil. Add it up and the family of four energy expenditures increase on average by $69 per month from 2012-2035. Because the carbon caps become more stringent in subsequent years, the costs are highest in 2035 at $103 per month in the form of direct higher energy prices.
And we’re still not done – also added into the mix are the indirect costs these price increases will bring:
The energy tax also hits producers. As the higher production costs ripple through the economy, the household pocketbooks get hit again and again when producers pass costs onto the consumers. If you look at the total energy tax from Waxman-Markey, it works out to an average of $2,979 annually from 2012-2035 for a household of four. By 2035 alone, the total cost is over $4,600.
Now that $32.65 a month for the family of four has grown to $248.25 brought on solely by the imposition of cap-and-trade. Add to that the cost of the proposed health
care insurance reform, the bailouts, the unstimulating “stimulus” and the pork laden emergency spending bill, plus a 10 year budget that puts us 9 trillion further in debt and you can begin to understand why the American people are angry and the clueless Congress and administration are seeking trauma care.
Like one woman said at one of the townhall meetings, echoing Adm. Yamamoto’s WWII quote, “I think you’ve awakened a sleeping giant”.
I certainly hope so. And if so, hopefully cap-and-trade will go the way of the Dodo bird, and become an extinct idea. Cap-and-trade is based on dubious and unsubstantiated science and it is obviously detrimental to the economic health of this nation. It should be abandoned immediately.
Does it bother you that a president who is out pushing like hell to pass a bill that will fundamentally change the way we receive health care, and apparently most now believe that change will be negative, apparently isn’t familiar with what he’s pushing?
With the public’s trust in his handling of health care tanking (50%-44% of Americans disapprove), the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to pass Obamacare: all Obama, all the time. As part of that effort, Obama hosted a conference call with leftist bloggers urging them to pressure Congress to pass his health plan as soon as possible.
During the call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: “Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?” President Obama replied: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.”
It’s only a question that’s been in the news for a week after it was raised in an Investors Business Daily editorial. That’s the entire reason the blogger brought it up. Salesmanship 101 – know your product. He’s been so busy flapping his jaws about how we have to pass this now that he hasn’t even taken the time to understand what “this” is.
IBD said the provision would, in effect, outlaw private insurance.
The Heritage Foundation did a little digging into this provision to figure out the real impact it will have. Here’s what they have to say:
[T]he House bill does not outright outlaw private individual health insurance, but it does effectively regulate it out of existence. The House bill does allow private insurance to be sold, but only “Exchange-participating health benefits plans.” In order to qualify as an “Exchange-participating health benefits plan,” all health insurance plans must conform to a slew of new regulations, including community rating and guaranteed issue. These will all send the cost of private individual health insurance skyrocketing. Furthermore, all these new regulations would not apply just to individual insurance plans, but to all insurance plans. So the House bill will also drive up the cost of your existing employer coverage as well. Until, of course, it becomes so expensive that your company makes the perfectly economical decision to dump you into the government plan.
President Obama may not care to study how many people will lose their current health insurance if his plan becomes law, but like most Americans, we do. That is why we partnered with the Lewin Group to study how many Americans would be forced into the government “option” under the House health plan. Here is what we found:
* Approximately 103 million people would be covered under the new public plan and, as a consequence, about 83.4 million people would lose their private insurance. This would represent a 48.4 percent reduction in the number of people with private coverage.
* About 88.1 million workers would see their current private, employer-sponsored health plan go away and would be shifted to the public plan.
* Yearly premiums for the typical American with private coverage could go up by as much as $460 per privately-insured person, as a result of increased cost-shifting stemming from a public plan modeled on Medicare.
So it ends up not killing the private insurance business outright with a bullet through the brain, but instead, by slow strangulation. Same effect, but it will just take much longer. Legislate rules and requirements which will up the cost of private insurance to the point that the economic incentive is to dump it in favor of the cheaper public option.
Like your plan? Like your doctor?
But the man who promised you could keep both couldn’t be bothered to become “familiar” with this particular “provision”.
For new readers the title is that for which the shortened “QandO” stands. This is the second in a series of questions and observations.
- In the “you can’t make this up” department, China will block the sale of Hummer for “environmental concerns”. I guess that’s their nod to the rest of the world after flatly refusing cut CO2 emissions in the future.
- Ezra Klein is suddenly for smaller government, specifically the elimination of the Agriculture Committee. Of course the only reason he’d like to see it given the deep 6 is because it has, in Klein’s opinion, badly weakened cap-and-trade by extracting “a truly mind-boggling array of tax breaks, exemptions, and straight subsidies”. I guess Klein would like to temporarily make government smaller to make it larger.
- Yes, Michael Jackson is dead – but for heaven sake, do we have to devote every minute of the news day to running “Thriller” vid and spreading rumors about the possible cause of his death? Is this what “news” organizations have become?
- Apparently we’re still stalking the North Korean ship enroute to either Singapore or Burma. For those who are waiting for us to confront it and board it, that’s not going to happen. The “tough” UN resolution only provides for boarding if the North Koreans agree. And, while we can demand that they then go to the nearest port for inspection, the North Koreans can refuse that as well. The plan, it seems, is to convince the refueling port the NoKos pull into to refuse to refuel the ship. Then, when the NoKo ship runs out of fuel, put it under tow and then inspect it. As I understand it – they can then inspect it legitimately. Amazing.
- Waxman-Markey, aka cap-and-trade, survived an earlier test vote that moved the bill to the floor for a 5pm vote. As I recall the margin was 5 votes. It is a job destroyer in the middle of a recession. The Center for Data Analysis of the Heritage Foundation figures it will cost 50,000 jobs in the transportation equipment sector alone. Their data for other sectors is available here.
- House liberals have staked out a bit of ground on the health care bill saying they will not vote for it if it doesn’t include a public option – period. That is actually good news as the public option does seem to be in trouble. Any bill showing up without it will most likely not get the 80 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to vote for it. Add in the Republicans and the Blue Dogs, and it may be in very serious trouble without just the sticker shock of 1 to 3 trillion dollars of cost.
- Mark Sanford? He should resign. The affair is between he and his family. He should resign because he was derelict in his duty and he misappropriated government funds to pay for his trip to Argentina. Kinda like Bill Clinton should have resigned, not for the affair, but for lying under oath to a grand jury and attempting to obstruct justice.