Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

John Boehner’s Dog and Pony Show

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

On Friday, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives continued its wholly political, and ultimately theatrical investigation of the IRS Tea Party-targeting scandal.  Chairman Dave Camp’s(R-MI) committee brought current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen before the committee to testify as to the loss of Lois Lerner’s emails, among other misdeeds.  You may argue that Paul Ryan(R-WI) was very aggressive in his examination of the witness, but that entire exchange was mere political theater that will evince nothing at the end of the investigation.  Had the Republicans in Congress the first inclination to get to the bottom of this scandal, they would begin by taking the following series of steps:

  1.  Bring before the committee the entire IT staff that supports the IRS, particularly its executives.
  2. Audit the purchase records and replacement schedule of equipment used to support Lois Lerner’s computer usage. Congress should want to know how old her computer had been when the hard disk “died.”
  3. Require IT staff managers to testify as to the method of email archiving, email storage, email backups, and the entire email system used by the IRS.
  4. Seek a federal court order requiring the production of all existing equipment that is currently, or has ever been in use by the IRS in storing email,over the period of the last six years, including particularly SAN devices and servers.
  5. Seek a federal court order requiring the immediate production of all backup media on which IRS files and email may have been copied.
  6. Form a select committee with broad investigatory powers to pursue the entirety of this affair, particularly with an eye toward fraud, destruction of government records and data, as well as political influences brought to bear on the IRS from any branch of government or outside interest groups.
  7. Bring in experts to audit access records for servers and storage devices to discover when anybody interacted with the equipment in question. These devices and servers maintain extensive logs of the commands issued from administrators. Knowing who did what will be a key to cracking this case. The government may well have logging servers to which all events are reported.

For those of you who are less than technically inclined, I will be glad to explain to you why this whole “lost hard drive” claim is a dodge, and for those who may have less than a strong understanding of the politics, I’ll be glad to explain to you how I know the Republicans are playing a game for show, but do not want the truth to come out.

As an information systems professional, who works with storage systems, backup systems, networks, servers, and workstations every day, and who works with the applications and databases which is the purpose of all of that lovely, grotesquely expensive equipment, let me tell you a few things you won’t read in the media.  You might even take a moment to learn a bit more about your own computer.

First, the email system the IRS uses is almost certainly an IMAP or MAPI variant.  This means that on the most basic level, emails are not stored on the client, except as a temporarily cached copy.  Deleting it may cause the email to appear deleted for that user, but the mail archiving functionality will maintain a copy for a period as prescribed by policy, usually determined in applicable statutes and regulations. Most corporate and government environments will not even permit users to store mail in local folders(email folders solely on your local computer) unless they are first archived in the email archiving system, which is generally part of the same overall system. Nevertheless, examining the event viewer in Windows will offer some insight into what may or may not have been done on a given workstation or server. Linux and other operating systems have similar logging facilities.  (If you have Windows, you can get an idea by going to your Control Panel, then to Administrative Tools, and Event Viewer. You will be surprised what you can learn about your computer’s routine operations.)

In the second place, the number of servers used for an email system to support an organization the size of the IRS must be quite large.  It undoubtedly consists of multiple servers, at multiple server farms, in a redundant scheme of some sort intended to prevent the loss of data.  You, the taxpayer, has spent billions upon billions since the advent of email to provide these facilities for our federal bureaucracy.

Third, since email storage in such an environment is bound to be monumental in scale, there are undoubtedly many storage blades of some form, probably Storage Area Networks(SANs) to handle the storage needs of the mail system servers.  These are also geographically dispersed for reasons of data security, and what you should know about these technologies is that if your Storage Administrators are doing their jobs, there is virtually no credible fashion in which data of this sort could be lost simply because somebody’s office computer’s hard disk died.

To put it in context, consider one of the leading manufacturer’s systems.  Called an ISE2, it’s made by X-IO and it can contain two datapacs that contain what are essentially a stack of hard disks that are effectively “self-healing,” and in common usage, contain more than fourteen terabytes of data in each datapac.  By design, such a device already creates a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks(RAID) by virtue of its design, permitting the administrator to choose either RAID 1(mirroring) or RAID 5(a form of quasi-mirroring).  The way these devices are used is to create storage volumes in the datapacs and attach those volumes to servers.  They can be swapped in and out, and they can be mirrored as individual entities across other devices.  The servers in question see these volumes as hard-drives, and in effect, they function in precisely that manner.    I would be stunned to find that the US Federal government is not using such an arrangement, whomever the vendor, and there are many.  Chances are high that wherever the server farm is that operates the IRS email system, there are likely to be many SAN units, or other storage containers that have similar functionality.

Putting of all of this into simplest terms, the series of failures that would be required to disappear Lois Lerner’s emails, along with those of six other IRS executives, is an astonishing string of virtual impossibilities and displays of incompetence and malfeasance that should result in the ouster of every IT manager supporting the IRS.  It’s not that I don’t believe there are incompetents working in government, or that I don’t believe there are some slothful folk administering systems for the IRS, but that the totality of this loss of data represents a complete failure at virtually every level and every step of the organization.  Even in a clunky, bureaucratic, top-heavy organization like the IRS, there are still some competent people who keep it working despite all the obstacles placed in their way. The manner in which their storage systems and server farms are designed tends to preclude the chance that something so seemingly innocuous as the loss of one person’s email(or seven) is even a remote possibility.

Knowing how such systems work, and knowing that the government spends more money on the core computing technology than any entity on the planet, their claim to have lost the email due to a hard drive failure on a client machine is an absolute farce.  To claim even that no data was recoverable on that hard drive is pretty hard to believe too, since I’ve seen data recovered from hard disks that have been in computers essentially destroyed by fires.  In fact, given the nature of the data I have handled over the course of my computing career, it is common that when a computer reaches the end of its service life, organizations resell the computers but strip the hard drives out of them for mechanical destruction so that no data may be recovered from them. (In many cases, this involves drilling holes through the platters, using a cutting torch, or other methodology designed to destroy the actual storage media in the drive, which is generally very hard metal platters.)

All of that doesn’t matter in the least, however, as the servers and archive servers and storage devices in the systems are apt to have contained one or more(probably many more) copies of the target emails. Then there are backup tapes or other backup devices. No, ladies and gentlemen, if the administration’s hacks like Mr. Koskinen come forward to tell you in smug tones that the data was irretrievably lost, they are lying.  It may have been irretrievably destroyed, but that would require a conspiracy because no one computer technician could possibly have access to all the relevant systems in an organization so large.

The technician who was responsible for maintaining and repairing Lois Lerner’s computer is not the same technician who administers the email system.  That administrator is not the same person who operates and maintains the bulk data storage containers, nor is that the same person who operates all backups and certainly not the same person who maintains and administers the network on which all of this computing takes place.  It’s not plausible in an organization the size of the IRS.  In many cases, data is duplicated and moved off-site for disaster recovery purposes.  No, if this data is unrecoverable, it is because it was ordered to be placed in that state.  Knowing this, and knowing what would be entailed in literally destroying any trace of these emails, I can only conclude that this administration is lying, and is an active participant in a criminal conspiracy and cover-up of crimes that would tend to place Lerner and her superiors in jeopardy of long jail terms, and this president in the direct path of impeachment proceedings.

At the beginning of this article, I explained to you that I believed that the claim about the emails being “lost” is nonsense, and a lie.  I hope I’ve managed to illuminate a few of the reasons why you should not believe such claims, but I also contended that you should not believe that the Republicans are very serious about uncovering the truth, despite their harrumphing to the contrary.   You see, if the Republicans in Congress were serious about all of this, they would issue subpoenas to the entire IT staff.  They would drag them in, one at a time, starting at the top, and working their way down to the lowest technician.  They would have questions, specific technical questions, prepared for them by people like me, or actually those rare birds who designed such systems, and they would begin the grilling.  Under oath.  Somebody would crack.  A lie of this sort cannot be hidden if there is a consistent and tireless effort to uncover it.

The problem may be that to uncover Lois Lerner’s email would reveal something no Representative in that committee hearing room wants you to know:  Lerner may have been receiving emails from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill urging audits and investigations into Tea Party groups.  The IRS was used in this instance to quell a peaceful, political uprising by making the formation of a group so painful and problematic as to frustrate into capitulation all but the most insistent and persistent persons.  The Republicans tried first to co-opt the Tea Party phenomenon, making it their own, but when they found they were unable to control the myriad of organizations springing to life around the country, their next motive was to destroy it because they posed a serious challenge to the orthodoxy of establishment power in Washington DC.  Most Republicans in Washington DC want the Tea Party buried, some of them more fervently even than the Democrats.

If the Republicans in the House cannot muster a select committee to look into this and other matters of extreme government corruption, it is only because they do no want the truth discovered.  If they will not bring an endless string of witnesses to testify as to their role in the email “losses” and the system design of the email and data facilities of the IRS, then they don’t want an answer.  Paul Ryan and others can put on one Hell of a show in the committee room, but the truth is that saying “I don’t believe you” in an exchange with an IRS commissioner isn’t going to turn over many stones.  If you want the truth, you bring in the subject matter experts and responsible parties, and you grill them and continue to remind them of their oaths.  At some point, some junior flunky intern who was told to ditch a hard disk in the Potomac is going to squeal, because he doesn’t want to go to prison.  Then you bring back the person who gave him that order, and then the person who issued that order from higher on the food chain.   Work your way down to get them on the record, until somebody cracks, and then work your way back up, exposing lies until the scheme is revealed in full.

If the Congress won’t do this, they’re not serious about the matter.  It suggests strongly that they don’t want the truth revealed any more than the administration.  There are plenty of smart people on Capitol Hill, and they have plenty of contacts who understand such systems and could provide technical advice both in the formation of questions and in the manner by which to challenge the credibility of the answers.  Those behind this atrocious abuse of government power must be held accountable and jailed for their crimes.  Make no mistake about it: Grievous crimes were committed both as a part of the targeting, as well as during this extended cover-up.  If the Republicans now fail to uncover those crimes and see this investigatory process through to a just ending, you can be sure that they hadn’t wanted the truth to be discovered, because their fingerprints are all over this too.

 

 

 

Would Gang of Tr8ors Support Tax-Payer Amnesty?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Let’s Ditch All of This

For those who insist upon the rule of law, and who therefore find it abominable that any legislator would support a program of amnesty, it’s impossible to understand how they don’t see the real danger of their immigration proposals.  If those who have violated our laws will not be held accountable, forced to leave the country, to be placed in a position at the end of the line, behind all those who have followed the law, why would any person follow the law from the moment some sort of amnesty is enacted?  Since legislators are generally a thick-skulled, treacherous, intransigent lot, I thought it would be better to place this in terms they might understand somewhat more readily.  Among the things representatives, senators and presidents love best is to spend tax-payers’ money.  We have every conceivable evidence to demonstrate this is true, to the outlandish extent that they are willing to spend money they first must ask the Federal Reserve to lend into existence.  Their willingness to borrow notwithstanding, I wonder what would happen if some crafty Senator like Ted Cruz(R-TX)(ahem, hint, hint) were to introduce a bill that would provide for a blanket tax-payer amnesty on an indefinite basis, much like has been passed in the Senate for illegals under the Gang-of-Tr8ors Senate Amnesty bill.

How hard could it be, after all?  If giving away a pathway to citizenship to scofflaws is expected to ultimately attract some forty-five million new voters, just imagine how many voters our politicians could attract with this plan, and without any worries about messy citizenship paperwork.  Of course, you needn’t concern yourselves with the fact that every person in the country would thereafter decide to stop paying their taxes, because we all know how thoroughly serious a matter it is to elected Democrats and Republicans alike to ensure they send the money they owe to Uncle Sam.  Think of the cost-savings!

If you think it sounds a bit far-fetched, it’s only because you know politicians would never offer to you, their citizen captives, what they will offer to the new class of wage-slaves they hope to import.  Still, I believe this is an important point of order to be raised among the intelligentsia in Washington DC:  If amnesty is good for the goose, should it not be likewise good for the gander?  I’m not talking about some petty amnesty that will let tax-payers walk on a portion of their bill, one time, for all time.  I am describing here an amnesty that would apply across the board to all tax-payers, each and every time they owe taxes, and for the full amount.  Why not?  Will legislators insist that this is impossible, in part because it will encourage lawlessness, driving tax receipts for the Treasury inexorably downward?  Pish-posh, that’s not going to happen, because we have as an example the Senate’s Gang-of-Tr8ors bill that they assure us will have no such effect on the subject of immigration.

Do they want safeguards?  Perhaps we should offer such safeguards as they’ve delivered in their Gang-of-Tr8ors bill.  On the second Tuesday of next week, we will promise to pay our full tax bills in exchange for amnesty now.  We can authorize an “electronic fence” around the US treasury that will be funded by all the new tax-payers this amnesty will provide, right Senator Scrubio(RINO-FL)?  I think we could provide assurances to the members of the House and Senate that such an amnesty would never create an empty Treasury, and that legalized anarchy in revenue would not prevail.  Indeed, in order to cut government costs of administration, we should hire 10,000 additional IRS bureaucrats to assist with the amnesty.  It seems they need more staff, being tied-up as they are with all of those audits of Tea Party and Conservative groups.

Wouldn’t it create vast new economic growth?  Imagine all the new economic activity born of such an amnesty!  Except for the part that we would be assuring the Congress that tax-bills would naturally continue to be paid on time, and in the full amounts owed, [wink-wink,] we know that the tax-payers who were granted amnesty under such a plan would plow the money into new business endeavors, hire more of those illegal aliens who won’t be illegal any longer, and otherwise create an economic boom!  Just imagine: We will have permanently eliminated all tax-cheating!

This all seems too sweet for politicians to pass-up, but I suspect that they’re a bit more realistic about dollars and cents than they are about handing out citizenship, work visas, and “green cards.”  It is for precisely the reasons that such a plan is unworkable with taxation and revenue that it is equally preposterous in the field of immigration and border security: Having destroyed all legal barriers, there is no longer any reason to comply with the law, and not a single soul with the minimal sense nature gave to a starfish will be inclined to comply.  Why comply when non-compliance carries no penalties and no downside?

I think some enterprising Representative ought to raise this as an amendment to any House bill, (which should be roundly defeated in any case, even absent such provisions,) because I would simply like to see the look on some dim-witted representative’s face, perhaps the budget committee chairman’s, as he tries to explain why amnesty would be great for illegal aliens but horrible for the US tax-payer.  I would like to see any of these people justify this in virtually any other context.  Sadly, they will avoid this question like the plague, but you should not.  Ask them:

“Senator Maverick McLame, can we get some of that blanket amnesty for tax-payers?”

In the House:

“Chairman Ryan, wouldn’t your argument about economic growth apply even more thoroughly to tax-payer amnesty?”

Rubio, in the corridor:

“Senator [SC]Rubio, is it true that you said “tax-payer amnesty” isn’t simply code for “tax-cuts?”

In a hurry to get to a “We like Weiner Anthony” rally, Schmuckie Schumer(Dementocrat-NY)  is caught on the run:

“Senator Schmuckie, does the proposed tax-payer amnesty bill steam your Weiner?”

They’ll be in a hurry to get somewhere, so talk fast. I guarantee they will.

What Your GOP Has Done to America Again

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Guess who will pay!

I knew the outcome before it had been announced.  There would be no way in which McConnell would do anything differently from what he did in 2011.  The sell-out Republicans in the Senate, excepting a few token “resistors” have voted with the Democrats to raise taxes and cut spending by a ratio of 41:1.  That’s right, they’re going to cut one dollar in spending for every forty-one dollars they’ve raised in taxes.  If you are an entrepreneur, just forget about making any money.  If you’ve scrimped and saved in order to make your lot in life a little better, forget about it.  If you’re a welfare moocher, the gravy train will continue. What this means is simple enough to understand: Your Republican party has succeeded in throwing your hard work, your efforts for prosperity, and your tireless struggles on the funeral pyre of America.  These Republicans are helping Obama in his goal to kill jobs, kill wealth, and ultimately, to kill the country.  Now the action returns to the House, where John Boehner will push his members to Obama’s bidding.  Once again, your Grand Old Party has abandoned you, but what we must now consider is when mere political treachery traverses the boundaries of treason.

Do you want a job?  Do you want a better job?  Sorry.  You want sanity in government spending?  Balanced budgets?  What budget?  Budgets are so antiquated.  Why should politicians be restrained by budgeting, never mind balancing them?  In truth, our problem is that we have no opposition party.  The concept of loyal opposition isn’t even relevant.  There simply is no opposition.  We are being ruled by a gang of thugs, and the only split between Republicans and Democrats is in the matter of how much they will pinch us.  It’s more like rival factions of gangsters, all under the same mob bosses, with only the matter of which particular gang will rule the day remaining in question.  Boehner’s arm-twisting tactics will be employed to bring the few remaining actual conservatives into line, and those who opt to oppose him will find their posts on various committees stripped from them.  Even now, as The Hill reports, Boehner is busily crafting a voting majority comprised in part of his “100 loyal soldiers” (Loyal to him, but not to the constitution,) and a number of Democrats who will together shove this legislation down our throats.

Back in early December, I warned about the coming betrayals of Boehner and his band of sell-outs, and I urged that we rid the Congress of this fifth-column wart on the face of the party.  Now you will have it, and your lives and the lives of your children will suffer for it.  It wasn’t hard to predict, as past is prologue in Washington DC.  In 2011, when Boehner walked conservatives off the plank, and when so many conservatives were scratching their heads in disbelief at the utter weakness being projected by Republican leadership in the House, I told you that these people were not working for us.  At the time, I was mocked, and there were those who scoffed at my assessments, but by now, the matter should be clear.  If you’re waiting for the Republican Party to rescue you, or to stand in the name of the dying republic, you will be disappointed repeatedly.

Why do they not fight?  The answer is simple:  Some of them are in league with the statists, adopting their principles, and some are merely cowards who wish to retain power.  These people will disappear when the country collapses, to the bunkers for which you have paid, with the provisions for which you have been taxed, secured by guards you have funded, with weaponry to which you will not have access as the mobs ravage the countryside.  They will be safe.  Their money or wealth will be shielded.  All of the “fiscal cliff” theater is simply one more diversion.  The consequences of the so-called “fiscal cliff” were not so severe as pretended, but the debt cliff over which we will now almost certainly plummet shall constitute the real undoing of America.

Happy New Year America!  John Boehner hates you.  Nancy Pelosi dismisses you. Mitch McConnell despises you.  Harry Reid spits on you.  How do you know the difference between Republican and Democrat?  By their beliefs?  As expressed through their actions and their votes?  Tell me once more: What is the difference?  The Club for Growth is warning the GOP not to make this deal, but do you think Boehner and the boys will listen?  No. It’s time to embrace reality, and to see for once and for all that there can be no salvation through the Republican party.  The GOP is not interested in saving the country, but only themselves.

And you will pay for it all…

Romney’s Tax Returns Revisited

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

How Credible?

Let me begin by saying that the veracity of the people involved in “reporting” this story is suspect, and as a consequence, I am bringing the story to you on the assumption that it is probably garbage. Nevertheless, if it should turn out to have some basis in fact, it would be an electoral disaster for the GOP if disclosed in late October, for instance, and having encountered it, I would be remiss if I failed to at least mention it.  Catherine Crier, who I don’t see as a particularly credible source, was on the race-baiting moron’s show(Al Sharpton) on MSNBC.  She admitted it was sheer speculation, but I bring it to your attention precisely because this is the sort of thing about which many conservatives have worried with respect to Mitt Romney’s candidacy.  We’ve been told he’s “squeaky clean,” and that may well be the case, but the Democrats are driving at this Tax Return disclosure business relentlessly.  Crier suggests that Mitt Romney might have been one of those who took amnesty in order to stay out of legal jeopardy back in 2009, when Barack Obama put the IRS on the trail of Americans with undisclosed Swiss bank accounts.

What I found peculiar at the time was the focus on a single banking entity.  When the government does something of that sort, they’ve either been tipped-off, or they have a specific target in mind.  Of course, we are talking about Catherine Crier, appearing as a guest on Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton’s show on MSNBC, which is to say that it isn’t exactly iron-clad, and Crier in no way offered a source, but the theory was advanced on Slate on Tuesday and over at the ludicrous HuffingtonPost as well. HuffPo is continuing its coverage as I write this.

Here’s video of Crier on Sharpton’s circus(H/T Mediaite):


Let us imagine for a moment that all of this were true.  What would it mean to the elections?  If disclosed now, I don’t see how Romney would avoid withdrawing from the campaign.  If disclosed post-convention, this would simply cause the end of the GOP’s hopes of capturing the Presidency in 2012, and would almost certainly ruin the down-ballot prospects of retaking the Senate or strengthening in the House, with Romney going down to flaming defeat.  If disclosed after a Romney victory, it would dog him throughout his Presidency, and the Democrats would spend the entirety of his term agitating for his impeachment.  Of course, Democrats would do that in any case, but there’s no sense giving them ammunition.

As is clear, conservatives should view this allegation with the appropriate skepticism.  The source of the information is far too unreliable to be taken all that seriously, never mind at face value.  Still, it should be a concern, and it is one of the reasons that early in the primary season, I was pushing for the disclosure of Romney’s tax returns.  He ultimately provided two years, being the 2011 and 2010 returns.  The return that would reveal whether he had been one of those accepting an amnesty deal from the IRS would have been from 2009, so we do not know with certainty.

We also know the Democrats want ammunition to use against Romney, and that in part, this demand for more years of tax returns is primarily a fishing expedition, and an attempt to get him to disclose that which might hurt him.  He doesn’t need to have done anything illegal, but simply something Democrats can paint as morally questionable or hypocritical.   That would be enough to severely damage the Romney campaign.  That said, I wouldn’t be inclined to comply with the Democrats’ demands for additional disclosures, particularly if I hadn’t anything to do with the allegations Crier tried to imply.  Here is the problem, however, and it is the only nugget in all of this that would suggest there could be some actual smoke, if not fire:  Back in January, when Romney disclosed his 2010 return, it included a disclosure of a Swiss bank account.  That account was indeed with UBS, the bank that had been examined and bullied by the IRS into disclosing some 4,400 American customers. BusinessInsider is now carrying the story, and they’re pushing it further still.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why I urged the release of Romney’s returns following his father’s example, way back in January.  If there is any connection here, Romney might well be able to conceal it a while, but I would fully expect this to become Obama’s “October surprise,” his last hole-card.  Even if it were true, Romney wouldn’t have violated any laws, because he would have accepted the amnesty to avoid legal consequences, but I must also say that if he actually has this problem, and if Obama’s campaign leaks it to the press in the closing days of the campaign, Mitt Romney will not be elected.  There will be no time to spin it, soften it, or clear up the fact that he had ultimately complied with the law.  Instead, it would be a 24×7, non-stop “Breaking: Romney is a Crook,” with the media fairly jeering on Obama’s behalf, and the Obama administration would have its second term.

This explains why the Democrats are on this fishing expedition, but then again, if it is true, the Obama campaign already has that information, and is sitting on it for the big ambush in late October.  I can understand why Governor Romney wouldn’t want to disclose his tax returns, even if he had done absolutely nothing wrong, but the problem here is that if it were true, and if such a disclosure were to occur late in the campaign, we would have no viable horse for this race, and we will see Obama destroying the country another four years.  Of course, Governor Romney doesn’t need to release his entire 2009 tax return. In my view, if he wants to answer any question, this would be it: “Did you accept amnesty under the 2009 Voluntary Disclosure Program?”  Naturally, even if he answers “no,” there are those who will play up the “denial,” but here’s the other problem:  Given the sorely lacking credibility of the sources in this story, and on the highly dubious proposition that Romney does has some “splainin’ to do” with respect to this so-far unfounded accusation, should Obama catch him out in late October, the Republican Party will burn, and I will be among those wielding torches.

When you consider all of this, you might wonder why I’d report it at all, but my reasoning is simple:  The Republican Party has exhibited a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and with all that is at stake in this election, I’m now accustomed to being disappointed by the GOP establishment.  With all of my friends who have swallowed their pride and grudgingly gone along with Romney for the sake of defeating Obama, if Mitt blows it now over something like this, there will be literal Hell to pay.  I am in no way willing to take the word of this collection of leftist ghouls for anything, but ladies and gentlemen, trust Mitt Romney if you please, but I’ll be keeping an eye on this.  I fully recognize the Obama campaign’s desire to trap Romney with this, but I also know that if there’s anything to it, I don’t want my readers to be blind-sided in October.  If Romney can refute this, he should, because while it would never alleviate the clamor in the press, it would at least put at ease the minds of those he expects to support him in November.

 

Can Romney Win on Fears Over Higher Taxes?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Do Enough Voters Care?

I’ve heard it said in a number of places, by countless commentators, so much so that I think it’s become part of the script.  It goes along with those who tell us that the Roberts treason has a silver lining, because it makes plain that Obama is imposing new taxes all over the place.  This, along with the economy, is said to be the reason Mitt Romney can win.  I have given this a bit of thought, because it’s been conventional wisdom for so long that most now accept it as something of a truism.  Mitt Romney, they say, now has the biggest tax increases in history against which to run, a veritable “taxmageddon,” they’re calling it, scheduled to being hammering tax-payers in 2013.  The so-called Bush tax-cuts will expire, and of course, all of the new Obama-care “taxes” will begin to phase in.  The problem most Republicans seem not to have noticed, and the reason Romney is in far worse shape than many understand:  Many don’t care that taxes are going up.  As Joe Biden might say, “BFD!” It may not matter if taxes were doubled.  It may not matter how much the Federal Government under the leadership of Obama raises taxes. Taxes may no longer matter as an election issue, and there are two compelling reasons to take this seriously.

The first glaring reason that many voters won’t take this seriously is that even among the few who pay attention, they’re accustomed to hearing outrageous claims by campaigns against their opponents.  Most of the claims boil down to some form of “If you vote for my opponent, a plague will descend upon you, and your children will be carried off by the bogeyman, and the country will melt into the fires of hell and there will be starving people in the street, and you’ll be homeless, naked, and penniless.”  Voters have heard this from both sides so often that whether one side or the other may actually speak plainly about it for a change, most of the relatively low number of voters who pay attention only within the six weeks preceding the election(at best) will feel as though they’ve “heard it all before,” and chances are, they’re right.  The problem is that politicians inflate things all the time.  It’s the norm.  The last time a presidential nominee explained the facts and had no need to embellish, and could merely point to the complete disaster at hand was Ronald Reagan, because all the evidence supported everything he said.  People were living it.

This ought to weigh in Mitt Romney’s favor, and it would, if we were living in 1980 America.  The problem is, we are living in 2012 America, and it’s a very different country.  Consider that we have millions who have spent 99 weeks on unemployment.  Consider that we have roughly fifty million people receiving foodstamps.  Consider that we have a total adult workforce that constitutes fewer than one-fourth of the total population.  We may have passed that critical point at which more people are now beneficiaries of big government than are paying for it, and if this is the case, the economy could become a good deal worse, and it wouldn’t matter because Mitt Romney’s tax arguments, if he were to make one, would fall on the deaf ears of those who have a net tax rate less than or equal to zero.  If we’ve passed that tipping point, Romney can make the tax argument until he’s blue in the face, but it won’t matter to the outcome.  More, with Obama-care now uninterrupted in its implementation by the court, there is now one more inducement to the non-workers, and that is why Democrats were willing to walk the plank in 2010 when the law was passed: They knew once it was in place, we would never be rid of it without revolution.

Of course, it’s not as though all tax-payers will side with Romney, because you can count on the unions to show up and support Obama.  You can bet that the education establishment will support Obama.  The trial lawyers will be there.  In short, all of the usual Democrat constituencies, even those who actually earn a living, are likely to support Obama over Romney because they are either doctrinaire leftists, or because they’ve accepted the language of class envy.  Either way, Romney doesn’t stand a chance in hell of getting their votes.  When you consider this together with the legion of dependency-bound persons who live in large measure or entirely from the system, without effort, you’re looking at what appears to be a majority of voters, or something very close to it.  Romney is going to need to become creative, and find other ways to convince voters, because I no longer have confidence that taxes are a winning issue with the majority of the electorate any longer.

After all, if you say to the millions upon millions of government dependents that you will now reduce the size of government, what they hear is “I’m going to cut your subsidy.”  That’s a disaster they can believe in, and it’s the only one they are inclined to see as relevant.  After all, they’re not paying the bills, and they don’t have any moral compunction whatever about robbing those who do.   Romney can’t rely upon this as his line of attack because for so many voters, it’s now ineffective.  Not only are they carefree about taxes because they’re not paying them, but also because they know that the taxes are supporting them through various federal programs.  Romney’s fifty-nine point economic plan is irrelevant to many, because apart from siphoning off the economy, they’re not participants in it, and have no intentions of changing that sad fact.  Knowing this, I’m not certain why anybody makes the argument any longer, but in Romney’s case, it may be even less effective, as Democrats now make the case that he sheltered millions offshore.

Taxes have sadly moved into the same realm as the deficit and the debt as election issues.  Everybody pays these the appropriate lip service, but the truth is that our system of taxation has become so lop-sided that too many Americans don’t care.  There are simply too few with “skin in the game,” as Barack Obama would say, because they simply don’t pay for any of the government expenditures, and probably never will.  Our massive welfare-state needs a massive overhaul, but we may have passed the point at which we could expect to have popular support to do it.  Mitt Romney may campaign with taxes as his prime issue with which to drive support at the polls, but it seems as though it may no longer be enough as the traditional Republican strategy loses effectiveness.  This is made worse by the fact that for many of those who have heard this talk, and actually want something done about it, they may have low expectations that Romney or any establishment Republican would do the first thing about it.  They have every reason to be doubtful.

Revolution: North Dakota Considers Ditching Property Tax

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Sign of the Times?

On Tuesday in North Dakota, the voters will get a chance to decide whether to dump the system of property taxes.  Predictably, all the usual suspects are aligning to oppose it, but some may be a bit surprised at some who are opposing the measure.  The public employees’ union naturally opposes the measure, but what might surprise you is that the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican governor oppose it as well.  The state has been the beneficiary of vast new oil production, so unlike many of the other states around the country, where budgets are in trouble, North Dakota has a bit of a surplus.  What shouldn’t surprise readers is the complete lack of imagination on the part of the establishment that cannot imagine doing without residents’ cash extracted under threat on the basis of the value of their property.  Said the governor, Jack Dalrymple, according to NYTimes:

“It’s mind-boggling, really,” he said, in an interview, of the effects of such a ban. “We’d be changing everything, frankly.”

Change everything?

Absolutely!  This would likely upset a large number of apple carts, but honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with that.  I believe one’s property should be at least as inviolate as one’s right to keep and bear arms, or one’s right to free exercise of religion, or one’s right to free speech.  If the voters of the state compel government to reorganize and ditch the property tax, it means the people of North Dakota will be more free.  According to USA Today, some people can’t imagine ditching the tax:

“The property tax is the foundation of local government services,” said Connie Sprynczynatyk, executive director of the North Dakota League of Cities. “It’s the predictable source of revenue to pay for police and fire and other local services in the community where you live.”

Yes, predictably, the big-government types can’t imagine losing a nickel’s worth of revenue.  Perhaps worse, the allegedly conservative Chamber of Commerce crowd simply can’t fathom it.  Again from the NY Times piece:

“This is a plan without a plan,” said Andy Peterson, president and chairman of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, who acknowledged that property taxes have climbed in some parts of the state and that North Dakota’s political leaders need to tackle the issue. “But this solution is a little like giving a barber a razor-sharp butcher knife — and by the way, this barber is blind — and asking him or her to give you a haircut. You’ll get the job done, but you might be missing an ear or an eye.”

This is the stock complaint of opponents to the measure.  Opponents argue that the measure would simply take away property taxes, but not replace it with anything.  Rational people ought to ask: So what? There is a solution, and it is to cut spending.  Cut spending until the expected expenditures are reduced to the absolute minimum necessary to function, and then figure out how to fund it.  Part of the problem with the “predictability” of the the revenue stream from property taxes is that government simply grows and grows, but never diminishes.

The other problem is that opponents of this measure are doing what government types always do when they see their revenue stream threatened:  They wave police, fire and emergency services around as the first thing to be cut.  Voters in North Dakota, or anywhere else ought to ask what portion of the government’s expenditures actually go to those purposes.  This tactic is the usual approach to argumentation on the subject, but what it is intended to conceal is all of the things not related to emergency services on which the governments at both the local and state level spend tax-payer money.

It was once that people spoke of emergency services, but over time, the word emergency has been replaced by the word “essential,” and therein lies the heart of the bait and switch.  When most people think of “essential services,” they’re thinking about police, fire, EMS, and 9-1-1 service, but when a government bureaucrat speaks of what is “essential,” one should pin down that official for his or her definition of the term, otherwise, it might include all manner of things in which the government has no essential role.

The other part disguised in all of this is the education establishment’s role.  Much of the money that goes to pay for local schools is derived from property tax revenue.  If the property tax is abolished, it will send state lawmakers scrambling, and it will send local school officials looking for other ways to fund schools.  Once again, it’s about throwing a monkey-wrench into the mechanisms of big government, because government wants and demands a “predictable revenue stream.” The problem is, it’s not government’s to demand.

The people of North Dakota have a monumental decision to make on Tuesday, and I hope they strike out in the name of liberty, and in the name of property rights.  This country could not exist had we not established firm property rights, and since the advent of property taxes on a grand scale in the late 19th century, governments at all levels have grown to consume everything.

I think one of the people pushing this effort in the state summarizes it best, from the NY Times article:

“The same problem kept coming up,” said Charlene Nelson, a homemaker who became a leader of the effort to amend the Constitution, pointing to what she deems the underlying problem with the property tax. “It means all of us are renters — none of us are homeowners.”

Right!  It’s time to fire the phony ‘landlords.’

Romney: “I Want to Maintain the Progressivity”

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Progressivity Advocate

Mitt Romney doesn’t seem able to help himself.  Every time he’s given an opportunity to distance himself from his progressive politics, he sidesteps it and goes on to reinforce the view of him as a liberal Republican.  Let’s stop kidding ourselves about all of these claims that he’s really a conservative.  He’s not.  He wasn’t a conservative when he ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy in his attempt to capture the US Senate seat in 1994, and he wasn’t a conservative when he ran center-left in his gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts in 2002, and he wasn’t a conservative in his governance there.  There is no evidence by which to conclude this cat has changed his stripes, and I have lost patience with all of the excuse-makers who pretend that Mitt Romney is a conservative.

Watch the video here(Note-the recording volume was very low):

Whether it’s Romneycare, or his willingness to pander to leftists on the question of the “progressivity” of the income tax, Mitt Romney is no conservative, and he isn’t fit to serve as a Republican president.  Perhaps he should reconsider and run on the Democrat side, and challenge Obama for that party’s nomination, because he certainly seems better suited to it.  I don’t think we should send another big-government liberal to replace the one we have.  Rather than just changing teams, it’s as though it’s the same old team:  The party of Big Government.

It’s true that he wants to cut taxes, but his plan entails all the usual gimmicks that phase in entitlement reforms long after it will matter.  Talk about cutting the rate of growth in benefits, or delaying benefit eligibility by raising the Social Security retirement age is simply more pie-in-the-sky nonsense to which we will never be witness, because by the time it will go into effect, even if Romney won and served eight years, few of those changes will have been implemented, and in the mean time, we will see our country continue to slide into the pit of indebtedness.

We can’t afford any more big-government liberals, whether they have a “D” or an “R” next to their names, and what Romney is offering here is more tinkering around the edges that will do just a little to stimulate economic growth, but will continue to borrow at an unabridged rate, and what we will get as a result is another lost decade, and perhaps the death of the Republic.  At best, Romney promises to undertake actions and implement policies that will act to slow our decline, but that’s all he’s really offering.  I remain unimpressed, and the fact that he’s neck-and-neck with Santorum in his home state of Michigan demonstrates that many conservatives agree.  Mitt Romney is no conservative, and his unwillingness to make even the moral argument for eliminating progressivity in the income tax system says all  I need to know about what sort of president he will be.

Romney’s good for only one thing, and that’s “minding the store,” but what he won’t do is to improve its efficiency, or do anything to stave off bankruptcy.  He’ll keep things going because that’s all he knows how to do, but he lacks the passion and vision, and frankly, the philosophical clarity to lead the country away from the brink of disaster.

Occupy Wall Street’s Newest Member: Mitt Romney (Video)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Mitt Occupies Arizona

This is absurd and ridiculous.  Here we have candidate Mitt Romney doing his best Barack Obama imitation, but Ron Paul won’t take the slightest swipe at him in a debate?  I’m sorry, but this sort of class-warfare rhetoric has no business in a Republican nomination fight, and to hear this from the mouth of Romney tells me all I really need to know.  He doesn’t want the 1% to get the same charitable deductions and home mortgage deductions as “middle-class” Americans?  I have a question for Governor Romney, who is unwilling to make the logical or moral argument for keeping one’s wealth:

Why not, Mitt?  Why are you ashamed of your wealth?  Why are you afraid to claim a right to your property and wealth?  Why does greater wealth imply a lesser claim to it?  This is bizarre and absurd, and it’s another reason the Republican party should never nominate this self-defeating fool. He’s already ceding the argument to Barack Obama. If he’s willing to go this far now, what will he do if he gets the nomination?  Grovel?  Will he openly apologize for his personal fortune?  Will he apologize for the fortunes of others?  This man doesn’t deserve to keep his own wealth, because he doesn’t know how to logically defend it against jackals.

H/T RightScoop:

This is despicable.  Mitt Romney should be ashamed.

 

Obama’s OMB Director Jeff Zients Caught Hiding the Truth – Video

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

President's New Budget Liar

Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients testified before Congress on Barack Obama’s proposed budget.  House Republicans spent a good deal of time and effort trying to get a straight answer on when our budget would balance by grilling Zients on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, Zients is another Obama liar.  He has no intention of telling you when, under Barack Obama’s budget proposals, the budget would balance, because under Obama’s ludicrous budget offering, it never does.  Let me say this again.  Under Barack Obama’s budget proposals, they merely slow down the rate at which debt is accumulating, in theory, but in practice, it will not slow down since they are assuming rosy interest rates on new and existing debt, and his administration is rigging the numbers.

Here are two videos of Congressmen trying to get a straight answer from this newly-appointed Presidential Budget Liar, who will not admit on camera that the budget will never balance under these proposals.  Never.

You can take what you want from all of this, but what is clear is that Obama is not interested in upholding his oath, but instead merely running our nation into the ground in opposition to his oath.

Would Romney Release His Tax Returns if He Had Won SC? – Video

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Lack of Foresight?

On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Mitt Romney said he would release his 2010 and 2011 tax returns in the coming week. This is a sudden reversal for Romney, who had said he would hold off on releasing the returns until April.  This issue dogged Romney in South Carolina, and it caused many to wonder if he had something to hide.  The question Americans should be asking themselves in the wake of this reversal is simply: “Had Romney won in South Carolina, instead of losing by a double-digit margin, would he be releasing his tax returns this week, or would we still be waiting until April?”  The calamitous decision by the Romney campaign to withhold the returns until April brought non-stop negative press to their efforts in South Carolina, and while it’s clear that they’re now changing in order to stop the bleeding, what Team Romney misses is that it wasn’t the tax returns that skewered them.

Here’s the interview:

The thing that made this issue stick was the obvious reluctance of the Romney campaign to disclose now what they had already said they would disclose eventually anyway.  Voters wondered, “Why wait?” Republican voters had some justification in believing that he might be concealing something that he wouldn’t mind disclosing later, after securing the nomination, but might become a real obstacle to the nomination itself.  In short, the base of the Republican party wondered what might be revealed by the returns that they would find objectionable.

The other problem is that Team Romney permitted this issue to fester to an extent that was unreasonable. When Romney said “maybe” in answer to whether he would follow his father’s example during Thursday’s Debate, it became a serious impediment to him.  It take on the look of a stall, and a dodge, or another Romney vacillation.  This kind of thing can be prevented from becoming a monstrous, self-defeating issue by early disclosure.  When the issue began to erupt, they should never have let the Thursday night debate commence without having committed to releasing the returns before Saturday’s primary.

This signifies something about the Romney campaign to which voters will pay particular attention: Romney really has no sense of how to get out ahead of issues of this sort, leaving them to smolder instead of leading with a fire extinguisher.  It may be that their campaign has become “too smart by half.” Campaigns are a fluid progression of events, and the desire to force a certain outcome without respect to the changes in the media coverage suggests that for all its vaunted money and organization, the Romney campaign is simply too inflexible and too intractable when events demand an agile reaction to changes in the facts confronting them.

I’m afraid that the belated reversal merely typifies the Romney approach to politics: Say or disclose as little as possible, until there’s no choice, with the delay resulting in another needless black eye.  This is also the reason that after nearly six years of campaigning for the presidency, the American people still don’t have a clear sense of who Mitt Romney is at his core.  Standing back to view it in this way, it is astonishing to realize that in the period between losing the nomination to McCain in 2008, and the beginning of this nomination cycle in 2011, Mitt Romney did very little to introduce himself to the American people.  He remained largely invisible, and did not come out to support conservative issues in the interim to any substantial degree, although he did make a number of endorsements in the run-up to the midterm elections in 2010.  Still, one would think he’d have been more aggressive, and more visible.

At the end of this tax return controversy, the truly dumb approach of the Romney campaign is now clear: They will now release what they should have released weeks ago, and all the obfuscation will have accomplished is to deliver their own black eye.  That sort of thinking is not going to work in the general election campaign, when a more nimble Obama campaign will exploit this staid, almost stodgy approach of Team Romney for many more public relations disasters. I believe this is one more reason the Obama campaign will be only too happy to face Romney as the GOP nominee: His feet are encased in the concrete of a decisive commitment to institutionalized indecision. It simply will not play, and the Obama campaign knows it.

Conservative voters in Florida should take notice that it was only the black eye of the defeat in South Carolina that prompted Romney’s campaign to release the tax returns, but this fact should offer a warning:  What kind of president would Mitt Romney be if in order to get him to simply do the right thing, we conservatives are confronted with having to defeat him, or force his hand?  Will that redound to the successful advancement of the conservative agenda?  Conservatives would be right to doubt it.

Romney to Release Tax Return – IN APRIL! – Video

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney announced on Monday that he will release his 2011 tax return in April, presumably the 15th, the ordinary filing deadline for taxpayers.  This is a problem in my book, and it’s based on the fact that by then, he will have successfully deprived most Republican primary voters of the chances to examine his records.

I find it deplorable that Mitt Romney would resort to such a transparent tactic to avoid disclosing his tax returns.  This is shameful, and it demonstrates how he remains unwilling to be open and honest with the American people, most of whom will be deprived the ability to examine these records before casting their votes.

After April 15th, the following states are the few remaining that will not have voted:

April 24, 2012
Connecticut (primary)
Delaware (primary)
New York (primary)
Pennsylvania (primary)
Rhode Island (primary)

May 8, 2012
Indiana (primary)
North Carolina (primary)
West Virginia (primary)

May 15, 2012
Nebraska (primary)
Oregon (primary)

May 22, 2012
Arkansas (primary)
Kentucky (primary)

June 5, 2012
California (primary)
Montana (primary)
New Jersey (primary)
New Mexico (primary)
South Dakota (primary)

June 26, 2012
Utah (primary)

In stark contrast, below is the list of all the states that will have held their primaries/caucuses already, making this release useless for them:

January 3, 2012
Iowa (caucus) – Complete

January 10, 2012
New Hampshire (primary) – Complete

January 21, 2012
South Carolina (primary)

January 31, 2012
Florida (primary)

February 4, 2012
Nevada (caucus)

February 4–11, 2012
Maine (caucus)

February 7, 2012
Colorado (caucus)

Minnesota (caucus)
Missouri (primary)

February 28, 2012 Arizona (primary)
Michigan (primary)

March 3, 2012 Washington (caucus)

March 6, 2012  (Super Tuesday)
Alaska (caucus)
Georgia (primary)
Idaho (caucus)
Massachusetts (primary)
North Dakota (caucus)
Ohio (primary)
Oklahoma (primary)
Tennessee (primary)
Vermont (primary)
Virginia (primary)

March 6-10, 2012 Wyoming (caucus)

March 10, 2012
Kansas (caucus)
U.S. Virgin Islands (caucus)

March 13, 2012
Alabama (primary)
Hawaii (caucus)
Mississippi (primary)

March 18, 2012
Puerto Rico (primary)

March 20, 2012
Illinois (primary)

March 24, 2012
Louisiana (primary)

April 3, 2012
District of Columbia (primary)
Maryland (primary)
Wisconsin (primary)
Texas (primary)

Now, while I’m sure this is all well and good, let’s look at what Mitt is trying to pull off here:  If he can avoid releasing his tax return until April 15th, this will be only 18 of 50 states in which voters will get to consider this information.  This is a fraud.  This is an attempt to delay the disclosure until your votes not longer matter. These 32 states in which primary elections or caucuses will have passed constitutes enough of the delegates at stake to nearly guarantee a Mitt Romney victory.

Sorry, Mitt. This isn’t good enough.  I want to know why you won’t do as your own father did when he ran for the nomination in 1968: George Romney released twelve years worth of tax returns.  (Obviously, in the primaries, since he didn’t secure the nomination.)

No disclosure, no vote!

Meanwhile, the Democrats are already cranking out campaign ads highlighting this particular flip-floppery.  Watch Romney duck and dodge this and other issues:

If we make this guy our nominee, we’ll be stuck with this.

Lastly, from Jake Tapper via Twitter: Mitt Romney’s Dad George set the standard.

You Have to Vote For Me to See My Tax Returns

Monday, January 16th, 2012

No Tax Return? No Vote!

After watching Monday’s FoxNews debate, I have some pointed advice for voters in the upcoming South Carolina Republican primary:  If a candidate will not disclose his tax returns before you vote, consider him ineligible.  You have no need for a candidate whose dirty secrets will be aired only after you’ve voted for him.  Mitt Romney talks about April, but I want to see them now, before any of us have voted(other than Iowa and New Hampshire, whose residents have already voted.)  You have every right to demand this sort of disclosure from the candidates, and if they won’t meet your expectations, you have every right to withhold your vote.  The suggestion of at least one of the candidates who hem-hawed this issue in Monday night’s debate is that you have no need to see them until  after he thinks he’ll already have the nomination.

I want right now to pause and suggest to you that this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  It ranks right up there with Nancy Pelosi’s infamous:

“We have to pass this bill before you can find out what is in it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if you accept this from Mitt Romney or any of the candidates, you have no right to complain when Nancy Pelosi pushes through a monstrous health-care bill, or any bill, before anybody has had time to read it.  The voters of South Carolina, and every subsequent state, all have a right to demand this of somebody asking for their votes.  If you let Mitt Romney sneak by you with this one, it’s just the beginning, but I don’t care which candidate offers you this lie, because you must reject it, and you must do so by withholding your vote.

I am going to walk even further out on this limb: I will not vote, either in the Primary, or in the General Election in my state for ANY candidate who has not disclosed his tax returns before the date of the primary. I will not buy a pig in a poke, and neither should you. No tax returns?  No vote!

Romney Won’t Release Tax Returns

Friday, December 30th, 2011

What's He Hiding?

In a response unusual for candidates seeking the presidency, Mitt Romney said he wouldn’t be releasing his tax returns.  This immediately drew fire from the Obama Campaign, that pointed out even Romney’s father had released his returns when running for President in 1968.  It’s true to say that Presidential candidates have made it a standard practice to release their tax returns, and this certainly does raise some eyebrows.  Candidates release this information routinely, but the fact that Romney doesn’t wish to do so is sure to draw some negative attention.  This will surely become an issue on which the  Obama Campaign will pounce if Romney gets the GOP nomination, but Romney may be calculating that whatever is in it will hurt him more in the primaries than in the general election.

This is one of the real problems with Mitt Romney, and it’s been demonstrated in other actions over the years:  The Romney camp has a tendency to keep too many secrets, or at least give the appearance that he’s doing so.  Recently, it was revealed that back when he was the outgoing governor of  the state of Massachusetts, he expended nearly $100,000 of state funds in an unusual move of replacing hard-drives on office computers in order to destroy the information contained on those drives.  While they were cleaning up information, the Romney camp also deleted emails from state servers.  Once again, it prompts the question: “Why?”

The answer may be as simple as wanting to avoid a spectacle as ridiculous as the one Sarah Palin endured earlier this year when a pile of more than 24,000 pages of emails were released to the press, and journalists along with the public scoured them for weeks looking for any evidence of wrongdoing.  They found none, but who’s to say that would have been the case with Romney?  Now, it appears we’ll never know. They could have revealed a hard-working governor as had been the case with Palin, or they might of held something rather less positive.

It’s hard to understand why candidates for high office don’t understand that they’re better off releasing information than to keep it from the public’s eyes.  They nearly always get worse press out of the non-disclosure, and when things do make their way inevitably to the press, it always ends up looking as though the non-disclosures had been cover-ups.  Why Romney would decline to release his tax returns is mystifying, since this has been common practice for those seeking the Presidency, but what it definitely demonstrates is that Romney continues to avoid releasing information that might be used against him.  There will be those who consider this smart politics, but it’s also dangerous because of the impression it creates in the eyes of many voters.

Boehner Pushes, But You Pushed Back

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Why Don't They Love Me?

I was gratified to read that Speaker Boehner and his Republican leadership ran into a little difficulty with Conservative House members who are getting tired of always being the people asked to “take one for the team[again.]” This means your complaints are being heard by your conservative members of Congress.  According to The Hill, meeting with House Republicans, Speaker Boehner is quoted by an unnamed attendee that he’s trying to “make chicken salad out of chicken s**t.”  To me, that sound suspiciously like his whining over being only “one-half of one-third of the government.”  Some people never learn, and while Boehner races to compromise wherever he can to try to put something on the scorecard, I think he’d be better off to go golfing with Obama: At least there, he’s not doing damage while being at least competent in his environment.  He’s ineffective as the Speaker of the House, and it’s time we sent him home.  One commenter asked how but the answer is simple: He must be challenged and beaten in the primaries.  Some warn that if he were defeated in the primary, he would be a “lame duck” speaker for the rest of the year.  My question is: What’s the difference?

To be honest with you, I’d much rather have a lame duck Speaker who is subject to replacement, and who will have no backing to pull off all of these swindles and deal-making behind closed doors with Reid and Obama than to have him actively offering sabotage to the conservatives in reward for their support.  Today was no different, as this big government hack is pushing to keep alive the payroll tax cut.  I think that’s ridiculous, and while if it fails to pass, it will cost me and my wife thousands, the truth is that it’s undermining the solvency of Social Security, bringing further instability to our current course.  After all, how long can we keep kicking the can down the road?  I’m a tax-cut champion, but this one has provided little or no stimulative effects, and what it really does is let more Americans almost completely off the hook.  We already have far too few tax-payers in the sense that too many have no real stake in our country as their hands reach for more from other folks’ pockets.

What Boehner is offering are some token measures to get conservatives aboard with this compromise, such as a reduction in some regulatory power for the EPA.  Does anybody believe it would stick with this lawless administration?  Apparently, some conservatives were not being fooled according to The Hill article:

Several Republicans stood up in the meeting to oppose the extension of the payroll-tax cut, citing concerns about Social Security and the fact that GOP leaders want to pay for one year’s worth of spending and tax relief over a decade.

Amen!  According to John Campbell(R-CA,) the leadership was caught off guard by the push-back they received:

“I think they were a little surprised by the pushback — they looked a little deflated to me,” he said, before noting his opposition to extending any of the expiring provisions.

Further, The Hill reports that one unnamed member was quite blunt:

“now we’re a part of kicking the can down the road. … But shouldn’t we try to run the country, shouldn’t we try to do the right thing, shouldn’t we try to get this deficit under control?”

Right on! I wish they had told us the source of that remark so I could send the member a letter of congratulation on “getting it.”  This is the truth, after all, and it’s part of the reason Boehner and his leadership team needs to be shown the door in 2012: We conservatives and Tea Party types understand that the Republicans only control “one-half of one-third of the government,” but as a matter of fact, it’s time to make the other guys sweat. Just as should have been the case when the House passed “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” ahead of the debt ceiling debacle, they should pass bills and send them over to the Senate and let Harry Reid explain why he’s bottling them up.  Instead, Boehner goes directly for the compromise every time.  It’s time to find a new Speaker of the House for the GOP.  This one is stinking things up, and it doesn’t smell like chicken salad.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Six

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Time For Change?

One of the problems that has always plagued us is the clear disconnect between taxation and electoral responsibility for those who legally raise them.  It’s not accidental that Tax Day is April 15th, a full six months before election day. I want Americans to hold elected representatives responsible for the fiscal condition of the country, and the taxes that condition will naturally necessitate.  Since our Federal elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even years, I think we should move tax day to the first Monday in November.  The truth is that for quarterly filers, this won’t make so large a difference, and in the main, it would seem a symbolic measure, but I think that it’s a worthy symbol.  After all, many voters go to the polls thinking about what they want, but for a change, I think it would be better if when they start marking their ballots, they instead should be thinking about the costs.

Of course, this presents another problem that needs to be reformed.  For some of those voters, the day they file their tax return is an occasion for celebration rather than a day of mourning.  Some of that is because a fair number of people over-withhold throughout the year in order to avoid getting hit with a big tax bill, but more of it is because some people get refunds in excess of what they had withheld in income taxes altogether.  You might ask yourself how it is possible that one can receive a refund higher than one has paid in, but Congress has an answer:  The Earned Income Tax Credit.  Effectively, all you need to do is earn a minimal amount of income.  It doesn’t take much income to qualify, and then you are eligible to receive a credit that may be more(and usually is) than the amount of income taxes you’ve had withheld.

One of the constant scams is people who receive various welfare benefits will work a couple of months out of the year, at a low wage job or two, and this will be enough “earned income” to make them eligible for free money.  Some recipients actually refer to it as their “IRS Bonus check.”  I kid you not.  This program is also why we have 47% of tax return filers who pay no net income taxes.  For this segment of the population, there is no stigma attached to tax day, because for them, by the time April 15th rolls around, they’ve long since submitted their returns, gotten their refunds including their credit, and they’ve spent it.

Some of you will doubtless think I’m joking, or that I have somehow concocted this as some sort of literary device, but I assure you that it is real, and that like so many extensions of the welfare state, it acts as a disincentive to work.  Therefore, along with moving tax day, I submit that we make another law: No tax refunds of any ind in excess of what has been withheld.  It’s contrary to the notion of welfare as a hand up, and it’s opposed to the notion of the tax code as a program to raise federal revenues.  So long as we’re stuck with the 16th Amendment and the grotesque tax system it birthed, nobody should be receiving money as a net gain from the system of taxation, and besides: We’re constantly reminded that everyone should have some skin in the game.  I think that’s true, but when I say “everyone,” I actually mean it.  Combining these two reforms as one single step will cause more serious evaluations of candidates by voters.  If we’re going to save the country, it’s one more thing in the laundry list that we’ll need to fix.

 

Downgrade 2.0 on the Horizon?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

There They Go Again

Just when you think the fools in Washington DC could scarcely do more damage to our country, they show up with the latest crisis and debacle to prove your theory wrong.  This one has been coming since the day John Boehner and the boys cut the deal with Harry Reid and his henchmen.  It’s been in the works since Barack Obama decided his best re-election strategy would be to run against a “do-nothing Congress.”  (We should be so lucky.)  The lines are drawn, and now the super-duper, mega-whopper debt committee is having trouble agreeing to the cuts that were promised when the deal was made back in August.  Surprise, surprise!   Gomer Pyle could have seen this coming, but clearly, John Boehner and Eric Cantor did not.   This game stands to create financial havoc with another debt rating downgrade just in time for Thanksgiving, and just like the last round, it’s being engineered so that the Republicans either agree to a ridiculous deal, or have one thrust upon them via the “automatic triggers” built into the deal to which they agreed back in August.  Either way you slice it, it’s a lose-lose for GOP, and as usual, conservatives will get the blame, and this is the reason why we cannot afford more establishment Republicans.

Consider the cuts in question.  At present, the deal required that they cut $1.2 Trillion from the next ten years of federal spending.  This means lopping off a mere 3.5-4.0% of the projected Federal spending over the period, but perhaps less, depending upon whose projections you believe.  This is a small amount in that gargantuan sum of money, and yet what the Obama administration and the Democrats intend to do is to see most of it come from defense cuts.  The salient point in this discussion is that none of the cuts under consideration even seriously begin to reduce the Federal expenditures now forecast in excess of revenues.  Worse, Democrats are playing fast and loose with the terminology, counting tax hikes as “spending cuts.”  More bizarre is the fact that Republicans are now largely accepting that characterization.

What this means to you and I is that by cutting the deal back in August, not only did Republicans get a black eye by getting the blame for the first downgrade, but all they have done is to postpone the bad news into the on-rushing Holiday season, when the bad news will multiply, and they’ll find themselves playing the scapegoats again, this time less than twelve months before the next elections.

Back in July, I warned you about this deal, and that in fact, more had been said than done.  As it turns out, virtually everything I expected would happen has now happened.  The Balanced Budget Amendment went down to defeat in the House.  The Republican leadership in the House has revealed that its bargaining position is awful, and it’s all because when they had the chance to make a stand back at the end of July, they failed.  They played to political expedience, and short-run damage control, but now the bill has come due, and it’s going to be paid at our expense, and at the expense of the defense of our nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll tell you what I believe:  Until we clean up the Republican party and the insiders, the deal-makers, and the surrender-monkeys, we’re not going to make much progress.  Each and every time one of these people who promises to stand tough ultimately folds, we need to send them home.  No “ifs, ands, or buts.”  Our country can’t afford any more of this brand of tepid leadership.  No more pastels.  We need bright, bold colors, and we need them fast.  How do we expect to hold onto the House next fall, never mind capture the Senate or the White House, if our alleged leadership can be so easily talked into a suicide pact with the devil?  It’s something we will all be forced to consider, as the Democrats force a crisis and at least one more time, Republicans will take the blame.  Can you imagine the laughter over at the White House?

House Republican Leadership Prepares to Screw You Again

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Weak, Pathetic, Ineffective

This is absurd.  Speaker John Boehner is now behind a move to bring a “clean” Balanced Budget Amendment to a vote in the House of Representatives.  The Amendment in question would provide no protections against runaway government, or limit the ability of Congress to raise taxes.  Roll Call is reporting that the Republican leadership is willing to consider the weakened, unrestricted version of the amendment in what will surely be the most ridiculous act of self-defeat in a long string of them by this House Leadership.  The Democrats like the “clean bill”  because it’s going to present a huge “get out of jail free card” for them.   In the form that is now under consideration, the Amendment would serve as a club over the head of people who wish to reduce the size and scope of government.  It’s another pathetic surrender, and it’s not acceptable.

What’s at stake is this: The amendment now under consideration is stripped of any requirements to cut spending or limit taxation.  Under this so-called “clean” version of the bill, if Congress wished to spend 100% of our GDP, the proposed amendment would permit it, and permit or even require that Congress raise taxes to support it.  In short, this proposal is a national suicide pact.  Earlier this week, 31 conservative organizations signed a letter published by Americans for Tax Reform to John Boehner insisting on the stronger restrictions.  From the letter:

“Unless tax hikes are taken off the table, reckless lawmakers will increase taxes to pay for these new bloated spending levels, rather than bring spending in line with revenues. A ‘clean’ BBA provides the excuse big spenders seek to raise taxes and grow government,”

This is exactly correct.  The letter continued:

“Any lawmaker committed to restoring American solvency cannot seriously vote for a BBA that does not include a super-majority requirement for tax increases,”

It’s not surprising that John Boehner would seek to do this for the sake of political expedience, but what is shocking about this is that it will undoubtedly be used to either punish the entire economy, or to politically attack Republicans.  Let me explain the way in which it will be used for the latter purpose, since the former is self-explanatory.  What will happen is that a number of House Conservatives will revolt against party leadership over this(and they had damned-well better,) but this will mean the Amendment will go down to defeat, and this will enable Democrats to say “We voted for a BBA, but Republicans obstructed it.”  The details and the truth won’t matter.  The President will claim: “See, we tried to get a Balanced Budget Amendment, but those darned Republicans stopped it.”

The way to prevent a disaster is to introduce the stronger version of the Amendment. This means it may go down to defeat, but if it does, it will have been defeated with Democrats’ votes.  That would flip the narrative, and place the burden of defending a bad position on Democrats.  What Boehner’s surrender promises us is a complete disaster of unrestricted tax increases, or the loss of the House majority, or both.   Boehner isn’t fit to lead.  He doesn’t understand the concept.  He’s a deal-making, arm-twisting surrender monkey, and if the GOP majority survives this disastrous leadership for another two years, it will have been a miracle, but Boehner must go.  Cantor isn’t looking any better.

Rick Perry Says Something Refreshingly Honest

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Damn Right!

The left will doubtless make all the hay they can from this, but the truth is that for once, I think Rick Perry is to be credited for speaking the truth in a bold way. He said “I don’t care” if his tax plan helps the rich.  Kudos to Rick Perry.  Here’s the thing, and it’s a point I’d try to make to every whining ne’er-do-well now Occuping Wall Street.  Now, he could really impress me and say something more important, like “You’re damned right it does, and it should. Who do you think creates jobs? Occu-pests?”  This endless assault on wealth is more than it seems, and less intellectually-bound than it pretends.  It’s a form of  cannibalism, and it’s aimed at destroying more than the wealth it pursues:  It’s about destroying reason.  It’s about disguising something, too.  Behind all of the complaints about the “greed” of the rich is the sickly confession of those who haven’t had the diligence, the discipline, or the desire to make it on their own.  I’m going to say it without reservation:  If you’re not rich, but you really want to be, in this country you have nobody to blame but yourself and your friends in government.  For a change, Rick Perry got it right.

Wealth is produced not by claims of need, or demands at gunpoint, but by the efforts of honest, diligent people.  When I say “honest,” it is in the sense that they understand you cannot consume more than you produce without eventually destroying yourself and yielding your life.  Nothing in the world is free – not even hope.  Manna may have fallen from the heavens in Moses’ day, but in the world around us, there is nothing that will feed you if you are unwilling to expend effort for it, except a government program, but the truth of that, as every working person knows, is that somebody is paying, even if that somebody isn’t you.  Most range-of-the-moment thinkers will see that as an opportunity to get by, but those of us who produce our daily bread look on it somewhat differently.  We see a vast moral vacuum where a human conscience should be, when an able-bodied person permits him or herself to become a perpetual ward of the state.

What Rick Perry admitted is something we should all know:  It’s none of our business how much money others earn.  In my view, a fair tax system would take the federal budget, divide it by the population, and send out the bills with guardians responsible for  dependents’ shares.   That’s a tax reform I could get behind.  Of course, that would eat a hole in some families’ budgets.  I think everybody should have some “skin in the game.”  Do the math: The federal budget is some 3.5 trillion and the population is roughly 320 million.  That’s roughly $11k for every man, woman, and child. Guess what?  In my household, that would be a tax cut.  Of course, there’s just me and my wife.  Still, why shouldn’t you pay your way? Besides, it’s my bet that if you saw an equal share of the burden, you’d be in no hurry to see it increased.

Okay, so you wish to exempt social security recipients from paying? Fine. There are roughly 50 million of them.  So let’s adjust our numbers:  $3.5 trillion divided by (320-50)=270 million payers, giving you an average tax bill of nearly $13K.  Anybody else you wish to exempt?  Food stamp recipients? Fine. There are 45 million of those, so let’s adjust our numbers again: $3.5 trillion divided by an adjusted population of  (270-45)=225 million taxpayers.  Now the tax bill per man, woman and child is $15,555.55.  Get the point?  Nothing is free.  Nothing.  You want to get it from “the rich”?  Let’s seize the total assets of a billionaire. Let’s say he’s worth a billion, even.  Of course, you’ll only be able to get this from him one time, because after that, he’s broke, but let’s do the math.  Let’s just take that billion off the top.  That reduces our total bill from $3.5 Trillion to  $3.499 Trillion. Fine. Now, we’ll need to adjust the numbers accordingly: $3.499Trillion divided among 225 million people. Okay, so how did this complete seizure of a billion dollars help the other 225 million taxpayers?  It reduced our bill from $15,555.55 to $15,551.11.  Feel better?  We just took all the assets of a guy who employed people, turned him into a pauper, and saved a whopping $4.44 on each of our tax bills.  Of course, we should have subtracted him out of the taxpayers, because now he’s on foodstamps.

The point, if you’ve managed to miss it in all of this, is that seizing wealth from the so-called “rich” really makes no difference. You can do it exactly once.  You simultaneously create more poverty, more unemployment, and more dependency, while reducing the taxpayer base.  Do you see why redistributionist policies cannot work?

People whine about the rich, but if the rich had more of their money to spend and invest, guess what?  There would be many more jobs.  I think we should eliminate corporate taxes, too.  I think we should get government out of the way of the formation of capital.  I think we should get rid of regulatory bureaucracies that are choking off prosperity in this country.  The truth is that our problems, while severe, are not insurmountable.  We can still fix things, but we need to get control of our government.  While the Occupy Wall Street crowd continues its protest, the people really at the root of the misery that confronts us are preparing to cash in, again.  They’re using the OWS protests as cover.

Reality is hell for those who “suck at math.”  Rick Perry’s right in this instance: I don’t care if the tax burden on the rich is reduced. The top 1% already pay 40% of all the income taxes collected.  That’s sinful, and the sin is accrued by those who live from the fat of  this inequality.