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Posts Tagged ‘Income Taxes’
July 10th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
The Obama Administration’s Tax Increase Doublespeak
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With President Obama making a public pitch yesterday to raise taxes on millions of Americans (the boldest election-year tax increase pledge since Walter Mondale in 1984), the White House is facing a bit of a cognitive dissonance. After all, Obama signed legislation keeping all of the Bush tax cuts in place only 18 months ago. Good for that ailing economy but not this one? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (whose podium may as well be mounted above a dunk tank these days) is having a hard time sorting it out. Here’s how Charlie Spiering reports it at the Washington Examiner‘s “Beltway Confidential” blog:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted [yesterday] that the extension of the Bush Tax cuts signed by President Obama in 2010 helped the United States economy at a critical time.

“At the time that you question there was a package of proposals that passed that helped the economy at a time it was very vulnerable, and that the president signed into law.” Carney admitted.

… When pressed by [CBS News’ Norah] O’Donnell to explain what had changed between now and 2010, Carney accused her of buying into a faulty argument.

“You’re buying into a red herring argument that just isn’t true,” he insisted.

Translation: “I don’t have a rejoinder ready that won’t get me laughed out of this room.” So the economy was vulnerable in December 2010, when Obama renewed the cuts and unemployment was at 9.8 percent, but we’re in the sunlit uplands of recovery now that unemployment is at 8.2 percent?

An increase in taxes leads to a decrease in economic activity. Period. Full stop.

There’s never really a good time for a tax increase. But there are few times that are this bad.

October 27th, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Businesses Are Scared to Death

Ashton asks me if I know of businesses eager to expand. The answer is no. Or, rather, “Bleep no!” And today’s news about the dollar falling even farther will worry them even more. Obama regulatory policy, Obama/Reid fiscal policy, and Bernanke’s recklessly inflationary monetary policy all have given businesses the willies. Now comes word that consumer confidence, already low, has fallen even more precipitously. Nothing will give businesses confidence until the leftists in the executive branch are gone.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the main thrust of Troy’s excellent column about tax reform — bold reform of individual income taxes is desperately needed, and Mitt Romney’s failure to propose such a thing is another horrendous mark against him — but I disagree that individual tax reform should come first in this horrid economy, and I disagree that only four people still have a chance to win the Republican nomination.  Individual tax reform, no matter how designed, will take tremendous time and effort to work through the legislative process, with all sorts of trade-offs along the way. And in this economy, the problem isn’t really coming from individuals, it’s coming from a failure of corporations to re-invest the mountains of cash on which they now sit.

All of which is to say that the best way to cut the Gordian knot, for the current economy, is to completely eliminate corporate income taxes in one fell swoop. Almost as good is to cut them in half, and eliminate them entirely for manufacturers, as Rick Santorum would do.  Which leads us to the failure to mention Santorum as a real contender for the nomination. A word to the wise: Check out his grassroots organization in Iowa. It’s the single best one to date.

Sure, voters are focused on how their taxes, not corporate taxes, will change. That’s why 9-9-9 proved so sexy. But they care about jobs as well, and if the sale is made right, they’ll see that the good jobs will come fastest from corporate tax reform, not individual tax reform. All Santorum need add when he’s discussing his tax proposal is that he has always supported various versions of the flat tax, that the idea isn’t anything new, and that so many off-the-shelf flat-tax plans have been out there for a quarter-century that the exact details don’t matter. He’s for a flatter, simpler individual tax code, period. But you don’t worry about income taxes if you don’t have a job, and a one-stop corporate-tax slash is the best way to achieve that.

September 20th, 2011 at 10:27 pm
Warren Buffett: Bad at Math?
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Warren Buffett has enjoyed a fair bit of celebrity over the last few weeks, acting as the iconic symbol of President Obama’s proposal for tax hikes by ubiquitously making it known that he hasn’t been debited enough by the feds. Buffett’s rhetorical trope of choice is to invoke the fact that he pays lower taxes than his secretary. That’s because most of Buffett’s income comes in the form of capital gains from his investment empire, which are taxed at 15 percent, not earned income like his assistant’s paycheck, which is likely taxed at a federal rate of either 25 percent or 28 percent, depending on whether her annual salary is above $83,600.

This sounds unjust at first blush — until you consider the fact that the capital gains tax is essentially double-dipping. That is, the money you have to invest is what’s left over after your earned income is taxed. In other words, the investment money on which Buffett is paying the cap gains tax was already skimmed by Washington when he earned it in the first place. If his assistant was investing, she’d be paying the same rate as Buffett. As pointed out by S.A. Miller in the New York Post:

Buffett actually was taxed twice on his investment income.

First, Buffett had to make the money he invested. Those earnings were taxed as corporate income, at about a 35-percent rate.

Then, Uncle Sam took another cut when Buffett invested the money and earned a profit. That’s when Buffett paid the 15 percent capital-gains tax rate.

All told, after combining corporate taxes and capital gains taxes, Buffett forked over about 45 percent of his earnings.

We’ll put Buffett in the same category as Albert Einstein and Noam Chomsky: experts in their field who should have never been given automatic credibility when it comes to politics.