Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Insider Politics Killing Gender Identity Civil Rights

Man, this is frustrating. The Maryland state gender identity nondiscrimination bill passed in the House of Delegates by a wide margin. The bill had been significantly gutted in order to avoid controversy, but did offer protection against discrimination in areas of employment, housing, and other important matters. The measure had wide support, both among voters and legislators, as it was passed from the House to the state Senate.

But for some odd reason, this one bill was sent to a committee that is almost certain to let it die rather than come to a vote. If it were to come to the floor for a vote, most observers believe it would pass easily. But the President of the Senate has chosen to kill it procedurally.
Less than a week after being approved in the Maryland House of Delegates by a vote of 86-52, a transgender non-discrimination bill is facing an unexpected roadblock in the State Senate.

In a development that has baffled many supporters of the bill, Senate President Thomas Mike Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) bypassed normal procedures by sending the bill to the Senate Rules Committee, which is known as a “graveyard” for controversial legislation.

“This is not a good sign,” said transgender activist Dana Beyer, who is closely following the bill.

The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act calls for banning discrimination against transgender Marylanders in areas of employment, housing, and credit.

Its approval in the House of Delegates by such a large margin gave advocates hope that the legislation would clear the Senate before April 11, when the Maryland Legislature adjourns for the year.

Beyer and officials with Equality Maryland, the statewide LGBT group leading the lobbying effort for the bill, have said they believe they have the votes to pass the bill if it reaches the Senate floor.

But they have long expressed concern over getting the bill out of committee. The gender identity measure has died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for the past four years. This year, following its strong showing in the House, supporters and others familiar with the Senate were hopeful that the Judicial Proceedings Committee would approve the measure. Trans bill hits snag in Md. Senate

The vice-chair of the Senate Rules Committee is District 16 Democrat Brian Frosh. His name is familiar to Vigilance blog readers, as he has consistently over the years been instrumental in killing bills that benefit our LGBT neighbors. Assigning the bill to the Rules Committee almost guarantees that it will stall and die this year.
Miller’s decision to send the bill to the Rules Committee rather than directly to Judicial Proceedings is being viewed as an ominous sign that Miller or Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) are seeking to kill the bill this year by preventing it from reaching the Senate floor.

Neither Miller nor a spokesperson for his office returned a call seeking comment as of late Tuesday.

Frosh denied reports by some Annapolis insiders that he asked Miller to divert the bill from his committee because he didn’t want to deal with it.

“I don’t make bill assignments, so it’s not me,” he told the Blade. “The president makes those determinations, and it’s not up to a committee chairman. When he sends me the bill, I’ve got it. But until he does, I don’t.”

Should it reach his committee, Frosh said he isn’t certain whether the bill has enough votes to clear the panel.

“I have four new members on the committee, none of whom has ever heard the issue before,” he said. “I have no idea where they are on the bill.”

I think we all recognize this kind of talk.

Oh, and here's another angle.
In yet another development likely to trouble the bill’s supporters, Frosh said his office was “inundated” on Monday by calls from transgender activists opposed to the bill because it has been stripped of a provision banning discrimination against transgender persons in the area of public accommodations.

The bill’s lead sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties), said she reluctantly removed the public accommodations provision as the only way to ensure approval of the bill this year in the House.

“They are livid that that was taken out and oppose the bill,” Frosh said of Trans Maryland members. “So there’s a division within the transgender community apparently about whether or not it’s a good idea. I have no idea how that will affect the four people who have never heard the bill, let alone the other folks on the committee.”

Most transgender activists, including officials with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s transgender rights project, are supporting the bill with the objective of adding the public accommodations provision next year.

I doubt that Frosh's office was "inundated" with calls from transgender people opposing the law. Some might have called to ask that the public accommodations wording be replaced, but, as the Blade notes, most would rather have a weak law that can be beefed up later than no law at all.

Frosh defended himself.
Although the bill has died in Frosh’s Judicial Proceedings committee for the past four years, he told the Blade Tuesday he would vote for it if it reaches his committee. He said he’s being unfairly blamed for derailing the bill.

“I’ve gotten calls saying I’m responsible for killing it, I’m responsible for sending it to Rules,” he said. “I’ve gotten calls saying make sure the bill dies and you got to do something to make sure it passes. I wish I had as much power as people ascribe to me.”

With this kind of insider politics you can't tell what's going on when everybody keeps their cards close to their chest. Frosh is the likely culprit here, even though he says he supports the bill, because he was the culprit numerous times in the past; this instance looks like all the others, even if he gazes heavenward in a saintly pose asking, "Who, me?" A bill that would pass in a vote has been derailed to a committee that will stall it, and Frosh just happens to hold a leadership position on that committee.


Blogger Theresa said...

okay completely OFF subject but I am so annoyed right now I could scream.

I am sitting here reconciling medical claims. I have been at it for hours, since 5 so at least 7 hours, taking the co-pays, making sure we submitted them against the flex, making sure the secondary has been billed (they ALWAYS screw up).

I actually make probably 70.00 an hour (after tax) doing medical flex paperwork. In my tax bracket I HAVE TOO.
My sister says - I don't care what the numbers are or how much it saves me - I am not doing it. Her kids aren't in college yet, and she simply CAN't - too much time, and her kids are little...

I HATE this. I have to do it because if I don't protect my income in any way I can, the govt takes even more. It actually ends up MORE productive for me to spend hours on paperwork to protect my income than it does spending hours on making MORE income.

Anyone see a problem with this ?

My goodness, what a complete waste of time. I have LOTS of better ways I could be spending my time creating marketing documents (extremely technical marketing docs ) for my company. I LIKE DOING THAT. Why in the world can't we go to a flat tax - we would save billions in time in paperwork reduction immediately.

March 31, 2011 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theresa, you should look into the advantages of single payer health insurance, and the next time the debate comes up you can come stand on the front lines and hold a sign and try to get the government to be sensible. Everybody knows it's the right thing to do, but the insurance companies need to make their zillions.

In other Western countries you do not spend your day filling out paperwork. If you are sick you go to the doctor, you are taken care of, and you go home. We should be like that, except that the corporations don't want to lose a lucrative scam.

March 31, 2011 6:35 AM  
Blogger Dana LaRocca said...

Yes, Senator Frosh's office was "inundated" with calls from the transgender community. And the exact words used to his and other offices were to "kill the bill."

After it became clear that there would be no attempt to amend it to include public accommodations transgender activists went for the nuclear option. Much of the transgender community has opposed this bill since it was introduced. Unfortunately many of the LGBT news sources haven’t bothered to cover grassroots resistance to this bill within the transgender community. They generally print whatever they are told by Equality Maryland or the players in Annapolis. So you end up with the false impression that “as the Blade notes, most would rather have a weak law that can be beefed up later than no law at all.”

That’s not what “most” have wanted Jim. That’s what Equality Maryland and the sponsor have wanted. It’s just not good law. It would have made it impossible to go back in the future and add public accommodations. The clear legislative intent in HB235 is to exclude certain rights from transgender citizens that are offered to all other protected classes. That’s what the bill says by its silence on public accommodations.

March 31, 2011 7:29 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Thank you for your feedback, Dana. Was Frosh's office inundated before or after the bill was anomalously routed to his committee?

Obviously a great part of the process here has occurred out of the public's view. The removal of the public accommodations wording for instance was done quietly and not explained. The special committee assignment of the bill in the Senate was not explained beyond Frosh saying, "It wasn't me."

Frosh's office did not, as far as I know, give a breakdown of the number of calls or how many were for or against the bill, and of those how many were transgender rights supporters and how many were showernuts. Further, not all politicians are influenced by phone campaigns, and it seemed a weak explanation for these mysterious actions.

I will be interested to learn more about this meltdown in the Maryland legislature, how our leaders could have failed to move forward a cause that is both right and popular.


March 31, 2011 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right -- it couldn't be more popular. Everyone's buzzing about it.

March 31, 2011 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, maybe we can start over and present a new bill once this Senate President does not get re-elected. Let's hope the new bill includes protections in pubic accomodations as well as employment and housing. This current bill is really a cop out anyway.

March 31, 2011 1:59 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

believe me, I am using the fact that even the conservatives that like being able to pay for the services they use and like private insurance...

HATE insurance companies.

Any other company that behaved like an insurance company would be out of business immediately.

almost as bad as airlines, southwest being the exception, but even they are going down these days.

March 31, 2011 3:12 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


One of the bigggest problems we all face is dealing with large bureaucracies, whether private or governmental.

In theory, private bureaucracies should be responsive to market forces -- if they are abusive, customers will find private companies that do better.

In theory, governmental bureaucracies should be responsive to popular outrage, since the elected politicians to whom they are responsible get heat from constituents for lousy service.

Both concepts sound great in theory, but too often don't actually work in practice.

The dilemma we face in a complex society is whether we can do better without the bureaucracies, given the economies of scale they provide.

Wish I had an easy answer. But only strict ideologues have such answers.

March 31, 2011 5:29 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Re the issue at hand, thanks to the commenters for the background. The overview given in the media sometimes does not provide the whole picture.

In terms of tactics, all members of the General Assembly have three more years of their terms. So we can't wait for Mike Miller to move on (if he stands for re-election in his blue dog district, he will win again in 2014). While opposed to same sex marriage, he cleared the way for Senate passage by facilitating a change in membership on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which previously had been a roadblock. He may not want to facilitate things again if it is going to end up going no where. So it will be vital to get the votes in the House of Delegates REALLY nailed down in advance of next winter's session with respect to Civil Marriage. If that can be dealt with quickly, then we can have the struggle -- and the education necessary -- to get a full transgender anti-discrimination law.

A question for those immersed in it: Did it pass overwhelmingly in the House only because the public accomodation section had been removed? If so, then we have a lot more educating to do.

March 31, 2011 5:42 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Mr. Toohey strikes again !
I agree there is no easy answer David....and I love your backhanded reference to black and white (which I tend to think in...)

What do you think about killing income tax and going to a VAT tax on everything ?


March 31, 2011 6:37 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

It apparently is widely used in Western Europe. By itself, it tends to be rather regressive -- i.e., those at the bottom of the income ladder end up paying a higher percentage of their income than others, but I've heard some economists say that that can be ameliorated by governmental rebates (or what some Nixon economists touted as a "negative income tax") based on people's income.

Like lots of other things, it would be a big change, and people do tend to be risk averse when it comes to big change.

March 31, 2011 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From freedom fries to vive la France's tax system in 10 short years. Amazing.

In addition to VAT, the French pay:

Residency Tax
Property Tax
Income Tax (France's bracket top rate = 40%. Eliminating the Bush tax cuts would raises the US rate in the top bracket from 35% to 39.6%)
Capital Gains Tax
Social Tax
Inheritance Tax (top rate = 40%)
Gift Tax
Wealth Tax

April 01, 2011 8:45 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

so I would be advocating getting rid all taxes but a VAT tax, of say like 19% or so...

with some sort of credit at the bottom taxable brackets as David indicated.

I have seen some talk shows that say that is the only level you would need, since you can't get out of the taxes all the folks that aren't paying anything now all of sudden have to chip in.

April 01, 2011 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh well, you saw it on a talk show so it must be true

What show and who said 19% VAT "is the only level you would need"?

France does not pay its bills by collecting ONLY the VAT tax and neither would the US.

April 01, 2011 12:16 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Okay, total of 23% including SS and Medicare

Also sets up rules making sure the trust funds cannot be raided...

April 01, 2011 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

/5/2011--Introduced.Fair Tax Act of 2011 - Repeals the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax. Redesignates the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as the Internal Revenue Code of 2011. Imposes a national sales tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services. Sets the sales tax rate at 23% in 2013, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years. Allows exemptions from the tax for property or services purchased for business, export, or investment purposes, and for state government functions. Sets forth rules relating to:

April 01, 2011 12:37 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

hey so GE made 5 billion and paid no taxes...

So now I am not sure that the fair tax act is the best one either....seems like corporations get their deductions still ... or maybe not, can't tell if the fair tax act blasts the loopholes away or not.

The two guys that were on the presidents debt commission were on greta last night. Their proposal was to bring all the brackets down about 5% and blast ALL of the deductions away, maybe that is better.

I am just horrified that someone like Emmelt is on the presidents commission and GE paid NO taxes on 5 billion they earned in the US last year, not to mention all the money parked overseas. Is that something we can agree on ?

I am tempted to go look at what they did, but I still have to finish these stupid medical claims so I don't really have time. The issue I believe is the fixed expenses and not the cost of good sold expenses. I don't really have a problem with corporations taking their cost of goods sold expenses off their taxable income, EXCEPT if they are including things like DEFERRED commission packages to folks (direct commission is okay, because the person that receives it woudl have to pay)...

But I wonder in corporate taxes where sales meetings get declared for instance. I bet they come off the taxable income for the corporation, along with the deferred compensation packages for the CEOs. Ie, if you are high enough in the organizational chain and you have enough confidence that your company will be around, you can elect to take all your money in deferred compensation packages from that company.... SO YOU DON"T pay any taxes on it right now while you are at a higher income level. You have to be really high up to get one of these packages, but I would BET you anything that of that 5 billion that GE didn't pay any tax on, there was hundreds of millions in deferred compensation packages for Emmelt and folks like him. So while the rest of us are struggling to deal with every little deduction we can find, the CEOS don't have to worry about this, because they have millions put aside by their corporations for them in deferred comp packages.

That stuff needs to stop. It is outrageously unfair that while most of us are limited to 32K we can put aside non taxed for retirement, CEOS essentially can have millions stashed aside in these plans, and then their companies take that right off the top and don't pay any taxes on it.

I think if you took a really good look at the corporate tax code, and found a way to only allow them to deduct cost of good sold and not the other fixed expenses, things would change quickly.

So, what do the TTF'rs think about Emmelt ? Defending the guy or not ?

April 02, 2011 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Wednesday, U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue appeared on Fox Business News and defended a recent revelation by the New York Times that General Electric is using accounting gimmickry to avoid paying taxes.

GE took a beating in the press this week when it was revealed that, unlike the vast majority of working Americans, GE avoided paying any taxes last year. But the story gets worse. Through a series of tax incentives, breaks and write-offs, GE recorded a net gain on their 2009 tax liability. This is to say that not only did GE avoid paying taxes, taxpayers paid GE. In fact, during the past five years GE has "received a net tax benefit from the I.R.S. of $4.1 billion." Meanwhile, since 2002, GE has eliminated 1/5 of its American work force. Fortunately for GE, as a member of the U.S. Chamber, Donohue lobbied on their behalf.

True to form, Donohue defended GE’s brazen exploitation of the U.S. tax code, citing the tax write offs that GE’s finance business – which received a federal bailout – and subsidies for GE’s clean technology business. If that wasn’t persuasive enough, Donohue claimed that GE was entitled to the $4.1 billion taxpayer subsidized tax return simply because "they’ve paid lots of taxes over lots of time." Watch:

"VARNEY: General Electric paid no tax in the latest statement year; Jeffrey Immelt, clearly in bed with the administration. Crony capitalism, what do you say, sir?

DONOHUE: I say that’s bunk. General Electric during the course of the last two years had two things that drove down their taxes. One, they had extraordinary massive loses in their financial arm, which is a very, very big part of the company and they wrote those losses off. And two, they’ve made a lot of investment – serious investments – in green energy and a lot of other activities that the Congress has [en]acted in the last number of years. To encourage and endorse by providing tax incentives. They did what the law allowed them to do. By the way, they’ve paid lots of taxes over lots of time and they’ll pay a hell of a lot of taxes next year. "

Interestingly, as the Times noted, Donohue’s position seems to conflict with the stated policy of Ronald Reagan – whom Donohue claims to "admire":

In the mid-1980s, President Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax system after learning that G.E. — a company for which he had once worked as a commercial pitchman — was among dozens of corporations that had used accounting gamesmanship to avoid paying any taxes.

"I didn’t realize things had gotten that far out of line," Mr. Reagan told the Treasury secretary, Donald T. Regan, according to Mr. Regan’s 1988 memoir. The president supported a change that closed loopholes and required G.E. to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5 percent.

While the Times acknowledged that GE has enlisted a multimillion dollar lobbying operation to defend their billion dollar tax return, GE can always rely on their partner, the U.S. Chamber, to do their bidding.

April 02, 2011 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"GE took a beating in the press this week when it was revealed that, unlike the vast majority of working Americans, GE avoided paying any taxes last year."

GE is actually not a person but a group of many people, all of whom paid tax on their share of GE earnings when it was distributed to them or when they sold the rights to the earnings to someone else.

"But the story gets worse. Through a series of tax incentives, breaks and write-offs, GE recorded a net gain on their 2009 tax liability."

Well, those tax incentives were passed by an elected legislature, chosen by the people, which used the lure of the incentive to control GE's actions.

"This is to say that not only did GE avoid paying taxes, taxpayers paid GE."

That was just getting a refund of some previously paid double taxation.

NOLs, btw, were also approved by the people's Congress.

"In fact, during the past five years GE has "received a net tax benefit from the I.R.S. of $4.1 billion."

It's a publicly traded company. Everyone's free buy a piece and share in the bounty.

Capitalism doesn't discriminate.

"Meanwhile, since 2002, GE has eliminated 1/5 of its American work force."

Under a capitalist system, everyone is better off if companies strive to be profitable.

Only hiring the workforce that you need is key to success.

April 02, 2011 11:36 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


Actually, Obama's use of Emmelt simply confirms that the right wing talk of Obama being a socialist is absurd.

Emmelt is more of a symptom than a cause. Indeed, that may be a part of the problem: The system has been around for so long, that, at some level, you can't blame anyone. The bottom line is that big money has, and has always had, huge influence.

Capitalism has great advantages over other economic systems, but it has a lot of terrible side-effects, as well. It tends to focus on short-term economic gain over long-term societal needs. The best example is environmental risk and degradation. Our democratic political system at times is able to smooth those rough edges, but it is a constant struggle, because big money's advantage is not simply buying people off, but having the megaphones that set the public discussion. (That is why the Citizens United decision is so dangerous to our democracy.)

When people exist in a particular cultural environment, they tend to accept the status quo of that environment as the best arrangement that is possible. I suspect that in 1830, many slaveholders in the American South saw the slave system as simply the way things are. They prospered by virtue of a morally corrupt system, but saw no alternative. That morally corrupt system was ultimately destroyed by the Civil War -- but because it re-rooted itself after Reconstruction, we are still paying the societal cost of it.

There are always dangers in smashing a morally corrupt system. The Russian Revolution is the greatest example. A morally corrupt economic system was smashed -- and what arose in its place was a different form of tyranny -- and Russia is still paying the price.

So how do we get the advantages of Capitalism without getting its downsides, or getting a cure as bad or worse than the disease? How do we keep Capitalism from devouring itself and us with it (which is what happened in the years leading to the Great Depression)? The New Deal created a structure which went a long way toward accomplishing that task, contrary to Glenn Beck's bizarre understanding of American history. But that only occurred because the economic system had collapsed. We just as easily could have become a fascist state (as happened in Germany) in the 1930s. Our democratic traditions (and our good luck in having FDR) avoided that outcome, and set the stage for decades of prosperity.

Because our democratic institutions prevented total economic collapse in late 2008 and 2009, the problems we had were not as starkly presented as they were in the 1930s. So things stayed murky, and big money found a way by encouraging and funding the Tea Party Movement. I suspect there are Tea Party people who have the same concerns you have been expressing on this thread. There ought to be common ground between the so-called Left and much of the Right on this problem, but findlng leaders who will responsibly try to put together policies and coalitions on this problem do not seem to be on the horizon. Hopefully, it will not take another 1930s-like collapse for that to happen.

April 03, 2011 3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GE example shows that all the tax incentives in the world do not guarantee jobs will be created. Indeed, all those billions of dollars in tax incentives and GE has cut 20% of its workforce.

It's interesting to see Anon and Theresa here on this thread showing us a gaping split on the right.

"Well, those tax incentives were passed by an elected legislature, chosen by the people"

So was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

April 03, 2011 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Democrats say they collected enough signatures to recall Republican state senator Dan Kapanke of La Crosse for his vote for the collective-bargaining bill.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board confirmed late Friday afternoon the petition was filed.

The recall organizer says volunteers gathered 21,700 signatures. The GAB must confirm 15,600 are valid.

If approved, it would be only the fifth recall of a state lawmaker in Wisconsin history."

April 03, 2011 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Capitalism has great advantages over other economic systems, but it has a lot of terrible side-effects, as well."

Substitute "free speech" "freedom of press" "freedom of religion" "freedom to assemble" "right to bear arms" or "right to bear arms" and delete "economic" and you would find that liberals would still applaud this statement.

Why not just admit that you don't believe in our systme?

"The GE example shows that all the tax incentives in the world do not guarantee jobs will be created. Indeed, all those billions of dollars in tax incentives and GE has cut 20% of its workforce."

but those credits were for excess spending that created jobs and hiring at those vendors who sold things to GE

don't fall into the liberal trap of believing only government spending boosts the economy

government spending is the least efficient stimulus and, for a nasty bonus, threatens our freedom as well

again, if you think GE shareholders are getting such a break, buy a piece of it and get in on the action

whining is actually not productive and doesn't contribute anything

"It's interesting to see Anon and Theresa here on this thread showing us a gaping split on the right."

yes, fascinating, and also proof of something I've said here many times: there is more diversity of thought on the conservative side than in the politically correct liberal agenda groups

"So was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

actually, if you recall, the people clearly opposed the bill and even the most liberal state in the union took the opportunity of a special election to send a Senator who opposed the bill, forcing the liberal cabal running the House to pull some dubious tricks to push the bill through

the people judged this effort last fall and returned control of the House to the other party, replacing the leader of this effort

little known fact among liberals: America doesn't like Obamacare

April 03, 2011 12:52 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

"Why not just admit that you don't believe in our systme?"

Because I don't lie.

Unsupported, ad hominem attacks on those with whom you disagree are not worthy of any rational, civil discourse. You might want to re-read my post.

April 03, 2011 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read it

I attacked the ideas not the homs

April 04, 2011 12:00 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


You were not simply attacking my analysis. You said that I do not believe in the American system of government.

Even those hiding behind anonymity have an obligation to eschew unwarranted attacks.

Whatever I think about the substance of your ideas, I have never accused you of not believing in democratic constitutional government. That would be like calling someone a fascist or a communist. I would not make such an accusation unless I had direct evidence -- and even then I probably would not, since the use of such words tends to close down discussion.

Do I sound picky here? Maybe. But the approach you often take is the kind of thing that makes it often impossible to have reasoned discourse in the country we love.

April 04, 2011 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"those tax incentives were passed by an elected legislature, chosen by the people"

"the liberal cabal running the Houe to pull some dubious tricks"

Some things never change. It's good to see Anon hasn't forgotten Karl Rove's old playbook notes on how to handle bills passed through reconciliation.

Rove blasts reconciliation for health care, but supported GOP use of procedure


In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove attacked the idea of using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform with a simple majority of Senate votes, referring to the procedure as a "parliamentary trick." But as a senior adviser in the Bush White House, Rove supported the use of reconciliation to pass major Bush administration initiatives....

In CNN interview, Rove said it was "up to the Senate to decide" whether to use reconciliation to pass 2001 tax cut legislation.

Rove also indicated the White House would work to move estate tax repeal within the reconciliation package. "We ought to do everything we can within the confines of" the amount of money available for tax reduction "to kill the death tax," he said. However, he noted "it's going to be difficult to do" given the limits on tax cuts allowed under the budget reconciliation bills. But he said Congress could "stretch it out" and added, "There ought to be some concern about capital gains". [Congress Daily, 5/04/01]

Meeting with business lobbyists, Rove reportedly hinted at White House plan to move 2003 tax cuts under reconciliation...

Senior Bush advisers who briefed a large group of business lobbyists Friday at the White House left the strong impression that the decision had been made to move the package under reconciliation, according to sources knowledgeable about the gathering. The Bush aides -- senior White House political adviser Karl Rove and National Economic Council Director Stephen Friedman -- also pinpointed Memorial Day as the target date for passage [Congress Daily, 1/13/03]....

Last month an NBC/WSJ poll showed that 81% of Americans find it acceptable that we increase taxes on people who make more than $1 million per year even though two prior "elected legislature[s], chosen by the people" enacted tax cuts for millionaires by "pull[ing] some dubious tricks" in 2001 and 2003. There are no such comparable numbers opposed to healthcare. Last month's NBC/WSJ poll found a measly 5 point spread (51%-46%) favoring "Cutting funding for the new health care law so parts of it will not be put into effect or enforced", whereas "Placing a surtax on federal income taxes for people earning over one million dollars per year" resulted in a 62 point spread (80%-18%).

April 04, 2011 10:30 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...


GE didn't pay any taxes last year and they made 5 billion dollar in the US.

There are lot multi-millionaires doing the same thing... ie, their declared income is so low that you don't catch them by raising the rates.

Increasing the tax rates just motivates more folks to spend all their time figuring out how to get OUT of their taxes.

There is tons of stuff I could (and would) look into if the rates got any higher....

Ie, you can invest in a Schedule K. I could quit my job and start my own consulting company, complete with deferred income packages and a company car.

If you continue raising the rates, all you do is make the tax accountants in the country richer, because at some point even folks like me - not millionaires - get so fed up with the amount they are giving the govt that they start spending INCREDIBLE amounts of time and effort figuring out how to get out of them. And believe me, those ways are there.

The whole code neeed to chucked, all the deductions erased, got to a flat rate or a lower overall rate with no deductions AT ALL, and start over.

The more you learn about taxes the more you discover loopholes. Typically the lower income classes can't afford tax accountants like that and the upper middle can't either. Just the truly truly wealthy - who aren't declaring most of it because of gimmicks like GE just pulled.

It does not help you to raise the rates on even income over a million... do so and see how fast that income disappears. It will be absorbed in losses on somewhat fictitious Schedule K's so fast it will make your head spin....

We need to chuck the code and start over.

April 04, 2011 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I'm so glad paying college tuition has brought you to your senses on the unfairness of the tax code, Theresa.

You might want to catch up on some reading about Obama's views on tax code reform that you've apparently missed and who knows, maybe you'll decide to help Obama push his tax reform ideas through to enactment.

2007 Obama Speech: A Simpler, Fairer Tax Code

2009 Obama's Speech on Offshore Tax Havens

(Maybe you'll even watch this 10 minute video and learn why "There are legitimate reasons for outsourcing - not only jobs, but work" and why Americans who lose their jobs as a result of outsourcing should "Stop whining!" as explained by the President of the big GOP campaign contributors over at the US Chamber of Commerce: Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce Likes Outsourcing)

2011 SOTUS - Obama: Simplify corporate tax code

April 05, 2011 9:07 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Well then, sounds like he would be happy to pass the Republicans budget plan (Ryan) which simplifies the tax code...

"A world-class tax system should be simple, fair, and efficient. The U.S. tax code fails on all three counts. The system is notoriously complex, as families must spend significant time and money negotiating a labyrinth of deductions and credits, a tangle of different rules for characterizing income, and a variety of schedules for taxing that income. The code is also patently unfair, as many of the deductions and preferences in the system – which serve to narrow the tax base – are mainly used by a relatively small class of mostly higher-income individuals. It is also highly inefficient, as tax considerations, rather than economic fundamentals, often distort individual decisions to work, save, and invest, leading to a misallocation of resources and slower economic growth."

I am glad we can agree on something !

April 05, 2011 9:59 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

As always with large, complex legislation, the Devil, or God, is in the details.

April 05, 2011 3:05 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

It doesn't sound too bad.
Kill all the deductions, 10% on under 100K and 25% on everything over.
40K exemption for family of 4.
only deduction left is medical expenses over and above reasonable, mortgage interest and EVERYTHING else is gone. simple, fits on a postcard. And you can choose which code to be on, the old one or the new one...

April 05, 2011 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in England, taxes are filed every two years and the return is voluntary

if you choose, you can simply let the government keep whatever they withheld

seriously, I worry about if VAT would distort the suppply and demand functions of our economic system

on the other hand, eliminating income tax would deprive the government of its main rationale for violating our rights and privacy

only in tax cases are you guilty until proven innocent rather than the other way around

April 05, 2011 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, and why is that?

does our society worship a golden calf?

April 05, 2011 9:54 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


Every business calculates its taxable income by subtracting its expenses from its gross income. All rules that govern what is a subtractable expense are key -- some may be obvious, but some may be what the rest of us would deem loopholes. Certainly, if there were ever a possibility of such a tax reform, the big business lobbyists would be going full-bore to define both gross income and subtractable business expenses in ways that would minimize their tax liability.

That is what I mean about the Devil being in the details.

Also, the charitable deduction may be vital to the health of charitable institutions. For those of us in the 25% federal marginal tax bracket and 8% Maryland tax bracket who itemize deductions (mostly middle class), we know that, for example, a $100 contribution to the Red Cross will really cost us $67 after taxes. How many people would then contribute only $67 rather than $100?

Anyway, we have to look really carefully at all the ramifications of such an approach. On balance, it may be better, but it also may be worse.

April 05, 2011 10:32 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

so I briefly looked at the Ryan plan...
And I do understand how business income tax works at least on the top level...

you have fixed expenses to run the corporation and you have costs directly associated with the cost of manufacturing whatever you are producing... so you have a top level gross receipts, a number which is the cost of goods sold... and another number, which are your fixed business expenses. I believe this is where the company cars and the deferred income packages, sales meetings, and everything else I have been complaining about hits. Anyway, currently I think they can take most or all of it, and depreciate assets (like buildings) they purchase.. and take a piece of that every year as well... and if the business loses money they write all of that off against the profits. and that is just scratching the service...which is of course why GE paid no taxes (I need a new stove, and it WON"T be coming from GE)

I believe what Ryan is suggesting is to use more of a VAT tax for the businesses on the goods they purchase... but I haven't looked at it that closely yet.

I agree with you on the charitable contributions, they are also killing mortgage interest and EVERYTHING else. so how do you make an exception for that and not everything else ? right now, the only exception on deductions are the standard ones for kids and medical expenses. you start expanding and every other lobby gets in there...

fits on a postcard. That's so appealing.

it looks about the same or a little less for me, hard to tell without plugging in real numbers - a this weekend activity. But I gain probably three weeks of my time a year back ! Maybe I will go work at a homeless shelter with that time. Or teach a computer class for a non-profit. I would so grateful to have that time back.

April 05, 2011 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theresa, you can deduct what seem to be personal expenses just like businessmen do

just start a business, say consulting on energy saving tips, and then start taking your friends out to lunch and, at some point during the dessert, try to talk them into using your consulting service

then, you can deduct the meal on Schedule C

you'll be charging the taxpayers for your fun just like businessmen do

April 06, 2011 12:14 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

been there, done that.

My husband did this years and years ago - before I met him - (like 25 or so) when he ran a locksimth business on the side and did just that.. perfectly legal...and he has 1000's in locksmith equipment and really did it.. He also threw outrageous halloween beer parties for his company and wrote the whole thing off. And made maybe I don't know, 7K gross and used the income to fund his parties and his locksmith equipment and declared pratically not income, because he funded his party expenses via his small side company. did he materially particpate ? sure he did, he spent a lot of time learning that trade and on locksmith equipment. sure he did, he looked at a key to my townhouse and cut one when I hesitated on giving him one... and he absolutely knows how to pick locks and install locks and has equipment.... And he is good at it. But he also ran Halloween parties for all his friends. Funded by his company, because they were ALL validly prospects. As of course ANY general market business can claim ANY people are... just about. Years and years ago. It's a great tax code if you know how to take advantage of it AND have the time to start a side small business, invest the effort, and take advantage of it. I don't.... Or I would have to drastically change my lifestyle to do so, which again most people don't know how to do and SHOULDN"T HAVE TO KNOW

According to the tax code, has to be a real business that you have materially participated in... and you could get audited and they throw the whole thing out...

who did that ? Oh yeah, that was Tim Geithner the head of our IRS. And he inappropriately deducted Flex care for overnight camps.

The issue is the time, the complexity and the feeling that I could and should spend even MORE time doing taxes than I do, because in real wages after tax pay, I make more hunting for tax deductions than I do working over time for my company... because all that money is at the 33% bracket, plus state is another 10% plus social security and medicare puts it at a full 50% of every extra dollar I make.

The whole system is screwed up. Yes, I realize this will be a hard blow to the tax accountants and at the same time a huge boon to America, liberating us each from weeks of extra effort. which we ALL UNIVERSALY HATE.

April 06, 2011 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...


Poor Theresa. The group of tax haters may not be as UNIVERSAL as you believe it to be. You may be surprised to learn there are Americans even richer than you who are proud to do their patriotic duty and pay their fair progressive share of taxes.

Maybe you haven't heard of the Responsible Wealth Project, which is a group of wealthy Americans who say they pay too little in taxes and want to address income inequality. They advocate for progressive taxation at the state level, want to preserve a strong estate tax, and some members even sign a pledge to donate their Bush tax cut gains to tax fairness projects.

In a September 2010 editorial, the WSJ said:

"They may be an eccentric minority, or (in the view of conservatives) a lunatic fringe. But a Quinnipiac University poll this year showed nearly two-thirds of those with household incomes of more than $250,000 a year support raising their own taxes to reduce the federal deficit."

Thank you Theresa, for your clear demonstration that you are among the one third who make up what a 2010 NYTimes editorial called The Angry Rich, and that you are still angry even after the Bush tax cuts that cover your high end income have been extended.

I'll look at the details of Ryan's "cause" when I get some time, but so far this graph has me worried that the House GOP is OK with cutting the top 1% of earners income tax rate by 15% of their income and cutting Theresa's family rate by 4.2% of their family's income while raising my family's tax rate 4.5% of our income. This graph indicates that Ryan's plan increases taxes on the lowest 90% of wage earners and lowers taxes on the top 10% of wage earners.

It looks like more of the same, the GOP's version of reverse socialism, robbing Robin Hood to pay the rich.

April 06, 2011 2:29 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Bea I don't think your analysis is correct.

They are killing ALL the deductions. As I pointed out before, killing all the deductions and changing the business tax rules to VAT tax I think may net your more overall in tax revenues. When the tax rate gets too high folks - lots of folks spend a lot of time trying to get out of it. Corporations, individuals, etc.

In my case it is because I need that money for my children's education. So you are darn right I would rather keep that income for my family. And what is kind of annoying, is I continue to discover more and more valid loopholes, all of which I could be doing. But until the kids are out of college I won't be volunteering to give any extra... and I wouldn't give to the govt anyway but to a charity.

I think in ANY case 1/2 is enough for a govt to take from its citizens. Otherwise you start discouraging folks from working !

Did you look at the chart or did you run the numbers ? There is a 40K exemption for families of 4 MFJ and then 10% for the next 100K. That is lower than the current rates for all brackets. So why do you think your taxes will increase ? Run the numbers yourself and don't just accept the word of some left wing website.

April 06, 2011 3:59 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

and there is a difference between paying taxes and filing out the darn forms.

I was complaining about the complexity of the forms and how long they take, not about actually paying taxes.

April 06, 2011 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Theresa, I suggest you get more sleep. Now you've said something I do agree with.

"I think in ANY case 1/2 is enough for a govt to take from its citizens."

I'd be happy with returning the top rate to what it was under Clinton, 39.6%, but if you insist, I'll support 50% too.

April 06, 2011 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Think Progress reports:
"One particular laugh line from Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is his citation of the Heritage Foundation as the analytic basis for his claim that it will boost growth:

'A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage’s analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.'

I wonder if the Heritage Foundation has ever looked at the myriad benefits of tax cuts for the rich before. It turns out they have! Specifically, they promised us that George W Bush’s tax policies would lead the country into a brave new era of prosperity.

In fact by the end of 2009, payroll employment in the United States was back down to 2001 levels despite population growth.

Heritage also claimed Bush’s tax cuts would boost tax revenue (“the national debt would effectively be paid off by FY 2010″) when in fact it led to record deficits, and they promised a surge in personal income when in fact we got the worst income performance ever."

The Heritage Foundation report includes graphs showing the deficit dropping every year from 2001-2011, "uncommitted funds" or surplus funds growing every year starting in 2008 through 2011, and the average family of four's income increasing yearly through 2011. But the sad truth is that during the years 2000-2007, the deficit grew, the surplus shriveled up and died, and US family's income fell. Click the link and see the lying Heritage Foundation graphs yourselves.

The worst lie Heritage Foundation graphs told IMHO is the first one that shows their projected job growth as a result of the Bush tax cuts during the years that include the Bush recession. How much job growth do you remember occurring in 2007-2010? I sure do not remember any job growth at that time, except at the Census Bureau. What I remember is the left leg of the bikini graph showing employment dropping in freefall starting in December, 2007.

Ryan is relying on projections from this same partisan Heritage Foundation to create the impression his numbers work. His reliance on such a questionable source makes Ryan's "cause" looks like garbage in, garbage out to me.

April 07, 2011 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I'm old enough that Ryan's plans for Medicare don't change things for me. But for you young'uns, Ryan's plan turns Medicaid into block grants to states and Medicare into a voucher system (despite Ryan's claim that "This is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model." Oh goodie! Just what we don't need, semantics! < eye roll >), both changes save the feds money by shifting some costs to the states and to beneficiaries.

Who are those beneficiaries who will face additional costs? Half of Medicaid recipients are low-income children and the majority of Medicare beneficiaries are low-income disabled or 65 or older.

Here's what the CBO says about those recipients.

Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system. For a typical 65-year-old with average health spending enrolled in a plan with benefits similar to those currently provided by Medicare, CBO estimated the beneficiary’s spending on premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures as a share of a benchmark: what total health care spending would be if a private insurer covered the beneficiary. By 2030, the beneficiary’s spending would be 68 percent of that benchmark under the proposal, 25 percent under the extended-baseline scenario, and 30 percent under the alternative fiscal scenario.

Federal payments for Medicaid under the proposal would be substantially smaller than currently projected amounts. States would have additional flexibility to design and manage their Medicaid programs, and they might achieve greater efficiencies in the delivery of care than under current law. Even with additional flexibility, however, the large projected reduction in payments would probably require states to decrease payments to Medicaid providers, reduce eligibility for Medicaid, provide less extensive coverage to beneficiaries, or pay more themselves than would be the case under current law.

Instead of offering a mixture of revenue increases and spending cuts, this proposal includes spending cuts that hurt the elderly, the poor, the disabled and children while keeping intact deficit producing tax cuts for the wealthy. Where is the shared sacrifice the rich are contributing to get us out of this deficit hole?

April 07, 2011 8:38 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

There is something you seem to be missing. Right now the "rich" as you put in pay the vast majority of the taxes. Something like the top 5% pays 1/2 of all the taxes.

And I am referring to the total amount the govt takes from anyone in taxes should not exceed 1/2, period.

Half the country pays no tax at all. I disagree with this, if you make ANY income you should have to pay some taxes, period.

Otherwise we become a nation of folks dependent on handouts.

You really are not commenting to the idea of wiping out all the deductions and loopholes and switching all the business taxes to VAT. Do you not understand how many more people who were not previously paying taxes will now have to pay their fair share ?

You seem completely fixated on the rate. It is not just the rate. While you seem annoyed with me when I pay a good 70-75K in federal taxes every year (and you can't imagine how that kills me, every year that is 3 years of college for one of my kids). I am livid about the myriad of folks I see NOT paying at all because of the loopholes. I have explained lots of these loopholes to you... there ALL GONE under the Ryan plan. I love that.

And you seem so fixated on the rate you don't seem to get that this plan kills the ability of folks like GE to hire a myriad of lawyers and get out of paying no taxes on 5 billion. Don't you like that ?

I mean seriously, who are you more angry at ? Me, because you don't think the 70K plus I paid is enough and my rate should be higher, or GE, you made 5 BILLION and paid NO TAXES....

Don't you think your ire should be more directed at folks like GE and the truly truly rich incorporated folks that have 2 or 3 Porsches and multiple diamonds and PAY NO TAX or pratically no tax because of our current tax code ?

I mean seriously, why are you so you focused on JUST THE RATE ?

The rate is only a small, small part of it.

And yes I should get more sleep. I was printing out data sheets because the govt facility wouldn't accept the CDs corporate had sent me our marketing literature on, and I didn't discover that until about midnight and had to be at the show facility by 8 am. So I was fixing the problem. My company had paid 1500 to be at the show and I had to have literature.

April 07, 2011 11:49 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

"Half the country pays no tax at all. I disagree with this, if you make ANY income you should have to pay some taxes, period."

Just to clarify, those who pay no income taxes because their income is too low (I have no idea where you got the 50% figure) still pay taxes. Anytime anyone makes a purchase subject to the sales tax, you are paying taxes. Ditto if you own a home and pay real estate taxes. And, as a practical matter, ditto if you pay rent, since the landlord pays property taxes and the amount of rent charged takes that into account; indeed, I would think that the landlord's property taxes are a business expense, and thus come right off the top of what is taxable income for income or corporate income tax purposes.

April 07, 2011 5:06 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I know that they don't pay taxes because their income is too low.

Or in a lot of cases they get money back because of earned income credit....

stories that my nanny used to tell me about the fake ss business where illegals were filing tax returns with fake ss#'s for kids to get money back from the govt. Huge racket apparently, this was 3 or 4 years ago, I don't employ a nanny any longer...

everyone should pay period. At a lower rate, yes, but everyone pays.... no free ride ! they are all using the services of this great country and everyone should have to contribute. And should be happy to contribute according to Bea.

I understand that sales tax, property tax, etc are paid, but having to pay income tax is something EVERYONE should have to do....

Otherwise, 1/2 the country doesn't care how much we spend or care how much we tax. That's an unacceptable situation. If everyone cares, everyone is then concerned about spending and rates.

April 07, 2011 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

OK Theresa, you have discussed the taxes you pay as an individual/married couple vs. the taxes GE should pay as a corporation vs. "the complexity of the forms and how long they take."

You said you were all in favor of throwing the old system out and bring in VAT. Well Ryan brought in VAT and maybe got rid of some loopholes -- I guess we'll know for sure when the actual details come out as opposed to the "cause" he put out earlier this week. But Ryan didn't throw out the entire system. He wants to lower the top INCOME TAX RATE from 35% to 25% and may be raising my income tax bill by 4.5%. Maybe you don't want to talk about INCOME TAX RATES because yours will come down but I do want to talk about them because if Mr. Ryan's "cause" is enacted, my INCOME TAX RATE will go up while the rich will get another 10% cut in their top INCOME TAX RATE.

The Atlantic reports the Ryan tax plan will mean:

"1) The richest 1 percent of Americans see their taxes cut in half.

2) Households with incomes of more than $1 million receive an average annual tax cut of $500,000.

3) The richest 0.1 percent of Americans -- those whose incomes exceed $2.9 million a year -- would receive an average tax cut of $1.7 million a year."

While low wage earners like Uncle Beau and me will pay more in taxes and health care through Medicare. I'm sorry, but this does not sound like "shared sacrifice" to me. What are the rich sacrificing, may I ask.

I also talked about the changes to Medicare because Ryan's plan is to move some costs from the government to the beneficiaries, including Uncle Beau. What is your opinion of having low income retirees pay more for their health care as Medicare is turned into a voucher system?

You complained about me bringing in info about Ryan's 2010 plan from a "left wing website" but when I pointed out Ryan relied on numbers from a right wing group, you said nothing about that. I pointed out the Heritage Foundation had already lied to everyone about what the Bush tax cuts would do. The Bush tax cuts did NOT create jobs, lower the deficit, or raise any surplus funds like the Heritage Foundation's "analysis" said they would. Now that same group is saying the same thing about Ryan's tax overhaul -- in direct opposition to what the non-paritsan CBO said -- but you are mute about that.

That's very telling IMHO.

And BTW, the other day the Heritage Foundation already removed some of their data originally published in the Ryan plan's appendix. I agree with Krugman:

"Yep — they took the offending number out.

I mean, really, guys — this is all over the blogosphere; did you really think you could get away with pretending it was never there?"

You said it looks about the same or a little less for me, hard to tell without plugging in real numbers - a this weekend activity. But I gain probably three weeks of my time a year back !

Where will you "plug in real numbers" this weekend? According to Time magazine "while Ryan has taken a bold step and brought some hard truths into focus, many of the details of his proposal remain fuzzy. Despite massive cuts to Medicare and a redefinition of the program, Ryan's plan - the Path to Prosperity - devotes just three-and-a-half pages to the changes."

It is patriotic for all of us to share the pain of digging out of this recession. When will the rich be asked to share some of this pain?

April 08, 2011 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Sorry to disappoint you Theresa, but half of all US tax filers do not "pay no tax at all." FYI here's some data showing how many tax payers do have zero or negative tax liability.

Federal Individual Income Tax Returns with Zero or Negative Tax Liability, 1950 - 2007

Notice that the worst years in that 57 year span were the Bush years, where the percentage of zero and negative liability tax returns climbed up over 30%. In other words, when Bush was in office poverty increased more than it had since 1950. reports that in 2007, the top 1% of US wage earners earned a whopping 23.5% of all US income while the bottom 50% of wage earners earned only 14.6% of all US income. That means the upper 50% earned 85.6% of all the income.

April 08, 2011 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...



April 08, 2011 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think your tax rate is going to go up. And I don't think it should, either.

Assume MFJ.
The current schedule for 2011 is this :

Tax Rate Schedule Y-1, Internal Revenue Code section 1(a)]
•10% on taxable income from $0 to $17,000, plus
•15% on taxable income over $17,000 to $69,000, plus
•25% on taxable income over $69,000 to $139,350, plus
•28% on taxable income over $139,350 to $212,300, plus
•33% on taxable income over $212,300 to $379,150, plus
•35% on taxable income over $379,150.

Say you are making 80K and right now have 2 people for deduction - assume 7.4K, mtg interest of 10K and state taxes of 5K. Charitable of 1.5K. I get 7.565K under the old plan and 5.5K under the Ryan plan. And if it is not less taxes for those actually PAYING under the current plan that needs to be fixed.

Perhaps the increase on the lower income levels is due to killing earned income credit tax credits, where they end up with folks paying no taxes and getting money back. I disagree with that practice as I indicated above.

I still believe that the rich who are taking the most advantage of the loopholes now will not be able to do so in the future... You would have to go through and compare adjusted gross income with taxable income under the current plan for the upper classes....I believe there is a significant number of upper income folks where there is an enormous disparity in the those numbers... I not positive, but that is what I believe. I suppose that is a statistic that someone should be able to track. Thus I think for a lot of the upper class the taxes should go up.

Also apparently you can make a choice which plan you want to be on (old or new) twice in your life and at every major event (divorce, marriage, birth)...

But I believe first time filers go on the new plan.

April 08, 2011 12:46 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Bea -
On your chart of zero tax liability filers, I don't think you can assume those folks in poverty, (on a corporate level, GE would be on that chart !).

So would my car wash boss who effectively and legally zeroed his income...

On the Medicare issue, Medicare is not getting the costs under control. Putting it under private insurance companies, they will keep the costs under control... however, I think you probably will need a team of folks to help elderly folks fight the insurance companies, that is more than a little worrisome.

It would be interesting to compare the Tricare military expenditures and see if they are as out of control as Medicare is, and then look at what the plans are doing differently.

Ryan just went with a simple solution, give the problems to commercial entities....

Don't you see those scooter rental commericials where they keep advertising that Medicare will cover the whole scooter... doesn't that tell you there is something wrong with the current system..

April 08, 2011 12:56 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

On the Bush tax cuts, we had 9/11 in there so I think that skews the picture and you can't really say what would have happened to total tax revenues otherwise...

So I don't know that you can go back and point at a graph and say you predicted this and it didn't come true when you have an intervening event like that.

April 08, 2011 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, and at least Ryan started the conversation and put a budget out there to get us back on the right track.

That's more than the Democrats have done. They didn't even bother to pass one last year.

April 08, 2011 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

First of all Theresa, your assumptions about my income are way off base. For one, Uncle Beau and I don't pay on our mortgage any more, we burned it.

Second, I suggest you try to find facts that back up all the things you say you "believe" because doing your own research might teach you some facts.

Third, you said, "On your chart of zero tax liability filers, I don't think you can assume those folks in poverty, (on a corporate level, GE would be on that chart !)"

As I pointed out in my last reply to you, you are talking about individual taxes and corporate taxes and filling out tax forms. These are separate things. The chart I linked to was the "Federal Individual Income Tax Returns with Zero or Negative Tax Liability, 1950 - 2007" and there is no data about a single CORPORATE income tax return included in that chart.

Last, your comment about "the Bush tax cuts, we had 9/11" completely dodges the question of the Heritage Foundation's well-documented right wing taint.

And you still haven't answered the question that matters most to me: what is the sacrifice Ryan's tax plan asks of the rich? IMHO Ryan is socking it to the poor to give even bigger income tax rebates to the rich.

April 08, 2011 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Individuals can pull games on tax returns as well, quite easily. My example of my boss with the car wash...
He makes about 250K a year (on his own, his wife doesn't work), but the car wash which he declares as a Schedule C business loss, lost on paper about 200K a year, leaves him with 50K in income. So he pays no tax. In reality the car wash just about breaks even, but with depreciation it is a loss.

There are also Schedule Ks partnerships which can also be used on personal income taxes... same sort of thing....

So wealthly folks can get out of a lot of the taxes by taking zeroing out of their taxable income. Ie, they may start out with 250K of adjusted gross and end up with 50K taxable because of the loop holes - which are applicable to personal income taxes every bit as much as corporate taxes.

And that is where this tax code may very well end up taxing the rich more, especially those that own corporations. I am hoping that you wipe out all the deductions and loopholes and all of a sudden you can't play those sorts of games anymore...

So in a lot of cases, even though the rate is lower, the actual tax paid may be quite a bit higher, because the deductions are gone.

And for those folks who own small incorporated businesses and have been pulling all sorts of tricks, they all of a sudden have to pay ...

As far as who is sacrificing, we never should have had a tax code that paid people money back. That's called welfare.

And you are never going to convince me as much as I already pay that I should be paying more... Not with what I see going on with small businesses and incorporated firms. No way.

The problem again Bea, is not the rate, it is the complexity of the tax code and the fact that those who really know how to manipulate it get out of so much of the tax burden of our society.

April 08, 2011 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

OK Theresa, I join you in your hope "that you wipe out all the deductions and loopholes and all of a sudden you can't play those sorts of games anymore," (but I still wish you'd report the tax cheats you know to the IRS). But like David said, the devil will be in the details. If the details turn out like the earmarks ban that has apparently gone into effect for Democratic districts but not GOP districts, there could be protests that make six weeks in Madison look like a day in the park.

If you ever decide to honestly address the issue that matters the most to me -- WHERE IS THE SHARED SACRIFICE THE RYAN PLAN ASKS OF THE RICH -- perhaps I will rejoin this conversation.

April 09, 2011 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing, what these folks are doing with their taxes is LEGAL under the current tax code, which has 3300 loopholes.

Blasting away the loopholes, that cause the truly wealthy to pay less taxes than you or I, is the sacrifice.

However switching to this none loophole plan is optional.... so, if you would need to make it mandatory. However then you would never get it passed....

April 09, 2011 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

The activities of the people you know who were using the fake SSNs are not legal, Theresa.

I've had some time to go through Ryan's "cause" found here.

You said "Blasting away the loopholes, that cause the truly wealthy to pay less taxes than you or I, is the sacrifice."

Here's what Ryan actually said about loopholes on Page 53 "The new, simplified code outlined in this budget will continue to raise sufficient revenue to fund the government by broadening the tax base, eliminating or limiting as necessary existing tax deductions, exclusions, and other special provisions." The plan doesn't say it's eliminating all loopholes. Devilish details of which loopholes will be closed vs. those that will simply be limited "as necessary" to come.

On Page 50, Ryan states his plan will "Reform the tax code by consolidating the current six brackets and cutting the top individual rate from 35 percent to 25 percent." There are devilish details of what will happen to the non-top individual tax rate brackets to come.

If you want to know why am I talking about these income tax rates, Theresa, it's because I'm talking about one of the few details found in Ryan's "cause."

Middle class people and small businesses will also have their loopholes "blasted away" but Ryan does not mention any lowering of their income tax rates in his plan. Should we assume the lower tax bracket income tax rates will remain unchanged while only the top bracket will be lowered?

Tell me again how losing these loopholes is the sacrifice for the rich, who are ALSO HAVING THE TAX RATE IN THE TOP TAX BRACKET LOWERED while middle class people are losing the same loopholes but are NOT having the tax rates in their lower tax brackets lowered.

On Page 51, Ryan states "Over time, additional brackets, credits and carve-outs have grown on the tax code like weeds. In the last ten years alone, there have been nearly 4,500 changes made to the tax code."

The past 10 years, seven of which had the GOP in control of Congress and the White House, is when Ryan laments "there have been nearly 4,500 changes made to the tax code." What does he imagine all those "truly wealthy" people with all their new tax refunds will pay lobbyists to lobby for over the next 10 years? If he thinks they won't be lobbying for -- and getting -- more "deductions, exclusions, and other special provisions," he's naive at best.

Ryan points out on page 51 "Three quarters of the nation’s small businesses file as individuals, meaning that higher individual rates make it harder for these vital enterprises to compete. Small businesses are responsible for almost two thirds of the jobs created in the United States in the past 15 years, and almost 50 percent of small-business profits are taxed at the top two rates," which of course means over 50 percent of small-business profits are taxed at lower than the top two rates and only one quarter of small businesses file as partnerships or corporations.

Ryan wants to give the biggest small businesses a lowered tax rate, but he thinks small and medium sized small-businesses can still pay taxes at their old rate PLUS loose any old loopholes they used to qualify for.

Ryan's plan means everybody including "the truly wealthy" will have their loopholes "blasted away" but only "the truly wealthy" will have their income tax rates lowered.

This does not qualify as "shared sacrifice" IMHO.

April 10, 2011 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ryan's plan means everybody including "the truly wealthy" will have their loopholes "blasted away" but only "the truly wealthy" will have their income tax rates lowered."

the "loopholes" the wealthy use are far more vast simply because they have more complicated situations and more money that the government is trying to control through the tax code

Theresa's right- the percentage of total Federal receipts made by the wealthy will go up under Ryan's plan

but social tinkering is not the intention and, despite the rantings of the socialists who comment here, shouldn't be the intention of tax policy

what Ryan's plan does is rollback the role of the Federal government in the personal lives of its citizens, enhancing our freedom

I'm a little disappointed it doesn't reduce the deficit more but Obama's plan doesn't present any competition in that regard

indeed, if you're a Democrat, you must be beginning to see what a fatal error you made putting this guy in the White House

the biggest boost that Ryan's plan has gotten is that Obama's budget is so ridiculouly unfeasible that no acceptable alternative exists

if Obama had proposed a budget that even began to address the serious debt problem we're in, Ryan's plan might not have a chance

Obama is not a leader and not a strategist

and maybe, not a natural-born citizen

not long ago, the media was characterizing any suggestion that Obama wasn't born in America as "nutty"

now, Donald Trump has revived the issue and no one is saying that anymore

why has Obama spent millions in legal fees trying to prevent any disclosure?

why has no birth certificate signed and in sequential serial number been released?

why can no one find anyone who remembers Obama as a child?

why did Obama's grandmother say she saw him born when she never left Kenya?

when will Obama resign for the good of the country?

April 10, 2011 12:12 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

You know Bea, I don't know what you do about all the folks filing as businesses under personal income tax and your stat that 2/3 of businesses file that way is interesting.

I had two conversations in the past two days with folks that were telling me I can convert myself to an LLC quite legally and get out of a lot of taxes... one as I was taking my foreign exchange student to the airport and another with a guy raising money for one of the kids schools that just happens to be a tax attorney/tax lobbyist. So who knows, I probably ought to stop complaining about it and just figure out how to join the crowd.

I don't know who specifically was using fake ss numbers, and that was at the lower end of the bracket anyway. My old nanny told me that there was a huge racket doing this, this was at least 4 years ago and I don't know any of the people specifically, so....

What I can tell you is under the current tax code I make more hauling the masses of stuff that accumulated in my attics when the kids were little off to goodwill, than I do working overtime for my company in after tax income.


April 10, 2011 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

April 10, 2011 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You know Bea, I don't know what you do about all the folks filing as businesses under personal income tax and your stat that 2/3 of businesses file that way is interesting.

They are stats Ryan cited in his plan on Page 51 and you've mixed them up. Once again in the hopes of fostering better reading comprehension, here's the cut and paste I cited from Ryan's plan along with my comments:

Ryan points out on page 51 "Three quarters of the nation’s small businesses file as individuals, meaning that higher individual rates make it harder for these vital enterprises to compete. Small businesses are responsible for almost two thirds of the jobs created in the United States in the past 15 years, and almost 50 percent of small-business profits are taxed at the top two rates," which of course means over 50 percent of small-business profits are taxed at lower than the top two rates and only one quarter of small businesses file as partnerships or corporations.

It's not "folks filing as businesses," it's "small businesses file as individuals" and it's not "2/3," it's "three-fourths."

The 2/3 figure relates to how many American jobs are created by small businesses, over half of which -- the lowest income earners -- will lose their income loopholes and be charged at the same income tax rate for more of their income under the Ryan plan than they are charged now.

Remember, it's only "almost 50 percent" of small businesses who file in the top two tax brackets. But it is only those who file in the very top single bracket, whether filing as individuals or as businesses, who will see their tax rates lowered under the Ryan plan. All other small businesses/small business owners will pay the same income tax rate on more taxable income due to fewer allowable deductions and exemptions. Devilish details to follow about which exact "loopholes" are to be closed...

So according to stats cited by Ryan, small businesses account for 2/3 of our newly created jobs. But rather than rewarding small businesses for this benefit to our economy, Ryan's tax plan will increase the amount of taxable income on all small businesses, while lowering the corporate and individual tax rate for only those small businesses with the highest incomes.

As a small business owner, this sounds like a CRAZY plan to kill the vast majority of US small businesses' ability to create 2/3 of our new jobs.

April 11, 2011 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is now saying he will give a speech this week telling the country that he wants to cut Medicare and Medicaid AND raise taxes

the guy was dragged kicking and screaming to the debt reduction table and once again changes his plans suddenly

do you know how many times this guy has planned a trip and cancelled at the last second?

anyway, his calling for tax hikes is good news for anyone hoping to be elected President in 2012, other than him

April 11, 2011 11:41 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

See I think all businesses should be taxed on a VAT tax.

If you have a business, you file a seperate return, and you pay a VAT tax, regardless of what kind of a business it is.

You can just play too many games with business expenses, and they all come off the top before any tax is paid, so you end up with folks like GE making 5 billion and not paying any tax.

And you end up with folks like me, in sales, married to someone on W2 income, losing all the deductions because of AMT for a perfectly valid home office (the only corporate office we have is in CA)... even stuff like the electricity bill, the fact that I can't turn the heat way down or ac way up during working hours or I personally suffer while trying to work. I've tried it, your productivity goes way down when its 87 degrees believe me.

So you know what, that is not fair. Stick all the businesses (regardless of what kind) on a VAT tax, put all the income on a simple tax rate schedule, and be done with it.

Pretty amusing that you are so vocal about the rates when you are filing as a small business and probably getting out of most of your taxes.... Care to share your cost of good sold, gross revenues, and fixed expenses :-). Does your small business provide a car for you Bea ?

April 11, 2011 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Sure Theresa, you want me to bare my numbers for the world to see. Here you go.

Cost of goods sold - we don't sell goods, we provide services

Gross revenues 2010 - $101.5K

I won't bore you with the details of how that gross is distributed among expenses including Payroll, Telephone, Advertising, Office Supplies, Field Supplies, Business Insurance, Business License, Professional Fees, Postage, Corporate Taxes, etc.

Our business provides no car for me or Uncle Beau but it does pay for Beau's cell phone so he can call in from the field. Our last four car purchases have been used cars.

April 12, 2011 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't bought a new car in 15 years either, Bea.

Last question, how much did you pay in taxes ?

April 13, 2011 8:45 PM  

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