QUOTE OF THE DAY
Reason: Romanticizing Taxation
In the debate over avoiding the "fiscal cliff"—especially over whose taxes should and shouldn't be raised—I detect an annoying attempt to romanticize taxation. I read this as an act of desperation on the part of those who want higher taxes on the wealthy, for there is nothing romantic about taxation.
The other day MSNBC's Chris Hayes invoked Franklin Roosevelt in support of higher taxes on the top 2 percent. Pulling out all the stops, Hayes quoted from one of FDR's October 1936 campaign speeches, in which Roosevelt said:
In 1776 the fight was for democracy in taxation. In 1936 that is still the fight. Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.” One sure way to determine the social conscience of a Government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax-reaction.
Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.
As society becomes more civilized, Government—national, State and local government—is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society have vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues.
National Review: The Royal Presidency
According to the USAF, in 2010 Air Force One cost American taxpayers $181,757 per flight hour. According to the Royal Canadian Air Force, in 2011 the CC-150 Polaris military transport that flew William and Kate from Vancouver to Los Angeles cost Her Majesty’s Canadian subjects $15,505 per hour — or about 8/100ths of the cost.
Bloomberg: Google Revenues Sheltered in No-Tax Bermuda Soar to $10 Billion
Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, almost double the total from three years before, filings show.
By legally funneling profits from overseas subsidiaries into Bermuda, which doesn’t have a corporate income tax, Google cut its overall tax rate almost in half. The amount moved to Bermuda is equivalent to about 80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011.
New York Times: Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy
THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.
Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.
Weekly Standard: The Sebelius Coverup
HHS has contracted with a subsidiary of a private health care company to help build and police the very exchanges in which that company will be competing for business. The person who ran the government entity that awarded that contract has since accepted a position with a different subsidiary of that same company. An insurance industry insider (speaking on the condition of anonymity) says that HHS, in an attempt to hide this unseemly contract from public view until after the election, encouraged the company to hide the transaction from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to my source (the basis for most of this account), in January, HHS awarded Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI) what the Hill describes as “a large contract to build a federal data services hub to help run the complex federal health insurance exchange.” At that time, the director of Obamacare’s newly established Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) — which the Hill describes as “the office tasked with crafting rules for the national exchange” — was Steve Larsen. Larsen had been the insurance commissioner for Maryland when Obama’s HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, was the insurance commissioner for Kansas, and the two are reportedly close. The CCIIO awarded the Obamacare exchange contract to QSSI while Larsen was the CCIIO’s director, and he played a central role in planning the construction of the exchanges — although it’s not known whether he made the decision to award the contract to QSSI or not.
Click On Detroit: MI Schools Close as Teachers Demonstrate
Superintendent says teachers are likely going to be at protests in Lansing over right-to-work.
The Taylor School District will be closed down Tuesday because of the high number of staff that have either called in sick or are taking personal days to attend rallies in Lansing.
Superintendent Diane Allen told Local 4 there isn’t enough teachers to cover classrooms, so the all schools will be closed for the day. She said she had heard from a principal about where the teachers were going.
Politico: Ex-IRS chief: No AMT patch and tax season will be in 'chaos'
Doug Shulman, the former IRS commissioner, said the IRS and the 2012 tax filing season will be thrown into “chaos” if lawmakers do not fix the so-called alternative minimum tax by the end of the year.
“If those aren’t fixed, it’s going to be real chaos with the American people trying to interact with the IRS,” Shulman said at POLITICO Pro’s P2012 Policy and Politics Tax Luncheon. “People won’t get refunds.”
Atlantic Cities: The Uselessness of Economic Development Incentives
This week, the New York Times ran an important series of articles on state and local incentives to business. The reporting was terrific, but even better is the data set the Times put together on the scale and scope of these incentives. The paper points out that its reporters spent some 10 months compiling data from states, cities, and counties.
All told, states, cities, and counties give away some $80 billion to companies each year, including both expenditures and tax abatements, according to the Times' estimates. There are 48 companies which have received more than $100 million in incentives since 2007, led by General Motors, which took in a whopping $1.77 billion in incentives. Other companies that are part of the $100 million incentive club include: Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, General Electric, Shell, Dow, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble, Sears, Boeing, Airbus, Panasonic, and Electrolux. More than 5,000 companies received one million dollars or more in incentives, according to the Times' estimates.