December 13, 2017

You Deserve a Tax Break and Your Boss Does Too

taxbreak_mini 3Republicans during the Reagan and Bush administrations had a pretty straightforward fiscal policy: increase federal spending dramatically and cut marginal income tax rates modestly, predicting the resulting economic growth would eventually balance the budget. Both administrations increased spending roughly 80-100 percent, depending upon where you draw the start and end lines, given the government’s fiscal year running October 1 – September 30. Predictably, federal debt exploded during both administrations.

This time around, some things are the same, but some are different. The predictable (and predicted) growth of entitlements and the quasi-religious belief military spending must always increase (the military must be “rebuilt!”) has produced what should be a frightening result: federal debt doubled during a Democratic administration under which federal spending increased a mere 28-33 percent, again depending on where you draw the lines.

It’s All Class Warfare

So, the usual Republican modus operandi is not going to fly this time around. Not only have Republicans run on making government smaller, before again blowing up spending once they got in power, but they’ve railed for eight years against Obama’s debt legacy.

They can’t just ignore deficits as they have in the past and expect to win again in future elections, so they’re left with only one choice: “reform” the tax code so it collects the same or more revenue and sell it as a tax cut.

That’s not to say it’s going to work. Federal tax revenue will likely decrease overall under their plan, despite their efforts to raise taxes on some people while cutting them for others. But Republicans can ignore reality as well as Democrats when they need to. If you doubt that, ask any ten Republicans at random if the government got bigger or smaller while Reagan was president.

Republicans are also virtually identical to Democrats in their Marxist view of society.For Republicans, just like Democrats and communists, it is made up of different “classes” of people, competing with each other in a zero-sum game for pieces of a static, finite “pie.” This is explicit in their rhetoric about “tax cuts for the middle class” or the sublimely obtuse “working class” (doesn’t anyone generating an income, large or small, work?)

While it’s true the idea of classes in society predates Marx, it is his vision which dominates the tax code, most strikingly in its assumption there is some fundamental difference between employees of going concerns and owners.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

An Extended Tax Reform Debate Will Subject Us to the Usual Absurdities

liarJohn McCain’s confirmation he’d vote against the House tax reform bill as currently proposed means Republicans won’t be able to lower taxes – for some people – nearly as quickly as most of them want to. In all, three Republican senators have indicated their unwillingness to vote for the plan, meaning Republicans would need Democratic votes to get it through.

As Democratic support is unlikely, the American public will have to endure several weeks or months of grandstanding, proposed amendments, and further neutering of any real benefit to taxpayers. The worst thing about these rituals is they are always largely a debate over absurdities. Here are just a few of the perennial favorites.

Over Ten Years

Both sides of any tax and spending debate use the “over ten years” canard. Those politicians claiming their plan will “balance the budget” claim their bill will do so in ten years, always after increasing spending this year. Those opposing the same plan will pick out spending lines they don’t like, whether increases, decreases, or new spending, and use the ten-year canard to make the impact seem bigger than it is.

For example, if Republicans proposed cutting $100 billion from domestic spending (a mere 2.5% of the overall federal budget), Democrats would wail Republicans were depriving the public of $1 trillion of desperately needed services. Republicans would claim they were saving taxpayers $1 trillion. Neither side would acknowledge the $1 trillion is a rather small percentage of the ten-year federal budget.

In reality, Congress has no power to pass any bill that can’t be changed in as little as two years. Spending bills are debated every year. So, anything politicians say and the media parrot regarding a spending bill’s effects over the next ten years is largely hot air. All that really matters is what their proposals will do next year. And that news is virtually never good.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Newsweek: Trump’s Tax Reform is Aimed at Punishing Democratic Voters

dmoe votersOn October 19, Republicans passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history, a version of which narrowly passed the House on Thursday.

At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5 percent increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII: increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

Simple arithmetic will tell you that if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must increase, too. But although the GOP has been happy to let deficits explode in the past, they will have a harder time defending them this time around after their eight-year assault on Obama’s deficits, which increased debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Therefore, Republicans are going to have to raise taxes to avoid bigger deficits.

They have set out to do exactly that to their political opponents while cutting taxes for their supporters.

All of this makes their current narrative about eliminating the state and local deduction from federal tax liability especially unseemly.

They claim the deductions force low tax states to subsidize high tax states like California, but that’s not true. California and New York pay more in federal taxes than they reap in federal benefits.

That isn’t to defend the egregious taxation in states like New York. But as Republicans love to remind us, the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans pay most of the income taxes and most of those people live in blue states Republicans are targeting for effective tax hikes.

Read the rest in Newsweek…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Big-Spending Republicans Seek Tax Hikes on Blue States

taxincreasesignTen days ago, Republicans passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history, a version of which narrowly passed the House on Thursday. At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5% increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII: increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

A History of Spending Increases

Simple arithmetic will tell you that if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must increase, too. But although the GOP has been happy to let deficits explode in the past, they will have a harder time defending them this time around after their eight-year assault on Obama’s deficits, which increased debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Therefore, Republicans are going to have to raise taxes to avoid bigger deficits. They have set out to do exactly that to their political opponents while cutting taxes for their supporters. All of this makes their current narrative about eliminating the state and local deduction from federal tax liability especially unseemly. They claim the deductions force low tax states to subsidize high tax states like California, but that’s not true. California and New York pay more in federal taxes than they reap in federal benefits.

That isn’t to defend the egregious taxation in states like New York. But as Republicans love to remind us, the wealthiest 20% of Americans pay most of the income taxes and most of those people live in blue states Republicans are targeting for effective tax hikes. To raise spending by $200 billion and then claim the moral high ground based on fake news is exasperating even by Washington’s standards.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Why a free market would work for health care

Doctor_655362410569_AP-676x450 (640x426) (2)TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising only to “repeal and replace.”

Replace?

Jon Stewart took the opportunity to join conservatives in criticizing the government’s performance during his interview with Kathleen Sebelius because he knew it wasn’t a principled argument. That the government didn’t have its website ready to handle the volume doesn’t address the principle of Obamacare.

This wrongheaded criticism by conservatives allowed Stewart to join in and appear to viewers as if he were being objective, while at the same time delivering the message that Democrats ultimately want Americans to accept: that “a market-based solution doesn’t work for health care.”

First, it is important to define “free market.” When attempting to do so, both conservatives and liberals tend to focus on competition, private ownership of the means of production and the profit motive. These are actually results of the free market, not defining characteristics.

The free market has only one defining characteristic: that all exchanges of property occur by mutual, voluntary consent. Period.

That the means of production are privately owned is a result of this, as no government acquisition of anything occurs by voluntary consent. Competition, too, occurs because customers are free to choose which products they buy or whether they buy at all. This motivates producers to make their products more attractive in quality, price or both. They are also motivated to operate at a profit, both for their own enrichment and in order to survive. Losing money eventually results in the dissolution of the firm.

Applying the definition, a free market in healthcare means simply that all exchanges of property, including the labor of doctors, occurs by mutual, voluntary consent. There is only one alternative to this: coercion. If all participants are not acting by voluntary consent, then some or all are being forced to make exchanges under the threat of violence if they don’t.

Anyone who doubts this should simply withhold the Medicare portion of his tax payments and see what happens next.

Stewart made a familiar argument that is compelling on its face. The free market doesn’t work for health care because patients in need of treatment are often not in a position to make choices the way they do when buying shoes or automobiles. Patients may be picked up in an ambulance delirious or even unconscious. It is unreasonable to assume those patients can make rational decisions about which hospitals they are taken to, which providers treat them or what treatments are administered to them.

Granted, but here’s the rub. Their situation is worthy of compassion, but it does not give them the right to force others to do their bidding. They have every right to ask for help, but not demand it. Their misfortune may not be their fault, but bad luck does not grant them a legal claim on the property of others. Nor does it give them the right to dictate the terms under which an exchange of property is to take place. That exchange either happens by mutual, voluntary consent or freedom is annihilated.

The same argument applies to those who simply cannot afford to purchase health care. Again, many find themselves in this position through no fault of their own. That doesn’t give them the right to use force on innocent third parties.

American governments were once constituted with the assumption that the government’s role was to ensure a free market. As John Locke said in his famous treatise, “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.”

It is no accident that Thomas Jefferson had a resolution passed in Virginia declaring that Locke’s treatise was the basis for American liberty.

However, the argument against Obamacare is not just a moral but a utilitarian one. There are cause and effect relationships between the manner in which exchanges are made and the affordability of products. When all exchanges are voluntary, supply expands, prices fall, and wealth is distributed widely. That’s why real wages rose so dramatically during the 19th century, contrary to leftist myths.

When exchanges are involuntary, these cause and effect relationships are disrupted. It is no accident that the most heavily regulated and subsidized industries, like education and health care, are the most disproportionately expensive. Heavy regulation artificially limits supply. Forced subsidies artificially expand demand. Both interventions make prices go up. It’s simple economics.

The health care market suffered from both interventions long before Obamacare. Medicare and Medicaid alone make up about a third of all health care spending. Regulation regarding who can dispense care makes medieval guilds look liberal. It’s no mystery why the price of health care is outrageously high.

If the Republican Party is to remain relevant at all, it has to stand for something other than myopic cheap shots over inconsequential issues like the Obamacare website. It has to stand for freedom. If not, it’s time for it to step aside, as its forbears the Whig and Federalist parties did. There just might be a party waiting in the wings that more faithfully represents voters who truly want a more limited government.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Why are American citizens financially responsible to defend Syrians?

Tax DayTAMPA, September 1, 2013 — One day after President Obama indicated he would seek a vote from Congress on whether to launch missile strikes against Syria, media outlets have already begun reporting on the debate from a number of perspectives. As usual, one perspective is completely ignored: that of the American taxpayer.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to tax U.S. citizens to provide for the common defense of U.S. citizens, not every soul on the planet. The only exception is for citizens in countries with whom the United States has signed a mutual defense treaty. In those situations, it is assumed that American taxpayers get a reasonably equal benefit back in defense provided to them.

The founders still told us to avoid those alliances whenever possible.

Regardless, the United States has no treaty with Syria. If it did, it would be with the Assad government, not with rebels attempting to overthrow it. Syria has not attacked the United States nor issued a declaration of war against them. There isn’t even a U.N. Security Council resolution for force against Syria, which strict constitutionalists don’t recognize as legitimate anyway.

President Obama is arguing for the United States to intervene militarily solely for “humanitarian” reasons. That begs the question:

How did American taxpayers become financially responsible for protecting Syrian rebels and civilians?

Every other U.S. president has recognized that Americans can only be taxed to pay for their own defense or the defense of allies by treaty. The arguments haven’t always been bulletproof, but at least they have acknowledged this principle.

President George W. Bush made his case for the Iraq War based upon Saddam Hussein’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction.” At one point, the administration went so far as to say that Hussein could strike the United States “within 45 minutes.”

Why did the administration go to such lengths to exaggerate Iraq’s capabilities? Because it recognized that only an imminent threat to American citizens would justify a war against Iraq.

“Operation Deliberate Force” in Serbia was recognized as a NATO operation, meaning the United States participated due to a supposed treaty obligation. President Clinton’s attempts to conduct military operations in Africa and Haiti for humanitarian reasons were met with public and congressional opposition. Both interventions were aborted prior to prolonged involvement.

In Korea and Viet Nam, Americans were told war was necessary to prevent “the domino effect,” where one Asian nation after another would fall to communism, which then would spread to the rest of the world. The theory was proven wrong when North Viet Nam took over South Viet Nam and communism still failed. Still, the stated reason for war was to protect Americans from communist aggression.

President Obama has broken new ground. He has argued that not only does the U.S. government have the authority to tax Americans to defend every human being on the planet, but that the president can order military intervention for that reason on his authority alone.

Unfortunately, this has led many to believe that his decision to wait until Congress debates the intervention is some sort of victory for constitutional government.

It’s not. Nowhere in the Constitution is it stated or implied that American taxpayers are financially responsible for the common defense of the whole world.

Military operations are not funded by donations. Taxpayers are compelled to pay them by force. That’s why the Constitution sets limits to what Americans can be taxed for: “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

As widely as that clause has been interpreted, no one could possibly interpret it to mean defense of Syrian civilians under present circumstances, nor for the citizens of non-treaty partners in any other country.

If the constitution imposes no such financial obligation on American taxpayers, then what does? When and how did American taxpayers consent to it? By what authority is it enforced? When and how will this financial obligation end?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.