Taxes, Libel and Spending Open Thread

Taxing the Blue States: it’s a thing

Democrats have been saying for years that we need tax increases, and that paying taxes is one of the greatest forms of patriotism. Now it looks like President Trump is going to put their beliefs to the test.

Trump’s new tax plan would hit blue states hardest, by eliminating the federal deductibility of state income and property taxes. That’s going to make it harder for blue states to maintain the high tax rates they’ve traditionally levied…

As attentive readers will have noted, I’ve long dropped off the idea of cutting taxes merely to cut taxes. There are taxes which are bad, and taxes which ain’t so bad…and also taxes which are merely useful for various purposes. I’ve long advocated a “wealth tax” on super-rich individuals who own a great deal in stocks and bonds…part of this is so that the income tax on less wealthy people can be reduced, but the other part is to make these super-rich liberals feel the heat: they’re always calling for income tax hikes they never have to pay because they don’t make income, as such. But I also like this idea of putting pressure on Blue State tax rates…they jack up their rates sky high and offset it by allowing people to deduct it from their federal tax. No more, as far as I’m concerned…you want to soak your people, then pay the full political price for it.

Should we amend our libel laws?

On Sunday, a day after President Trump railed against the press at a rally marking his 100th day in office, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said of amending the Constitution to expand libel law: “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”

It would take an amendment – case law on this is pretty set in stone: you can say what you want about people and unless the target can not only prove it a lie, but prove the person saying it knew it was a lie, then the accuser is off the hook. As for me, I don’t think that the 1st Amendment was intended to provide such iron-clad protection for dishonesty.

There is an argument to be made – and its a strong one – that when someone set out to critique especially a political person, the widest latitude must be given. It is a difficult thing to get into policing political comment. On the other hand, it is so hard to combat outright lies that mostly the are left out there, unchallenged in any meaningful way. And now in the age of social media, even regular folks are coming under the gun of crude fabrications for political purposes. I’ve said before what I’d want in this area: a mere protection of employment for things uttered outside the place of employment. I know this means that a person can run down their employer, but it also – and most crucially – means that a person’s job isn’t at risk if a Twitter mob decides to take exception to a statement. Losing a job is a huge risk for people…and to protect their jobs, people will do just about anything…even knuckle under to political correctness. We need to think on this and discuss it.

The spending bill to carry us through to October 1st is not getting a lot of Conservative approval. Rightly so – it is a bad bill. I only moderately excuse it by noting it is, really, Obama’s last budget. Had their been regular order in 2016, this (or something even worse) is what we would have gotten this year. I’ll forgive this dog of a bill if the FY 2018 budget has at least an ounce of Conservatism in it.

31 thoughts on “Taxes, Libel and Spending Open Thread

  1. Retired Spook May 2, 2017 / 10:36 am

    The fact that the Fair Tax hasn’t gotten more traction than it has leaves no rational conclusion other than taxation is not really about funding the government, but, first and foremost, about social engineering. The Fair Tax would fund government better than any other taxation method with no disadvantages, unless, of course, you’re a Leftist. It can’t be used as a club to force people into certain behaviors, which is why the Left opposes it.

    • Amazona May 2, 2017 / 11:49 am

      I think if it were presented that way it would get a lot of support. But in fact it has never been presented at all, has just been a rumor and only people who follow politics have ever heard of it.

      Trump won on a populist campaign, and the Fair Tax is a populist tax. But it also lacks something Mark supports, which is hammering the richest people because they have more money. In reality, the richest would still pay more, because they are the ones who buy the most expensive things, and they are not going to stop doing that. But it lacks the emotional content of targeting “the rich”.

      One thing I think would appeal to people is the lack of a tax on used items. This means that if you want to buy a new car, you can, but that car will retain more of its value because there will be people who want to buy it to avoid the consumption tax they would have to pay for a new car. Ditto for other high ticket items.

      The Fair Tax not only removes the club that the government uses to force people into certain behaviors, it drastically reduces or even shuts down the ability of the government to weaponize taxation to reward or punish certain groups or people.

      • Retired Spook May 2, 2017 / 12:02 pm

        One thing I think would appeal to people is the lack of a tax on used items. This means that if you want to buy a new car, you can, but that car will retain more of its value because there will be people who want to buy it to avoid the consumption tax they would have to pay for a new car. Ditto for other high ticket items.

        We had a Fair Tax presentation at our local Tea Party meeting last month, and in the Q&A someone asked if it would not destroy the market for “new” products. The answer was that, because of the fact that all the embedded tax that is part of the final cost of new products would disappear under the Fair Tax, the cost of new products wouldn’t really go up much, if at all. There is not much for a rational person to dislike about the Fair Tax. It gets rid of the income tax and IRS (IRS agents then can be used to secure the border and gradually disappear due to attrition), It taxes money that currently is not taxed — illicit profits from gambling, vice, drugs, etc. And it allows people who wish to live frugally to avoid taxes.

      • Amazona May 2, 2017 / 12:27 pm

        BTW, we also need to shut up party and administration spokespeople who don’t know what they are talking about.

        We don’t need to amend the 1st Amendment. It only got expanded because Leftists wanted it to cover everything from “art” to vicious personal attacks. We just need a SCOTUS with the brains and the backbone to rule that it covers freedom of political speech so citizens are not stopped from criticizing the government, and freedom of the press for the same reasons. It was never intended to provide protection for every single thing anyone felt like saying or doing. In its time, no one ever anticipated that this freedom of political speech protection would be applied to pornography or mindless insults.

      • M. Noonan May 2, 2017 / 8:27 pm

        That would be ideal – I’ve always believed that the 1st Amendment says what is says, no more. To impute into it that it covers vile lies (or other questionable things) when it was clearly designed to protect political and religious (and philosophical) speech is a bit of a stretch.

      • Amazona May 2, 2017 / 12:36 pm

        Spook, I would at first set the IRS agents put out of work to clean up the mess Immigration has made, and get rid of the inexcusable backlogs of legitimate, legal applications. And then, as you say, not replace them as they retire.

        We talk about securing the border, but a problem that receives little attention is the fact that our immigration bureaucracy is a mess. It takes several years to process a permanent residency application even if the person has been investigated and then granted work permits. That is just stupid. I know of a man whose permit was held up for years because there was a difference of one letter in the spelling of one of his mother’s names, and he had received two prior work permits that had been granted after extensive investigation. When he had a second job opportunity in the States, Immigration didn’t go back and look at the file from his first application but redid the whole thing—ditto for the permanent residency application. Many illegals have said they came here illegally because they simply could not afford the time and money it takes to go through our cumbersome process—-a process that demands an attorney to even make sense of it.

      • Amazona May 2, 2017 / 12:45 pm

        Back to the Fair Tax—the IRS budget for 2015 was more than 11 billion dollars. That was just the basic budget—-we all know that agencies go over budget. And that was before Obama added so many agents to the roster.

        Slightly off topic but related to federal agency abuses, I just finished a book by CJ Box called “Breaking Point”. His main character in this series is a Wyoming game warden named Joe Pickett, and this particular book was inspired by the ordeals of a family named Sackett and what they went through at the hands of the EPA, a true story that is a stain on the nation, its federal government and particularly the EPA.

        Those of us who had experiences with federal agencies in Wyoming know that there was little in the book, relating to the attitudes, arrogance, abuses and incompetence of some of the federal officials that was inaccurate or even overstated. In the Sackett case, their property had never been identified or adjudicated as a wetlands and was separated from a nearby lake by other lots and buildings. Upon advice I once asked federal employees for advice on how to drain a pasture that had been a productive hayfield until a neighbor’s ditches fell into disrepair and flooded it for several weeks every spring. The law allows reclamation of land damaged by human intervention, but the federal employees said I could not do this because it was a “wetlands”. It was never so adjudicated, and it was clearly damaged by human activity, but they would never give any opinion other than that they considered it a “wetlands” even though it had never been officially identified as such. They were bumbling idiots who could not give a straight answer other than constantly intoning the magical word “wetlands”. I kept reminding them that there is a difference between “wet land” and “wetlands”—-gotta hit that space bar—but they were so clearly in over their heads they were simply baffled. I got the impression from their mumbling to each other that the neighbor could be prosecuted if he were to fix his ditches. I lost about 40 acres of once-productive hay land because I was afraid to do anything with it. They were well known in the county as useless ticks on the body of the federal government, but they and their office and their secretary sucked up a lot of money to accomplish absolutely nothing.

        BTW, the book was written before the abuses of the BLM in Nevada and Utah.

  2. Amazona May 2, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    Mark, this whole thing of punishing people for what they say has gotten completely out of hand.

    As for what a person says away from work: If I have a widget company and one of my employees tells others we make bad widgets or that I run my company illegally or unethically, I should be able to fire that person. If that person makes ugly disparaging comments about co-workers or engages in other activities that affect the workplace by creating anger, resentment, suspicion or fear, I should be able to fire that person. If that person doesn’t like the president or anyone else in public life and says so in public, as long as that is not related in any way to his job then I think it falls into the arena of free speech–but he writes his comments from or in any other way identifies himself as being associated with my company, I should be able to fire him if I want to, because he is doing something that may affect my business.

    Removing protections against malicious and false accusations and comments is not the answer. We have created a monster we coyly sanitize with mild terms like “social media” and we need to find a way to address that. These “Twitter mobs” you refer to are nothing more than abuses of a system, and that is what has to be addressed. I think the ones that do the most harm are not the social misfits who huddle in Mom’s basement and hurl vile (and usually misspelled) comments all day long, petty little cowardly bullies who know they will never be held accountable for their venom, but the organized Leftist mobs that are using “social media” to crush anyone seen as the opposition. They have exactly as much power as we give them.

    The best way to deal with them is to deal with them on their one turf. As I have a vivid imagination, I would love to see a segment on some prime time show where the stupidest and most vile Tweets of the day or week are quoted, with scathing commentary on their stupidity and their illiteracy. You, Mark, tweet a lot, whereas I have avoided Twitter as I would a contagious cancer, so you have a better idea of what goes on in Twitterland, but it seems to me that isolating the uglies by ignoring them and forcing them to engage only with each other would be the best way to deal with them.

    And we have to address these kinds of things on more of a macro scale, which means taking on political correctness and the explosion of allegedly racist terms. Calling Elizabeth Warren
    “Pocahantas” is now allegedly “racist”. OK, we all know the idea is to make people stop making fun of her false claims of being Native American and keeping that in the forefront as she prepares to mount a run for the White House, and we all know the epithet “racist” got and kept Obama in the White House, so we understand the reasoning behind this—but it typical of what kind of crap populates “social media”. Some moron suggested that referring to “Asian salads” is racist. I’m waiting for protests riots to break out when someone in a Cajun restaurant orders blackened catfish—-that is a double whammy if you are trying to find something to be sensitive about.

    We as a society not only tolerate but tacitly support this kind of nonsense and mob mentality and hyper-sensitivity. And it happens because WE HAVE NO VOICE to address it, ridicule it, dissect it for its stupidity and call people to reject it.

    We have traction being given to the idea that Trump is a bad president because he doesn’t waste time on stupid Lefty gotchas, but WE HAVE NO VOICE to point out that that is not his job.

    We have met the enemy and it is us. Not my own observation, but Pogo’s—-I have merely come to understand it.

  3. Retired Spook May 4, 2017 / 10:44 am

    Talk about poetic justice.

    Lacy MacAuley is a well known radical left-wing Antifa organizer in Washington D.C. She was featured in Project Veritas’ undercover videos which exposed the #DisruptJ20 plot to violently disrupt President Trump’s inauguration.

    Just like every other lunatic leftist, Lacy fell in love with Islam and became obsessed with helping Syrian ‘refugees’, wholeheartedly believing that Islam is the religion of peace. MacAuley details her experience dating a Turkish Muslim man, describing the hell and fear she lived in because he controlled every move she made, beat and raped her.

    Payback obviously comes in different forms. Too bad, so sad.

    • Amazona May 4, 2017 / 11:27 am

      This reminds me of the whimpering of some snowflakes—American or British, I don’t remember—who went to the Middle East to fight with ISIS and begged to be allowed to come back home because it was so terrible there and they were treated so badly.

      …reminds me of the old story ending with “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up…”

    • M. Noonan May 4, 2017 / 5:02 pm

      Outside of an actual religious conversion, I can’t see why any Western woman would want to marry a Muslim man and then move to the Islamic world. Even in the best of circumstances, the restrictions on women in the Islamic world are high…and for a Western woman, astonishing. I can only assume such happens because the women in question don’t know and don’t inquire about it.

      I think I’ve made it clear over the years that I have no problem with Islam, per se – and, in fact, know that in the long run, Muslims are going to be more on my side in the great social issues battles than any other religious group. Muslims, on the whole, are also more wedded to logic and fact-based thinking than, say, Progressives in the West are…even if I find a Muslim to be an opponent, it will be as a rational opponent who can state clearly the views motivating the opposition to me. But Islam is Islam – it is not the West. They are not – shocking as it may be for Progressives to learn – like us.

      • Amazona May 4, 2017 / 5:24 pm

        ……Muslims are going to be more on my side in the great social issues battles than any other religious group. ..

        …such as? What does the Koran say about abortion? Monogamy? Fidelity? Homosexuality? Equality for women in the home? Equality for women in the workplace? Freedom of religion? Humane treatment of animals? Respect for the earth? Lying?

        …even if I find a Muslim to be an opponent, it will be as a rational opponent who can state clearly the views motivating the opposition to me. … Seriously? What views other than the dictates of his religion? And what about so many of those dictates is “rational”?

        Progressive opposition is seldom if ever based on an actual understanding of and support for a specific political system. In fact, most Progressives not only have no understanding of the system they support and enable, they don’t even realize this is what they are doing. Islamic opposition seems to be based on a religious/political hybrid teaching that demonizes all that is not Islam, which I don’t find to be much more “rational” that demonizing all that is not Progressive.

  4. Amazona May 4, 2017 / 11:35 am

    I see that CBS, having recovered somewhat from its Bad Old Days of Brokaw and “fake but accurate” has been nostalgic for its old label of “See B S” so is supporting Steven Colbert and his vile, vicious, insane and profane hissy fit the other night.

    I have commented in the past about his growing desperation to pump up his ratings. I won’t watch him, but I do watch (or at least have watched) some shows on CBS so I can’t avoid seeing his embarrassing promos, where he frantically bounces off the walls like an amped-up chimp and then rushes at the camera to make faces. I’ve watched this with a certain bemusement, as it seems to be chronicling a descent into a creepy level of crazy.

    The cynical side of me thinks he has seen his death spiral, been unable to halt it much less reverse it, and decided to do something(s) so outlandish and despicable he can get out now before he completely tanks by getting himself fired, in a way he can blame on those eeeeevil Conservatives. He saw O’Reilly get a lot of money when he got fired and may think this is his only way out—–get canned, walk away with a big check, and be a victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy for speaking truth to power.

    • M. Noonan May 4, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      I’m assuming this is due to the passage of a species of Obamacare repeal…or Trump’s order on religious liberty.

      • Amazona May 4, 2017 / 5:00 pm

        Or, possibly, just the knowledge that Trump inhales and exhales on a regular basis, which they find unforgivingly offensive.

      • M. Noonan May 4, 2017 / 5:05 pm

        That does seem to cover it – and Never Trump is just as irrational about it as the Progressive side. Nothing the man does pleases…whatever the action, it is hated. I’ve already seen Never Trump people complaining about the O-care repeal…not on the fact that it isn’t perfect (we all know it isn’t) but that it happened, at all, under the aegis of Trump.

      • fieldingclaymore May 4, 2017 / 5:40 pm

        It was repeal and replace. I didn’t think they could do it but the house did. It is a win for President Trump, one he desperately wanted. congrats

      • fieldingclaymore May 4, 2017 / 5:42 pm

        The religious liberty EO is so toothless the ACLU isn’t even suing. It seems many religious freedom folks are very displeased with it.

    • Amazona May 4, 2017 / 5:14 pm

      Remember the big Valerie Plame kerfluffle? Plame was, by accounts from the CIA that were quickly purged from the internet, on her way out because she was a major screwup. She saw the writing on the wall and was trying to move over to the State Department before the ax fell. One of the stupid things she did was make donations to Democrats using her married name and listing as her employer the invented cover company the CIA was using for some of its operations. As her marriage was well known in DC, as well as where she worked, it was child’s play to link it to a company whose existence could not be verified, blowing that cover. It wouldn’t have been so bad that she set up that trip to Niger for hubby Joe, but then he had to write an op-ed anti-Bush piece that contradicted everything he had said when he was being informally debriefed by the CIA. She and Joe were loose cannons.

      So when she had a chance to become a victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy, she jumped at it, and within a few days her story had become so elaborate and fantastical it no longer had much relation to any truth. Suddenly she was not just an inept desk jockey who may, or may not, have had some experience overseas doing undercover work but who made the decision to walk away from that and take a desk job when she started to hang out with and then marry a guy in the Diplomatic Corps. No, he was transformed into a full-fledged diplomat, she was transformed into a Jane Bond risking he life for her country, and the fact that hubby loved telling people his wife worked for the CIA was ignored and replaced by a narrative in which a deep secret undercover position was ruthlessly revealed by evil Republicans, putting her and her family’s lives in danger.

      A failure was spun into an elaborate tale of victimhood which sold well on the Left and still fuels a lot of hatred toward Bush, Cheney and Libby—whose life was ruined when he was sacrificed by the Left to give credence to her stories.

      I can see the Colbert thing going the same direction—–his failure as a late night talk show host being ignored as he is recast as a brave and noble fighter for free speech targeted by a vindictive Right.

  5. Retired Spook May 5, 2017 / 9:29 am

    One of the talking heads at Fox this morning, Charlie Hurt, I think, made a passing comment that bears repeating. He said, even though a number of Democrats admit ObamaCare has serious problems, not a single one of them lifted a finger to try to fix their own mess. I would combine that with the Dems’ rhetoric 7 years ago when they told Republicans, “we don’t want your input, and we don’t need your votes,” and then proceeded to pass a bill that they didn’t even bother to read, and I’d use that two-edged sword the Dems have so obligingly provided to slice and dice them in every election for the foreseeable future.

    • Amazona May 5, 2017 / 11:50 am

      I have always thought that the act of voting for a bill a Senator or Representative never even read is the very definition of irresponsibility and abdication of the trust put in them by their constituents. I always thought that every Republican running against any of these Dems should send out many thousands of bumper stickers, and put up billboards, saying “Did John Doe vote for a bill he didn’t even read? FIRE HIM!”

      It is seldom that any politician hands his or her opponents a slam dunk, an admission that he or she didn’t even make an effort to do the job the position demands. Dems admitted that they hadn’t read the bill before voting on it, and I never heard of a single Republican taking advantage of that.

      It’s not too late. If our current Republicans could get their collective feet out of their collective mouths they could point out that at least THIS bill had been read, and discussed. Maybe some have, I don’t know. I am so fed up with the focused incompetence of the Right when it comes to messaging and communications, I don’t even pay attention any more.

      • Retired Spook May 5, 2017 / 4:08 pm

        Not surprising that CNN found a handful of GOP congressmen who didn’t read the entire bill. When ObamaCare pass they couldn’t find a handful of Democrats who HAD read it. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter because, assuming the bill makes it through the Senate, whihc is a big assumption, the final conference bill likely won’t resemble the one that just passed.

      • fieldingclaymore May 5, 2017 / 4:27 pm

        That is true as far as final passage goes. Also, Business Insider found a few as well. It will be interesting what the CBO says, though it is not gospel.

      • Amazona May 5, 2017 / 5:26 pm

        I didn’t say that NO Dems had voted without reading the bill, but I can’t remember a single one coming out and saying he had. One, whose name I can’t remember, was quite indignant when asked if he had read it, snarling that he couldn’t be expected to sit down and read a long bill. I would understand if a legislator were to have staff read a long bill like this and summarize it, but I didn’t hear any of them saying they had done that, either. It was clear that they had their marching orders and they voted accordingly.

        And don’t forget, the bill wasn’t even written by a legislator.

        Can you cite times a hearing led to a change? Can you cite anything in the bill that was there because a Republican asked that it be included?

        BTW, this is why I think we should pass laws that say every bill has to be written by its sponsor, no bill can be longer than a specified length, and we can no longer have omnibus bills that lump various things together to get unpopular or controversial laws passed by putting them in popular bills.

      • Amazona May 5, 2017 / 5:34 pm

        “Blitzer pressed further: “This legislation affects one-fifth of the US economy, and millions of millions of Americans. Don’t you think it was important to sit down and read the language of this bill?””

        Did Blitzer—-or anyone else for that matter—ask this of any Dem? Does this bill affect more people than the ACA did?

        And how did health care move from one-sixth of the budget to one-fifth in only seven years?

      • Retired Spook May 5, 2017 / 6:08 pm

        And how did health care move from one-sixth of the budget to one-fifth in only seven years?

        Not the budget, the economy. Just a WAG, but the increased costs resulting from ObamaCare could easily have increased the total impact on the economy from a 6th to a 5th.

      • Amazona May 5, 2017 / 7:41 pm

        Good catch, Spook. Thanks.

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