Democrats & Liberals Archives

Some Good Stuff... Mostly

Democrats are tackling the Alternative Minimum Tax. Because it’s not indexed for inflation more and more middle class Americans are subjected to a tax that was only meant to keep the 155 richest people in America from using loopholes to completely zero their tax bill.

The idea is that families making less than $250,000 will never pay the AMT and those making between $250,000 and $500,000 will see a lower AMT tax rate. Since all revenue losses must be offset under the Pay-as-you-go Rules, those making more than half a million per year will make up the shortfall. It's all very fiscally responsible.

More good news: A recent report on climate change (full document) says global warming can be reversed at a very small economic cost.

The document made clear that nations have the technology and money to decisively act in time to avoid a sharp rise in temperatures that scientists say would wipe out species, raise ocean levels, wreak economic havoc and trigger droughts in some places and flooding in others.

...the strongest message was that reaching the lowest [greenhouse gas emission] targets could be done at less than 3 percent of the global gross domestic product by 2030 - or 0.12 annually.

That number is very close to the cost President Bush's Energy Information Administration calculated a couple years ago. Chump change. But we have to act NOW.

And just when I thought things couldn't get better, my hero, Senator Barbara Boxer, introduced a bill (S.992) "to improve our air quality, reduce global warming pollution, and save taxpayer money all at the same time by accelerating the use of cutting-edge technologies and practices that can dramatically cut energy use in public buildings."

It's good to see Congress finally leading by example.

But now for the bittersweet. Today, House Democrats passed a Defense Authorization Bill that does all kinds of good things for our military. Of course, President Bush says he'll veto it because it gives our troops a 3.5% raise. Bush says his more miserly proposal "provides a good quality of life for servicemembers and their families." With one-in-five enlisted personnel on food stamps and other federal aid, no one is agreeing with the President.

Bush is also "disappointed that the House bill does not allow Defense officials to raise Tricare fees and co-payments for retired military beneficiaries." Because, I guess, those freeloaders in our military just don't pay enough for health care. And,

The administration "strongly opposes" a provision in the House bill to require drug manufacturers to give the Defense Department the same price discounts on drugs dispensed through the Tricare retail network that they provide to base pharmacies, the Tricare mail order pharmacy and VA clinics and hospitals.

Because affordable medication for our troops is contrary to the "market principles" which Republicans worship. If the choice is between doing right by our soldiers and blindly adhering to dogma, we know where Republicans stand.

So Democrats are doing a lot of good stuff, and the flooding, disease and massive population migrations associated with global warming can be averted. Cheaply. But things must balance out, I suppose, and Republicans are doing their part by screwing our troops. It just goes to show, things are never black or white. You always get some of both.

Posted by American Pundit at May 18, 2007 2:19 AM
Comments
Comment #220723

AP,

While tackling the Alternative Tax is admirable, it’s nothing more than pissing in the ocean given our current tax laws.

I’m sure you remember when the IRS testified before Congress and the table holding our tax laws collapsed. That should have told us something.

Simply put…our current tax system is not in need of repair…it is broken and must be completely overhauled or totally scrapped and replaced with a new, fair to all income tax brackets tax code.

I am for scrapping the current system and implementing The Fair Tax. The more I read about it, the beeter I like it.

The only people I have found who attack The Fair Tax are those that “cherry pick” from it and really don’t read about it in depth. Well, those and Tax Lawyers who find it to their advantage to have a tax code that no one understands.

I ask everyone here to investigate The Fair Tax and see what you think.

Posted by: Jim T at May 18, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #220725
I’m sure you remember when the IRS testified before Congress and the table holding our tax laws collapsed.

LOL! Yeah, what movie was that? :)

As for the so-called “FAIR” consumption tax, there’s a reason our society decided to tax wealth rather than consumption: We didn’t want to be crushed by a ruling wealthy elite.

And in practical terms, I know quite a few very wealthy people, and in general, they don’t consume much more than I do. In fact, they all live very modestly. So if the wealthy don’t consume much more than anybody else, who ends up paying the majority of taxes? You guessed it: The middle class.

And I know the so-called “FAIR” brand of consumption tax claims to be progressive, but charging a rich guy a million dollar retail sales tax for a Big Mac while giving them away to the poor just seems weird.

No, I prefer a progressive tax on income and wealth. It’s fairer for everyone and it’s more American.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 18, 2007 11:59 AM
Comment #220735

And charging a middle class guy thousands of dollars in income tax while giving money away to the poor isn’t weird?

There is a REAL reason some in our society decided to tax success: They didn’t want to have to actually do what they “say” is the right thing. They wanted everybody else to be forced to do it for them.

Rather than FAIR or “progressive” taxes, we should have stuck with taxes that were Constitutional.

Posted by: kctim at May 18, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #220739

Until a majority of this country backs the libertarian agendas of the far right, we have a sizable government that needs paying for. Unfortunately, the right is quick to lower taxes, but not so quick to lower the spending that makes them necessary. So we end up selling bonds, and owing money to their holders. Who holds our bonds? China and Japan, our economic competitors. But why don’t the Republicans really reduce spending? The answer is, because they knew and still know that they’ll piss off a lot of voters. In other words, they don’t have the mandate for it. Ah, but tax cuts are easier.

So, in summation, the Republicans have been selling us out to our competitors to make themselves look good.

kctim, do me a favor, and tell me why you would favor tax cuts without spending cuts, and why so many on the right can’t make the tough decision to maintain or increases taxes, especially on the wealthy, when they prove unwilling to cut spending.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2007 1:10 PM
Comment #220740

Regarding the constitutionality of taxes, the Republican party passed the Sixteenth amendment enabling progressive income taxes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2007 1:13 PM
Comment #220748

Stephen
I do NOT favor tax cuts without spending cuts.
I think they don’t make the tough decisions to increase taxes as much, because they know it is an unfair system.
As far as being unwilling to cut spending, they too have learned that entitlements are an easy way to buy votes and if you get people dependent on you, they will vote for you.

I am aware of who all was in on the 16th, but it is not in line with how our country was designed to run.
Govt ran govt and the people were free to run their own lives.

AP says this is all good stuff, guess we will see just have to wait and see just how good.

Posted by: kctim at May 18, 2007 2:43 PM
Comment #220753
And charging a middle class guy thousands of dollars in income tax while giving money away to the poor isn’t weird?

It’s what Jesus would do.

AP says this is all good stuff

All except how Republicans are just determined to screw our troops and destroy the military.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 18, 2007 3:07 PM
Comment #220772

AP,

“LOL! Yeah, what movie was that? :)”

No! It’s true. When the IRS came before Congress to testify about abuses, they piled the tax code on a table in front of the panel…and it COLLAPSED!!! It was a hoot! That should have told everyone that the tax code was WAY to big and WAY too complicated for the average Joe to understand and needed to be overhauled or just discarded and a new tax code written.

Also…

“All except how Republicans are just determined to screw our troops and destroy the military.”

AP…you know that leaves you wide open for attacks charging that Carter and Clinton both ass-raped the military. My brother was in under Carter and Clinton and talk about the pissing and moaning I heard from him. He’s a moderate liberal, but strong on defense. Let me tell you…he was pissed!

Posted by: Jim T at May 18, 2007 6:29 PM
Comment #220783

Jim, I did a quick google search for the collapsing table but couldn’t find any mention of it. Was it on C-SPAN? I’d love to see it. If it happened.

As for the military, neither Carter nor Clinton broke it. Right now, two-thirds of our Army and National Guard are rated unfit for combat. The rest are in Iraq.

BTW, my Dad was in the service from the 50’s through the 70’s. He says Vietnam caused all the problems your brother was bitching about. He watched it all happen.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 18, 2007 7:53 PM
Comment #220833

AP,

I’m sure Viet Nam did a lot of damamge…after all, JFK’s, LBJ’s and RMN’s war cost 60,000 of our best and brightest.

On the other subject, I’ve Googled it and simply cannot find it. I remember it being reported, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what network reported the table collapsing under the weight of the tax code. It was reported like 2 times, and then nothing more about it. I’ll continue to Google it and maybe I’ll get lucky. If I do, I’ll post the link. Hey, when you get old, the 2nd thing to go is your mind. :-)

Posted by: Jim T. at May 19, 2007 12:34 PM
Comment #220884
I’m sure Viet Nam did a lot of damamge…after all, JFK’s, LBJ’s and RMN’s war cost 60,000 of our best and brightest.

I just hope we don’t end up saying the same thing about Bush Jr’s Iraq.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 20, 2007 1:18 AM
Comment #220918

The AMT was put in place because congress was to timid to actually address the loopholes,every one of which has a powerful constituency, being used by the very rich to avoid taxes.The proposed solution,although needed, does not address them either.
One good way to address the tax/expenditure delema would be to impose a tarriff on imported oil. This is well within the scope of congressional authority and would heve stabilize alternative energy capitalization. The fedearl government was mostly paid for by tarriffs before WW2. Lets do it again and help the enviornment to boot.
Clinton cut military spending. After the cold war a standown was entirely appropriate. He did not cut military pay. The only problem was he did not cut it more. Much of the huge amount we spend is for useless and dangerious weapons systems. The 800$ hammer we used to joke about now cost 1200$. 2.2 billion dollars for one airplane…please.This when low tech stuff like Humvee armor are in short supply. The whole procurment system for the military is in need of overhaual. Contractors are rewarded for increasing expense more than for delivering product.

Posted by: BillS at May 20, 2007 5:07 PM
Comment #220922

BillS, you’re right about the AMT, of course. But it does need to be addressed, and Democrats are getting the job done.

Speaking of good stuff, did you see how Democrats blocked the White House from allowing Mexican truckers to haul anywhere in the US?

The plan was to build mega-ports in Mexico, ship cheap Chinese goods there, and then transport them across the US in Mexican trucks driven by Mexican truckers. The White House wanted to do an end-run around the Longshoreman and Trucker unions.

Democrats stopped it.

And don’t forget, it was Clinton’s military that liberated Afghanistan when nobody else thought it could be done.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 20, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #220925

AP
Yay! More good reasons I am a proud Dem. It is pretty clear that if you work for wages this administartion is not just indifferent to your needs but actually out to hurt you.More short sighted neo-con greed. This is a consumer economy. That means us consumers need to get paid enough to buy stuff.They have done plenty of other stuff to hurt workers but now we have a Dem congress to stop them and hopefully turnaround some of the other hits,like pension rule changes that whack defined benefit plans failure to enforce safety rules.

Posted by: BillS at May 20, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #220953

I think any Republican or right-winger who complains about the complexity of the tax code should remember those sentiments when talking about tax incentives and tax breaks being superior to direct subsidies and regulation in achieving desired results.

Though I am a liberal and not a tax-phobe like some on the right are, I do see the merit in simplifying the tax code, removing some of the shelters, clarifying this whole mess. At the same time, we need to enforce what we got and line up how much we’re spending with how much revenue we have. This should be done one way or the other. If spending cuts aren’t forthcoming, somebody’s going to have to get stuck with higher taxes. That simple. Considering that I might get hit by that, it’s no picnic, but that’s why God invented priorities. We decide what we need, separate that from what we merely want, and we make choices as a society.

The worst thing that the politicians, Republicans especially, have done in their years of ascendancy has been to spoil people with not having to make those tough choices. They didn’t want the political costs of forcing people to choose between low taxes and escalating spending, didn’t want to make their priorities a matter of debate for what cuts might be made.

Meanwhile, our finances and our priorities have gotten real screwed up. We can follow this sensibility of getting something for nothing, or we can understand that if we want lower taxes, or spending for things we need or want, we have to make choices. We must realize at some point that not making a choice on taxes is a choice, and a choice with consequences.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 21, 2007 11:16 AM
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