Monday, February 27, 2012

How the GOP Would Expand the Deficit

By WAPO Editorial Board, Published: February 26

AT A TIME of record debts and deficits, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are proposing a path on taxes and spending likely to add trillions more. That’s the sobering conclusion of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), whose board includes six Republican former lawmakers with expertise in budget issues, three Republican former heads of the Congressional Budget Office, and two former Office of Management and Budget directors under Republican presidents.

Last month, we examined former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s reckless tax plan, which, according to calculations by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, would drain another $180 billion from the treasury in 2015 alone. The CRFB estimated the 10-year cost of the original Romney tax plan at $1.3 trillion. By the end of the 10-year window, the debt would be a dangerous 86 percent of the gross domestic product.

But last week Mr. Romney upped the tax-cutting ante, promising, in addition to the previous grab bag of tax goodies, a 20 percent across-the-board cut in marginal rates and repeal of the alternative minimum tax. The Tax Policy Center estimated that the 20 percent rate cut would cost about $150 billion in 2015 alone. The Romney campaign said that the rate change wouldn’t add to the deficit because it would generate unspecified economic growth and be accompanied by spending cuts and elimination or cutbacks of deductions. Okay, which ones? On that question, the campaign was decidedly unspecific — understandably so, because its math doesn’t add up. Until he is more specific about what sacred cows he would tackle — employer-sponsored health care? — Mr. Romney’s plan cannot be taken as a fiscally responsible proposal.

Then again, he looks reasonable by comparison with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who envisions a tax cut costing an eye-popping $6 trillion over 10 years — above and beyond the $4 trillion cost of extending the George W. Bush tax cuts. Mr. Santorum would flatten the tax code, collapsing today’s six brackets into two: 10 percent and 28 percent. Those in the 10 percent bracket would pay no taxes on capital gains and dividends; those in the 28 percent bracket would pay a 12 percent rate. He would triple the exemption for dependent children and cut the corporate tax rate in half — except for manufacturers, who would pay nothing.

How to do this without blowing a huge hole in the budget? Mr. Santorum outlines some $2.2 trillion in specific policies, such as shifting Medicare to a premium support system, transforming social programs into block grants to states and capping their growth, and cutting other domestic spending. Then he offers up the biggest magic asterisk of all time, cutting another $5 trillion within five years, details not provided. Wisely discounting that gauzy promise, the CRFB projects that under its intermediate scenario Mr. Santorum’s policies would increase deficits by $4.5 trillion through 2021, bringing the debt to a scary 107 percent of the economy.

The campaign debate needs to move from pie-in-the-sky promises. Promising additional tax cuts may win votes, but these proposals are unaffordable and dangerous.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Church and Property Taxes

Why is it that Houses of Worship pay no property taxes? I've heard that separation of church and state requires their absence from the tax rolls. If this is true, isn't receiving police and fire protection a violation of said separation?

I don't think taxpayers should be subsidizing religious organizations, be they churches, temples or mosques.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your next

Baxter writes:  The Obama Administration needs to take a lesson from the Susan G Komen Foundation and quickly retreat from their policy position on contraceptive coverage. While it may please the base and even women in the middle, it is a net political loser.

As you and your, seemingly gladly, give away our basic rights to individual liberty but before the day comes when you realize they are gone, one hopes you will take a moment to just consider...just for a moment...that your belief system requires the government to control our lives, benevolent or not.

Conservatives have loudly argued that the imposition of national health care, transfers to the government the care of our persons...places them in control.  We have argued that there will be "death panels" and heard you scream about the alarmist words.

OK, then how about the mandate of coverage against religious beliefs?  Withdrawn or not, it was there, it, and something like it will come again. 

Under the umbrella of health care, what part of our life and our rights are safe?

You think we are alarmists, we think you must have never examined the Soviet Union.

And Terry says:

Do you know every night - hundreds of thousands of people are housed and put to bed by Catholic Charity's?

Terry, as usual misses the point.  Actually Terry is oblivious to any reasoned thinking.

The previous post was not attacking the Catholic church, nor did it attack Catholic charity.

The previous post, a complex, thorough and thoughtful article stated in sum....

A government that can impose social justice can also withdraw religious liberty...and the Catholic church, which has supported the imposition of social justice (not charity), is now reaping what they have sown.  Socialism/Communism, that form of government supported by, and currently being implemented by secular liberal ilk, such has Baxter and Obama, have no use for any individual liberties and any interest in compromise.  They wish to transfer control of all rights and production to the government.  The failure of religious liberals to understand this basic and obvious fact, is now...coming home to roost.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This is what the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church forgot. In the 1930s, the majority of the  bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.
In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.
At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.
I would submit that the bishops, nuns, and priests now screaming bloody murder have gotten what they asked for. The weapon that Barack Obama has directed at the Church was fashioned to a considerable degree by Catholic churchmen. They welcomed Obamacare. They encouraged Senators and Congressmen who professed to be Catholics to vote for it.
I do not mean to say that I would prefer that the bishops, nuns, and priests sit down and shut up. Barack Obama has once again done the friends of liberty a favor by forcing the friends of the administrative entitlements state to contemplate what they have wrought. Whether those brought up on the heresy that public provision is akin to charity will prove capable of thinking through what they have done remains unclear. But there is now a chance that this will take place, and there was a time – long ago, to be sure, but for an institution with the longevity possessed by the Catholic Church long ago was just yesterday – when the Church played an honorable role in hemming in the authority of magistrates and in promoting not only its own liberty as an institution but that of others similarly intent on managing their own affairs as individuals and as members of subpolitical communities.
In my lifetime, to my increasing regret, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost much of its moral authority. It has done so largely because it has subordinated its teaching of Catholic moral doctrine to its ambitions regarding an expansion of the administrative entitlements state. In 1973, when the Supreme Court made its decision in Roe v. Wade, had the bishops, priests, and nuns screamed bloody murder and declared war, as they have recently done, the decision would have been reversed. Instead, under the leadership of Joseph Bernadin, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, they asserted that the social teaching of the Church was a “seamless garment,” and they treated abortion as one concern among many. Here is what Cardinal Bernadin said in the Gannon Lecture at Fordham University that he delivered in 1983:
Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker.
Consistency means that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fiber of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibility.
This statement, which came to be taken as authoritative throughout the American Church, proved, as Joseph Sobran observed seven years ago, “to be nothing but a loophole for hypocritical Catholic politicians. If anything,” he added, "it has actually made it easier for them than for non-Catholics to give their effective support to legalized abortion – that is, it has allowed them to be inconsistent and unprincipled about the very issues that Cardinal Bernardin said demand consistency and principle.” In practice, this meant that, insofar as anyone pressed the case against Roe v. Wade, it was the laity.
I was reared a Catholic, wandered out of the Church, and stumbled back in more than thirteen years ago. I have been a regular attendee at mass since that time. I travel a great deal and frequently find myself in a diocese not my own. In these years, I have heard sermons articulating the case against abortion thrice – once in Louisiana at a mass said by the retired Archbishop there; once at the cathedral in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and two weeks ago in our parish in Hillsdale, Michigan. The truth is that the priests in the United States are far more likely to push the “social justice” agenda of the Church from the pulpit than to instruct the faithful in the evils of abortion.
And there is more. I have not once in those years heard the argument against contraception articulated from the pulpit, and I have not once heard the argument for chastity articulated. In the face of the sexual revolution, the bishops priests, and nuns of the American Church have by and large fallen silent. In effect, they have abandoned the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in order to articulate a defense of the administrative entitlements state and its progressive expansion.
There is another dimension to the failure of the American Church in the face of the sexual revolution. As, by now, everyone knows, in the 1980s, when Cardinal Bernadin was the chief leader of the American Church and the man most closely consulted when the Vatican selected its bishops, it became evident to the American prelates that they had a problem – that, in many a diocese, there were priests of a homoerotic orientation who were sexual predators – pederasts inclined to take advantage of young boys. They could have faced up to the problem at that time; they could have turned in the malefactors to the secular authorities; they could have prevented their further contact with the young. Instead, almost certainly at the instigation of Cardinal Bernadin, they opted for another policy. They hushed everything up, sent the priests off for psychological counseling, and reassigned them to other parishes or even dioceses – where they continued to prey on young boys. In the same period, a number of the seminaries in which young men were trained for the priesthood became, in effect, brothels – and nothing was done about any of this until the newspapers broke the story and the lawsuits began.
There is, I would suggest, a connection between the heretical doctrine propagated by Cardinal Bernadin in the Gannon Lecture and the difficulties that the American Church now faces. Those who seek to create heaven on earth and who, to this end, subvert the liberty of others and embrace the administrative entitlements state will sooner or later become its victims.
Earlier today, Barack Obama offered the hierarchy “a compromise.” Under its terms, insurance companies offering healthcare coverage will be required to provide contraception and abortifacients, but this will not be mentioned in the contracts signed by those who run Catholic institutions. This “compromise” is, of course, a farce. It embodies a distinction where there is, in fact, no difference. It is a snare and a delusion, and I am confident that the Catholic Left, which is still dominant within the Church, will embrace it – for it would allow the bishops, priests, and nuns to save face while, in fact, paying for the contraception and abortifacients that the insurance companies will be required to provide. As if on cue, Sister Carol Keehan, a prominent Obamacare supporter who heads the Catholic Health Association, immediately issued a statement in which she announced that she is “pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.”
Perhaps, however, Barack Obama has shaken some members of the hierarchy from their dogmatic slumber. Perhaps, a few of them – or among younger priests some of their likely successors – have begun to recognize the logic inherent in the development of the administrative entitlements state. The proponents of Obamacare, with some consistency, pointed to Canada and to France as models. As anyone who has attended mass in Montreal or Paris can testify, the Church in both of these places is filled with empty pews. There is, in fact, not a single country in the social democratic sphere where either the Catholic Church or a Protestant Church is anything but moribund. This is by no means fortuitous. When entitlements stand in for charity and the Social Gospel is preached in place of the Word of God, heaven on earth becomes the end, and Christianity goes by the boards.
It took a terrible scandal and a host of lawsuits to get the American Church to rid itself of the pederast priests and clean up its seminaries. Perhaps the tyrannical ambitions of Barack Obama will occasion a rethinking of the social-justice agenda. The ball is now in the court of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who has welcomed the President's gesture without indicating whether it is adequate. Upon reflection, he can accept the fig leaf that President Obama has offered him. Or he can put Sister Keehan and her supporters in their place and fight. If he wants to regain an iota of the moral authority that the Church possessed before 1973, he will do the latter. The hour is late. Next time, the masters of the administrative entitlements state won’t even bother to offer the hierarchy a fig leaf. They know servility when they see it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The Obama Administration needs to take a lesson from the Susan G Komen Foundation and quickly retreat from their policy position on contraceptive coverage. While it may please the base and even women in the middle, it is a net political loser. Those that care most about the issue oppose compelling religious employers to provide family planning, even though it is longstanding policy in 28 states. The Administration makes a mistake each day they let this issue remain in the news.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Study - Same Results

Please cut & paste the link to your browser

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


When the Romney campaign disclosed in December that the couple’s five sons had a $100 million trust fund, I suspected that, in setting up the fund, the Romneys used a tax strategy that allows some very rich people to avoid paying gift taxes. But it was impossible to know if this was the case without seeing their tax returns going back years.
So when Mitt Romney released the family’s 2010 tax return last week, I went looking. I found a hint on pages 132 and 134 of the return. It showed that the value of property placed that year into another family trust, the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust, was, for tax purposes, zero. The Ann Romney trust is not the same trust as the one that holds the Romney sons’ $100 million, but I wondered if the Romneys used the same approach in prior years when it came to valuing property placed into the sons’ trust.
Reuters emailed the Romney campaign spokeswoman to ask how much the Romneys paid in gift taxes on assets put into the sons’ trust over the last 17 years. The spokeswoman, citing Brad Malt, the Romney family tax lawyer, answered: none.
The idea that someone could pay zero gift taxes on contributions to a $100 million trust fund may surprise people who have heard arguments that the wealthy are overburdened by gift and estate taxes. But the Romneys’ gift-tax avoidance strategy is perfectly legal.
Under tax rules, wealthy people must pay a gift tax of 35 percent on gifts above a lifetime limit known as the “unified estate tax credit.” That limit was $1.2 million for a married couple in 1995 when the sons’ trust was created and $2 million in 2009, but is now $10 million.
So, if the limit is, at most, $10 million, how did the Romneys create this $100 million fund without paying gift taxes?
The explanation may stem from how the Romneys were able to value the assets put into the trust. If I’m right, it involves a special tax deal that Congress gives to people who manage investment partnerships, as Romney did at Bain Capital from 1984 to 1999.
This deal allows these managers to receive a kind of compensation known as “carried interest.” As the tax law sees it, carried interest does not represent ownership of stock or other securities, only the right to receive future profits. Because there is no ownership, the IRS lets people value their carried interest at zero for gift tax purposes if they meet certain technical rules. We asked the Romney campaign if carried interest was involved several times in emails. The campaign declined to comment about this and other specifics.
To understand how this works conceptually, imagine your employer gave you a bonus in company stock.
You would owe income taxes immediately on the stock as compensation, and it would be taxed at the same rate as a cash bonus. And if you gave the stock to your children, you would owe, on stock above $10 million, a gift tax of 35 percent of the market price on the day you gave it away.
Now imagine that instead of giving you stock outright, your employer gave you only the right to future increases in the value of company shares – which, like carried interest, is just a right to some potential future income. You could give that right to your children and legally tell the IRS that its value was zero provided they hold onto it for several years.
This would be legally true, even if the company’s stock had been steadily rising for years and was virtually a sure bet to continue going up in value. Of course as a matter of economics it would be a very valuable gift to your children.
The scenario of transferring a right to something of value in the future and valuing it at nothing shows up on the Romneys’ 2010 tax return, which reveals two contributions to the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust. Both contributions were valued at zero.

Worst ever. Worst recovery, worst deficit, worsk debt/GDP...worst.