Archive for the ‘taxes’ Category

Two More Gas Tax Opinions

Posted: January 28, 2015 by ShortTimer in Energy, Tax, taxes, Tyranny

The first via The Federalist:

You can understand it only if you understand that in some minds there is a constant imperative for the expansion of government. The only question they ask is whether they can get away with it. When gas prices are low, they think they can, so that is what they advocate.

That summarizes the whole argument for.

The second is Charles Krauthammer’s opinion piece advocating a gas tax, titled “Raise the Gas Tax.  A Lot.

For 32 years I’ve been advocating a major tax on petroleum. I’ve got as much chance this time around as did Don Quixote with windmills. But I shall tilt my lance once more.

The only time you can even think of proposing a gas tax increase is when oil prices are at rock bottom.

32 years of advocating for a tax that no driver wants.  He’s got a much better chance that Don Quixote, because things like the gas tax end up with “bipartisan support” of big government activists on both the left and the right.

The hike should not be 10 cents but $1. And the proceeds should not be spent by, or even entrusted to, the government. They should be immediately and entirely returned to the consumer by means of a cut in the Social Security tax.

And that’s where Krauthammer’s entire idea fails.  “We’ll raise one tax so we can drop another” will never, ever, ever happen.  The first tax will be raised, the second will never go away.

The rest of his math is based on “savings” to an “average driver” that probably makes sense to someone from the east coast or DC who only has to drive a few minutes to work if at all (in Krauthammer’s particular case, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t drive anymore at all).  It’s a massive burden on people who live in geographically larger states.

It’s win-win. Employment taxes are a drag on job creation. Reducing them not only promotes growth but advances fairness, FICA being a regressive tax that hits the middle and working classes far more than the rich.

So “fairness” is to tax the provinces while the capital feasts?  Also, when has the tax system ever been about “fairness”?  If that were the case, we should get rid of all “sin” excise taxes right now, because those are made to modify behavior based on government using force to manipulate the economy.

A $1 gas tax increase would constrain oil consumption in two ways. In the short run, by curbing driving. In the long run, by altering car-buying habits. A return to gas-guzzling land yachts occurs every time gasoline prices plunge. A high gas tax encourages demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Constrained U.S. consumption — combined with already huge increases in U.S. production — would continue to apply enormous downward pressure on oil prices.

A tax is the best way to improve fuel efficiency. Today we do it through rigid regulations, the so-called CAFE standards imposed on carmakers. They are forced to manufacture acres of unsellable cars in order to meet an arbitrary, bureaucratic “fleet” gas-consumption average.

This is nuts. If you simply set a higher price point for gasoline, buyers will do the sorting on their own, choosing fuel efficiency just as they do when the world price is high. The beauty of the tax — as a substitute for a high world price — is that the incentive for fuel efficiency remains…

His FICA argument is nonsense because no tax cut will be passed.

His “altering car-buying habits” argument only works if you accept the basic premise – that people need to be forced to not buy “gas-guzzling land yachts”.

Also, there’s already a tax on buying anything that doesn’t meet an arbitrary, bureaucratic “gas guzzler” gas consumption decision:

Not that welfare recipients would be buying a Shelby.

Krauthammer’s argument is that we need to raise taxes to punish the consumer even more for personal decisions that Krauthammer’s decided are bad decisions.  Yay big government.

And finally, lower consumption reduces pollution and greenhouse gases. The reduction of traditional pollutants, though relatively minor, is an undeniable gain. And even for global warming skeptics, there’s no reason not to welcome a benign measure that induces prudential reductions in CO2 emissions.

Except it’s not a benign measure.  The power to tax is the power to destroy.  This is a tool to force people into what DC wants you to drive, not what you want to drive.  Their reasons hinge on the idea that you need to be coerced into their worldview.

If given the choice between a work truck that gets 12 mpg and one that gets 30 mpg, where all other features are the same, a business or an individual will take the one that gets higher mpg because it already benefits them.  Doesn’t matter if it’s $4/gallon or $2/gallon.  If given the choice between a performace car that gets 15 mpg and one that gets 35 mpg, other factors being the same, they’ll take the one that gets 35.  It still benefits them.

Some DC thug hitting them with yet another tax to tell them what to buy is only a good idea if you’re in favor of the DC thug hitting them with another tax.

Sorry, Chuck, the reason why people oppose it is because they understand it.

Hopefully just a leveling off and not a bust, but rigs are shutting down and going idle:

After six straight months of plunging oil prices, U.S. shale drillers have sent the clearest signal to date that they’re retreating.

Thirty-five horizontal rigs, their weapon of choice for reaching oil deposits in tight-rock formations such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale and Texas’s Permian Basin, were idled last week alone. It was the biggest single-week drop since a drilling boom touched off six years ago that propelled domestic production to the highest level in three decades and eventually helped trigger the global price war that the U.S. and OPEC find themselves in today.

The decline, the largest in a decade and the seventh in a row, threatens to halt U.S. oil production growth by slowing drilling in tight-oil plays that make up virtually all of the nation’s new output. Bending to the pressure of crude below $50 a barrel, the country’s explorers idled the most rigs last quarter since 2009.

“The message from the market, that drillers need to start changing their behavior, has now been received by the big boys in the shale plays,” Harold York, vice president of integrated energy at consulting company Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said yesterday by telephone from New York. “The tight-oil players have received the message, and they’re taking action.”

Horizontal rigs made up more than half of this week’s decline in the U.S. oil count, which fell by 61 to 1,421, Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) said on its website yesterday. The 61-rig drop was the largest since February 1991, which also followed a tumble in prices before the start of the Persian Gulf War.

This is quite potentially the oil boom starting to go bust.  The Saudis have this as their secondary objective (behind harming Russian economic interests), and the EPA has shutting down oil rigs as their primary objective.

Gas prices are going to go back up, and idiot Republicans are arguing over how best to sneak in a gas tax and justify acting like Democrats.

It would be really, really nice if the newly elected Republicans would actually listen to voters and stop raising taxes and reduce spending.  They control both houses but are acting like they can’t get anything done – and in this case, acting like they can’t resist the “THE TIME IS NOW” Democrat argument – an argument that is meant to shut up debate.  It’s like the Republicans have forgotten they’re in charge and that they don’t have to listen to Democrat orders to have a tax collector at every gas pump taking from the citizen’s wallet.

“Unless oil prices recover, absolutely, this is the end of the drilling boom,” James Williams, president of energy consulting company WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said by telephone yesterday. “The total rig count should hit 1,000 by March or April, and oil production growth should be flat or declining by mid-year.”

Now, as a counterpoint, this might not actually be a bust.  It can just be a leveling-off period as the market adjusts.  A lot of the US oil resources being exploited now are being produced at lower costs than before.  Plus with the infrastructure built and the technology developed, they’re more profitable and more efficient than before.

The problem is if government interferes… as usual.  One of the reasons we have horizontal drilling for oil to begin with is because offshore rigs are driven to deep-sea locations that are prohibitively expensive, and as shown by the BP Deepwater Horizon accident, are more difficult and dangerous to operate.  Another is the limited exploration for oil on federal lands, which take up huge percentages of western states where oil reserves are located.

Now government’s looking to raise gas taxes.  The Republicans are telling us they’ll do us a favor by only raising it 12c to head the Democrats off… which is like saying “I’ll rob you for just your wallet so the carjacker won’t steal it, too.”

The bigger problem with this yet is the inability for Republicans to see that the increased growth in the last few months has been as a direct result of the fall of energy prices.  The Saudis being scared of competition (and targeting Russia) has allowed American consumers and business some immediate surplus of cash and thus productivity.  That increase in productivity also leads to an increase in tax revenue by volume.

5% growth is orders of magnitude more productive for both citizenry and government than a 12c gas tax on $2.50 gasoline, because that 12c gas tax will also reduce overall growth.

Idiotic Republicans and the Idiotic Gas Tax Hike

Posted: January 9, 2015 by ShortTimer in Energy, Republican, Tax, taxes

This could easily be titled “why I’m not a Republican”, but there are plenty of reasons for that.  This is just a big, bold, in-your-face reminder from the Republicans that they are shortsighted, inept, and not listening at all.  We tell them we’re electing them to do what the Democrats will never do – we’re electing them to stop raising taxes, to use the funds they’re already taking from us at gunpoint wisely, and to stop spending.  But they won’t.

I heard this over the weekend while listening to the news on the radio:

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) signaled Sunday that Republicans might be open to negotiating increasing the gas tax in order to pay for the highway infrastructure spending bill that expires in May.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Thune said that while he is opposed to increasing the gas tax, lawmakers will need to “keep all options” available when they return to Washington this week.

“I don’t favor increasing any tax,” Thune said. “But I think we have to look at all options.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had proposed cutting other taxes while raising the gas tax user fee $0.12.

The Republicans were not voted in in 2014 to raise taxes.  The entire discussion, which I heard, basically turned into Republicans saying they want a 12¢ gas tax hike.

This kind of behavior from Republicans is what drives voters apoplectic.  We said no.  We said no again.  We said a thousand times no.

And they say “more taxes”… and then hide it behind linguistic tricks and excuses.  They say the Democrats will make them do it (which is absurd as the Republicans control both houses), so it’s better to do it their way – we’re getting it anyway, may as well just boil that frog rather than toss it in the pot right away.

And now there are even more Republicans saying it:

Record-low gas prices across the U.S. have given rise to fresh talk in Washington of raising the federal gas tax for the first time in over 20 years, with leading Republicans now saying a hike must not be ruled out.

The GOP has long resisted calls from business leaders and others to boost the 18.4 cent-per-gallon tax as a way to pay for upgrades to the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Yet in recent days, senior Senate Republicans have said they want to keep options open and that “nothing is off the table” when weighing the best mechanisms to pay to finance infrastructure projects.

“I just think that option is there, it’s clearly one of the options,” said Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.), new chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the third-ranking Senate Republican, also said they were open to the possibility of raising the tax.

Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress, meanwhile, declared this week that “now is the time” for an increase.

That Democrat argument “NOW IS THE TIME” is an imperative designed to shut off discussion, to end conversation, and to short-circuit reason by demanding an immediate response.  And Republicans, who now control the House and Senate, are willing to go along with it all because so many of them have the same problem Democrats do – they can’t stop spending taxpayer money.

They just refuse to stop taking money from your wallet to throw away.

The shortsightedness of this is astonishingly offensive.  Gas prices right now are low because Saudi Arabia is dumping oil on the market to hurt both Russian economic interests and to break oil & gas frackers in the United States.  The only reason gasoline is “cheap” right now is because of an artificial bubble engineered by the Saudis, and the only reason gas was on the decline before was because of frackers in the US being able to exploit resources that were opened to them 10 years ago.

Furthermore, the assertion that gas prices are “record low” is absurd.  Gas prices now are close to what gas prices were when George W. Bush was in office.  There is no “near-record” low, gas has just returned to where it would be if Obama weren’t actively trying to make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket”.  Remember, Obama’s EPA is fining oil companies for failing to adhere to a mandate to use a fuel additive that does not exist.

The Republicans who are saying they should raise the gas taxes on you the citizen because they think you won’t notice, and because it’s “cheap” right now are the kind of people I’d love to go camping with.  I’d love to get up early in the morning in the mountains where it’s cold, climb out of the tent and discuss policy with them.  I’d love to explain to them that by the same reasoning as gas taxes, that during the day since it’s “record high” temperatures, they should just get rid of their tents and blankets and sleeping bags.  Then when evening comes they can suffer from the same short-sighted asinine reasoning that’s going to be stabbing citizens in their wallets… they can freeze without cold weather gear because of believing “record high temperatures” at noon would continue and that no one would feel the loss of some material wealth during more pleasant times.

We were told over and over again that Obamacare wasn’t a tax.  Then it passed SCOTUS and the weak-willed Roberts as a tax.  And now the IRS has gone ahead and included it on the 1040 as a tax.

From Americans for Tax Reform:

On Thursday the IRS released a slew of draft 2014 tax forms. The new draft Form 1040 shows a new surtax line has been created for the payment of the individual mandate surtax – see line 61 of the 1040:

IRS 1040 obamacare tax via americans for tax reformFamously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

The Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance surtax is one of at least seven Obamacare taxes that violate the President’s “firm pledge” not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year. Thorough documentation of Obama’s promise can be found here.

A lot of people have already been hit by tax hikes and rate increases from Obamacare, as well as losing doctors they need.  And now more than thinking about it in just the theoretical, we can see that the IRS will be running it.

The IRS’s Peculiar Pie Charts

Posted: April 7, 2014 by ShortTimer in Government, Leftists, Tax, taxes

From page 39 of the 1040EZ instructions form:

pg 39 1040 ez 2013

With their pie charts laid down, the selection of what to put up front gives the illusion of greater proportions going to or coming from specific outlays and taxes.  National defense as an expense looks huge because it’s featured up front.  Personal income taxes taken from the individual are hidden in the back when it comes to taxation.

When you put the outlays together vertically, without laying the pie down for distortion effects, one suddenly sees that almost 2/3 of government expenditures go towards some form of handout, from Social Security to “Development Programs” to “Social Programs”.  What’s missing is that a lot of “foreign affairs” that’s lumped in with national defense are also international handouts.

outlays 1040ez graph 1

On the other pie chart for federal income, corporate taxes get thrown up front, along with excise taxes, because people don’t think of those taxes as hitting them (until they buy a car and have to pay gas guzzler tax on both ends).  If they take up more visual space, that’s good because it hides the personal income taxes; and if they still look small up front, that’s also good because corporations are evil and excise taxes are only for evil rich people.

Borrowing to cover deficit is up front, but is seen by the left as a thing that’s bad because it’s an incentive and need to “raise revenues” (read: tax hikes on the bourgeois and “rich” and any other target classes).  Thus it’s allowed to be emphasized.

income 1040ez chart 2013

Could be reading into it, but the IRS leans so heavily left that targeting political opponents of the left is something they do naturally and as a matter of course.  So it’s not really a stretch that they’d make a graph that subtly promotes a leftist worldview.

Looking at an overhead view of the charts rather than a laid-down perspective suddenly makes some taxation and expenditures jump out for what they are.  It’s not like a pie chart is hard to make, either.  Using the laid-down pie chart offers a minimal advantage in space or ink savings in on the 1040ez instructions, but it can be handy for massaging data.

So God Made a Farm Bill

Posted: February 10, 2014 by ShortTimer in Democrats, Government, Republican, Tax, taxes, Welfare state

Very sharp, from Kim Strassel at WSJ:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, and then go to Washington and claim that this particular type of hard work is somehow unique in America and ought to be underwritten by the rest of the nation. I need a willing audience for that plea—a group clever enough and self-serving enough to see the electoral profit of standing for Carhartts, wheat fields and John Deere tractors.” So God made a Congress.

He said, “I need somebody in that Congress savvy enough to realize that farming means food, and food means nutrition, and nutrition means good things to voters, so farming means food stamps. Somebody to call to make that assistance bigger and forever, tame howls over soaring deficits, and plant the seeds of perpetual votes. Somebody to threaten to label anybody pushing for reform as rich, cruel and downright hateful of happy, cornfed children playing in hay lofts—and mean it.” So God made a Democratic Party.

God said, “I need somebody willing to spend five long years complaining about overspending, big government and special-interest giveaways. And get up and vote for $1 trillion in overspending, bigger government and special-interest giveaways—in the name of farmers. Then—when reminded of his reform promises—dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody to fret about drought, wax about food security, and muse (in private) that heedless government shutdowns really do have consequences. Including pressuring parties to prove they can accomplish something by voting for 949-page spending extravaganzas that nobody has bothered to read. Somebody willing to put in 40 hours spinning excuses for abandoning his principles and then, pained from the camera lights, put in 70 hours more.” So God made Republicans.

God had to have Democrats and Republicans willing to cast aside their differences in the name of handouts, and bale a legislative vehicle together with the strong bonds of self-interest. A vehicle that would combine food stamps and farm pork and thereby guarantee a coalition so powerful that it could mow over procedural ruts, race ahead of political rain and hogtie pesky opponents. A vehicle so unstoppable that its creators would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when the reformers vowed change: “Good luck, suckers.” So God made a farm bill.

God said: “I need somebody mighty enough to divert money to those who need it least, yet sneaky enough to do it behind closed doors. I need somebody to wheedle, deal, logroll, beg, trade, and cajole subsidy checks for corporate agribusiness, sushi rice, catfish, Christmas-tree promotion boards, biorefineries and at least 15 sitting members of Congress. Somebody to make sure there are no caps on subsidies and no asset tests for food stamps. Somebody in a nice suit. Somebody who has never been on a farm.” So God made lobbyists.

He said, “I need somebody or something to help patriotic Americans forget that 80% of that ‘farm’ bill is going to welfare, and most of the rest to sugar barons and cotton kings who vacation in Mallorca. Somebody or something to ensure people don’t get to wondering why it is we have a ‘farm’ bill when we don’t have a ‘laptop’ bill, or a ‘vampire-novel’ bill or a ‘swing-set’ bill in this free-market economy that Americans supposedly prize. Somebody or something who will so inspire the public with homespun images of clapboard churches and cows, leathery men holding rope, sheepdogs, plaid shirts, cowboy hats, and American flags that folks will entirely fail to realize that the people pictured—the hardworking souls tilling the back 40—are these days the last to see a dime of farm-bill money.” So God made Ram pickup trucks and Super Bowl commercials.

Finally, God looked down on all he’d created and He said: “Now I need somebody who really will work hard. Somebody who’ll get up day in and day out to plow through traffic to work, come home to help the kids and make the dinner and do the laundry, and struggle with the bills, and get up to do it all over again.

“Somebody who will limit himself to dreaming about that Ram pickup truck he can’t afford—because the IRS bill is due, and because the government-inflated cost of groceries and gas sure do make things tight, and because his own small business, which he built with his own sweat, doesn’t qualify for any handouts. I need somebody to spend his life paying for this week’s farm extravaganza, somebody who Congress made sure had no damn choice in the matter.”

So God made a taxpayer.

Well, I wanted to post just a couple paragraphs and say “read it all here” (and with comments), but linking to it from WordPress sends you to WSJ’s paywall, when this one’s a free-view article meant to pull in subscribers, and is free-view when found from other locations.

It’s already circled around various places, but was written by Kim Strassel at WSJ, as noted here and above.

A lot has happened in a week, as Krauthammer saying “the president now is toxic” seems to be getting proved more and more true.  That’s because the Obama government is chosing winners and losers – the winners will be the recipient class of serfs and the big government autocrats, and the losers will be independent people who took care of their own lives.

And it keeps getting more and more notice.

Things like this gullible leftist couple getting hit with Obamacare bills is in no small part how (via HotAir):

San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are “cradle Democrats.” They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election.

This plan was ending, Kaiser’s letters told them, because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. “Everything is taken care of,” the letters said. “There’s nothing you need to do.”

The letters said the couple would be enrolled in new Kaiser plans that would cost nearly $1,300 a month for the two of them (more than $15,000 a year).

And for that higher amount, what would they get? A higher deductible ($4,500), a higher out-of-pocket maximum ($6,350), higher hospital costs (40 percent of the cost) and possibly higher costs for doctor visits and drugs.

So what is Hammack going to do? If his income were to fall below four times the federal poverty level, or about $62,000 for a family of two, he would qualify for subsidies that could lower his premium cost to as low as zero. If he makes even one dollar more, he gets nothing.

That’s what he’s leaning toward — lowering his salary or shifting more money toward a retirement account and applying for a subsidy.

“We’re not changing our views because of this situation, but it hurt to hear Obama saying, just the other day, that if our plan has been dropped it’s because it wasn’t any good, and our costs would go up only slightly,” he said. “We’re gratified that the press is on the case, but frustrated that the stewards of the ACA don’t seem to have heard.”

They had a really good plan, they lived well, and now they’re being penalized for it.  Their solution is to drop their income in order to get handouts from the government.  They are willingly becoming serfs.

The problem is that the healthy and those who live healthy are just “genetic lottery winners” who were paying an “artificially low price” because of “discrimination” against the sick.

Obamacare is reverse eugenics.  Live right, eat healthy, exercise, and you must be punished with taxes in order to pay for your unhealthy neighbor because it’s “discrimination” to recognize your success over their failure.  It’s “health justice”.

Some, like the Hammacks, believe in the idea that genetic winners and those who live healthy must be punished – even at their own expense.  Of course, they believe in it being a price levied against other people, and they’re personally going Galt.