Carly Simon – ‘Life is Eternal’
One of the things that Congress and the president must wrestle with between now and January 2014 is tightening up our fiscal ship.
Achieving some agreement without again shutting down the government means some level of entitlement reform, tax code revision and a relook of what people can deduct within their annual taxes — if we are not going to raise taxes then we must revisit deductions.
I do not expect that there will be any major revisions to our tax code. Too hard to do, and too many people wanting to protect their writeoffs, deductions and entitlements.
BTW – ‘entitlement’ is possibly one of the most misused and misunderstood words in the American English language. Entitlement is just a fancy misused term that means if you qualify then you are entitled to participate in something: social security, mortgage deductions, whatever causes you to recieve a fiscal benefit or credit.
2016-18 Real Reform
I do not expect any meaningful fiscal reforms to happen in 2014 as it is an election year. Perhaps in 2015 we can take the chance to discuss reform but my expectation is that both political major parties, one more than the other, sees 2016 as a do or die year.
The only real unexplored territory that represents some form of leveling the playing field is some form of flat taxes.
A recurring criticism of flat taxes is that it hurts the working poor and just adds to their challenge of day-to-day life. This criticism has been around ever since Thomas Jefferson weighed in with his position on taxing the working poor — which sounds terrible as a economic category name but is easier on the tongue than ‘financially at the bottom of the economic pyramid’:
“Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual.”
–Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784.
“Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”
–Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785.
Since there will probably be no serious discussion of flat taxes in 2015 — most Democrats abhor the concept and most Republicans would want to save it as a 2016 campaign item — then we probably will not hear more until 2016’s presidential election.
Few presidential promises ever are kept by either side so we should not expect too much from 2016 either.
However, there is a federal program near and dear to many of us that will prompt us to seek some real change, regardless of our political party affiliation: Social Security.
Social Security enters dangerous waters beginning at some time between 2018-2022. It is a self-funded entitlement (we worked for it) that we have not paid enough into. We are living longer and many of us have been paying attention to those advice givers that say boost your take by retiring slightly later. Social Security will only be able to pay out $75 for every $100 due to beneficiaries by 2033 (read Social Security Trust Fund Trustee Report).
My thesis is that this when real tax reform will come and I believe that we will finally adopt some form of flat tax.
My Solution to assist lower income Americans
We live in an age where a flat tax is very much possible without hurting those below a certain income category by issuing them a Flat Tax Relief Card.
The ‘Flat Tax Relief Card’ would be a credit card-like device that can be used whenever a purchase is made. It would reduce or eliminate the tax on certain items at the point of payment.
As a safeguard against misuse, the card should work like a debit card that checks eligibility each time a purchase is made. The card would automatically time out after 13 months (1 extra month so the IRS has time to reverify your eligibility each year) . The card would also limit the amount of tax deduction for the item/service purchased.
Most things are paid for electronically these days — even at the gas station or the supermarket.
If Costco, BJs etc can implement a system which automatically tracks credits, offers discounts etc., at the point of purchase then this is not hard to do.
— An annual limit on how much tax can be credited to you. If you fall below a certain income level and your annual deductible is $2,200 then the card cuts you off after you have used it for $2,200 in tax credits.
— The card carries a chip just like American Express Blue and ALL credit/debit cards issued in Asia and Europe. Either you are you or you are not you. The card has high security and knows where you are and how it is being used. The card must be physically used to be usable, although there could be a manual credit process for handling those awkward moments when you forgot your card — most stores offer this too now: purchase receipt carry an electronic coding identifier. You can just can scan or present your uncredited receipt at a later time and your account is credited.
Earlier today I read several critiques of what really caused the GOP debacle in the budget wars with the Senate and President Obama: moderates, RINOs, and false conservatives.
Supposedly 50-60 of these spineless creatures were behind the inability of the GOP to do the impossible.
Rush Limbaugh was even heard to wail on his program that the GOP has become “irrelevant” and responsible for “creating one of the greatest political disasters” he has ever seen. He also blamed the spineless creatures. Luckily for us all, Rush is just an entertainer and no one in the GOP listens to him anyway.
The real reason for GOP failure
Conservatives have abandoned almost any pretext of intellectualism and desire to compete in the marketplace of ideas. They have become what they rant against: they want outcomes. They do not want to have to work for them or to justify them.
BTW – Purging the GOP of spineless creatures even further is not going to help the party.
Do not trash talk “moderates” and “RINOs” as stabbing the GOP in the back … especially when many of those RINOs have 90%+ conservative American Conservative Union (ACU) ratings, or ratings in the high 80s … AND when these folks already vote with you 99% of the time. You need allies. You do not need to threaten your allies for violating rightwing political correctness when the next election rolls around.
Some of your allies should also include conservative Blue Dogs and moderate Democrats.
24 hours later, Tea Party Nation says that it is time to declare ‘open season‘ on RINOs: “The Tea Party is still here and conservatives are now declaring open season on RINOs. The Civil War in the Republican Party is on!”
About that Big Tent thing, could it be that there is an element of the Republican party that constantly wants to purge the spineless creatures and yet maybe a small bit of housecleaning is in order among the purgers? Just some housecleaning — am a big believer in ‘big tents’. Tea Partyers and traditional GOP liberals and moderates and main street conservatives should feel welcome within the party.
My advice as Bill4DogCatcher
#1 – Create actual budget/appropriations for each branch of government as required by the Constitution. The House GOP (chair of such committees) drafted/passed appropriations for only 4 out of 12 required budgets (appropriations). Put your wants and cards on the table. Man up! Negotiate.
#2 – Allow amendments. Debate them. Vote straight up as yes or no. Show your math (this needs to be done for both sides — BUT when you are chair of the appropriations committees then your math matters more because you control the eventual outcome.)
—- Avoid taking 43 ‘Repeal and Replace’ votes and showboating. If you don’t have the votes then you don’t have the votes.
—- If you need public support then take your case to the public. What happened to ‘Replace’? Replace with what? Not a single House vote was ever taken on any form of ‘Replace’. …. Yes, several dartboard ‘we could do’ plans emerged from time to time but not a single one made it out of committee (chaired by GOP members) and went to the floor for a vote.
—- You don’t overturn omnibus laws (Obamacare) with an all-or-nothing vote. It could happen … but it will happen when the Keebler elves actually show up with cookies. Instead of ‘overturn’, make your case and replace portions of the law. It is because of the GOP not wanting to play ball back in 2009 that Obamacare is the abomination that it is … or is in the minds of many of the GOP. Count your votes. If you can do it your way then go for it. If not then you need to get in the game and make whatever pops out as law the best law possible.
#3 – Go to Appropriations Conference reconciliation with the Senate in good faith. Do not claim that the Senate has failed to appoint a conference committee team when your own party blocked attempts to do so 19 times over the last 5 months since April 23rd.
And please stop trashing anyone that is to the left of the far right. Some of us once voted Republican. Regularly. Some of us once automatically pulled the Republican party lever in the pollbooth when we were not sure which candidate to vote for. Regularly. But not anymore. Dear GOP, you have become scary, unstable and erratic … at least at the national level … and in several of these United States.
Bill Golden’s 10 Rules about Success and Competitors
1 – There are plenty of smart people in the world. Always try harder.
2 – Life is not fair. Feel free to make up some of your own rules.
3 – Make good friends. Look beyond the smile and into the heart. Acts, not words, matter more. The heart acts. The mind justifies. Make good friends that can balance the two.
4 – Do not drink your own koolaid. Seek out source data and check your facts.
5 – Always be able to argue multiple sides of an argument. Use argument only enough to identify the decisionmakers. Do not delude yourself into believing that anyone is actually listening.
6 – Logic does not win arguments. Neither do facts. Identify group leaders. Either win them over, make them your partner or take them out. Do not ignore them.
7 – Always look both left and right when crossing streets. Twice is good. Thrice is better. It does not bother most of your competitors to hit the gas and to run you over.
8 – Never bad mouth or trash talk your opponent or competition. It reflects badly on your confidence and competence to do something, and not just talk.
9 – Always have a plan. Having two is better. If you actually have a plan feel free to ignore it. A plan just means that you have done your homework and identified key points of action, inaction and targets of opportunity. Be proactive. A plan is also acknowledgement of how badly you might be screwed if your only strategy is to play defense.
10 – Most people are good at heart, of sound mind and just want the best outcome. If you want to know the truth ask the ones keeping their heads down and just trying to make their way honestly in life. If it matters to them then it should matter to me.
Every day is my favorite day … but you are my most favorite. “I walk a mile in your shoes” is probably appropriate for Wednesdays. By today things done happened this week. So got that to fix. And there are things yet to fix before Friday. So here we are: halfway between where we was and where we are going. And then we get to do it all over again … if we are lucky.
▶ Kings of Leon – Comeback Story of a Lala
MOVIE REVIEW – Captain Phillips
A Tom Hanks film. He has an interesting Yankee accent. Sounds like Forrest Gump with a toothache. Hanks is a container ship captain in a bad neighborhood known to have a Somali pirates problem.
The film also depicts Captain Phillips as concerned with the ship’s safety when it appears that that was not the case. Ships were supposed to stay 600 miles of the coast to prevent local coastal pirates from attacking — Captain Philips shaved corners to get where he was going quicker and was only 240 miles of the Somali coast when attacked. His crew later sued him.
Enough of the whining. If you are not concerned with facts then this is a super movie! The theater stayed absolutely quiet from beginning to end.
After the first 10-15 slow minutes setting the story up then things went fast. Tense! Tense! Tense! You could literally hear anyone in the theater if they were munching popcorn or making noise. I didn’t hear much popcorn munching. This story grabs you.
This is a very involved story. The pirates have personalities and stories. Some stories. They are made out to be humans caught up in a life where doing bad is ‘just business’, and doing business is not an option.
HEROES — this move makes the U.S. Navy and Navy Seals seem like some of the most coordinated bad-asses that God ever put on our water-covered planet. The Navy comes off looking good … real, real good! .. and tough! Ass kicking tough! God bless the U.S. Navy. This could be a recruiting film … and I say this as a 21 year military vet, not some chicken hawk kind of guy. Was impressed.
SPOILER ALERT — Captain Philips keeps telling the pirates that the Navy will not let them get away. They should have listened to Captain Phillips.
I wake up each day smiling. Sometimes it takes me 30 seconds to get in full gear but I still smile … and usually I do so all day long.
This was today’s wakeup video, courtesy of my good friend Connie.
I loved seeing the faces of the kids in this video … and some of the nurses weren’t bad either.
Be brave. Stay strong. Life happens. Smile.
Dear President Obama,
If you are smart you will direct that all federal parklands be opened as of Monday. Announce that “I have heard you.”
Closing the parks is stupid. You have probably spent more money on staff to monitor and to police park closings, and on a gazillion orange cones and rented fencing to block off the parks, than if you had just left the parks open.
Close facilities but leave monuments and actual parkland open. Since you are spending $$ money to print special signs then print signs that say “Use at own risk”.
Sure, someone will get hurt and sue. That is the American way. However, you don’t close off our parks to save money that you supposedly do not have and then spend even more money to make sure that the parks are closed.
Enough of stupid. We have lots of stupid. You are just playing into the hands of people that do not like you … and I’m none too happy either about parks and “stupid”.
MOVIE REVIEW – Gravity
Different. 3-D strongly recommended. Story plot: Astronaut shuttle crew working on repair of deep space imaging system. Unexpected bad stuff happens. Real bad. Only three actors in the movie + maybe 2 or 3 others for about 10 seconds. George Clooney plays George Clooney. Does great job. Sandra Bullock plays nervous, upset doctor with great legs and ability to open doors on foreign space stations. The only other actor with a speaking part dies early on. … Mission: survive … OK, so does not sound like a great movie so far. … This is an INCREDIBLE movie. Really. … You need to see to understand. Stuff happens and time flies. Movie over before you know it. … MORE popcorn, please.
Cyrillic Lesson Time – Sing along with Lera Tumanova
Лера Туманова – Сердце Тук-тук