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The Simple Truth of Tax Policy

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Taxes

One of the ephemeral trends in Washington policy circles these days is for members of Congress to craft their own draft plans for tax reforms in anticipation of a wholesale reform effort in the coming years.  It’s good that members are discussing reforming our antiquated and anti-growth tax code.  However, conservative members must not fall into the trap of adopting some anti-conservative premises when crafting tax plans.

Two of the liberal premises that some conservative proposals have bought into include: 1) the notion that tax reform must produce the same level of revenue as the status quo on a static score, and 2) we need to redistribute more wealth from the rich to working-class families.

With regards to the premise of keeping the same revenue baseline, some conservative policy minds often forget that the ultimate goal is to reduce the size of the federal government, not balance the budget as an end in itself.  At present, the Treasury is taking in a record level of revenue.   CNS news recently reported that the Treasury had raked in a record $1,428,710,000,000 in total taxes (adjusted for inflation) so far this fiscal year.  The CBO projects revenues to rise to over $3 trillion this year and grow steadily over the next ten years.  This is not good news.

We don’t need more money taken from the private sector to feed the rapacious beast in an effort to create more job-killing, price-hiking bureaucracy.  Any tax proposal should not seek to maintain this level of revenue on a static score, but decrease it.

As for the progressivity of the tax code, there is a disturbing trend even from some conservative lawmakers to propose tax plans that will result in higher effective tax rates for the wealthy while growing refundable tax credits at the lower end of the income ladder.  It’s understandable that Republicans want to show empathy with working class families and join in piling on the evil rich, but adopting liberal premises about our tax and entitlement structure will not solve the problem.

Many of the GOP plans call for dramatically curtailing or eliminating tax deductions for upper-income individuals.  Obviously, all conservatives share the goal (short of repealing the 16th Amendment altogether) of pursuing a more flat tax code with lower rates and elimination of market-distorting, social engineering tax preferences.  However, under the current system, especially after the fiscal cliff and Obamacare tax hikes, upper-income earners are subject to a marginal tax rate of over 40%.  Eliminating deductions without a commensurate reduction in marginal rates will result in linear increase in the effective tax rate of those who are already paying most of the income taxes in the country.

Let’s be clear: the tax code is already the most progressive in the world; it certainly doesn’t need to be made more redistributive.  The Joint Committee on Taxation is out with its annual projection of how the federal tax code will affect different levels of income earners in 2014, and it appears that the tax code is more progressive than ever.  If you use the graph that breaks down the distribution of income and payroll taxes by income level, you will find startling results:

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  • Those earning [individuals and joint filers] over $500,000 annually, which roughly corresponds with the much-maligned “one percenters,” earned 16.7 % of the income, yet paid a whopping 45.2% of all federal income taxes.  Even when factoring in all taxes, including the more regressive payroll tax, the top 1% of income earners were still responsible for 26.5% of the tax pie.
  • Those earning over $200,000, which roughly corresponds to the top 5% of filers, earned 32.3% of total income, but paid a whopping 70% of all income taxes.  When all taxes are factored in, they were still responsible for 46.7% of the pie, well over their share of the national income.  If you expand the income threshold to include all those earning more than $100,000, accounting for roughly the top 21% of tax units, you will find that they pay 95.2% of all income taxes and 75.7% of all taxes, even though they only earned 60% of the income.
  • Those earning under $75,000 (again, individual and/or joint), which account for the bottom 69%, actually accrued a -2% income tax liability (all of that coming from those earning less than $50,000).  They pay 14.5% of all taxes, even though they earn 28.7% of the income pie.

Taken as a whole, anyone who believes that the rich don’t pay their fair share are not living on planet earth.  Yet, many Republicans, in an effort to push tax cuts, albeit not for the rich, tend to propose changes to the tax code that actually make the system even more progressive.  The dirty little secret is that the rich already pay all of the income taxes.  These numbers are all final tax liabilities working off of effective tax rates, so they include all of the deductions and so-called loopholes.  And yet, they still pay almost all of the income taxes, while the lower-middle income earners pay almost no income taxes, and in many cases, enjoy a negative tax liability.

Hence, it is impossible to cut taxes other than for those who already pay them.  But many Republicans who want to reduce the burden on working class families, and do so in a way that will be revenue neutral, attempt to raise taxes on those who already pay the tab.  It’s fundamentally unfair and anti-growth.

Conservatives who want to encourage pro-growth policies that are consistent with our constitutional values of pursuit of happiness should instead look at the payroll tax for areas to promote upward mobility with working class families.  The payroll tax burden is shouldered by all workers and would provide conservatives with a great opportunity to cut taxes for all income levels.  The only casualty of such a plan would be our record high revenue that purveys the federal leviathan.  And that is a good thing.

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Will Paul Ryan Fight for his Budget?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Taxes

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for FY 2015 yesterday, and as expected, it is quite similar to the budget blueprints from previous years.  Let me first say that this budget would be superior to the status quo a million times over.  Medicaid and Food Stamps would be block granted to the states and Medicare would be subject to at least some optional free market reforms at the end of the budget frame.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eliminated.  And most importantly, it defunds the Obamacare programs.

If Republicans would only fight for this budget during the debt ceiling fisticuffs, many conservatives would be more than satisfied.

But that is the point.  Given the fact that Republican have no intention to fight for even some major components of this budget when the deadline looms in September, why put out a half-baked proposal?  If this is just designed to be a messaging document that is tossed in the trash at the end of the fiscal year, why not place our ideal proposal on paper?

Ultimately, Ryan accepts the entire fiscal cliff ($618 billion) and Obamacare tax increases (roughly $1 trillion), working off the [optimistic] CBO 10-year revenue projections of $40.6 trillion.  Yet, even with the optimistic revenue projections and tax increases, the budget still runs deficits because not enough government programs are phased out or reformed, especially in the Department of Education and some of the other bloated bureaucracies.

As you can see, this year’s budget proposal is essentially the same as the FY 2014 document.  It’s just that entitlement spending will grow every year, engendering a $1.2 trillion increase in this year’s budget.  Even in the near term, this budget actually spends more, increasing spending in 2015 to $3.664 trillion ($166 billion more than what as projected in last year’s budget).

FY 2015

Outlays $42,636

Revenue $40,630

FY 2014

Outlays: $41.466 trillion

Revenues: $40.241 trillion

Hence, although the budget comes close to balancing in 10 years from now, much of that is achieved by accepting the current tax baseline.  Republicans should be able to show how the budget balances within a conservative framework of the tax code.  Granted that this budget would easily balance if we implement Medicare premium support before 2014, but that is the point.  If we plan to leave traditional fee-for-service Medicare in place and make premium support optional, why not begin the free market option earlier?

Moreover, there is a difference between balancing a budget and limiting government.  Balancing a budget is all about accounting.  You can coalesce enough small cuts across many programs and come up with a big number, without ever eliminating many of the 2228 federal government assistance programs.  I’m not sure how many of them would be abolished under this budget, although as mentioned earlier, solid reforms are imposed on Medicaid and Food Stamps.

Even as it relates to cutting raw dollars and cents, spending would increase, on average, 3.5 percent a year until 2024.  In other words, the federal government will still grow faster than the private economy.

Overall, this would be a great start if Republicans planned to fight for this document throughout the appropriations season.  They should announce upfront that they have no plans to pass a CR or omnibus bill this year and force Democrats to go to conference on each of the 12 appropriations bills through regular order.  That way, we can fight Obamacare in the HHS bill without fear of the Democrats holding the rest of government hostage.  Yet, that demand has not been made.  And sadly, we know from past experience that Ryan will be the first one to ditch his own budget when the going gets tough in September.

One other important point: if Ryan gets his way on amnesty, all of the supposed savings from welfare reform will be rendered null and void.

Cross-posted at RedState.com

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A Conservative View of Dave Camp’s Tax Reform Bill

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Taxes

Yesterday, Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), the House Ways Committee Chairman, released his draft proposal for comprehensive tax reform.  The mere proposition of positive tax reform is a welcome development.  Even though we clearly lack the votes to enact any tax reform until at least 2017, it is still important to stand on bold colors and offer an alternative vision to the current socialist path from this administration.

On the other hand, if we are going to propose Republican ideas for tax reform just for messaging purposes, we should put forth the boldest tax plan possible – one that embraces completely the concepts of fair and flat and not one that is tendentious or punitive towards any group of people or individual.  It’s not that a compromised version of tax reform isn’t better than the status quo,   but because this is an exercise in messaging, we should propose a bill that fully adopts conservative principles and eschews every premise of class warfare. The purpose is to talk about ideas and principles, not try and win points for being measured in our approach.

The conservative principle of any tax reform – short of wholesale repeal of the 16th Amendment and implementation of the Fair Tax – should have the following goals in mind: it should tax everyone at the same low rate (at least on all income above a certain minimum), that rate should be just enough to net the minimal amount of revenue to sustain a constitutional government, and done so in a way that engenders the least amount of disincentives to produce and invest in the economy.

Obviously, we have to deal with a short-term reality that we don’t have a constitutional form of government and the current obligations require a certain level of revenue.  But the closer a tax plan gets to following those principles, the more utility it will have in uniting us behind a starting point for future negotiations.

With these principles in mind, it is fair to say the Camp proposal is, at best, a mixed bag.  Here are some of the key proposals for the tax code pertaining to individuals:

Good provisions

  • Individual Marginal Rates: Camp’s bill would collapse the current system of seven tax brackets into just two levels of 25 percent and 10 percent.  Hence, the top marginal rate would be reduced from 39.6 percent to 25 percent.  It’s not the preferred flat tax, but at least it’s headed in the right direction.  The tax cut is further enhanced by expanding the standard deductions to $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for married couples – up from $6,100 and $12,200 respectively. [However, a portion of that tax cut would be offset by repealing the $3,900 personal exemption.]
  • It abolishes the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax).
  • The deduction for state and local taxes would be eliminated.  In theory, this is a good thing because we don’t need the federal government to soften the blow of high taxation in blue states, thereby shielding bad actors in local government from the wrath of their constituents.  However, as is the case with the mortgage interest deduction [see below], eliminating deductions is only a net positive if marginal rates are dropped low enough to engender a decrease in the effective tax rate. Under this plan, it’s conceivable that some people will see their effective tax rates increase.
  • The plan gets rid of all the green energy social engineering in the tax code.

 

Bad provisions 

  • Surtax: If Camp would have stopped at lowering the top marginal rate to 25%, it wouldn’t be perfect but it would represent serious progress.  However, his plan would impose a 10 percent surtax on certain types of earned income over $450,000 a year.  This is a big shout-out to Obama-style class warfare and fundamentally accepts their false premise that the tax code is not progressive enough.  What’s worse this surtax would apply to healthcare benefits (and the deduction for self-employed), contributions to retirement accounts, and untaxed Social Security benefits. If the point is messaging with this plan, including this provision does nothing but solidify the class warfare argument as an accepted premise.
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction: Under this proposal, the $1 million limitation on the mortgage interest deduction would gradually be lowered to $500,000.  The mortgage interest deduction is the biggest market-distorting provision in the tax code, inducing an inflationary effect in the housing market.  In a true limited government/free market system, we would have a perfectly flat tax at a very low rate, and then completely abolish this deduction.  However, the Camp plan only reduces the rate to 25% with those earning over $400,000 paying a de facto rate of 35%.  So cutting down on the deduction could represent a massive tax increase, especially when coupled with the elimination of other deductions.  Although conservatives would like to see this deduction repealed, under the Camp system it would be better to leave it alone. There are also a number of phase-outs of itemized deductions and  the standard deduction for higher income earners.
  • Although Camp would make cuts to the Earned Income Credit, he would expand the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 per child to $1,500, and increase it with inflation.  If we would abolish the refundable nature of the credit (the ability to make money after zeroing out the tax liability), this would represent pro-growth, family-oriented reform.  However, this change would increase the cap on the refundable portion of the tax credit from 15 percent of earned income [under current law] to 25 percent.
  • Capital Gains:  Under current law, investment income is taxed at a flat rate of 20 percent.  Under this proposal, 40 percent of one’s annual investment income would be completely exempt but the other 60 percent would be taxed at the rate of the filer’s income.  This is a surreptitious way of raising capital gains taxes on those in the new 35 percent tax bracket.

Overall, the basic components of the plan are a step in the right direction.  But when you cut through the changes in deductions and phase-outs, it is clear that many people at the top – those who already pay 38 percent of the income taxes, will be hit with higher effective tax rates.  Additionally, it’s likely that the plan would make the tax code even more progressive.

A flatter, lower tax rate without deductions is the best path to real tax reform, but it all depends on how low the marginal rates are dropped and how severely the deductions are cut.  The balance in this bill is a bit concerning. And the myriad of proposals used to sneak in tax hikes actually run counter to the original purpose of the Camp bill – to make the tax code simpler.

Camp should be applauded for moving beyond platitudes and actually proposing a specific reform plan.  But if this is meant to be used as a messaging tool, much of the proposal is not grounded in conservative principles of tax reform.

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Conservatives Introduce Bill to Repeal Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, News

At present, federal “mandatory” programs, which include Medicare, Social Security and roughly 77 welfare program, account for 57% of the entire federal budget.  Social Security is by far the largest federal expenditure, which is projected to cost $848 billion in 2014 and at least $11 trillion over the next 10 years.  It is clear that we will never control spending and bend the trajectory of our fiscal insolvency without offering comprehensive and effective reforms to Social Security.

However, the budgetary cost of this program is by no means the only pernicious aspect of our burgeoning entitlement state.  Under the current system, the federal government has complete control over our personal retirement.  Their monopoly on 12.4% of our earnings (on the first $113,700 of income) undermines savings, investments, and personal ownership – some of the most cherished values of a free and prosperous society.

To add insult to injury, the federal government taxes the Social Security benefits of seniors, even though the money had already been taxed.  Moreover, the more a senior earns in private income, dividends or interest while receiving Social Security, the more they are taxed.  Hence, in addition to the double taxation, the federal government has created a perverse incentive for seniors to continue working, if they desire to do so.

Today, a pair of conservative champions in the House, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have introduced a bill, H.R. 3894, to repeal this double taxation on Social Security benefits.  As Massie noted, this bill will prevent Congress from using this ill-gotten revenue to grow government while pretending to protect the notional Social Security Trust Fund.

Again, conservatives should not only discuss the budgetary problems with Social Security.  Many analysts only focus on the “austerity” solutions, such as means-testing benefits and raising the retirement age.  But they fail to address the broader problem of government controlling and squandering our retirement.  And ironically, Social Security is already means-tested in several ways, one of which is the taxation of benefits on a graduated income scale.

As we work to push for more choices in retirement security, the least we can do is repeal the harmful tax on Social Security benefits.

We’re Back to the “Next Fight”

Monday, December 16th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt

The past three years of GOP control in the House have been marked by the rallying cry of fighting “the next time.”  With every budget deadline comes a degree of leverage from which Republicans can extract concessions on reducing the size of government.  Yet with every budget battle, House leadership shirks from the fight and blithely points to the next battle – the debt ceiling – as the consummate opportunity to push for reforms.  After all, a budget battle raises the stakes of a government shutdown.

Then when we reach the debt ceiling, GOP leaders echo the scandalous lies of the Democrats with regards to defaulting on debt.  Default is much more serious than a plain government shutdown, claim the wizards of smart.  But just wait until the next budget battle and we’ll cut trillions in debt, not just billions.

Finally, in October, Republicans made it clear they would never hold up a debt ceiling or a budget bill.  At least that was the message telegraphed to the Democrats.  Yet, amazingly, Paul Ryan is still playing the game.  After punting on two years’ worth of budget leverage points, Ryan is feeling the pressure to put on a brave face about his promises for transformational reforms.  As such, he is rallying the troops on the next debt ceiling fight:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday said Republicans will insist on more concessions for raising the debt limit in early 2014, indicating that the fiscal ceasefire he brokered in a budget deal may not last long.

“We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit,” Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We are going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight.”

The two-year budget agreement Ryan negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) did not increase the nation’s borrowing authority, which officials project will next be exhausted sometime in the spring.

“One step at a time,” Ryan said. “Patty Murray and I knew we weren’t going to solve every problem, like the debt limit problem.”

House and Senate Republicans will discuss their debt-limit strategy at separate party retreats in January, Ryan said.

Sorry, Paul.  You already gave up your leverage.  Democrats know that you are scared to death of brinkmanship, and will never have an incentive to come to the bargaining table unless we replace you and your buddies at the head of the dais.

Moreover, the debt ceiling deadline will probably not mature until well into the summer.  Although the debt ceiling law will be reinstated on February 7, Republicans failed to block the Treasury from using extraordinary measures to push off the “crisis date.”  By the time they exhaust their payment shifts, it will be too close to the midterm elections.  Leadership will never take any risks that late in the year.

As an aside, it’s a real shame that Republicans couldn’t block extraordinary measures as one concession from the October fight.  In February, American workers will begin dealing with the initial shock of diminishing take-home pay due to higher withholdings for health insurance.  The outrage over Obamacare will grow from those affected by the private market to the vast majority of workers who will pay more for health insurance in the employer market.  But that opportunity perished in the McConnell surrender bill.

Finally, there is one other reason we will never see Republicans fight on the debt ceiling.  They badly want to pass amnesty.  There is no worse distraction from amnesty than a budget battle.  One of the few positive results of the October showdown after Senate Republicans sabotaged it was that amnesty was killed for the remainder of the year.  The K Street establishment is not about to make that mistake again.

There will be no next time unless we shake up the party in the upcoming primaries.

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A Washington Budget Deal: Republican Style

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

Earlier today, Democrats utilized the nuclear option for the first time.  They pushed through the nomination of Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  Now, one of the biggest supporters of affordable housing mandates will guard the hen house at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Additionally, Democrats pushed through the nomination of two more liberal judges to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court in the country.

Instead of responding by shutting down all bipartisan deals on outstanding legislation (which are still subject to a filibuster), Rep. Paul Ryan, without any protest from leadership, handed Democrats the biggest legislative victory in months.  Let’s examine the ramifications of the deal:

  • Under this agreement Congress would reinstate more than half the sequester for the next two years.  Budget caps would be set at $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015; current law is $967 billion & $995 billion respectively.  It’s interesting how establishment Republicans argue that we can’t use the budget process to repeal Obamacare, but we evidently can use it to repeal the sequester.  Paul Ryan said tonight that he is forced to “deal with things the way they are.”  But that is not true.  The default position was that the sequester was the law of the land.  This will set a precedent to reverse that default, paving the road for future tax increases in order to offset the inevitable spending increase.
  • The sequester was one of the few battles in which Republicans successfully overcame liberal demagoguery.  Obama tried to make the sequester as painful as possible by gratuitously shutting down popular services.  It didn’t work.  They claimed the economy would tank.  The economy actually got stronger.  Why would they throw this away?
  • The most important outcome of this bill is the long-term effect on fighting Obamacare.  Rather than work out a one-year deal, Ryan essentially killed our leverage for the next two years.  So even if Obamacare becomes more catastrophic and the public rises up against it, we will not have any leverage to fight it in the budget process for next year.
  • The spending offsets are a joke.  Most of them are very intangible.  The only thing definitive is an increase in airfare taxes to fund the TSA.
  • Mitch McConnell is directly responsible for this.  He likes to say that he supports keeping the sequester, and indeed, he might vote against this deal, but he was the one who cued it up with his sabotage deal in October with Harry Reid.   Hence, McConnell will secure his optimal outcome – all budget confrontation will cease for two years, but he won’t have his fingerprints on the deal, enabling him to keep his legislative scorecard high enough to hoodwink conservatives.  Even as other leaders publicly supported the deal, McConnell said he would not be commenting on it tonight.  Remember, he is the GOP Senate Leader, and has obviously known about the deal for quite some time.
  • And why would Republican leaders want to jettison all budget confrontation for two years?  As we noted yesterday, the only plausible explanation is that they want a clear lane to drive through an amnesty bill without fights over Obamacare moving their prized issue to the back burner.

House conservatives should push for a clean CR until Democrats agree to isolate funding for Obamacare by passing all 12 appropriations bills separately….the way the budget process is supposed to work.

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Madison Project Op-ed: Building a GOP majority on Quicksand

Friday, October 25th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

Here is our latest op-ed at FoxNews Opinion

From listening to the banal musings of inside-the-beltway Republicans, one would come away with the impression that we are just six Senate seats away from curing all our political and policy ills.

These wizards of smart believe that we must refrain from engaging in risky policy battles until after the next election, when presumably, we stand to win back the Senate.

To that end, they accuse some conservative groups of working to undermine a Republican majority, both by engaging in “unwinnable” fights and by working to replace incumbent Republicans instead of focusing exclusively on growing our numbers from 45 senators to 51.

This line of thought obfuscates an inconvenient truth about the state of the Senate GOP Conference, and prevents Republicans from working to build an enduring conservative majority in the Senate.

Conservatives need to confront the fact that Democrats enjoy a defacto 75-80 seat-governing majority on many critical issues.

Read more at FoxNews

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CBO’s Unicorn Cost Study on Amnesty

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

Repealing Obamacare will increase the deficit by $109 billion over 10 years.

That was a headline from a CBO report in May when Republicans voted on full repeal of Obamacare.  Somehow, when it comes to ascertaining the costs of wrongheaded policy, CBO wants us to engage in willing suspension of disbelief.  The most costly entitlement will actually reduce the deficit, they claim.  In Washington, up is down and down is up.

We are now seeing the same thing with the amnesty/immigration deform bill.  You need not be an actuary to understand that 11 million poor illegals and tens of millions of other poor legal immigrants and guest workers, along with their American-born children, will wind up receiving a lot more in benefits that they pay in taxes.  Yet, CBO will have you believe that this bill will actually reduce the deficit over 10 and 20 years by $197 billion and $700 billion respectively.  In fact, the only main costs in this bill are the border security provisions.

Well, if you take their estimate to its logical conclusion, we should double the number of illegal immigrants, thereby doubling the level of deficit reduction.  Also, countries like Mexico should be economic superpowers by now. It’s this sort of dyslexic bean counting that has led to $17 trillion in debt.

When determining whether a population would be a net contributor or a net recipient to the tax/benefit structure we have in this country, you have to understand that tax/benefit structure.  All conservatives agree that when the income level is relatively low, those individuals will be net recipients; hence, the progressive system that everyone on the right rails against.  Yet, somehow, when that simple fact is extrapolated to new immigrants, some of these people get disgruntled.

But CBO fails to factor in the degree of progressivity to our tax system even for the native population.  In 2011, CBO issued an analysis showing that our tax and government transfer system had become less redistributive since 1979.  At the time, I showed that, in fact, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1% grew from 19% to 36.7% while the share of the bottom 50% shrunk from 7% to 2.25%.  Meanwhile, government transfer payments have exploded since 1979.

But somehow CBO found that our system had become less redistributive since the growth of refundable tax credits and welfare programs.  With that in mind, it’s no enigma that they believe a low-income group of aliens will also be net contributors.

Here are some other points to consider:

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The Hidden Tax of the Regulatory State

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Taxes

Many of us in the Tea Party have focused intensely on the cost of big government to the federal budget.  Undoubtedly, this cost will be born directly by future taxpayers in the form of more taxes, higher interest payments on debt, and less economic growth.  While we must continue hammering home this point, we must also understand that many Americans still fail to connect the dots between government spending and their own wellbeing.  They still fail to realize how more government spending affects their lives.

What we need to focus on in the coming months is the cost of big government to the broader economy in the form of less jobs, lower income, and more expensive products and services.  As an example, I like to point out that although the EPA only costs us about $8 billion in operational costs, the regulations that are promulgated by this agency cost the economy untold hundreds of billions per year.  Hence, while advocating for less spending in general we must punctuate that message with specific proposals to reduce the burden of large government in a way that will resonate with the public.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute amplified this point when they published their annual report, Ten Thousand Commandments, which unpacks the size, scope, and cost of the federal regulatory behemoth.  Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012. For the first time, this amounts to more than half of total federal spending. It is more than the GDPs of Canada or Mexico. […]
  • Regulatory costs amount to $14,678 per family – 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685 and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705 and more than receipts from corporate and personal income taxes combined.
  • Combined with $3.53 trillion in federal spending, Washington’s share of the economy now reaches 34.4 percent. […]
  • The five most active rule-producing agencies—the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, the Interior, Agriculture, and Transportation—account for1,730 rules, or 43 percent of all rules in the Unified Agenda pipeline.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), formerly consistently in the top five, is now sixth, but adding its 223rules brings the total from the top six rule making agencies to 1,953 rules, or48 percent of all federal rules.
  • Finalized EPA regulations were up by 44percent in Obama’s first term.

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The Big Amnesty/ Social Security Lie

Monday, May 13th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, Taxes

It looks like we’ve discovered the panacea for all of our economic and social ills.  We’ve found the solution to the entitlement crisis as well.  We’re going to find the poorest countries in the world and import as many of their people as possible within a short period of time.  That way we will have millions of people paying into Social Security, purveying the “trust fund” with endless bounty.  This is what passes for sane analysis from the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary.

In an effort to buttress the Democrat Voting Act of 2013 aka the gang’s amnesty bill, Stephen Goss, Social Security’s independent chief actuary, released an analysis last week opining that amnesty will solve the Social Security deficit and *prevent*future waves of illegal immigration.  Goss finds that by 2024, this bill will have created 3.22 million jobs, and grow GDP by 1.63%.  With regards to Social Security, Goss concluded, “overall, we anticipate that the net effect of this bill on the long-range OASDI actuarial balance will be positive.”

Wow – why didn’t we think of importing mass poverty to save Social Security before?  Oh wait…that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the past few decades.

This analysis was requested by Marco Rubio and is being bandied about by the open-borders elements on the right.  The irony is that Goss’s preposterous assertion is predicated on two long-standing left-wing deceptions, both of which have long been rejected by libertarians who are now pushing amnesty.

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