No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Archive for the 'Taxes' Category

October 22, 2009

Hot Read Thursday – William Ahern’s “Can Income Tax Hikes Close the Deficit?”

by @ 11:13. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

William Ahern of The Tax Foundation asks the question, and pretty much answers it in the negative. You’ll have to go over there for the lengthy explanation as well as the charts, but I’ll give you a feel for the analysis for the “ebb tide of deficits” year of 2012, as well as a note that the analysis assumes that the higher tax rates won’t influence the larger economy:

This analysis assumes that individuals would not change their income-earning or tax-planning behavior in response to higher tax rates. That is, they would earn the same amounts as they would with current tax rates, and they would fill out their tax returns in the same way they do now. But of course they would alter their behavior. With high-income people paying a federal tax rate over 90 percent, and most states adding on about 8 percent, plus local income taxes and payroll taxes, tax rates would be over 100 percent for many households. In other words, beyond some point government would be taxing away all earnings and there would be no incentive to work….

…(E)ven in 2012 and 2013, when projected deficits are the lowest, according to the Administration, tax rates would have to be levied at prohibitively high levels to erase the deficit. For example, in 2012, even after the top two tax rates have been raised from 33% to 36% and from 35% to 39.6%, all the rates would have to be multiplied by 1.87 to raise enough to erase the deficit (see Table 3).

Average tax payments would rise precipitously in 2012 if that were the year targeted for eradicating the deficit, though not as steeply as in 2010.

Table 4 shows the effect on average tax payments in 2012 if Congress decided to close the deficit that year. Low-income filers (AGI between $0 and $20,000) would pay $248 instead of $129; middle-income filers (AGI between $75,000 and $100,000) would pay about $13,700 instead of $7,000; and the highest-earning filers (AGIs over $1 million) would pay about $1,650,000 instead of $935,000.

October 4, 2009

Ed Morrissey talks taxes at Defending the American Dream Summit

Because of various technical issues, I was pretty much limited to covering the 2009 Defending the American Dream Summit on Twitter. However, I did get some not-quite-great-quality video of Ed Morrissey talking about the tax system and especially the ill-named HAPPY Act, which would create a tax deduction for pet expenses. He explains why both halves of the bipartisan Party-In-Government likes the current tax code.


I wish I had more, but those tech issues completely threw me off my game. However, Kyle Maichle picked up the slack.

Revisions/extensions (5:19 pm 10/5/2009) – Changed the link to the Hot Air post Ed put up. Thanks again, Ed.

October 3, 2009

Support the 0%-tax-increase 2010 Milwaukee County budget

by @ 9:33. Filed under Politics - Milwaukee County, Taxes.

My friends at Citizens for Responsible Government are holding a rally at Serb Hall (5101 W Oklahoma Ave in Milwaukee) on Sunday between 2 pm and 4 pm to support Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s 8th consecutive 0%-tax-levy-increase county budget. Since there is no Packer game on Sunday, unless you’re out of town (like me; I won’t be back until about 5 pm), there is no reason you can’t attend.

In addition to Walker, there will be several citizens who have been forced out of business or their homes because of out-of-control tax increases at other units of government and by an uncaring County Board. It is time to demand that government live within the means that the rest of us have to live within.

I do recommend getting there early; the unions who only care about themselves will be showing up about 1:30.

September 29, 2009

Unpatriotic AND Selfish!

It’s been just over a year since Joe Biden called 95% of Americans unpatriotic:

“We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people. It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

Apparently, Biden wasn’t the loan wolf that I thought at the time.

In a recent poll, Rasmussen found that 29% of Americans believe that you are selfish if you put the economy ahead of global warming.  Fortunately, there are a whole lot more people, 49% who disagree with this assessment.  Additionally, 65% believe jobs are more important than global warming.  It’s good to know we still have a plurality, if not a majority of sanity yet in this country.

In case you missed it, the $1,761 annually per family that cap and trade will cost us will mostly go back to the government.  While President Obama isn’t able to determine what is or isn’t a tax, I can.  If you pay the government, you can call it what you want but it boils down to a tax.

Don’t like increased taxes?  Want more jobs and a better economy?  Not only are you unpatriotic you’re also selfish!

September 24, 2009

Some Of These Things Are Not Like The Others

Take a look at this image that shows how business friendly the tax status is of each state.

tax climate

Hey, Minnesota and Wisconsin, do you see which end of the spectrum you’re on?

Hey, Minnesota, how are those two neighbors to the west, the one’s who have no unemployment problem doing?

Hey, Minnesota, how do the state budget problems of those two neighbors to the west compare to yours? (hint, they do have any problems)

Hey, Minnesota and Wisconsin, want to be more depressed?  Read more at the Taxprof!

Revisions/extensions (3:20 pm 9/24/2009, steveegg) – Allow me to ask a few questions for the Wisconsin half of the readership:

Hey Wisconsin, you see that state to the east and the state to the south? That’s right; Michigan and Illinois are more open to business than Wisconsin.

Hey Wisconsin, how do the budget woes of that state to your west compare to yours (note to Shoebox, that’s one thing in Minnesota that isn’t as bad as it is in Wisconsin)?

Hey Wisconsin, how does it feel to be highlighted as one of the states that got it wrong in Tax Foundation’s report (see page 26)?

Hey Wisconsin and Minnesota, how is the individual-income AMT working out? Related to that, hey Minnesota, how is the corporate-income AMT working out?

Hey Wisconsin and Minnesota, what are you going to do about the politicians who admit that their confiscatory tax policies are driving jobs away (see page 7 of the report), yet make them more confiscatory?

Revisions/extensions (3:39 pm 9/24/2009, shoebox) One more….Hey, Minnesota, Wisconsin and any other state or Federal Government that thinks you can tax the “rich” with impunity without repercussion, read this!

September 10, 2009

How to turn 350 new jobs into a permanent $7 million/year tax increase

by @ 8:42. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

(H/T – Brad Van Lanen)

Last night, the Fond du Lac County Board overwhelmingly passed a 0.5% countywide sales tax ostensibly to help finance a $50 million, 12-year, low-interest loan for Mercury Marine to help it move the 350 manufacturing jobs it currently has in Stillwater, Oklahoma to Fond du Lac. As Brad said, the devil is in the details:

  • While there is no mention of whether a sunset provision was actually included in the final vote in the Fond du Lac Reporter story linked to above, an earlier Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story noted that there was no sunset provision in the version on the Board’s agenda.
  • Why, you may ask? Let’s go back to the Fond du Lac Reporter. The total annual tax take is expected to be somewhere between $6.5 million and $7 million. The less-than-half of that that could potentially go to Mercury Marine goes out the door as follows:
    • $500 per job “retained” per year, or a total of $763,000 per year for all 1,526 jobs considered as the “baseline”.
    • $1,000 per job “created” per year, up to a total of 2,900 total employed by Mercury Marine (a maximum of 1,374 new jobs), for a maximum of $1,374,000 per year.
    • $863,000 per year to cover the difference between the 2% being charged Mercury Marine and the market rate that the county has to pay.

So, where’s the other $3 million-$3.5 million per year going? If the intent of the Fond du Lac County Board were to simply help out Mercury Marine, that excess money would be set aside for payment of the second 6-year period of the loan subsidy, and the sales tax would be sunsetted after 6 years.

Rather, it’s going into the general coffers to be burned on, in order, “economic development”, overall county debt reduction, and property tax relief. If you believe that there will be anything meaningful left for property tax relief, even after the loan is paid off, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Revisions/extensions (9:16 am 9/10/2009) – Given Mercury Marine is talking about adding only about 350 jobs, the subsidy would be worth about $1.98 million. That would make the spread between the subsidy and what the tax is taking in closer to $4 million-$4.5 million. Again, I don’t expect any real property tax relief, and though there might be a real effort to reduce the debt load which would lessen the tax load somewhat, I expect there to suddenly be $4 million per year in new spending in Fond du Lac County.

I would also like to address another element of the Fond du Lac Reporter FAQ – specifically the “how much per job” question. They counted the total maximum subsity to Mercury Marine over all 12 years, as well as included the existing employees, to get to the $12,400 per job estimate. It actually would be less per job if Mercury Marine only added the 350 jobs from Stillwater, but it would be far more than either that or the $20,000 per job that is supposedly the standard in these deals if one included just the “new” jobs ($67,900 per “new” job if only the Stillwater jobs were added, $23,600 per “new” job if Mercury Marine maxed out and added 1,374 “new” jobs).

Worse, since the other $3 million-$4.5 million per year sales tax collected by the county will most likely not be seen by the public in the form of tax relief, and the total $7 million per year will never be repealed as the scheme currently contemplates, it would be fair to include that number in the cost/benefit analysis. No matter how it is sliced, that would make the deal a raw one for the residents of Fond du Lac County.

September 2, 2009

Which step in destroying private enterprise is this?

(H/T – Stephen Green)

The Hill reports that the AFL-CIO has extracted their price of making the Democratic Party a partially-owned subsidiary of them and is calling for a 0.1% tax on all stock transactions. That’s right; buy a stock, pay a tax. Sell a stock, even at a loss, pay a tax.

The stated reason, according to AFL-CIO policy director Thea Lee – “It would have two benefits, raise a lot of revenue and discourage speculative financial activity.” News flash #1 for Ms. Lee – it was “speculative financial activity” that got the various AFL-CIO pension funds to where they are. News flash #2 for Ms. Lee – that churn produced by “speculative financial activity” creates a lot of cash that is spent at the production end of the economic circle.

Stephen notes that we pay some of the highest taxes on winning stock plays on the planet. For those that held the sold stock less than a year, that profit is taxed at up to 35% (and soon to be 39.6% somewhere over 40%). Tax the losing plays as well, and almost nobody will want to invest in the stock market. Fewer people in the market equals lower stock prices, which equals lower pensions and less money available for expansion.

August 27, 2009

The rules are for thee, not for me – TurboTaxTimmy edition

by @ 11:13. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – DRJ)

The TaxProfBlog found that, a few short months after Treasury Secretary “TurboTax” Timothy Geithner successfully dodged criticism and possible legal consequences over his failure to timely pay taxes by claiming TurboTax didn’t properly process his income tax returns for several years, the Tax Court rejected that defense in another case:

Petitioners have not met their burden of persuasion with respect to reasonable cause and good faith. Mr. Hopson admitted that he received both Forms 1099-R for the distributions and that he knew they constituted income. After using tax return preparation software for nearly 20 years, he simply filed the return that was generated by the software without reviewing it. The omission of the distributions resulted in the failure to report over 40 percent of petitioners’ total income for the year. Granted this was a one-time event, but petitioners nevertheless had a duty to review their return to ensure that all income items were included. Petitioners were not permitted to bury their heads in the sand and ignore their obligation to ensure that their tax return accurately reflected their income for 2006. In the end, reliance on tax return preparation software does not excuse petitioners’ failure to review their 2006 tax return.

Do note that the decision of the Star Chamb…er, Tax Court is final; according to the Internal Revenue Code, not even the Supreme Court can review it. Also note that it is not precedent-setting.

July 15, 2009

Reagan-era whiz-kid says the tax war is lost

by @ 10:03. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

Peter Ferrara, who served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, had an intriguing piece that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. In it, he tries to make the case that the NewConservative™ position on taxes should be not that everybody should have a low tax bill, but that the bottom 60% of wage-earners should have an explicit 0% federal tax rate with an end to refundable tax credits. He argues that we’re already at the point where said bottom 60%, which earns 25% of the total income, paid less than 1% of total federal taxes in 2006 (the last year figures were available), and will likely have a net 0% federal tax liability come April, 2010. He further argues that the reason that Steve Lonegan lost the Republican gubernatorial primary in very-high-tax New Jersey was because he advocated a flat 3% income tax, which would have raised taxes slightly on the bottom half of wage-earners.

K Street, we have a disconnect. If it is true that Lonegan lost because of the tax issue, then that plan is doomed to failure. Ferrara notes that, in 2006, the bottom 40% of wage-earners received an aggregate net 3.6% of their income in refundable tax credits. If that gets taken away, there goes an aggretate 3.5% (no, not 3.6%) of their income.

What is worse is Ferrara’s leaps-of-faith regarding the 40% of those who will now be explicitly hitched to the bloat known as the federal government and its effect on the size of said bloat. He seems to think that, by explicitly taking the majority out of the tax burden entirely, a rational, low-tax policy can be put in place for the “rich”, with the phantom “middle-class tax cut” taken out of political play. What is more likely is that both halves of the bipartisan Party-In-Government will redouble (and in the case of the GOP, retriple) their efforts to buy Paul’s vote by robbing Peter to grow government since there would be far more Pauls than Peters.

The one part of his analysis that is correct is that the Peters would find ways to go Galt. Now, what was that saying about the great experiment in governance known as America ending when half the people realize that they can use the power of government to rob the other half blind?

July 13, 2009

Just What Is The Story?

by @ 9:23. Filed under Economy, Taxes.

From the Boston Globe:

Governor Deval Patrick yesterday accused Zoo New England officials of creating a false and inflammatory scare with their warning that state budget cuts may force them to close two Greater Boston zoos and euthanize some animals. 

“As a supporter of the zoo and a parent who has visited often, the governor is disappointed to learn that Zoo New England has responded to this difficult but unavoidable budget cut by spreading inaccurate and incendiary information,’’ Kyle Sullivan, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement.

emphasis mine

Deval Patrick is concerned about a taxpayer supported entity portraying catastrophic options as solutions that would blackmail additional funding from those same taxpayers.  Really?  This is news?

How many school district funding increase requests have been bow tied with the threat of larger class room sizes if the request is turned down?

How many municipality funding increase requests have been bowtied with the threat of fewer police or fire staff if the request is turned down?

TARP and the Stimulus package were sold with Presidents and politicians telling us that the US economy would melt down without their passage.

“Inaccurate and incendiary information” is not a news story.  When working to get more taxpayers dollars for some beuraucrat to spend, “inaccurate and incendiary information” is not only normal, it’s action item number one!

June 26, 2009

The penultimate budget is in the pipeline

Revisions and extensions part 13 (7:09 pm 6/26/2009) – Since the DemoBudget has passed the Assembly 51-46, and we’re now at the final act of the biennial sign-and-hack from Gov. Jim Doyle, I’ll be updating a fresh post rather than this one.

Revisions and extensions part 4 (12:42 am 6/26/2009) – Moved up to the top (originally posted 6/25/2009 at 10:58 pm) with the 17-15 Senate passage (despite no bill text available). The most-vulnerable Dem Senator, Jim Sullivan, was again allowed to vote “no”. Start packing your bags.

R&E part 5 (12:59 am 6/26/2009) – Finally found the amendment text, which modifies the Senate version (as amended by a pair of amendments). Sorry I don’t have a clean-text version.

I have to thank Kevin Fischer, Sen. Mary Lazich’s (R-New Berlin) aide, for pointing me to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s comparison between the Assembly changes, Senate changes, and Conference Committee’s changes to the Joint Finance Committee Daughter-of-Necrobudget. This will be the version that Jim “Chainsaw” Doyle (WEAC/HoChunk-For Sale) will take his veto pen to because under state law, it cannot be amended by the full Legislature. Of course, as of 10:47 pm, WisPolitics’ budget blog doesn’t have the full text of the final substitute to AB75 (the budget bill), but apparently the 24-hour clock started ticking about 8:15 pm.

I haven’t done a hard analysis yet, but it just keeps on getting worse. From Sen. Lazich:

  • Total spending is up $4,000,000,000, or 6%.
  • The state-level/RTA-level increases in taxes are $2,100,000,000.
  • Total property taxes will go up $1,500,000,000, with the median home property taxes going up $90 at the end of this year and $130 at the end of 2010.
  • Borrowing increases by $2,900,000,000.
  • The structural deficit (how far in the hole the FY2012-2013 budget will start) is $2,300,000,000.

In case you missed the math, the total 2-year tax increase will be $3,600,000,000. There’s also a few kickers (straight to the nuts delivered with steel-toed boots) I want to get out there tonight:

  • The statutory general fund reserve will be halved to $65,000,000 for the duration of the budget. That is necessary because the FY2011 “net balance”, with that change, would be $149,100. No, that is not a misprint – that is less than the salary of the average full-tenured UW professor.
  • Drop the current 60% exemption on long-term capital gains to 30%, except for certain farm property/equipment. That represents a 2-year $242,500,000 tax increase from current law and a $72,300,000 tax increase from the Joint Finance Committee/governor version of the budget.
  • The KRM/SERTA Assembly provisions pretty much are final, except that it wouldn’t be the sole clearinghouse for federal grant money for the transit companies/authorities in southeast Wisconsin. To resummarize:
    • The car-rental tax in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties would go up from the current $2 collected by the soon-to-be-replaced Regional Transit Taxing Authority (the one that used $450,000 of its $500,000 tax take to lobby for higher taxes) to $18, $2 higher than the JFC/Senate version.
    • The Racine bus system and Kenosha bus system would each get $1/car rental from that only if the host city matched the funds. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine) told me earlier this evening that the only acceptable method would be a $10/car wheel tax.
    • Any other community in either Racine County or Kenosha County that wants a stop on the KRM would need to dedicate a “sustainable funding mechanism” to their respective county seat’s bus system. I failed to ask Rep. Vos what that definition was, but I suspect that it would also be a $10/car wheel tax.
  • The “prevailing wage” provisions would apply to both SERTA and the Milwaukee Transit Taxing Authority (the former was added by the Senate, the latter by the conference committee).
  • Speaking of the Milwaukee Transit Taxing Authority, the Assembly 0.65% sales tax plan is adopted, with Lee Holloway getting a third person on the board.
  • The Chippewa Valley and Chequamegon Bay (Bayfield/Ashland Counties, which I somehow missed in the Senate version) RTAs live on, but the Fox Valley RTA is dead.
  • Sen. Jeff Plale’s last-ditch attempt to get the state to pay for 75% of a I-94/Drexel Interchange instead of the usual 50% (since Franklin and Northwestern Mutual reneged on verbal agreements to pay for 25% and Oak Creek will not pay the full 50% local cost) is out, which means no I-94/Drexel Interchange.

There’s a lot more, but I’m too tired to keep going.

Revisions/extensions (11:15 pm 6/25/2009) – I decided to add the major points of the KRM tax to this post.

R&E parts 2 and 3 (12:36 am 6/26/2009 and 12:37 am 6/26/2009) – Good news/bad news on the illegal alien front – the illegal-alien drivers’ licenses are out, but the illegal-alien in-state tuition is still in.

Also, despite the continued lack of the actual bill over at WisPolitics, the Senate has taken this up, mostly because Alan Lassee (R-De Pere) is absent attending to his ill wife, and thus two Dems can safely vote “no” lost track of the math.

R&E parts 6 (8:26 am 6/26/2009) and 7 (8:31 am 6/26/2009) – Jo Egelhoff (who gave me entirely too much credit) found that card-check union organizing for UW research assistants is in the budget. AFSCME and SEIU bought this government, and the Dems, specifically Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, who snuck it in in conference, are bound and determined to give them their moneys’ worth.

Meanwhile, Christian Schneider found that the chiropractors got another leg up on regular doctors. Any bets on the donation splits from them in the 2010 election cycle?

R&E part 8 (9:03 am 6/26/2009)As noted above, the mandate for a UW-Stevens Point school of nursing and the requirement to spend just over $3 million for advance planning for a new UW-Madison school of nursing building, slated for construction in the FY2012-2013 budget, is in there. Paging East Side Plale.

R&E part 9 (2:34 pm 6/26/2009) – Brett Healy over at the MacIver Institute lists the dirty dozen items in this version of the budget. Items I haven’t listed yet:

  • Use $3,333,400 in general revenues to provide “engineering services” in Milwaukee, made out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan.
  • Rob $1,800,000 from five Milwaukee-area school districts, Oconomowoc, Mequon-Thiensville, Fox Point-Bayside and Nicolet, and give that to the Madison school district, again created out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan.
  • Full-speed death of the Qualified Economic Offer, same as Doyle’s, the Senate’s, and WEAC’s wishes (once again, the purchaser of this government gets what it bought).
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, extend in-state tuition benefits in the UW system to all foreign nationals, not just the illegal aliens I noted earlier. Supposedly said foreign nationals will need to swear that they either applied to become permanent residents or that they will once and if they become eligible to do so.
  • Make sure the portions of state government that get shut down as the result of either the hiring freeze or a furlough stays shut down, just as the Senate and AFSCME ordered (again, the purchaser of this government gets what it bought).
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, move up the start date of the new $0.75/line/month 911 fee from the later of 10/1 or 3 months after the budget is signed to 9/1, for an additional $5,000,000.
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, redirect $9,200,000 of a $37,000,000 raid from the Petroleum Inspection Fund (funded by a $0.02/gallon tax on gas and diesel) from the transportation fund to the general fund.

I can only wonder just how much more will be found after the 24-hour circuit breaker the Assembly has gets reset. In fact, I’m surprised that in their rush to remake the entirety of state government into a secretive chamber of lawmakers lawgivers, the Democrats didn’t get rid of that circuit breaker.

R&E part 10 (3:22 pm 6/26/2009) – While mandatory auto insurance, first put in by the Senate, as well as the highest minimums in the country, first put in by Doyle, is part of this, Recess Supervisor found a pair of stinkers added in out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan at the insistence of Pedro Colon and the Legislative Black Caucus – new insurees can’t be put into a high-risk category because they never had insurance before, and insurance companies can’t assign risk based on where a vehicle is kept. That’s right, those of you upstate and in the burbs get to subsidize the accident- and theft-prone in the hearts of Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) has more on this, including the fact that the soon-to-be-law Wisconsin ban on area-based risk will be the the only one of its kind in the nation, and that other states (like Michigan) rejected it. Once again, Michigan beats us.

R&E part 11 (yes, we are that far, and there’s still time before the Assembly rubber-stamps this, 4:58 pm 6/26/2009) – Cathy Stepp found a stinker of an item from the Assembly version that popped back in – the allowance of the Department of Commerce to promulgate the initial rules for the new construction contractor registration program as “emergency rules without the finding of an emergency”, with the rule lasting . Using the emergency rules power under s. 227.24 of the state statues means no prior consideration for small business as provided by s. 227.114, no review regarding its effect on housing as provided by s. 227.115, no economic impact report as provided by s. 227.137, no advance copies provided to the Legislative Council staff as provided by s. 227.15, no prior hearings or notice thereof as provided by s. 227.16, 227.17 and 227.18, no prior legislative review as provided by s. 227.19, and no time to prepare for its implementation between its publication in the official state newspaper (or state website as provided by other provisions in the budget) and the first day of the following month as provided by s. 227.21.

There’s more agencies that get to implement “emergency rules” without the finding of an emergency, including the Department of Revenue’s new requirement to impose a 1% tax withholding on independent contractors (originally in the Assembly version).

R&E part 12 (5:03 pm 6/26/2009) – Greg Bump, who has been the on-the-scene man, reports that, after agreeing to waive the 24-hour rule, the Assembly will begin their rubber-stamping process at 5:30. He also posted the request from the little piggies known as the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities to Doyle to use his veto pen to eliminate the 7/1/2011 sunset of the $0.75/line police/fire protection tax (formerly known as the 911 tax) and eliminate the loosening of fireworks laws. I’m shocked, SHOCKED to see the spenders squealing for the continuation of a brand-new tax.

As an aside, I will be creating a fresh post when the Assembly does rubber-stamp what Kevin Binversie has freshly deemed the DemoBudget. Very apt name, don’t you think?

June 17, 2009

RTA Madness – Senate edition

The Senate passed their own version of Daughter-of-Necrobudget on a virtual-party-line vote (Jim Sullivan, the target of a recall, was allowed to vote no along with every Republican). Others will cover the rest of the changes, but since I’m a laser on the RTAs, I’ll distill the differences between the Assembly version and the Senate version (thanks again to Greg Bump over at WisPolitics for doing the dirty work):

  • The Chippewa and Fox Valley RTAs are out.
  • The provision to allow Dane County to use its sales tax to fund roads is also out.
  • The Southeast RTA is once again solely focused on the choo-choo, with all funding to the existing Racine and Kenosha buses (i.e. the additional $2 car-rental tax to make the total $18) as well as the requirement of Racine’s and Kenosha’s suburbs to fund the bus systems to get a KRM stop out.
  • The Milwaukee County Transit Authority gets the “Regional” title back, with the sales tax bumped up to 1.0% and the “parks, culture and (county) emergency medical services” joining transit in the 85% (no percentage specified for each category) not allocated to municipal police, fire and EMS (allocated on a per-capita basis).

On to conference, where I expect nothing less than the worst of all worlds.

June 15, 2009

The very few who will not see a tax increase in WisTAXsin

by @ 9:08. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

If you meet ALL of the following conditions, you might not see a tax increase courtesy the Daughter-of-Necrobudget:

  • You must make less than $300,000 per year in reported income
  • None of your earnings can be from capital gains
  • You must not drive
  • You must not smoke (unless you shop at an Indian reservation tobacco store)
  • You must not drink
  • You must not get sick enough to enter a hospital or urgent care center
  • You must not purchase over-the-counter drugs
  • You must not buy downloaded software, songs or videos
  • You must not shop in Milwaukee County, Calumet County, Winnebago County, Outagamie County, Eau Claire County, Chippewa County, or the urbanized portion of Dane County
  • You must not shop at a business or buy from a business that has operations both within and outside of Wisconsin
  • You must not own a business
  • You must not rent a vehicle in Milwaukee County, Racine County or Kenosha County
  • You must not own any real estate
  • You must not own a phone

If you can claim all of the above, you just might not see a tax increase. There might be some dope dealers and users that meet all this, but the rest of us will be seeing a tax increase.

Revisions/extensions (4:54 pm 6/15/2009) – Fred decided to add to the list some over at the MacIver Institute. In addition to those who rent real estate…

  • You must not operate a power boat.
  • You must not operate any small engines requiring gas for operation.

I’m sure there’s more restrictions on who doesn’t get their taxes raised.

June 12, 2009

RTA madness expanded, explained – and revised

by @ 16:55. Filed under Choo-choos, Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

Revisions/extensions (4:55 pm 6/12/2009) – I’ve moved this post (originally published 4:28 pm 6/11/2009) to the top. The summary from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau is in (pages 38-42), and things get worse. I’ll clear up the original post a bit, and explain below.

WisPolitics’ Budget Blog reports that a rather sweeping amendment to the various Regional “Transit” Authorities contained in the Daughter-of-Necrobudget has been made by Assembly Democrats:

  • The Fox River Valley RTA in the governor’s budget has been restored, including the 0.5% sales tax.
  • The Chippewa River Valley also gets an RTA, with an unknown funding source a 0.5% sales tax.
  • In a reversal of the usual car-taxes-to-transit subsidy, Dane County, and only Dane County, will get to use its 0.5% RTA sales tax to repair roads.
  • At the insistence of the Federal Transit Administration, the KRM taxing authority’s responsibility is expanded to include Racine’s and Kenosha’s bus systems, paid for by a $1 car-rental tax in the cities of Racine and Kenosha (which makes the total KRM RTA car-rental tax initially $17 in Racine and Kenosha; it is unknown whether, like the larger car-rental tax, this will be auto-indexed for inflation) an additional $2 car-rental tax in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties, raising the total tax to $18 per car-rental transaction. Of note, the bus systems only get the tax money if the cities raise funding of their transit systems (i.e. raise local taxes) by that amount.
  • The new sales tax the Milwaukee County Board gets to levy for their Regional Transit Taxing Authority drops from 1.00% to 0.65%, but instead of also funding parks, cultural, and emergency medical services programs, 23% of the new tax (or 0.15% on the bottom line) will go to “offsetting police and fire costs in communities in Milwaukee County”. If you believe that will go anyplace other than the City of Milwaukee, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

So, why all the changes, and why now? Apparently, despite being close to $2,000,000,000,000 in the red for the 2010 budget, the federal government has enough money to reward those who grow government and raise taxes by creating RTAs by September.

Yes, that’s right. Much like the demand by the Assembly Democrats to the cities of Racine and Kenosha to raise local taxes so that they get a pittance of an amount from a state-imposed tax increase, the federal government is demanding local tax increases and increased amounts and levels of government to get a pittance of an amount from the already-overtapped federal Treasury.

Begin expanded explanation. Regarding the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (the rebadged KRM Authority):

  • The car-rental tax is increased from $16 per transaction to $18 per transaction, indexed for inflation.
  • The city of Racine’s bus system would get $1 of that, and the city of Kenosha’s bus system would get $1 of that, only if each city “generates new funds to match the vehicle rental tax revenues”.
  • No other community in either Racine County or Kenosha County gets a stop on the choo-choo unless they provide a “sustainable funding mechanism” of an unspecified amount to contribute to their county seat’s existing bus system.
  • Instead of empowering the Milwaukee County and Racine County executives to make appointments, it depowers the Kenosha County Executive and gives the Kenosha County board chair that seat’s appointment power.
  • The SERTA will become the sole clearinghouse of grants made to the FTA by all three counties.
  • Pedro Colon gets a KRM stop at Lincoln Ave. and Bay St. to go along with his previously-porked-in National Ave. stop.

Regarding the Milwaukee Transit Taxing Authority:

  • Delete the “Regional” from the name.
  • The 0.15% sales tax imposed for “police and fire protection” will be split based on the number of officers and firefighters (i.e. almost all the money’s going to the city).
  • Specify that the MTA would be a tax-exempt entity.
  • No word on whether the 15% requirement to the city of Milwaukee to run the mini-choo-choo is still in.

Regarding the Chippewa Valley Transit Authority:

  • Eau Claire County would be first, pending both county board and voter approval.
  • Any municipality that has any presence in Eau Claire County would automatically be part of this.
  • If it is established, Chippewa County could join the same way (county board and voter approval), with the decision to either join or leave binding on all municipalities in Chippewa County.
  • Membership, with 4-year terms, would be set by each member county, with no more than 17 total and including three members appointed by each county member’s county executive and approved by the county board (one of which would be an initial 2-year term, then 4-year terms after that), a member appointed by the mayor of each member county’s largest city and approved by that city’s common council (an initial 2-year term, then 4-year terms after that) and a member appointed by the governor.
  • The funding source would be a 0.5% sales tax.

Once again, the screwing gets deeper. Maybe I should hire Moron Pundit to put together a way-NSFW graphic.

Revisions/extensions (9:12 am 6/14/2009) – I have to thank Lance Burri for the Rule 2 boost.

May 28, 2009

If it moves, tax it, e-commerce edition

by @ 7:32. Filed under Business, Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – Allahpundit)

Brett Joshpe wrote on The American Spectator site how sales on the internet are about to become a lot more expensive. Let’s go through the Cliff’s Notes timeline:

– In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in Quill v. North Dakota that a retailer must have a “physical presence” in a state in order for that state to require the retailer to collect and remit that state’s sales tax. Do note that does not prohibit states from demanding their pound (in the case of Wisconsin, 5%-5.85%) of flesh from the purchaser; indeed, most states do demand their cut.

– Because of mass disobedience of that mandate, last year, New York required any online retailer who so much has an affiliate advertiser in that state to collect and remit the New York sales tax. In plain English, if a site like advertised on, say the New York Times’ site or A Blog for All, it would be forced to collect New York sales tax on purchases made by New York residents.

– In response to that, terminated its affiliate relationships with close to 3,400 entities.

– Meanwhile, the tax-and-spend-and-tax-and-spend-and (you get the idea) folks are trying to shove through Congress, under the guise of “streamlined” sales tax, a requirement to make all online retailers collect all state/local sales taxes.

Back in the dawn of e-commerce, I was involved in a small e-commerce project. Even if somehow a standard list of items subject to a sales tax were created (a pipe dream because the T&S&T&S&T&Sers in places like Madison and Albany will always want to tax more items than those in other state capitals), the myriad of different rates, both at the state and local level, which tend to not remain constant, would be a nightmare to keep up with.

May 27, 2009

Wednesday (or is it Thursday?) Hot Read – MKH’s “Are You Ready for a VAT?”

by @ 23:56. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

Those who know me know that I have a crush on Mary Katharine Ham. That I find her very attractive does not diminish in the least the brilliance of this tour de force on the onrushing VAT to supposedly pay for health care. Let’s take a few paragraphs from the middle:

Remain extremely skeptical, folks. No matter how much lovely alliteration Obama uses to describe this plan, it’s just another pathway into your wallet for the federal government. It’s just another source to tap for revenue when they’re unwilling to make “tough choices.” It will go up and up, and the relief the nation sees on the corporate income tax or the income tax as a trade-off will be precious little in the Congress we’ve got now.

It should also be noted that the VAT costs $3 billion just to collect in Canada, according to the National Post, on top of the added cost to every single item you buy, every day.

Luckily, because the VAT is a highly visible tax and disproportionately affects the poor, constituents and even their tax-happy Democrat representatives are likely to be wary about enacting one. Heck, even the floating of one might be enough to earn Republicans a few points on the generic ballot.

I hate to have to quibble on a point, but I must. As Charlie Sykes said in his post on this, “Don’t count on it. Just ask smokers.” In fact, depending on the labeling requirements, it can be very easy to hide this (no, I will not say any more; even though I realize that anything I can think of the tax-and-spend-and-tax-and-spend-and-tax-and-spenders can, I’m not in the business of making their jobs easier).

With that out of the way, the fact that every level of production sees a sales tax which is based on the difference of the purchase price of the product (or raw material) and the sale price of the product is a massive drain on the producer. Even a “simple” product like Mountain Dew has 16 different components the bottler has to keep track of.

Related to that, it is impossible to claim that a VAT of X% will not cost more than a end-user sales tax of the same X%. That is becasue not every raw material involved in the manufacture of, say, Mountain Dew has the same number of steps between the individual raw materials and final consumption.

While I won’t steal more of Mary’s content, I do have to comment on another aspect she brought up – the Left’s proposed dual-mode tax scheme. The existence of two different stages of taxation (in this case, wealth-acquisition and wealth-expenditure) makes it easier for government to raise first one stage, then the other. The older among us in Wisconsin remember when the sales tax was a “mere” 4%, and then “temporarily” raised to 5%. In a couple weeks, depending on one’s locale and choice of expenditure, that will be as high as 6.85%. Meanwhile, there’s a new, higher top income tax bracket in that same budget that will hike Milwaukee County’s sales tax rate by a percentage point.

So, what are you still doing here (other than wondering why The Weekly Standard doesn’t offer comments)? Go. Read! NOW!

May 26, 2009

BOHICA – cell-phone edition

by @ 23:53. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

Kelly William Cobb over at Americans for Tax Reform put up a post outlining just how bad Doyle and the Spendocrats have it for the money of cell-phone users:

  • First, they raided the $20 million left over in the now-sunsetted E911 fund. That’s right; instead of you getting that $20 million overpayment to upgrade the 911 system to allow the dispatchers to find you if you call them on a cell phone, they’re going to spend it.
  • Then, they created a fresh $0.75/line/month tax on both cell phones and landlines to supposedly fund another upgrade to the 911 system. That would replace an existing $0.16/line/month charge on landlines.
  • For the first time, the Universal Service Fund fee of $0.56/line/month will apply to cell phones, to the tune of about $18.8 million/year.

All told, that’s roughly $100 million per year in new cell-phone taxes according to ATR. But wait, it gets worse. First, Rep. Kevin Petersen (R-Waupaca) reports that the Joint Finance Committee raided $11.2 million of the USF fund for public libraries.

Second, forget about that “next-gen” E911 system – Doyle wants to raid that to directly pay for police and fire.

I could bring up what Doyle said in 2003 (again), but like any ‘Rat, he doesn’t care about lying.

Revisions/extensions (12:15 am 5/27/2009) – The Wisconsin State Journal reports (H/T – The MacIver Institute) that the 911 fund diversion would make Wisconsin ineligible for federal grants to help pay for that “next-gen” 911 system, and that including the cell-phone charge as part of that diversion would violate federal law.

Also, since the 911 fund would replace the current $0.16/line/month charge on landlines, that diversion would cause a $7 million local tax increase.

R&E part 2 (10:50 pm 5/27/2009) – I probably should have done this while temporarily at the keyboard this afternoon, but thanks for the link-love, Americans for Tax Reform. Oh well, better late than never.

Meanwhile, WisPolitics is reporting that the rest of the Necro-budget (© Kevin Binversie) will be passed by the Joint Finance Committee tomorrow. Since Democrats control the entire process, what comes out of the JFC is likely what will plop onto Jim Doyle’s desk.

One note; since the Wisconsin line-item veto is still one of the most-powerful in the country, and because Doyle has no respect for the Wisconsin Constitution, it is vital to not only pay attention to the JFC votes, but to the actual verbiage used. Just one item I’m keeping an eye on – the proposed “compromise” from WEAC (the largest teachers’ union) that would delay the elmination of the QEO (the prohibition of work stoppages by teachers as long as a district offered a 3.86% annual total compensation increase) by a year.

I’m Sorry

by @ 5:26. Filed under Economy, Politics - National, Taxes.

First, a little music to set the mood:

This week Drudge ran the headline:

Obama Says We’re Out of Money

Oh yeah, big fat surprise that is!  While the headline is a bit out of context in that Obama was discussing health care, the overall take is correct.  Obama recognizes that he has spent more than he has, by a long shot, and realizes that he must find a way to cut costs or increase revenue or leave office with most Americans longing for another Carter term because in comparison, it was nirvana!  The problem Obama has though is that he has no clue how big the hole is that he has dug for himself and the nation.

Back when Obama released his fairy tale titled “A budget proposal,”  I laid out the many problems with his budget and why he would never come close to closing the gaps on the deficits that he has created.  In this post I pointed out several issues that would cause his budget to fail.  As of today we have enough information to conclude that Obama’s budget assumptions have failed on two key issues.

Obama’s budget assumes a dramatic improvement in unemployment rates.  This improvement is key on two fronts.  First, it reduces the outflows of expenses in unemployment compensation.  This is a huge budget item at both the Federal and State level.  Second, when people go back to work, income taxes get paid thus increasing the tax revenue.  Obama’s budget assumptions had the 2009 unemployment rate at 8.1% with 2010 improving to 7.9%.  Of course, the same team that put this budget together was also the team who never saw total unemployment exceeding 8.0% with the enactment of a stimulus package so we know that numbers aren’t really their thing.  The CBOs most recent survey of private sector forecasts of unemployment now shows that the most optimistic assessments have the unemployment rate averaging 8.8% for 2009 and increasing to 9.0% in 2010.

Second, I warned you that Obama’s budget had a wildly optimistic long term interest rate assumptions.  For 2009 the Obama budget assumed the 10 Yr. treasury would be at 2.8%, for 2010 the assumption was 4.0%  Well, get ready, that bubble is about to burst as well. 

This week the Financial Times is reporting that sales of debt for private businesses is again increasing.  While that is good and it shows a data point of improvement in the economy, it’s bad for Obama.  As private enterprise increases its desire for debt, at the same time that the government is having to finance huge amounts of additional debt, the overall demand will cause all interest rates to increase.  Already the 10 yr Treasury which was running  under 3% at the end of April has increased to over 3.4%.  That’s a 20% increase in rates over Obama’s assumptions and we’re barely three months past the date of the assumption issuance.

For the past two years Senator, PEBO and now President Obama has been running from one corner of the globe to another apologizing for what he believes, have been heinous actions by the US. You know, actions like freeing oppressed people, calling evil evil and using our economic tools to encourage dictators (hello Fidel!) to broaden involvement in governments and economies that have created the greatest gulfs between “haves” and “have nots” through the use of government intervention. I watch Obama’s groveling around the world and wonder: “When will he apologize to the American people?”  I doubt his teleprompter will ever allow that to happen!

May 20, 2009

The line must be held here

by @ 21:37. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – JammieWearingFool, who hasn’t had a Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around in a while)

The News Organization That Cannot Be Quoted™ reports that the Senate, not content with slapping a 3-cent-per-12-ounce tax on sugary drinks to pay for nationalized universal health care, is planning on massive increases in alcohol excise taxes to do the same:

– 17% on hard liquor, from $2.14 per fifth to $2.54 per fifth
– 233% on wine, from $0.21 per bottle to $0.70 per bottle
– 145% on beer, from $0.33 per six-pack to $0.71 per six-pack

Lest one thinks that they’re going to stop there, let’s run the numbers:

– It is estimated that nationalized universal health care will cost $1,500 billion over the first 10 years. We all know that’s a low-ball figure, but let’s run with it.
– The sugar tax would supposedly bring in $50 billion over that 10 years.
– The new alcohol tax would supposedly bring in $60 billion over 10 years.

That leaves, assuming the nationalized universal health care costs aren’t understated and the revenues aren’t overstated, a $1,390 billion hole. Need I remind the bipartisan Party-In-Government that California rejected tax increases yesterday? I seem to recall excessive taxation being the reason why we don’t bow to Queen Elizabeth II.

May 12, 2009

I hear $6.6 billion – do I hear $7 billion?

by @ 16:44. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

(H/T – WisPolitics via Charlie Sykes)

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released some new tax projection numbers yesterday, and despite (or is it because of?) $1.4 billion in new taxes in Wisconsin’s budget repair Porkulus out to the end of June 2011 (the end of the FY2011 year), the projected tax take of Wisconsin is expected to be $1.603 billion less than it was estimated to be in January. In a state where the 3-year tax take was originally estimated to be $37.691 billion, that’s a rather big haircut, to the tune of 4.25%.

So, what are the politicians and AFSCME doing in the face of losing all that revenue? I’m glad you asked. WLUK-TV in Green Bay is reporting (H/T – Fred over at the MacIver Institute) the unions are balking at a proposal asking them to forego a 2% pay hike. To compare, the entity that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau used in their estimate, IHS Global Insight, estimated that personal income would drop by 0.8% this year, and climb by only 1.8% next year.

I guess they’re counting on the Obama administration doing to Wisconsin what it is doing to California. It has threatened $6.8 billion of stimulus Porkulus money slated for California unless it reverses $74 million of scheduled reductions of subsidized pay for unionized health care workers.

Meanwhile, the first order of business for the Dems on the Joint Finance Committee was to increase the number of revenuers. I guess they haven’t heard of that it’s impossible to get blood out of a dehydrated turnip.

May 1, 2009

Here come the trains and taxes

(H/T – Charlie Sykes, who properly invokes the BOHICA acronym)

Greg Bump at WisPolitics stayed up late so I wouldn’t have to, and he documented the extent of the screwing of the taxpayers regarding transit by the Democrats of the Joint Finance Committe last night and early this morning:

  • The requirement to get Milwaukee County Board and residential approval to build a light rail system in Milwaukee got stripped out on a party-line 12-4 vote. A related resolution to require a countywide referendum for any entity wanting a light rail system fell on a party-line 4-12 vote.
  • An unelected Milwaukee County Regional Transit Tax Authority, with 2 members selected by the county board chair, 2 by the Milwaukee mayor, and a member selected by the governor (and notably, no members appointed by the Milwaukee County Executive, a theme that selectively repeats itself), will get the authority to create a brand-new 1% sales tax, with 15% going to the city of Milwaukee, and the money going to transit, parks, cultural, and emergecy medical service programs. That went through on an 11-5 vote, with Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) joining the Republicans.

    Do note the 15% that goes to the city. The current Milwaukee County Transit System has expressed its desire to not operate any light-rail system, and specifically the “Downtown Collector” that got rammed into the federal budget. The city is likely to use that 15% to fund the starter light-rail system.

    Also note the entites that get to appoint the unelected taxing authority. Not only is there no guarantee that a suburban resident will get a seat as no suburban municpality has appointment power, but the executive of Milwaukee County, unlike the executives of the city of Milwaukee and the state, gets no voice.

  • A separate unelected KRM board to run the bigger choo-choo, funded by an indexed-for-inflation $16-per-transaction car rental fee (an 800% increase in the current $2 fee going to the existing Regional Transit Authority) applied to Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties, with 2 members selected by the Milwaukee County board chair (and 0 by the Milwaukee County Executive), 1 member selected by the Racine County board chair (and 0 by the Racine County Executive), 1 member selected by the Kenosha County Executive (and 0 by the Kenosha County board chair), 2 members selected by Milwaukee’s mayor, and 1 member each selected by Racine’s mayor, Kenosha’s mayor and the governor. That passed on a party-line 12-4 vote.

    An attempt to exempt the portion of Racine County west of I-94 (a minimum of 7 miles west of the KRM line, with no transit service between the area west of I-94 and any of the KRM stations) fell on a party-line 4-12 vote. (Revisions/extensions, 11:45 am 5/1/2009) This area, along with the part of Kenosha County west of I-94, was exempted from governor Jim Doyle’s RTA reorganization proposal.

    I wonder why Kenosha County’s executive gets appointment authority, while Racine County’s executive and Milwaukee County’s executive doesn’t. Indeed, that was reinforced on a party-line 4-12 rejection of an amendment to make the Racine and Milwaukee County executives equal to Kenosha County’s. I wonder if there’s a court case to be made here.

    Again, note that there is no guarantee that there will be anybody from a municipality other than Milwaukee, Racine or Kenosha on this unelected taxing authority.

  • Dane County also gets its own unelected Regional Transit Authority. While that also passed on a party-line vote, there are a couple of key differences between it and the Milwaukee County version that really makes my blood boil over the fisting I’m taking in the ‘burbs:
    • The funding sales tax, which would be 0.5%, would require a non-binding referendum.
    • The appointment authorities are vastly different:
      • Two Madison metro residents appointed by the county executive and approved by the county board
      • Two members appointed by Madison’s mayor and approved by Madison’s Common Council
      • One member each from Fitchburg, Middleton and Sun Prairie, appointed by the respective mayors and approved by the respective Common Councils
      • One member appointed by the governor
      • One village member appointed by the Dane County Cities and Villages Association

    You notice anything different between the makeup of the Dane County RTA and the Milwaukee County RTA and the KRM board, like the guaranteed presence of suburban members, or the requirement of approval of the legislative branches, or a role for the county executive?

I’m not exactly hopeful my state Senator, Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) will either remember that he once wanted to get rid of sales taxes entirely or kill the RTAs. He is far more afraid of the East Side/UWM liberals than he is of outraged taxpayers. After all, someone who had to drop out because he committed vote fraud got 26% of the vote in the 2006 Democrat primary.

Obama tax plan – get a little now, pay more in April

by @ 8:00. Filed under Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – Hot Air Headlines)

The News Organization That Cannot Be Quoted™ found that millions of taxpayers, from married couples where both spouses work, to those with multiple jobs, to many retirees, will be getting a nasty surprise when they do their 2009 taxes. The IRS massively screwed up the tax withholding tables in their attempt to implement the $13/week “Making Work Pay” tax credit, which will cause many taxpayers to owe taxes come April. The really-bad news didn’t quite make the story – the IRS charges penalties for underwithholding, so those who try to manage their withholding situation so the Treasury doesn’t get to use a lot of their money interest-free will want to consult their tax professional ASAP.

April 23, 2009

They Still Don’t Get It

by @ 5:32. Filed under Economy, Politics - National, Taxes.

I participated in a Tele-Townhall provided by Minnesota 6th CD Representative, Michelle Bachmann.  Yes, THAT Michelle Bachmann.  Can you turn on any Fox program and not see Michelle on it?

Representative Bachmann took questions from call participants during the townhall.  One of the questioners asked what the mood in D.C. was regarding the tea parties.  Representative Bachmann noted that there were over 2,000 tea parties across the U.S.  She said that folk in Washington had clearly noticed but she wasn’t sure whether the events were going to change the spending behavior of Congress.  As proof of her concern, she offered the following two bills.
This bill provides $25 million over 5 years to foreign countries:

H.R. 388: Crane Conservation Act of 2009

To assist in the conservation of cranes by supporting and providing, through projects of persons and organizations with expertise in crane conservation, financial resources for the conservation programs of countries the activities of which directly or indirectly affect cranes and the ecosystems of cranes.

The other bill is:

 H.R. 411: Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009

This bill spends $25 million over 5 years in foreign countries:

To assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations.

No, you didn’t misread this.  The House has voted to spend $10 million each year to take care of other country’s cranes, cats and dogs.  How nice!

Earlier this week, President Obama made a big to do out of calling for his cabinet to find $100 million of budget cuts.  When challenged about the laughable size of the cuts, the ever funny White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said:

“He knows and the American people know that continuing to run up deficits … and to continue to have those expand year after year after year is unsustainable. Despite much derision, that’s why the president is seeking cuts both large and small. That’s why the president has undertaken greater transparency as it relates to spending and the stimulus and I think the president overall wants to give the American people assurance that the government can use the money from them wisely.” (emphasis mine)

Wisely!  To be fair, these bills have not been passed by the Senate nor signed by the President.  I’ll be following them to see what does happen to them.  Regardless, if paying for other country’s dogs and cats is using the American people’s money wisely, at least according to the House supported by over 50 Republicans, than it’s apparent that the message of the tea parties has not yet crossed inside of the Washington beltway!

April 21, 2009

No Crying Over Spilt Tea

by @ 5:17. Filed under Economy, Taxes.

Depending upon the counts you believe, last weeks tea parties were somewhere between a series of interesting local events and the beginning of a significant grass roots movement.  Of course, the MSM has been trying to tell us that the tea parties don’t even measure to warrant local, let alone national coverage.  However, they haven’t been able to block blog posts and pictures that show them to again be performing selective journalism.

It is now blase to discuss the MSM’s inability to cover news events.  It’s also blase to talk about Democrat reactions to the tea parties even though there were many Democrats participating in these events.  What is not blase, and in fact borders on alarming, is this poll by Rasmussen Reports:

51% View Tea Parties Favorably, Political Class Strongly Disagrees

According to Rasmussen, while 51% of the American populace vies the tea parties favorably and only 33% unfavorable, if you look only within the political class, those who believe political leaders know more than the general public, dramatically disagree:

While half the nation has a favorable opinion of last Wednesday’s events, the nation’s Political Class has a much dimmer view—just 13% of the political elite offered even a somewhat favorable assessment while 81% said the opposite.

Worse, if that’s possible is this:

Among the Political Class, not a single survey respondent said they had a Very Favorable opinion of the events while 60% shared a Very Unfavorable assessment.

Could it be that the Political Class is a bit too closely aligned with this perspective:

David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Obama, on Sunday characterized the protests in dozens of cities on the day federal income taxes are due as potentially “unhealthy.”

Hmmmm, sounds like they’ve read Napolitano’s report on the characteristics of home grown terrorists!

Finally, there is this little tidbit:

One-in-four adults (25%) say they personally know someone who attended a tea party protest. That figure includes just one percent (1%) of those in the Political Class.

So while 1/4 of us know someone who attended and over 51% believe the tea parties were positive, only 1% of those living off the government dole in some fashion or another, are able to look outside of their fishbowls.

I guess this all makes sense.  After all, if you’re living off the government, the last thing you’d want to have happen is have someone threaten its life blood!

April 8, 2009

The one certainty in Wisconsin – higher taxes, property edition

by @ 20:53. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

(H/T – Owen, mostly because I haven’t hat-tipped him lately)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that, despite the $1.7 billion in tax and fee hikes and despite the infusion of federal “stimulus” money, the property taxes on a median-valued home will go up 3.2% this year and 4.5% next year. Given the virtual sweep of liberals in yesterday’s election, it’s safe to say they low-balled it.

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