Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Death of an Ideal

Thirty years or so ago, I told my father that the US had reached a tipping point, and that the ballot box was no longer an effective check on a government that “evinces a design to reduce them[us] under absolute Despotism.” I was of the opinion that Jefferson was right, and that the bullet was going to be the inevitable outcome. My father, a wise and learned man, suggested that I was unnecessarily fatalistic and that there would be corrections in due course. I am sad to say, it appears he was wrong.

Last week, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on the ACA, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the, inter alia, the individual mandate wasn’t a mandate but a taxable option, that a penalty wasn’t a penalty but a tax, and that tax wasn’t a tax but a penalty, depending on which law you cared to apply. The real upshot of the law is that the court, using the taxing power granted Congress by the Constitution, has upheld the requirement that you buy insurance, like it or not. The Congress has compelled you to buy a product, enforceable not by the commerce clause, but by the IRS. The government now has no limitations on what it may compel you to do or refrain from doing. It is the latest in a series of cases that began in the forties, and continues til today.

Shortly before World War 2, Congress passed a law that among other things, regulated the market for wheat. This was done to prop up the price of wheat. A farmer, like many other farmers, grew some wheat on his farm and used some of it to feed his family, and some to feed his livestock. The government found out, and prosecuted him for it. The Supreme Court, in the case of Wickard v. Filburn 317 U.S. 111 (1942) held that by using his own wheat instead of buying it, Filburn had impacted interstate commerce, and Congress was well within its power to regulate such behavior.

In a twinkling, private property rights began their slide into the socialist maw which culminated recently in a determination by a bunch of lawyers called the Supreme Court that if the government wanted your property because they had a better use for it, you were out. See Kelo v. City of New London 545 U.S. 469 (2005)

Filburn was a necessary product of our first socialist president. Under the new socialism of Obama, the usurpation of property has gone from real to personal property. He takes whole industries and wipes out the personal property of stockholder, bond holders and creditors. See, for example, GM. And instanter, we have the Obamacare ruling.

There will be articles by the score on both sides of the issue; some excoriating the court for their ruling, some applauding them for it. Very few will realize ultimate import of the decision. The US Constitution, and the Republic it produced, is dead. Dead and gone.

We may, someday, force the contours of the government back, get back some semblance of a charter for liberty, but the odds are against us. With the Supreme Court in charge of “interpreting” any new charter, the chances for an enduring freedom are slender. The lawyers have too large a stake in chaos for an orderly free society to be built on the ruins of this one. We have had our shot and we blew it.

If you have any doubts about the death of the Constitution, one need only consult the McCain-Feingold act. “Congress shall make NO law…abridging the freedom of speech.”(Emphasis mine) Not some laws, or but NO laws. Freedom of speech, as well as religion, are totally immune from regulation. The real “wall of separation” in the first amendment is the wall prohibiting congress from impeding any of the rights enumerated therein. Except that the Supreme Court has continually breached that wall. This body of lawyers found that McCain-Feingold, the law that limits free speech about candidates during elections, is constitutional. To whom do you appeal when the Court has become an engine of social change?

Did you ever wonder where the court got the power to decide what is and is not constitutional?Who says that the Supreme Court is the arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution? They did, in 1803. In Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) they said they were the sole judge of the meaning of the document. And nobody disagreed. So the idea of three separate and equal branches of government died in 1803. It is no longer the case, but our political class includes it among its standard collection of lies they tell to the working class stiffs that keep the wheels of commerce lubricated with their sweat and blood.

The original untampered document speaks of what the government can’t do to you. It was a negative document in many ways. Congress shall make no laws, no person may be tried twice, no unreasonable searches without a warrant, etc. Occasionally there were positive recognition of rights; the Second amendment, for example. The substitute we have been given pushes what the government must do for, or to, you. Whatever the price of liberty is, we didn’t or wouldn’t pay it. We fell victim to the canard that compassion was a virtue that the government could force upon us. We decided that comfort and security were more important than liberty and freedom. And now, the government has become what Alexander Hamilton called “the hideous monster whose devouring jaws . . . spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.”


Steny Hoyer v. Barack Obama

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that tax increases will eventually be necessary to address the nation’s mounting debt. Tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, affecting taxpayers at every income level. Obama proposes to permanently extend them for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000 — at a cost of about $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

“As the House and Senate debate what to do with the expiring Bush tax cuts in the coming weeks, we need to have a serious discussion about their implications for our fiscal outlook, including whether we can afford to permanently extend them before we have a real plan for long-term deficit reduction,” said Hoyer. In the short term, government spending has been necessary to stimulate the economy, Hoyer said. But in the longer term, Congress will have to rein in spending and raise taxes to tackle the debt, he added.

There are three interesting aspects to this announcement.

First, the implicit admission by the House Majority leader that the debt problem is spiraling out of control. Doubt it? Let’s take a look at Obama’s favorite role model, Europe. Hungary’s Prime Minister on Tuesday proposed an overhaul of the tax system and cuts to the public sector, to reassure jittery markets that it can handle its debt. A new 29-point fiscal plan will introduce a six-year tax for financial institutions. He also suggested the plan would cut public sector wages and eliminate benefits. In England, much the same. Britain launched an emergency package of higher taxation and spending cuts that are aimed at slashing a huge public deficit, amid intense concern about sky-high debt levels in Europe. Finance minister George Osborne announced that he would slap a levy on banks, ramp up taxation on goods and services, freeze public sector pay and slash benefits spending in an attempt to cut the public deficit. We all are aware, aren’t we, of the problems Greece is having.

America’s debt is out of control, and Obama shows no interest in eliminating it. On the contrary, he seems determined to aggravate it. According to John Kyl, Obama refuses to secure our borders unless we assimilate millions of unemployable, illiterate foreigners that will suck up more and more of the dwindling supply of dollars. Santayana was right, but we don’t have to wait for history, we can see the failure of euro-socialism nightly.

The second interesting aspect is the news out of capitol hill that the Senate has killed an attempt to repeal lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. The move by Vermont’s Bernie Sanders would have raised $35 billion over 10 years by limiting the ability of oil companies to write off drilling expenses, eliminating a tax deduction for the capital costs of oil and gas wells and repealing a tax deduction for domestic production of oil and gas. But Sanders was on the losing end of a 61-35 vote. What makes it really interesting is that this was done by a Democrat controlled senate. Who’s in bed with big oil?

Now for the third, and most interesting aspect. Way back in September of 2008, Obama made a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year:

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” After Obama broke his “firm pledge” when he signed into law a steep hike in the federal excise tax on tobacco, White House spokesman Reid H. Cherlin attempts to claim that the Obama pledge only applies to “income or payroll taxes.” During a White House press briefing, when challenged as to how Obama’s tax pledge squares with his tax hike on tobacco, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replies: “People make a decision to smoke.” Moments later, when asked if Obama’s tax pledge applies “to the health care bill”, Gibbs replies: “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”

So he broke the pledge there. Later, in June of 2009, when challenged on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos as to whether Obama’s tax pledge applies to healthcare reform, White House Advisor David Axelrod replies: “One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done.” Later in August of 2009, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner refuses to rule out a pledge-breaking tax hike after being given several opportunities to do so: “I think what the country needs to do is understand we’re going to have to do what it takes, we’re going to do what’s necessary.” After all of that, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterates Obama’s tax pledge:“I am reiterating the President’s clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he’s not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.”

Fast-forward to May of this yea. At a Manhattan breakfast sponsored by Thomson Reuters, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag threw that pledge out the window. Instead, he described Obama’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge as a “stance” and a “preference” that is subject to study by the president’s newly formed bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. “The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward.”

Now we get to see if he’ll break his pledge a third time when the House tries to raise taxes. And they will try. Whether it’s letting Bush era tax cuts expire, or dreaming up new and more exciting taxes like a VAT, Obama will have to sign off on increases or face an increasingly disillusioned group of congressional democrats. Because after all, only suckers really ever believed Obama’s pledge in the first place.

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