Taxes

The Secretary of the Treasury: from tax cheat to “tax scam” beneficiary

Featured image The Washington Post reports that Jack Lew, President Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, held money in an investment fund registered in the very Cayman Islands building that Obama called a notorious haven for tax abuse. The address of the fund is a building called the Ugland House. Obama singled out that building in a 2009 speech against tax haven abuse. With his characteristic subtely, the president declared, “Either this is »

Obama seeks to avoid going over half of the fiscal cliff

Featured image Throughout the “fiscal cliff” drama, I argued that once the middle class tax increase was called off (as seemed almost inevitable), Republicans would have the upper hand because President Obama fears sequestration more than Republicans do (or should). The key, then, was to keep sequestration on the table or, as I put it, “to go over half of the fiscal cliff.” Now that we are about to take that plunge, »

A “grand bargain,” Burns and Allen style

Featured image The White House reportedly is interested in a “grand bargain” with Republicans as a means of avoiding the sequester and getting out from under the debt-ceiling. The bargain would involve raising revenue by ending or limiting certain deductions and cutting some spending, or at least pretending to. The White House’s strategy sounds like a variation on a very old George Burns and Gracie Allen routine. George holds four cigars and »

Democrats Quietly Allow Social Security Taxes To Rise

Featured image Higher taxes on the “rich” have dominated discussion of the McConnell-Biden deal, but it has also been widely reported that the legislation will raise taxes on more than 77% of all U.S. households. In fact, the Tax Policy Center has calculated that 46% of the additional taxes raised in 2013 will come from the bottom 80% of Americans. So why haven’t we been hearing more about this? The tax that »

Both sides lost because the public rejects their diets

Featured image Yuval Levin argues that the left should be disappointed by the “fiscal cliff” deal. Why? Because “their best opportunity in a generation for increasing tax rates (which is the only fiscal reform they seem to want)” has come and gone with only a minimal increase in tax revenue achieved: This deal is projected to yield $620 billion in revenue over a decade — increasing projected federal revenue by about 1.7 »

An Optimistic Take On the “Cliff” Deal

Featured image Here are some glass-half-full observations on last night’s McConnell-Biden fiscal deal from an inveterate optimist. Raising taxes on those who are already paying roughly double their fair share, while leaving everyone else’s taxes the same, is lousy public policy. But from the Republicans’ point of view, it may be good politics. For the last four years, the Obama administration has run up unprecedented deficits, adding more than $4 trillion to »

Here’s the deal

Featured image Politico has posted the full text of the fiscal cliff legislation. I hope you have more luck working with it than I did. The political logic of the cliff — the fact that, absent compromise tax rates were set to increase on all taxpayers — always meant that a compromise on taxes would favor Obama and the Democrats. The compromise reached is consistent with that logic. The $450,000 per household »

Tax portion of fiscal cliff deal reportedly has been finalized

Featured image Robert Costa reports that, according to senior Republican Senate aides, the tax side of the fiscal-cliff deal has been finalized. The basic framework is as follows: — Current tax rates would be permanently extended for singles making $400,000 or below, and permanently extended for couples making $450,000 or below; — For singles, capital gains and dividends of $400,000 or below would be permanently taxed at 15 percent; capital gains and »

Obama demonstrates the virtue of the sequestration

Featured image President Obama has just completed his highly partisan remarks on fiscal cliff negotiations to a highly partisan crowd at the White House. If Obama actually wants a deal, he should hope that no Republican legislators were watching. And one can now better understand why Speaker Boehner became so frustrated after dealing on a sustained basis with this arrogant man. Stripping away Obama’s self-serving cheap shots at Congress — which some »

Deal or no deal?

Featured image There are somewhat conflicting rumors about the status of “fiscal cliff” talks between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Byron York reported that a deal is close, one in which tax rates would rise only for those making $400,000 (or conceivably $500,000) a year and in which there would be a few other cliff-related fixes. But Politico says that there are no signs yet of a breakthrough. It’s not clear that »

The Weekly Winston: Fiscal Cliff Edition

Featured image Everyone supposes that supply-side economics was a purely American phenomenon, with its antecedents going back to Calvin Coolidge and his tax-cutting Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and ending up with the Laffer Curve.  And of course Ronald Reagan liked to quote John F. Kennedy on the wisdom of income tax rate cuts, much to the consternation of good liberals today. But in fact Churchill was part of the early supply-side revolution, »

Obama uses summit to turn up heat on republicans

Featured image At the White House on Friday, President Obama apparently told the “summoned” that he wants Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to reach a deal on the income threshold for tax hikes along, I assume, with a few other partial “cliff” fixes. If they don’t reach a deal, Obama will have Reid call for a Senate vote on Obama’s plan to increase taxes on everyone earning $250,000 or more, plus an »

Soak the Rich?

Featured image The “fiscal cliff” drama is playing out in Washington, with Barack Obama fixated, apparently, on raising taxes on “the rich”–i.e., hard-working families, most of them with multiple income-earners. So the IRS’s recent release of tax data for 2010 is timely. The American Enterprise Institute has the numbers: According to new IRS data, the 1.35 million taxpayers that represent the highest-earning one percent of the Americans who filed federal income tax »

Is Obama over-playing his “fiscal cliff” hand?

Featured image The “fiscal cliff” consists of two elements — tax increases and spending cuts. The tax side is essentially a win-win for President Obama. Either he extracts a large amount of money for the government through across-the-board tax hikes he can blame on Republicans or he extracts a smaller amount of money from well-off Americans, thereby satisfying his emotional desire to stick it to Republicans and the well-off. The spending cuts, »

Summoner-in-chief

Featured image President Obama has summoned congressional leaders to a Friday summit at the White House to talk about a deal that would avert some of the “fiscal cliff” measures that are scheduled to kick in on January 1. Everyone seems to agree that there isn’t enough time to avert all of these measures. Nor are all of them necessarily to be despised. Democrats believe that cliff-imposed tax increases for high earners »

Maybe we should go over half of the “fiscal cliff”

Featured image I don’t think it’s possible to go over only half of a cliff, any more than one can kill half of a dog. But the “fiscal cliff” isn’t really a cliff; it’s a metaphor. The metaphor refers to two very different phenomena. The first is a tax hike for everyone who pays federal incomes taxes. The second half is a rather large cut in federal spending. I don’t know of »

Plan B fails; Republicans move closer to political cliff

Featured image Speaker Boehner has pulled his “Plan B” for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” because, in the words of the Washington Post, “he fail[ed] to persuade conservative Republicans to extend tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans and let tax rates rise for millionaires.” I quote the Post’s characterization because this is how the vote will be portrayed throughout the mainstream media and how it will be perceived by most »