Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Mike Huckabee Endorses Mike Cox (R-MI) for Governor

March 3, 2010

Well, in an interesting move that I’m still trying to figure out, former Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has endorsed Attorney General Mike Cox for Governor.  Here’s a copy of the press release that I received today.  I’ll give my analysis after the press release:

Mike Huckabee Endorses Mike Cox in 2010 Race for Governor

Huckabee: “Mike Cox best described as Michigan’s Pro-Life, Pro-gun conservative candidate for Governor”

     LIVONIA, MI— One of America’s most respected conservative leaders, former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee today formally endorsed Mike Cox in the 2010 race for Governor.

     “Mike Cox is best described as Michigan’s Pro-Life, Pro-gun conservative candidate for Governor,” said Huckabee. “Mike is an innovative, strong leader who is not afraid to take a stand on an important issue. He is opposed to the runaway tax and spend policies we are seeing at the federal and state levels.”

     Cox’s message of less spending, lower taxes and reformed government has set him apart in Michigan’s race for Governor. Cox recently drew a crowd of 1,200 families, activists and community leaders to a Rally for Michigan’s Future in Oakland County and hundreds more last weekend to the Grand Opening of his campaign headquarters in Livonia.

     “Mike Huckabee is one of our nation’s most respected leaders,” said Cox. “Mike Huckabee continues to fight for more liberty and less government. I am proud to have his support and am honored he is standing beside me as we fight to bring jobs back to Michigan.”

     Cox announced Huckabee’s endorsement first today via social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, U-Stream and conservative bloggers across Michigan.

     Huckabee has been called an early frontrunner for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination scoring well in many polls including last November’s Gallup-USA Today poll. Mike Huckabee polled ahead of President Obama as recently as January 2010.

     “Mike Cox has also fought hard to protect Second Amendment rights in Michigan,” Huckabee continued. “I am proud to endorse Mike Cox for Governor of Michigan.”

     Cox is the only candidate for Governor to release a comprehensive 92 point plan to put Michigan back to work, including proposals to cut billions of dollars out of the state budget, cut taxes on job providers and families by $2 billion, make government more transparent, reform education, and revitalize our cities. The plan is available at www.mikecox2010.com. The Mike Cox 2010 Campaign also recently announced that it raised $1.8 million in 2009 – with roughly $1.5 million cash on hand. The funds came from over 2,500 individual donors – with roughly 1,000 of the contributors donating less than $100.

     For more information on Mike Cox’s campaign for Governor, please visit www.mikecox2010.com or call the campaign office today at 734-525-5035.

     About Gov. Mike Huckabee: Prior to his 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007 and as the state’s lieutenant governor from 1993-1996. As a young adult, he served as a pastor and denominational leader. He became the youngest president ever of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the largest denomination in Arkansas. Huckabee’s efforts to improve his own health have received national attention. He is the author of 6 books, the most recent being “Do the Right Thing,” which spent its first 7 weeks of release in the top ten of the New York Times Bestseller list. He is currently the host of the top rated weekend hit “HUCKABEE” on the Fox News Channel, and is heard three times daily across the nation on the “Huckabee Report.” Huckabee and his wife, Janet, live in North Little Rock, Arkansas. They have three grown children: John Mark, David and Sarah.

#30#

Alright, so my analysis… this honestly confused me when I saw it.  I’ve been wondering for the past few hours why a Presidential candidate would jump into the gubernatorial race here in Michigan.

One thing is for sure, this is by far the biggest endorsement that I can think of for any of the current gubernatorial candidates.  The announcement definitely gives Cox more momentum than he already had (which is quite a bit – he’s been battling Congressman Pete Hoekstra, with both of them leading the polls at one time or another).  But will it help him in the long run?

In the 2008 Presidential Primaries, Huckabee got 16.08% of the vote in Michigan, with Romney winning with 38.92%, and McCain coming in second with 29.68%.  Huckabee did worst in Cox’s area of the state, but better in central and western Michigan, so that might help Cox a little bit, by diversifying his support.  So, I’d say that the best endorsement to get would’ve been Romney’s but Huckabee is still a major player in the conservative movement, and as of now, polling well for 2012.

Now, another thing that I thought about was Huckabee’s stances on law and order issues.  One of the major problems I’ve always had with Huckabee (don’t get me wrong – I like the guy) has been his stances on law and order issues as governor.  He issued a lot of pardons and commutations as governor of Arkansas (most notably, the recent scandal with Maurice Clemons who shot and killed 4 police officers in 2009).  Being an Attorney General, I’m not sure if Huckabee’s endorsement is the best thing for Mike Cox’s law and order record, but I may be reading into this more than I should.

Huckabee’s endorsement will help Cox with social conservatives, a group that may be hesitant to vote for him because of his affair back in 2005, but I think most people have (rightfully) moved on from that issue.  But the pro-life movement in Michigan is very strong, and Huckabee’s endorsement will go a long way for Cox when it comes to social issues.  Then again, with the current emphasis on the economy, social issues probably won’t be the deciding factor in who voters do vote for (although in the Republican primary, it’ll be more of an issue than in the general election).

But the most interesting thing about this, and I’ve been wondering this all day, is why would a Presidential candidate endorse a gubernatorial candidate in a primary race?  There’s 3 answers that I think it could possibly be:

  1. Huckabee has given up running for President (at least for 2012), and is going to focus on his PAC and getting Republicans elected around the country.
  2. He’s gambling that Cox will end up winning, and will help him here in Michigan in 2012.
  3. Huckabee is already counting Michigan as lost to him in 2012, and isn’t afraid of losing a few potential delegates by angering non-Cox supporters.

Option 2 and 3 make the most sense to me.  I don’t think he’s given up on running, but I don’t think Huckabee can win Michigan in 2012 if Romney runs.  Romney’s biggest competition here in Michigan was McCain, and without McCain, I think Romney would’ve gotten close to, if not more than, 50% of the vote in 2008.

He may not be publicly saying it, but I don’t think he plans on winning Michigan.  My guess would be that he’s hoping Cox will bring in some supporters (and money) in 2012, so that can offset the voters that Huckabee may lose because he’s supporting Cox.

But no matter what the outcome is for Huckabee, this definitely gives Cox a decent boost for now.  Whether or not is does anything for him come August 3rd, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They’re saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

House of Representatives Votes to Tax AIG Executives’ Bonuses at 90%

March 19, 2009

The House just passed H.R. 1586, officially titled “To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients” (sponsored by Charlie Rangel [D-NY]), which taxes the bonuses of AIG executives.  The bill technically places a tax on any bonuses given by companies who received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.

The following is the text of the legislation:

HR 1586 IH

 

111th CONGRESS 

1st Session

H. R. 1586

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 18, 2009

Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. ISRAEL, Mr. PETERS, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. STARK, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. TANNER, Mr. POMEROY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. PASCRELL, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. ETHERIDGE, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. YARMUTH, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. LUJAN, Mr. MAFFEI, Mr. PERRIELLO, Mr. CARNEY, Ms. CASTOR of Florida, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. HARE, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. LOEBSACK, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SIRES, Mr. WELCH, Mr. WILSON of Ohio, Mr. WU, and Mr. HILL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

 


 

A BILL 

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. BONUSES RECEIVED FROM CERTAIN TARP RECIPIENTS.

    (a) In General- In the case of an employee or former employee of a covered TARP recipient, the tax imposed by chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for any taxable year shall not be less than the sum of–

 (1) the tax that would be determined under such chapter if the taxable income of the taxpayer for such taxable year were reduced (but not below zero) by the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year, plus

(2) 90 percent of the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

    (b) TARP Bonus- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `TARP bonus’ means, with respect to any individual for any taxable year, the lesser of–

(A) the aggregate disqualified bonus payments received from covered TARP recipients during such taxable year, or

(B) the excess of–

(i) the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for such taxable year, over

(ii) $250,000 ($125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).

 (2) DISQUALIFIED BONUS PAYMENT-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `disqualified bonus payment’ means any retention payment, incentive payment, or other bonus which is in addition to any amount payable to such individual for service performed by such individual at a regular hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or similar periodic rate.

(B) EXCEPTIONS- Such term shall not include commissions, welfare or fringe benefits, or expense reimbursements.

(C) WAIVER OR RETURN OF PAYMENTS- Such term shall not include any amount if the employee irrevocably waives the employee’s entitlement to such payment, or the employee returns such payment to the employer, before the close of the taxable year in which such payment is due. The preceding sentence shall not apply if the employee receives any benefit from the employer in connection with the waiver or return of such payment.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT OF TAX TREATED AS TARP BONUS- Any reimbursement by a covered TARP recipient of the tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be treated as a disqualified bonus payment to the taxpayer liable for such tax.

    (c) Covered TARP Recipient- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `covered TARP recipient’ means–

(A) any person who receives after December 31, 2007, capital infusions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000,000,000,

(B) the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation,

(C) any person who is a member of the same affiliated group (as defined in section 1504 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, determined without regard to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b)) as a person described in subparagraph (A) or (B), and

(D) any partnership if more than 50 percent of the capital or profits interests of such partnership are owned directly or indirectly by one or more persons described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

 (2) EXCEPTION FOR TARP RECIPIENTS WHO REPAY ASSISTANCE- A person shall be treated as described in paragraph (1)(A) for any period only if–

(A) the excess of the aggregate amount of capital infusions described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such person over the amounts repaid by such person to the Federal Government with respect to such capital infusions, exceeds

(B) $5,000,000,000.

    (d) Other Definitions- Terms used in this section which are also used in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 shall have the same meaning when used in this section as when used in such Code.
    (e) Coordination With Internal Revenue Code of 1986- Any increase in the tax imposed under chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by reason of subsection (a) shall not be treated as a tax imposed by such chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under such chapter or for purposes of section 55 of such Code.
    (f) Regulations- The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary’s delegate, shall prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
    (g) Effective Date- This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.

The bill passed 328 (243 Democrats, 85 Republicans)-93 (6 Democrats, 87 Republicans).

Personally, this bill is very troubling to me.  It’s debatable as to whether or not it’s Constitutional.  Some have said that it’s a bill of attainder (a bill that focuses on punishing 1 group of people).  Technically, it never names AIG as the focus of the bill, but that’s definitely the intent.

This bill is more legally binding than Representative Gary Peters’ bill (H.R. 1527) that would impose a 60% tax on bonuses paid to executives if “the ownership interest of the Federal Government” is at least 79%.  Basically that says that if the government owns at least 79% of a company’s stock, it can tax bonuses on that company’s executives at a rate of 60%.  The problem with that bill, which I talked about yesterday, is that the government technically doesn’t own AIG. 

Even if it is Constitutional, I find this a huge invasion of the business sector.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  It’s a complete twist of the American tax code, and it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

I don’t think AIG executives should have received the bonuses, but that stipulation should have been placed in the original TARP legislation.

Now, that stipulation WAS in the original bill; however, when it went to the conference committee, the Democrats took out that provision.  The exact details of how that happened are still unknown, but Chris Dodd had said that he introduced an amendment at the request of the Obama administration.  When this actually gets sorted out, I’ll let you know what actually happened.

Regardless of how they were allowed to get the bonuses, they were, and taking the bonuses away like this is questionably constitutional, but in the least, a blatant perversion of the tax code.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Bonuses for AIG Executives Are Disgusting, but Legally Necessary

March 18, 2009

I’m sure that by now, most of you have heard about AIG giving out $165 million in bonuses, and that has outraged many Americans, including many politicians because people don’t think that executives should be getting money for driving AIG into the ground and then receiving government bailout money.

Personally, I agree that they don’t deserve bonuses, especially after receiving government money.

The problem is, there’s really no way that I see the government LEGALLY stopping these bonuses.  The government lent out money to AIG originally, without putting any requirements on the money not going toward bonuses, so the government has no right to step in and stop it now.

The bonuses are in the executives’ contracts, and thus should be paid out.

And the idea to tax the bonuses 100% is just plain wrong – that’s government intrusion and it crosses the line.

And Representative Barney Frank’s (D-MA) solution isn’t exactly legal either.  He told CNN earlier today:

We own this company in effect, and we’re not asking that these bonuses be rescinded because we have lent money to the company.  I believe we are saying as the owners of the company, we do not think we should be paying bonuses or should have paid bonuses to people who made mistakes, who were incompetent.

No, I don’t think the American people want a situation where Congress, whenever it feels a contract shouldn’t have been signed, passes a law to abrogate that past contract.  That’s why I am saying we should assert our ownership rights.

I want to invalidate these contracts and say, look, we are the owners of this company.  Yes, contracts were signed with you that I wish hadn’t been signed.  But given how badly you performed, I want to argue that they did not perform under the contract.

The difference would be having a precedent that I don’t think the American people want, even if for this situation, we’d all like to see it different, where whenever Congress thinks a contract should be abrogated, it should be abrogated.  So, I’m talking about a legislative abrogation of a contract.  I’m talking about a lawsuit as an owner of the company [that wants to reward a] bonus, we ought to fine you for messing it up.

Well, I personally have a problem with Representative Frank’s plan.  Sure, the government pumped billions of dollars into AIG, but they did it as a loan.  We’re not talking about being the majority shareholder here – we’re not talking about buying stocks, we’re talking about a loan.  Giving a company a loan gives Congress absolutely no ownership rights, and the fact that Barney Frank thinks that the loan gave the government “ownership,” even in the slightest, is honestly quite scary.

Think of it on a more personal level than if it were a company.  Imagine that the government gave you a student loan.  If they gave you a loan intended for school, but never put in writing that it had to be spent on school, and you spent the money on candy bars, you have that legal right.  What Barney Frank wants to do is say, “The federal government is part owner of your life, and you are not allowed to buy candy bars.”  Well, I would be fine with that if it had been in the original agreement, but it wasn’t.  Now, what was in the original agreement was that the the government got “equity participant warrants” for 79.9% of AIG’s equity.  For those of you who don’t know what equity warrants are, they’re a contract that says that the government has the option and right to own 79.9% of the AIG shares; however, the government is not exercising that option now.  Until we exercise that option, the government has NO RIGHT to step in here.

If the government takes back any of this money and gets away with it, it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

Now, Edward Liddy, the CEO of AIG, is encouraging employees to give back half of the bonus money.  And if they do, that’s fine, because THEY are giving it up.  But if the government takes the money simply because the executives dont’ deserve it, that would be a major government intrusion.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Do Ron Paul’s Supporters Refuse to Admit His Faults When It Comes to Earmarks?

March 5, 2009

I was reading an article on ConservativeHQ.com, “Ron Paul’s Pork Problem,” which basically criticized Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) for being a hypocrite on fiscal conservative principles by arguing for smaller government and less government spending but getting 22 earmarks (totaling $96.1 million) in the recent $410 billion omnibus spending bill.

Now, I love Dr. Paul.  He’s one of my favorite Congressmen, but I disagree with his stance on earmarks.  According to his Congressional website, “As long as the Federal government takes tax money from his constituents, he will make every effort to return that money to his district.”

So, while I disagree with him, I still have a HUGE amount of respect for Dr. Paul, but I am willing to admit that this (in my opinion) is a fault of his.

Now, take a look at some of the comments left on ConservativeHQ.com:

  • “Congrats, you just lost a member.”
  • “Ron Paul has never voted for a bill with unconstitutional provisions in it. He is the most principled statesmen in Congress. You lost all your credibility with this “Pork Problem” article. You also lost me as a member!”
  • “This article is very one sided. You obviously cannot stand the fact that Ron Paul is the only real conservative in the Republican Party. Please remove me from any of your biased e-mails! There is nothing conservative about this web site.”
  • “Ron Paul votes against the spending. Then if the money that they voted on doesn’t get spent on ear marks, it ends up being spent by the Executive Branch. Does that sound constitutional to you?! I can’t believe this was posted here. How completely irresponsible. I am out of here. I hope others with any logical sense of reason will follow unless this website retracts this article immediately and sends out an e-mail apologizing for being stupid.”

So, my message to those supporters of Dr. Paul who refuse to admit his faults, he’s a great man, but he’s not perfect, and I think his stance on earmarks is out of line with conservatism.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Massachusetts Proposes Using GPS Chips to Tax Drivers’ Mileage

February 18, 2009
Yesterday, on Happening Now on FOX News, there was a  discussion a new idea for a way for Massachusetts to increase their revenue.  The idea was to use GPS chips to track mileage (mileage only and NOT location) of cars, and then tax drivers based on how far they go.  Some like the idea, which is being tested in Oregon.  FOX interviewed Jim Whitty from the Oregon Department of Transportation.  Meanwhile others, such as Massachusetts state Senator Scott Brown views it as Orwellian and an invasion of privacy.  Brown also said that taxes are too high already in Massachusetts.  Watch the video and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of  FOX News):

Now, did you catch what Whitty said?  At one point he was talking about the test that Oregon did of using the system and said, “There was no issue with tracking, because we didn’t–we didn’t do that.”  Notice, he never said that “We couldn’t do that.”  He said, “We didn’t do that.”

The whole point of GPS, Global POSITIONING System is to track where you’re at.  Now, I’m sure that the government in Oregon may only be paying attention to the distance that people travel; however, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t just one day decide, instead of just counting the miles, let’s start paying attention to where these people are going.  Originally, it may be to catch criminals, or determine traffic patterns, but that’s a violation of privacy.  And it leads down a slippery slope.

Additionally, Senator Brown is right, taxes in Massachusetts could be lowered if the government would just better manage its money.

But my main problem with the system is the fact that it is, for lack of a better word, Orwellian.  Even my liberal roommate agrees with me here!  It’s an invasion of privacy.

If you’re going to do anything, put a device that measures odometer changes.  But using GPS, Global POSITIONING System, to track people’s “distance” is in invasion of privacy.

Let me know what you think:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Kansas Can Now Afford to Pay Tax Refunds and State Employees

February 18, 2009

Yesterday I was watching America’s Newsroom, and Megyn Kelly did a story about the budget crisis in Kansas. According to the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius (D), the state was not going to be able to pay tax refunds or state employees on time.  Sebelius wants to borrow money from other state accounts within Kansas; however, Republican legislators want budget cuts because they feel Sebelius’s solution is irresponsible.  Republican leaders in the state House and Senate (both where they’re in the majority) argued that the internal borrowing wasn’t legal until the Kansas had a balanced budget for the fiscal year (the fiscal year ends June 30).

Watch the video, and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of FOX News):

Since that video, the Governor signed a budget-balancing bill, and the Republicans have said that the internal borrowing is now legal.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal told reporters, “I’m extremely pleased that she signed it, because that’s what needed to happen.”  Senate President Steve Morris also told reporters, “This action gives us reassurances that we will have the resources to repay this.”

Meanwhile, Sebelius said, “I’m just sorry that we had to have high drama and worry a lot of Kansans about our ability to pay our obligations in order to get to the end of the process.”

Personally, I agree with Megyn Kelly.  And while she may have been a little mean to Treasurer Dennis McKinney, she has a point – it’s bad management if you need to do borrowing within your state.  The state should be able to balance their budget and pay taxes back to people and pay their employees.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the discussion that went on on FOX News yesterday, but they brought up a point to citizens: Don’t give the government so much money when you fill out information for withholding.  You have the option to withhold more, and if you’re doing that now, just don’t.  I’m not saying lie and withhold less than you should.  I’m saying, only have them withhold the minimum that you legally have to.  That way, when states like Kansas can’t pay you back on time, you’re not getting screwed.  If you don’t pay the government their taxes, you get penalized.  When they don’t pay you back, what happens to them?  NOTHING!  It’s unfair!  So, just don’t give them extra money!

I’ll try to find that discussion video and post that and discuss it in a later blog post, but right now, FOX News’s search for videos isn’t working right.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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President Obama Signs $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan

February 17, 2009

Moments ago, President Obama singed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus package into law.  Unfortunately, I was taking a phone call during the beginning of his speech, so I couldn’t live blog it, but I did catch some key parts (I’ll do a summary of the whole speech later).

One part that caught my eye was when he said that the bill was “a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.  It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.  And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.”

Really?  Because, I remember the Democrats promising that the final version of the bill would be available to be read for 48 hours before being brought to a vote, but it was brought to a vote around 12 hours after the bill was posted (posted on-line around 12:30 A.M. last Friday), and voted on, I believe around 2:00 P.M. in the House, and later in the Senate.  At one point, Representative David Obey (D-WI) got in an argument with a Republican Representative (I don’t remember who), and asked the Republican to show him something in the bill.  He held it up and the Republicans just laughed.  He made a fool out of  himself by SHOWING that nobody could quickly find anything in the bill – it’s over 1,000 pages long!

So, I wonder if the Democrats and Obama will stick to this  promise of “transparency and accountability” or if they will continue to change their promises like they’ve been doing so far.

I see us being right back in position of “needing” another stimulus package in 6 months or so.  Hopefully the next one  won’t be “needed,” but if one is proposed, I hope that one fails in Congress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Some Republican Governors Break Party Ranks and Support Stimulus Bill

February 6, 2009

Alright, this news article is a few days old, but since the Senate hasn’t voted on the stimulus package yet, it’s still applicable.  I read an AP article that a friend showed me, and while I won’t post the whole thing, I’ll highlight some key points.  The article talks about Republican Governors who are urging Congress to pass the stimulus bill.  The full article can be read here.  Then I went looking for more positions on the bill and found a few other governors’ positions.

Here’s what some of the Republican Governors have said:

  • Vermont Governor Jim Douglas went to Washington, D.C. earlier this week to push the Senate to pass the bill.  His deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey told the AP, “As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Governor Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans.”  On another occasion, Douglas said that he “believes that the federal government should pass some form of federal recovery to assist states that are struggling right now.”
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “States have to balance their budgets.  So if we’re going to go down this path, we are entitled to ask for our share of the money.”  He did go on to say later though, “I’m quite concerned about the federal government spending money it doesn’t have.  We’re on an unsustainable path of deficit spending and borrowing.”  A spokesman for Pawlenty also said, “Governor Pawlenty has serious concerns about the stimulus package passed by the House.  He believes the bill should focus more on tax cuts and addressing the housing crisis and not the buffet of Democrat spending initiatives the bill now contains.If a bill does pass, Minnesota will accept its share of the money because we are a significant net contributor to the federal government.  A study shows Minnesota receives about 72 cents for every $1 sent to Washington – so we’re paying more than our fair share.”
  • Alaska Governor Sarah Palin released a statement saying that she “has asked the nation’s leaders to look at these issues to ensure fairness in the stimulus package and that the package does not harm the long-term fiscal health of the nation.  Contrary to some news reports, she looks forward to continuing to work with Alaska’s congressional delegation to accomplish the state’s goals.”
  • Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’s spokesman told reporters, “The state of Nevada’s economy is in a deep financial crisis and any financial assistance, including the stimulus package, would be welcome.”
  • Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell “supports the idea of a federal stimulus intended to help states create jobs and help states pay for soaring health care costs.  She has written Congressional leaders as well as the state’s delegation on several occasions advocating for such a package; in fact, as far back as Senator Lieberman’s Subcommittee hearing last March on corn, ethanol prices and the food supply, she mentioned in written testimony provided to the Subcommittee that some form of second stimulus package was needed.”
  • Florida Governor Charlie Crist  also backed the plan, saying, “If it passes, which I believe and I hope that it will, I want to make sure that Florida gets her fair share.  I know it’s important in terms of infrastructure, education, making sure that we have good roads that are stable and strong, bridges that are secure, that we have an education system that is second to none.”
  • 19 governors sent a letter to President Obama supporting the stimulus package, including 4 Republican governors: Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Jodi Rell, Charlie Crist, and Jim Douglas.

Personally, I am ASHAMED of those Republican governors!  Just because they can’t get their state to balance their budget doesn’t mean that MY tax dollars should go toward stimulating their state.  Heck! I’m from Michigan – we probably need the money more than any other state, but you don’t see me going around saying, my state deserves YOUR tax dollars.  And the fact is, my state doesn’t deserve your tax dollars.  We got ourselves into this, we need to get ourselves out.  Spending money through some pork bill is NOT going to stimulate the economy!

Stand up to this wasteful spending.  I encourage all of you to call up your Senators and Governors and express concern over this bill.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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