You can learn a lot from graphs.

We can be happy and rest easier that we do not show up on this graph. Interestingly, the US extends from the tropics (Southern Florida and Hawaii) to the Arctic Circle (Alaska). So variety of weather is not what keeps us off the list. Also of interest, most of these nations are in warmer climates.

Here is yet another analysis that we can be happy and rest easier because we do not show up on the graph. Also of interest is that every nation below is heavily populated with Muslims and radical Muslims perpetrate the greatest number of terror attacks. So what’s up with that?

And yet another list that we can be happy and rest easier because we came in dead last (no pun intended). I must admit some surprise at the “winner.”

The graph below illustrates the response to the following question: “Is a system of government where a strong leader can make decisions without interference good or bad?” Do you think the 22% percent of Americans that think it’s “good” are Republicans or Democrats? Generally, Republicans favor weak central government while Democrats are OK with strong central government, but I’m not sure the question sorts that out.

Identity politics, anyone? The problem for the Democrats (still sticking with “identity politics” despite their stunning losses under Obama – the “king of identity politics”) is that second and third generation immigrants do not necessarily think like the parents and grandparents. The graph shows at least 6 generations.

Come on, Republicans! Get that tax bill across the finish line so we can repatriate all these billions!

We are basically tied for number one (5.86 versus 5.85). One must admire Switzerland. Lot’s of guns (the Small Arms Survey of 2016 placed Swiss gun ownership per capita at 24.45%)… stayed out of the World Wars… However, relevant to this graph, Switzerland has a population of 8.4 million. The greater New York City area has a larger population than Switzerland. So WE WIN!

Roy Filly

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Tax simplification.

It turns out that the Democrats are right. It doesn’t happen often, but I have to give them credit. The highest income group benefits most from the simplification of the tax code. Read on!

Individual Compliance Burden:

The graph only goes through 2010. Now our tax code exceeds 80,000 pages. Tax filers face the task of understanding Internal Revenue Service (IRS) instructions in order to comply with paying taxes. According to the IRS, filing taxes will take taxpayers an average of 8 hours and cost $120 for each nonbusiness return.

If one ads in estimated tax forms the total bumps to 169 million individual tax returns. The cost is more than $20 billion to comply with tax filings. This is not the cost of actually paying taxes, but only the cost of filing.

The time consumption is further burdensome to individual tax filers. Considering 8 hours each for 169 million returns, Americans spent over 1.35 billion hours filing individual taxes. (The IRS states that business returns will take an average of 23 hours to file and cost an estimated $420 each.)

Now let’s look at the Heritage Foundations estimates of how many fewer Americans will need to itemize on their tax returns by doubling the standard deduction and partially or fully eliminating the state and local tax deductions.

While the chart shows that every income range will see a reduction in the need to itemize on their tax returns, the group with the greatest diminution are those earning $500,000 and up. If the tax plan passes with both the increase in the standard deduction and the elimination of state and local tax deductions, the highest income group will see nearly a 49% reduction in the need to itemize! (You can sort out for yourself that the highest earners live in high tax states.)

The tax plan’s proposed provisions would cut the number of taxpayers who itemize by more than half, saving between 21 and 28 million Americans the hassle of keeping track of and itemizing their deductions.

Now that is tax simplification! And, as I said, the Democrat Party was correct that the highest income group benefits most from the simplification of the tax code. But the grand total of those being helped may be as high as 28 million Americans and yet thus far not a single Democrat has signed on to vote “yes.” I have searched diligently for the Democrat Party tax reform proposal. I cannot find it. (Oh, but of course, they have demands but no counter proposal.) The only thing I can intuit is that they think the current 82,000 pages of tax code are PERFECT. No changes are needed.

Roy Filly

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The individual mandate: How’s that working out?

The “individual mandate” is back in the news. When Barack Obama proposed it he swore up and down that “it was NOT A TAX,” and the wording of the Affordable Care Act so stated that “it was NOT A TAX!!!” You remember that the “individual mandate,” when passed on a strict party line vote (guess which party voted “for”), was the first time in US history that Americans were forced to purchase a product by the federal government. The hue and cry was instantaneous and the case against the “individual mandate” went to the Supreme Court.

After the Supreme Court deliberated our, at that time, recently appointed Chief Justice (supposedly a “conservative), with the flexibility of an Olympic gold medal winning gymnast, bent the actual wording of the Affordable Care Act and decided it was constitutional because “IT WAS A TAX!” Is it any wonder that Americans cannot understand their government when plain words and promises MEAN NOTHING!

Okay, Dr. Filly, you have had your little rant, now does this missive have a point, ask you? Indeed it does, answer I. My point is that it is very difficult to ram something down America’s throat. Americans DON’t LIKE IT when forced to purchase a product by the federal government.

[Source: Senate Makes Bold Move, Includes Repeal of Obamacare’s Individual Mandate in Tax Bill, by Whitney Jones]

If the Senate version of the tax bill prevails we will see the end of the individual mandate. And good riddance. The “mandate” has been a dismal failure. According to the IRS:

  • 6.2 million tax filers chose to pay the tax penalty rather than buy Obamacare insurance.
  • 12.7 million tax filers obtained an exemption from the mandate.
  • 4.3 million tax filers omitted their health insurance status on their tax return.

Therefore, we have a grand total of 23.2 million Americans who, in essence, flipped the bird to the individual mandate. Remember there are 55.3 million Americans on Medicare. There are 74.3 million individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as of August 2017. There are an estimated 155 million Americans under age 65 covered by employer health plans. That totals nearly 310 million Americans (there are 325 million Americans). Even if one assumes that the remaining 15 million unaccounted for actually bought insurance under “the mandate” (almost certainly a gross overestimate) that means 8.2 million more Americans who were required to purchase health insurance UNDER THE MANDATE actually decided not to abide by the government edict!

I judge those statistics as proof positive that “the mandate” is MORONIC and Americans know it.

Roy Filly

 

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Spending caps: An opinion.

The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 set limits on discretionary spending, with separate pools for defense and non-defense spending. Understanding this legislation and the complex machinations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is beyond me (despite having a highly analytical mind). Let’s face it, even Congress doesn’t fully understand what Congress is doing with “spending.” It’s like our 82,000 page tax code. The greatest tax lawyer in the USA doesn’t fully comprehend it.

[Source: Hey, Republican Big Spenders: Keep the Spending Caps, by Stephen Moore]

So I rely on experts that I trust (so few of them). Stephen Moore is one among a very small group.

Spending caps are the only effective method that US citizens have seen that actually control Congressional spending. The spending caps in the Budget Control Act (and the threat of “sequestration” if the “caps are violated”) have been the most successful anti-spending policies of modern times. One can only imagine what the national debt would be if the budget control act had not reined in Obama’s spending spree ($1.4 trillion deficit in year one, $1.3 trillion in the second, $1.2 trillion in the third).

The budget caps resulted in less federal spending for three years in a row — the first time that had happened since the 1950s. [From the Moore article] Even the much-maligned sequester cuts of 2013 had a positive effect in cutting government domestic and defense spending by 3 or 4 percent across the board. Most Americans hardly noticed these modest cuts.

Congress (and that means BOTH parties) keeps “hinting” that they want to end the spending caps. “This would be about as wise as handing a teenager the car keys and a bottle of booze” (P. J. O’Rourke).

Are these spending caps “perfect.” Congress always finds “a way” to spend more. Here are some of those ways:

  • “Emergency” spending exemptions to breach the caps. This year Congress has approved roughly $50 billion for hurricane relief — with no cuts in other programs to offset the cost.
  • The Overseas Contingency Operation also has been used as a slush fund to spend an extra half-trillion on the military.

Personally, I want more military spending and believe Congress needed to support those devastated by the recent major hurricanes. But that does not equate to untethering Congress from the BCA spending limits. We don’t need to end up like Greece – which is where we are headed.

And if you are sitting there thinking that the Trump tax cuts will “blow a hole in the deficit” (as the Democrats are wont to say) then think again. [From the Moore article] If Congress can restrain spending to 2.5 percent annual growth (which is less than the rate of inflation) and keep the economy on a 3 percent growth path, up from 2 percent under Obama, the budget will be balanced WITH the Trump tax cuts.

My friends, “growth covers a multitude of sins.”

Roy Filly

 

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Guess what? Colleges are loaded with liberal educators.

As you sit there looking at my title and saying, “Of course! Everyone knows that!” I invite you to read on.

Every Republican is well aware of this fact and every Democrat takes it wholly for granted. But quantification is rarely added to this knowledge. The actual statistics are a dismal portent.

[Source: Higher Education’s Deeper Sickness, by John M. Ellis (footnote 1)]

We have all seen the “free speech” riots. We have all heard of the “safe spaces” and “trigger words.” As scary and imbecilic as those items may be they are but a symptom of a far more nefarious illness. Even when the “riot” ends or, as rarely happens, is prevented by a show of force from the campus police (at huge expense), these are only a symptom of the disease, and a momentary symptom at that. When the riot ends the disease is still festering.

So what is the disease of which you speak, ask you? The disease is the near complete exclusion of debate on college campuses, answer I. As Professor Ellis explains: Well-balanced opposing views act as a corrective for each other: The weaker arguments of one side are pounced on and picked off by the other. Both remain consequently healthier and more intellectually viable. But intellectual dominance promotes stupidity. As one side becomes numerically stronger, its discipline weakens. The greater the imbalance between the two sides, the more incoherent and irrational the majority will become.

So how dominant is the left on college campuses. We are aware that left-of-center professors outnumber right-of-center  professors, but by how much. [From the Ellis article] We are now close to the end of a half-century process by which the campuses have been emptied of centrist and right-of-center voices. Many scholars have studied the political allegiances of the faculty during this time. There have been some differences of opinion about methodology, but the main outline is not in doubt. In 1969 the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education found that there were overall about twice as many left-of-center as right-of-center faculty. Various studies document the rise of that ratio to 5 to 1 at the century’s end, and to 8 to 1 a decade later, until in 2016 Mitchell Langbert, Dan Klein, and Tony Quain find it in the region of 10 to 1 and still rising.

Even these figures understate the matter. The overall campus figures include professional schools and science, technology, business and mathematics departments. In most humanities and social-science departments—especially those central to a liberal education, such as history, English and political science—the share of left-of-center faculty already approaches 100%.

That is a scary statistic. We can see the impact. The exclusion of one side of the debate leads to irrationality on the other. Whether exclusion of debate is “peaceful” or by force (totalitarianism) the result is the same. How do you know that, ask you? Because when one no longer engages in debate one resorts to the time honored antithesis to debate, “name-calling.” “Ya mudder wears army boots! (footnote 2)” Or, as one is more likely to hear today, you are  an “irreconcilable racist, fascist, xenophobe…” and the list goes on and on and on.

The mere existence of “safe spaces” is proof positive that debate “ist verboten!” Campuses are as totalitarian as Germany in the late 1930s. The strangest aspect, as I see it, is that so-called “liberal education” has defeated itself! It no longer exists.

And thanks to HKG for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

Footnote 1: John M. Ellis is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and chairman of the California Association of Scholars.

Footnote 2: During WWII prostitutes who followed the troops around sometimes wore army boots (i.e., you were calling someone’s mother a prostitute).

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Saving America.

Americans have realized for many years now that Washington marches to the beat of its own drum. It also calls the tune. It appears to be entirely unresponsive to the wants of the people. Minorities that have flocked to the Democrat Party (via “identity politics’) are coming to realize that after they vote, the party forgets them. Republican voters never had power, but now that they “do” they are finding that the Republican Establishment wields the power for their own twisted notions and their “base” (we Republican citizens) be damned.

The premise of The Rugged Individualist is that “Big Government is Bad Government: It’s axiomatic.” But even if you believe that “big government is good,” in your wildest dreams you never expected it to be THIS BIG!

Can anything be done? Indeed it can. It’s not easy but the states can solve many of these issues – without a “revolution” or Republicans and Democrats going at each others throats.

And thanks to PCoop for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

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Aah, the folly of it all.

Think about it.

The American Culture and Faith Institute recently conducted a survey of adults 18 and older. Four out of every ten adults say they prefer socialism to capitalism. Universities should institute a “study abroad program” where any student who prefers socialism to capitalism takes a semester in Venezuela, the latest experiment in socialism.

Reagan was amazingly prescient.

It appears the left hasn’t been reading the news about Venezuela.

The media chooses to decry Trump no matter how trivial the issue – and, they are nearly always wrong or totally one-sided in their criticisms.

Which of these is more likely to decrease terrorism? Take your time if you’re a liberal.

And thanks to BC who sent several of these to me.

Roy Filly

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Politics in cartoon form.

Somehow the logic of this is eluding me. It never ceases to amaze me that Congress actually thinks it’s THEIR MONEY.

On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama took office, the gross federal debt (which includes both public and intragovernmental debt) was $10.63 trillion. On Jan. 20, 2017, when Obama left office, outstanding public debt totaled $19,944,429,217,106, an increase of roughly $9.3 trillion. And the Democrats didn’t say a word. A new analysis says the House GOP tax bill would increase the national debt by $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. Let’s see: $9.3 trillion in eight years; $1.7 trillion in ten years.

Hillary needs Bill to “fix” this mess, but…

Wrong bars…

Mueller is “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places…”

No comment necessary!

Roy Filly

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What will really count in the 2018 election? Answer: The Trump Boom.

Having written a political blog for more than seven years I have learned one immutable fact: people vote their wallets. More precisely, people vote for their wallets to get fatter. They do not vote for whomever promises “stability,” and they definitively do not vote for bathroom door signs, statues, gun laws, tweets or even “collusion.”

[Source: Why the left has been so wrong about the Trump Boom, by Stephen Moore]

Currently the media on both sides of the political spectrum are either fretting or crowing about the recent gubernatorial elections. Blah, blah, blah.

I have said many times that Bill Clinton was the most savvy politician I have seen (didn’t like him, but had to admit that fact). At least he was the most savvy politician but probably no longer. The sign at his campaign headquarters read: IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID! The only exception is when there is a profound threat to the American homeland. Then voters will opt for “protection” (North Korea, perhaps). But, I can assure you that voters do not view “let’s be nice to our adversaries” as protective.

The US is undergoing an economic revival. The “Resistance” and the “Never Trumpers” will do all in their power to say “it has nothing to do with Donald Trump’s policies.” That the stock market has seen multiple new all-time highs; that we have had excellent jobs reports, that we have had another fall in the unemployment rate or that housing sales have soared to their highest level in a decade they will argue has nothing to do with Trump. But even if they are correct (which they are not) IT DOESN’T MATTER. Wallets are getting fatter.

[From the Moore article] The U.S. economic revival of 3 percent growth has already defied the predictions of almost every Donald Trump critic. I vividly remember debating Hillary Clinton’s economic gurus during the campaign: They accused Trump and advisers such as myself of “lying” when we said that pro-growth policies would speed up economic growth to 3 to 4 percent.

  • Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, told reporters earlier this year that the chances of reaching 3 percent growth were about 1 in 25 …
  • Another Obama economist, Alan Krueger, called the 3 percent growth forecast “extremely rosy.”
  • Larry Summers, a top economic adviser to Obama, questioned the “standards of integrity” of the Trump economic team’s forecast for 3 percent (or more) growth. “I do not see how any examination of U.S. history could possibly support the Trump forecast as a reasonable expectation,” he wrote in The Washington Post…
  • “This budget relies on absurd economic projections and pretend revenues that no credible economist would validate,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., announced at a House budget hearing.
  • The sharp-penned Paul Krugman of The New York Times declared Trump’s growth forecast an act of “economic arrogance…” 

Admittedly, we shouldn’t read too much into six months of very good economic data (with 3 percent growth) or the booming stock market. These trends can always reverse course quickly…

But so far the Trump haters have missed the call on the economy’s trajectory. Doubly ironic is that the same Obama-era economists who are trashing Trump’s increasingly realistic forecast of 3 percent growth are the ones who predicted 4 percent growth from the Obama budgets. Obama never came anywhere near 4 percent growth, and at the end of his second term, the economy grew at a pitiful 1.6 percent. (So, if “Obamanomics” was coming to fruition, what was that all about – RF.)

Under Obama… (what was delivered was) the weakest recovery from a recession since World War II, with a meager 2.2 percent average growth rate. Middle America felt it, which is why Trump won these forgotten Americans.

One reason that economist Larry Kudlow and I and others assured Donald Trump that 3 to 4 percent growth was achievable was that Trump could capitalize on the underperformance of the Obama years. Under Obama, business investment fell almost two-thirds below the long-term trend line — thanks to higher taxes on investment. Now, partly in anticipation of the tax cut, business spending keeps climbing.

The liberal economists predicted that Trumponomics would crash the economy and the stock market. I predict that the tax cut will supercharge the economy and it will be abundantly evident by the time November 2108 rolls around and the polls open (see footnote).

Roy Filly

Footnote: I penned this missive before the Senate Republicans posted their tax “reform” bill. If they win the argument to hold off on the corporate tax cut until 2019, then my prediction that the economy will supercharge in 2018 is off the table. If I have any chance of being correct in my prediction the Senate Republicans will need to undergo a delicate operation to remove their heads from their *sses!

 

 

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The high-tax liberal state fairness doctrine.

If you are like me, you are probably following the “tax debate” between the Republicans and the Democrats quite closely. One of the more hotly debated items is the loss of deductibility of state income taxes from one’s federal return. I have to admit, as a resident of California, that my state income taxes were MY LARGEST DEDUCTION on my federal return.

In that self-interest is the one thing every human can count on every other human having and applying in all situations, it would be in my self-interest to see a “compromise” that favored ME (i.e., retention of the deduction)! As I said, the argument is interesting to follow (and I freely admit that there are cogent pro and con arguments to every statement below):

  1. Those in low tax states claim that they subsidize high tax states by paying more per capita in federal taxes on a dollar per dollar basis.
  2. Those in high tax states counter with the claim that fewer federal dollars flow back to them than low tax states.
  3. Republicans point out that an individual earning exactly the same amount and having, otherwise, the same deductions in a low tax state pays more in federal taxes than an individual in a high tax state.

The Democrats rail against the “unfairness” of it all. So let me ask the Democrat Party, if it is appropriate that state income taxes should be allowed as a deduction on federal tax forms, should federal taxes be allowed as a deduction on state tax forms – especially in high tax states? It would seem “fair” to me.

Mirabili dictu! Guess what, that turns out not to be the case.

[Source: States that allow you to deduct federal income taxes, by Tony Moreno]

Most states allow one to deduct taxes paid to other states. It stands to reason that you should be able to deduct your federal taxes on your state tax return as well. But out of 41 states with income taxes, only six states allow taxpayers to deduct their federal income taxes (footnote) and not a single one is A HIGH TAX STATE. Further, among those six states that do allow a deduction for federal taxes paid, three of those states cap the amount that may be deducted, leaving only three that allow a full deduction of federal tax payments (and, by the by, Iowa is the place to be).

And as you listen to the Democrat rhetoric on this subject it is important that you realize that NOT A SINGLE HIGH TAX BLUE STATE allows this.

Roy Filly

Alabama allows a deduction for your total federal tax liability from your federal return minus any federal tax credits you claimed.

Iowa allows for a deduction of all federal taxes actually paid during the year.  The deduction is equal to federal taxes withheld from your paycheck during the year, plus any estimated payments made during the year, plus any federal taxes paid with your tax return during the year.  Note that this means you would be deducting taxes paid with your prior year federal return since that return would have been filed during the current calendar year.

Louisiana allows for a federal tax deduction equal to your total federal income tax liability on your return after subtracting any non-refundable tax credits.

Missouri allows a deduction for your federal income tax liability from your federal tax return.  Any Alternative Minimum Tax must be subtracted as well as any the amount refundable credits you received.  The amount of the deduction is limited to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for married filing jointly.

Montana allows for a deduction of all federal taxes actually paid in cash during the year. The deduction is equal to federal taxes withheld from your paycheck during the year, plus any estimated payments made during the year, plus any federal taxes paid with your prior year’s tax return during the year.  The amount of the deduction is limited to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for married filing jointly.

Oregon allows a deduction for your total federal tax liability from your federal return after adjusting for certain federal tax credits.  The amount of the deduction is limited to $5,850.

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