This week, Bloomberg Politics reported that investor and businessman, Sheldon Adelson, was taking advantage of a loophole in the current tax law to pass assets on to his heirs. Passing new tax laws in 1990–both the House and Senate were Democratic controlled at that time–is what created the loophole initially. It takes advantage of a special trust called a “GRAT” (grantor retained annuity trust), which allows placing assets into an irrevocable trust, where the person creating the trust pays a tax. The trust pays an annuity every year, and upon expiration, the beneficiaries receive the remaining assets in the trust, tax-free.
Adelson and other businessmen have successfully used this mechanism to pass their assets to others and to avoid paying penalizing government fees and estate taxes to the tune of $100 billion over the past 13 years. Adelson himself has been able to pass $7.9 billion of his money to his heirs. Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fortune) and Lloyd Blankfein (of Goldman Sachs Group) have also taken advantage of the loophole.
Proponents of big government seem suddenly to realize the additional billions that they could spend if the loophole were closed, and they bemoan the fact that it’s still available. Adding to that, the fact that there is simply such large amounts of money mentioned, and other’s greed and envy kick in as well. Ironically, the concerns that people utter, reflect the same thinking as Adelson et al., namely that, “I don’t have enough” and “I need a way to save what I have now for myself and my children”.
Quickly after that, any parallel thinking ends, and arbitrariness kicks in. All too suddenly, a self-concerned commenter engages in the conditioned response of this administration– “Surely those terribly rich men have enough money already? Why shouldn’t I be able to help spend some of that? Those businessmen must have made that money illegally or exploitatively…”
So, let us review: Congress screws up when they rewrite the tax code, Congress continues to refuse to fix the loophole, people are able to save their own money, and give it to their children. And the unavailable money that the government cannot collect is largely the businessman‘s fault? I am not sure what mental gymnastic enables one to bend logic that far, but it is quite a stretch.
I expect it will be some time before Congress does anything to close this loophole, since the right’s opposition to taxes is well-known, and the left has far too many big donors taking advantage of the loophole to close it. One thing is certain–whenever a government attempts to increasingly micromanage and legislate things, they will always underestimate the ability and ingenuity of the people to find ways to wriggle out of the most awful laws. The people may be dumb enough to vote for the Congressman, but they are smart enough not to follow his laws.
Another day, another fiscal-cliff deal gone down the drain. John Boehner, already taking heat from the right for his softening stance on raising taxes, has come out with another offer to the president and the left. Called “Plan B”, the plan formerly had the support of Nancy Pelosi. Plan B would set the lower limit for raising taxes at the $1 million level. Plan B is very similar to the same bill that had Senate Democrats’ support in 2010.
For her part, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell, Pelosi now says she only supported the plan to “smoke out the Republicans”, and see at what level they would consider raising taxes. Pelosi was negotiating purely in bad faith, it seems. She did not have anything serious to bring to the discussion, and she was merely wasting time. That, or she is negotiating from the standpoint of “getting an inch, and taking a foot”. Whatever her motive was, it is plain to see how destructive and pointless it was.
Mitch McConnell says he would support the Plan B design, but he would do so with reservations. McConnell would rather have a bill that did not raise taxes on anybody. With Boehner’s support of this newest plan, numerous other House members raised objections to the new tax considerations, but they seem to recognize that without any plan, taxes would greatly rise. The gambit now is to “shield” as many people from the massive tax increases as possible. Sean Duffy, Jim Jordan, and Raul Labrador all seemed lukewarm at best to the prospect of voting for any tax increases, with Labrador refusing to even share his criticisms.
Called out for his part (or non-part) in the fiscal-cliff talks was Harry Reid. One Republican adviser said Reid has been on the sidelines for the cliff negotiations. Reid has also claimed that, despite numerous revisions to their positions, and despite the most recent offer, Republicans “…have threatened to abandon serious negotiations”. Perhaps more proof that he is merely running interference for the White House, Reid also claimed that President Obama has not heard from Boehner since Boehner’s new offer on Monday.
President Obama has balked at every offer the Republicans have proposed so far. Threatening a veto of everything has him in the position of a win-win situation. On one hand, if nothing happens, and taxes explode, he can continue to spend, thanks to the new revenues. On the other hand, if the Republicans cave in, he can both claim he negotiated the excellent deal, and privately, he can tell his sycophants he made Boehner and the Republicans submit. White House officials are also now claiming that the President will refuse to negotiate with Republicans out of principle. That of course, will allow President Obama (and Reid) to claim they attempted to negotiate, but were simply prevented from passing any legislation by the blocking Republicans (yet again).
To the left, the worst thing to come of failed fiscal-cliff talks is that President Obama has to postpone leaving for his Christmas vacation. They face: finally getting huge tax increases, yet again, furthering the narrative of a blocking, do-nothing, Republican party, and they get huge military cuts. Merry Christmas, America.
So, our dear leader warns us that once again, those crazy Republicans want to drive this country into the ground – by stealing money from everyone of us, who are struggling to break even, and then generously give it to people that hardly need it (their filthy rich buddies – the 1%). He neglects to mention that the fact so many of us are struggling to break even may have something to do with his still-failing economic policies – but that is ok, since, as he has promised us for three years now, happy days are just ahead (thanks to him). The GOP just wants to cut and cut, like a mad lumberjack in a forest, not caring what they strike, so long as the ax connects, the president would have us believe. Obama even went so far as to claim Republicans’ mentality as being “…driven by our ideological vision about how government should be” and he went even further, claiming the Republicans were sticking with the same types of economic decisions that drove the country into the Great Depression.
The Senate, having not given the country a budget in the past three years, has not deterred Republicans from trying their hands at writing one in the House, but Paul Ryan’s most recent effort was met with the usual scatterbrained excuses and rhetoric. Obama tells us children will starve and Medicare patients will be without their medicines (never mind his own cutting of $528 billion from the Medicare roles, via Obamacare), and finally, that he is not the extreme progressive that he is painted. Indeed, he even went so far as to invoke the names of two outstanding Republicans to compare himself to – Abraham Lincoln (yes, again) and Ronald Reagan. By talking of the Reagan-era, Obama attempted to point out how far right the GOP has moved, and claims Reagan could not win a primary now. For their parts, Republican leaders took the most natural response: they snickered and asked what Obama’s policies would do to help the country. After stumbling, and realizing how much his words were parsed these days, he sauntered off.
I find it odd, that the man who thought it would be brilliant to sign into law, legislation that no one had read, and who continues to defend his administration’s $535 million boondoggle loan to a solar company that “needed” talking robots, would be criticizing anybody’s plans. The president who has created more debt and higher deficits than any other president in history – wants to criticize others’ efforts to try to fix the mess? On the administration’s face, it has been do-little as a matter of course. When it has actually done anything, it seems to be with negative outcomes, or so completely, horribly wrong, one has to wonder if anyone is awake at the wheel. In Iran, with the promising “Green Revolution”, he did nothing as people were beaten in the streets – now he wants to punish some of the same people with crippling sanctions. The president wanted to help Libyan rebels – but violated the War Powers Act to do so. He wanted to help and support the Egyptian uprising – but he stalled for so long, now it appears the Muslim Brotherhood is licking its lips at a presidential election run. In Syria now, where civilians are being fired on, and bombed by the military? The president decides it is better to let the region solve that problem on its own. Our ally in the region, Israel recently had intelligence on their own allies leaked as well. Former Ambassador John Bolton points his finger at the administration…
Obama’s record is so anemic and is full of massive failures. He cannot kowtow to his base of environmentalists, without having the rest of America howling about oil prices. He cannot stretch the military much further than he already has. And he cannot do anything but tear down others, to even make it seem as though he has accomplished anything (I call that “maximizing by minimizing”). At this point, I would rather have a coin in the Oval Office – after all, you can count on it to make a right decision 1/2 of the time.
…then become a progressive Democrat. It is such a simple solution to the trying problems of our times. Imagine being able to revert to a near-childhood state of mind, and a juvenile sense of responsibility! Oh, if only we could – but, those mean old Republicans, with their responsibility, and reality…Darn those buzzkills!
Having a shrinking ability to determine reality from fantasy, the progressive movement has made the most of its past few years in positions of power in the United States government. From the time Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ran rough-shod over the country in the U.S. Congress, along with Barack Obama’s continuing “leadership”, to the on-going fantastical, fanatical stories reported in the mainstream media, there has not been a story that they have not tried to spin wildly to their own benefits. Even when the progressive politicians have sought to relay a legitimate story, or seemingly valid concern, they seem to be guilty of sins of omission or finger pointing. I am honestly beginning to wonder if progressives either cannot deal with the truth, or if we have reached a point where they are now simply refusing to deal with the truth.
In just the last few years, we have seen a “surprise” healthcare bill. Liberals passed it through various tricks and legislative maneuvers. Giddy with the outcome, Nancy Pelosi, admitted she herself did not know exactly what the bill contained, and that we would find out soon enough. In short order, Americans everywhere tore through the legislation, and found the many problems and sketchy funding mechanisms employed within. The best things that have come from the entire mess are; the humongous amount of political capital wasted by Congressional Democrats and Obama, and how many seats that they lost in the 2010 election, and last, but certainly not least – the creation of a reinvigorated American political force – the Tea Party.
In just the last few months, we have seen a woman, paraded in front of cameras for a hearing in Washington, to gin up support for women’s healthcare. After faulting her Catholic University (Georgetown) for not covering her prophylactics, the mainstream media changed to try to claim she wanted other woman’s reproductive issues and medications covered (despite her repeated testimony referring to “birth control”). More details came out, and it was revealed that she was not the poor, struggling college student that she was billed as by the media, but was in fact, a 30 year old law student, with a long history of activism. Progressives looking for some sympathy, were forced to change their narratives.
In just the last few weeks, we have seen a young man, now in hiding, due to threats on his life, and another associated young man having lost his life. People like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were quick to arrive on the scene, and point toward what they were positive were the problems with the case – racist, shoddy police work, and a sociopathic, racist killer. The first stories from the media were that the white man (George Zimmerman) killed the other young man (Trayvon Martin) simply because he was black. They would have us believe it was a simply cut-and-dried case of racism rearing its ugly head. Except, again, the media got it horribly wrong. The white man was actually a Hispanic, and he may have been defending himself – not seeking a certain target to murder, based solely on their race. To try and keep the manufactured narrative alive a little longer, we have seen in the past few days, the explanation that Trayvon may have lost his life because he wore a hoodie, and a Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson explained Trayvon was “executed for WWB in a GC”. Slowly but surely, progressives seeking to cash in on the tragedy are being forced again, to change their narratives.
We have seen GOP legislators chased out of their offices by both their own party, as well as by an opposition, who smelled blood in the water, and thought they could make some political points from the mess – capturing a “soft” seat, or illustrating how terrible the other party is. Not having to follow a pesky code of conduct or code of honor, or not holding many ethical considerations, and barely meeting any legal requirements, must be a very freeing life for progressives. Having media that seeks to exonerate you, rather than hold you responsible for anything you have done, must be nice too.
This week, the news brought us the usual reports of violence, danger, and other assorted evils beyond our southern border. To hear the number of times news anchors frighten American listeners with the tales of Mexican citizens and government officials’ beheadings and murders, you could be forgiven for wondering if the anchors are mixing up stories of the Middle East violence with that of Mexican drug cartels. Violence may never have been as elevated as it is in northern Mexico at this moment, partially thanks due to lackadaisical administration starting with Janet Napolitano and stretching to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. From officials like these, we are told the border with Mexico has never been safer — the same border through which thousands of guns were: purchased in the United States, given to Mexican drug traffickers, transported haphazardly, and promptly lost in Mexico. Of course, the repercussions of that entire fiasco are still being felt – thousands of Mexican citizens are being threatened and killed, and travel advisories are issued for Americans to steer clear of entire Mexican towns. They simply aren’t safe, we are told. Unless, you are a 13 year old member of the Obama family, with dozens of Secret Service agents on a spring break jaunt. Then, you might be ok. Showing what can only be described as a “Rosie O’Donnell-esque” double standard when it comes to firearms (they’re fine if they are protecting someone near and dear to them, but you dumb Americans really are not to be trusted with such things…)
Now, I have no issue with the First Daughter having a vacation, and even taking friends along (and I certainly do not wish them to travel without adequate safety precautions) – what I do take issue with, is a president who tells the American people, with a straight face, that we need to engage in “shared sacrifice”, and get this country back to work. A president who, after ordering that, sends his family on an international trip for fun.
So this is not just a Democratic understanding; this is an understanding that I think the American people hold that we should not be asking sacrifices from middle-class folks who are working hard every day, from the most vulnerable in our society — we should not be asking them to make sacrifices if we’re not asking the most fortunate in our society to make some sacrifices as well.
Is there a dearth of culture here domestically, Mr. President? Is spending dollars here at home (and stimulating the American economy) not needed any longer? There are plenty of Americans still feeling the sting of your inability to reinvigorate the economy, and Harry Reid’s continuous Senatorial budget failings. You could have actually followed your own advice, and even earned some kudos from some Americans, but instead, you have apparently decided, like so many other Americans, that your onerous advice and rules should not apply to you and your family. The average American cannot afford to send their junior high school family member on international spring break trip, and they surely could not pay for the required security detail necessary (I doubt you could either – am I wrong to assume it is taxpayer-funded?)
Recently, the United States was once again turned into a rhetorical battleground for all things reproductive (and, it seems contraceptive). Allegations flew, heated rhetoric issued, slurs uttered, and rumors became rallying points for one side or another. The Democrats in Congress, seeking to make some points with another one of their astroturf-victims, chose Sandra Fluke to stand in for as a witness before Congress. She was billed to the American public as a poor college student, a victim of the rising prices of education in this country, who was having trouble paying for all the necessities for college.
The truth is that Ms. Sandra Fluke was not the young college co-ed we expected (she was actually 30) nor was she an undergrad at just any random university (she was in the Catholic, Georgetown’s prestigious law program). While these sins of omission normally may not have been in and of themselves particularly damning, she bemoaned the fact that she could not pay for both the $60k tuition, and another $3k for contraceptives, and that the government should pay for her contraceptives.
This seeming inability to balance time and money, really caused this writer to pause – something did not smell right here. This woman has had time for the rigors of Georgetown’s law school, a full-time summer job, (we later learned she is an activist as well) and yet still manages to amass $3k in contraceptive bills? How does a person have so much time on their hands? Did Ms. Fluke really not know that a Catholic University would balk at covering contraceptives? I find this very hard to believe.
I have seen on Twitter and elsewhere in the media, any number of people, trying to conduct a sort of “damage control,” claiming that either Fluke did not claim that $3k was for contraceptives (which Fluke certainly did), or by attacking others’ essays on her disingenuous testimony. Time and time again during her testimony, Fluke called the measures she wanted covered, “contraceptives.” What effect this had, was only to further blur the lines of already sketchy legislation (Obamacare and other health coverage) and their rationale for requiring blanket coverage of afflictions. I have no problem covering legitimate, necessary, medical conditions – but we must draw a line when the issue is a personal choice, or in this case, a seeming lack of self-control. Fluke, by trying to attach the coverage of her contraceptives to other, legitimate medically necessary treatments, does a disservice to women who suffer from, and actually need, those treatments/medications.
My problems with her testimony: Fluke also used charged language, like calling the insurance companies’ reviews of student need for the thousands of dollars of contraceptives, “interrogation.” While that plays perfectly into a victimized narrative the left loves to write, I doubt there was an insurance agent taking students to a grubby room, with a single light bulb. Another thing she did was use the plight of a hospitalized, close friend, with complications of polycystic ovarian syndrome. The problem I have with that is if Fluke were honest from the beginning, and not chosen to make a political football from the issues on the stage she was given, far more sympathy could be given to her. Instead, she undermined her credibility from the onset, and may have caused long-term damage to female healthcare (ironically, the supposed thing she and her Democrat advocates espouse). Attacking the Catholic Church is no way to reach a tenable resolution either, and depending on the government to step in and overrule Church dogma sets a very dangerous precedent.
It would have been far more powerful to have the actual victims of the policies at the hearing, but instead, we had a single person relaying all these concerns. Do these sympathetic friends even exist? Maybe – with shaky credibility, I cannot say. But to rely on a woman whose mission is to further her own, and others’ political goals, instead of actually helping raise awareness of overlooked women is disgusting and reprehensible.
The man came from the east, and rode aboard a midnight black steed, with angry fire in its eyes. The steed seemed reluctant to allow anyone but its rider to even get close to it. The mount whinnied uneasily, and lived for moments it could swoop in and, with its rider cause confusion and destruction. Once its rider saddled up, they were unstoppable. Always riding all-out, and never looking back, they rode without care nor conscience.
One of the most infamous raids, that so many remember, came one day in the 90s, in the middle of the country. Mitt-ila with his steed, Bain, came to the steel mill, licking his lips, and casing everything that he would soon own and be able to plunder and turn asunder. Sparks flew from the horse’s hooves as they rode onto the grounds. The horse and its master began the blood-letting – the guild members, their pay, the equipment – they began laying waste to everything in sight…Soon, their nefarious plans were complete, and the tiny factory was no more.
What is this? This is the Newt-would-approve-if-he-read-it-version of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. This is the, politically-expedient version of what happened in Kansas City. Mitt of course, the ardent anti-capitalist and destroyer of all that he touched, only wanted the companies Bain invested in for their liquidity values, right? I mean, why would anyone invest in a company that they may be able to resurrect, and restore to profitability (and make far more money, than just relying on the liquidity value)? Once a company is seen to have its best days behind it, the person who attributes this “un-profitable operating” designation could never have any ways of turning it around – its only value is in plundering anything and everything that still has any value. Right? So it is raid and plunder away.
Except – that is not always the way that business happens. I would venture to guess it is seldom that a capital company step in and buys a company solely for its liquid assets, before it has declared bankruptcy, when the investing company can buy it for a song. That seems like paying extra for the “privilege” of going through bankruptcy proceedings and haggling with creditors. With the intention of retrofitting and upgrading the facilities at Kansas City located “GST Steel”, Bain made investments and attempted to turn the troubled steelmaker around. After investments of $100 million were sunk into the plant, due to myriad mismanagement issues, tons of cheap Chinese-made steel (made and sold at a loss, to gain market share), and the debt-load created to save the plant, it still had to be closed. 750 people lost their jobs as a result.
It should be mentioned, but seldom seems to be, that the Chinese steel is probably more to blame for GST’s failure than any other factors, including: Bain Capital’s “raiding”, more competitive American steel foundries, and obsolescing equipment. Add to that, some of the most misguided management that I have ever read about (like hiring managers for this steel plant, that had previously worked in retail for Wal-Mart), and it appears that the factory was always doomed. Some 40+ other American steel companies went under in the same time GST was slowly rusting away.
My main issues with the attack of Romney (and attacks of him, under the guise of attacks of Bain) are the fact that supposed conservative and right-wing candidates are making the majority of them. The fact that some are using Romney’s time at Bain as a way to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and his criminal Ponzi scheme (that was James Clyburn), is also disheartening. As a matter of fact, Mitt wasn’t even with Bain at the time GST finally gasped and was shuttered. Now it’s like all hands on deck for a thrashing of the mechanism that built this country, and gave so many people the lives we enjoy.
The way that I see it, if a person is going to attack a function of capitalism, and stand behind their point, whether it is legitimate or not, it would also mean that the same arbitrary condemnation could apply to any function of capitalism. You don’t like paying some of your bills – then don’t, because you think it’s “unfair.” You don’t like having to pay a manufacturers’ makeup? Well, don’t pay it then – you’ve deemed it “unfair” too. When we slip into a mindset of the left, where, this is fair, that is unfair, this group over here has more than you (and you really deserve it more than they do), and that some big, bad, government boogie-man is piling on with those filthy rich fat cats, it is easy to find yourself getting angry. The trick is to channel that anger and frustration – almost like using that destructive feeling for something…Creative.