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Huelskamp….
Posted: 05 January 2013 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Wynn Butler - 04 January 2013 03:55 PM

Keep in place the safety net, but does that mean continuing the time frame for unemployment insurance forever?

I understand the principle behind social services that are funded via taxes: that only a small percentage of people will ever use it, meaning many will pay in but never “get their money back.” The problem is that people pay in but are then prevented from taking advantage of it when they need it, AND that stereotypes portray people who use social services as lazy and entitled. These both contribute to a cultural belief that social services are unnecessary because they’re bloated with bureaucracy and/or abused. I get more than a whiff of that attitude from your posts, which is why I mentioned it.

The false dichotomy of nothing versus forever isn’t realistic.

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Posted: 05 January 2013 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Larry - yes I pretty much do not want to see any of our tax dollars, eco devo or otherwise go to building a visitor center at present.  My priority sheet has this one close to dead last.

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Posted: 05 January 2013 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Stacia:  Good analysis.  You are correct about the stereotypes.  I think if you pay for Social Security and Medicare then you should get the benefits as prescribed, without the annoying obstacles of the bureaucracy.  I mentioned the unemployment insurance because Congress just extended it again and maybe that does mean forever for some folks.

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Posted: 05 January 2013 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Jerry;

I would not leap to the conclusion that Lincoln was a Marxist.  One of the great draw backs to the American Civil war was stuff like the draft and the income tax, at least the continuation of both.  Lincoln made the tax progressive, but not because it was fair or anything of that nature.  He just had to fund the war.  He needed bodies – the draft and he needed money - the income tax.  He did what he had to do to preserve the union.  In the process he trampled on a number of things that would upset folks today.  One example is suspending Habeas Corpus.  He locked anybody and everybody up without due process.  I think what Lincoln did is in line with what is required to deal with groups like al-Qaeda.  The fact that Lincoln initiated a military draft and produced an income tax does not make either of them any better as ideas than suspension of Habeas Corpus.

I get the idea that a rich man’s dollar is not as great a sacrifice as a poor man’s dollar.  I just do not want us to get carried away with progressive taxation.  The French were toying with the idea of taxing the rich at a 75% level.  The rich all threatened to move and the courts did not support it. Looks like that proposal may be a dead effort.  Even the French understand that at a certain point progressive tax becomes excessive. 

We will never agree on the concept of income taxes.  I can concede the point that income redistribution is upward.  There may not be anything evil about that particular trend.  I do not have a problem with it and agree with Andrew Carnegie – 1889: 

[em]“The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us to-day measures the change which has come with civilization.  This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race …”  NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW. 1889 Andrew Carnegie http://eweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/carnegie.htm

If you like articles on taxes (I know everybody has their own spin on the data and I realize that this article has as much chance of changing your opinion as your wikipedia post had on mine) try this one by Walter Williams:  http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2012/08/29/the_rich_dont_pay_enough/page/full/
Some Key points:

According to IRS 2007 data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent and paid 61 percent of personal income tax. The top 10 percent earned 48 percent and paid 71 percent of all personal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent earned 12 percent of personal but paid just 3 percent of income tax revenues.

President Obama and the Democratic Party harp about tax fairness. Here’s my fairness question to you: What standard of fairness dictates that the top 10 percent of income earners pay 71 percent of the federal income tax burden while 47 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing?

Aside from the fairness issue, 47 percent of taxpayers having no federal income tax liability is dangerous for our nation. These people become natural constituents for big-spending, budget-wrecking, debt-creating politicians. After all, if you have no income tax liability, what do you care about either raising or lowering taxes? That might explain why the so-called Bush tax cuts were not more popular. If you’re not paying income taxes, why should you be happy about an income tax cut? Instead, you might view tax cuts as a threat to various handout programs that nearly 50 percent of Americans enjoy.

Tax demagoguery is useful for politicians who prey on the politics of envy to get re-elected, but is it good for Americans?

Here’s the question for us: Is the U.S. moving toward or away from the troubled EU nations? It turns out that our national debt to GDP ratio in the 1970s was 35 percent; now it’s 106 percent of GDP. If you think we’re immune from the economic chaos in some of the EU countries, you’re whistling Dixie. And when economic chaos comes, whom do you think will be more affected by it: rich people or poor people?

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Posted: 06 January 2013 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Wynn,
I guess these facts from 2011 that contradict the 47% argument don’t count in your world view:
The top 1% made 21.0% of the income and paid 21.6% of total taxes,
the next 4% made 14.3% and paid 15.5%,
the next 5% made 10.1% and paid 11.0%,
the next 10% made 14.2% and paid 15.0%,
the next 20% made 18.7% and paid 19.0%,
the next 20% made 11.4% and paid 11.3%,
the next 20% made 7.0% and paid 5.3%,
and the bottom 20% made 3.4% and paid 2.1%.

That seems imminently fair plus equal in terms of sacrifice.  Of course this includes all forms of taxation which the 47% argument does not.  Additionally, if your going to lump medicare, medicare, and social security with other federal spending (which our Kansas representatives do), then it is only logical to include payroll taxes along with federal income taxes when discussing the issues.  Since payroll, state, local and sales taxes are a bigger burden (being regressive in nature) on the lower income brackets, your 2007 IRS (federal only) figures present an extremely narrow view of the situation in this country.

Your statement about the 47% (”... handout programs that nearly 50% of Americans enjoy…”) fails to mention that half of that 47% pay payroll taxes, etc.  One fifth of them are elderly non-working folks and one seventh of them earn under $20,000 annually.  Sure, let’s make these guys pay their fair share!  Good grief!  I think they already are.  The real danger to this country is in the destruction of the middle class.  Why not worry about that?

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Posted: 06 January 2013 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Jerry:  Your data base is fine.  Everyone can find data to support their point of view.  The numbers are easy to produce as we have both proven.  The trick is what to believe.  You believe one set of data and I believe the other.  We can also draw different conclusion by looking at the data.  You view the data set posted as fair.  I do not.  Your point is a good one on the payroll tax for the FICA items.  Those that pay for those items, should be given the benefits.  Since anyone that works pays FICA, then almost everyone will or can get some social security payments.  I agree the rich pay less on this because of the cut off on contributions.  I agree with you that the contribution limit should be lifted.  Lifting the limit is an unfair practice, because it would make certain high income earners pay in maybe much more than they could ever get back in benefits.  But, because the system is going under we need a real method of raising more money - so in this specific case I would support the unfair practice of taxing the rich a bit more, but only if the funds were fenced into the social security account and could not be raided by our Congress.

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Posted: 06 January 2013 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I don’t “believe” in the data.  The data are fact and belief has nothing to do with it.  If you chose to leave some data out, you can prove anything you want.  That’s called cherry picking.  When you talk about taxes, talk about all of them.  Not just those that fit into your argument.  You keep talking about fairness.  I have attempted to point out to you that the equality of sacrifice is where fairness comes in, and, you ignore that.  You can’t seem to get past the dollar amount.  Do you think a rich man owes more to his society than a poor man?  I bet you don’t whereas I do.  The rich reap far more benefit from this society than the poor.  Progressive income taxes are only an attempt to share the cost of that society equitably.  What is so tough to understand?

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Posted: 06 January 2013 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I understand your philosophy; it is the belief that the rich should be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else.  That is then termed as fair because it is converted into a percentage of income.  It is not about data as much as it is about philosophy of taxation, the perceived definition of fair and how one chooses to interpret data.  You are correct about spin on data.  It appears that about half of taxpayers paid no federal income tax.  That does not mean they paid no tax at all, as they got hit for Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.  Only 14 percent of Americans didn’t pay either income or payroll taxes. Some paid property taxes and I think everyone gets hit with sales taxes.  So if anyone interprets the data to indicate that 47 to 50 percent of the citizens pay no taxes, they would in fact be wrong.  But it is correct to say the about half of the folks pay no federal income tax (About Those 47 Percent Who Pay No Taxes – Howard Gleckman).  If everyone shared a bit more in the pain level of federal taxation, it might just change the composition of Congress. 

We have had a very excellent discussion.  It looks like we have over 900 views, so maybe we provided some entertainment and if nothing else proved that the Mercury forum can be a venue for civil dialogue.  In either case we have many points of disagreement, but we do agree on a few points – like raise the cap on FICA and change the age structure.  We appear to be closer in thought than the two parties that control events in congress and might actually be able to reach some sort of compromise on tax structure.  The issue to me is not about fair or taxing the rich until they scream.  The point gets back to the only reason we have taxes – that is to finance the government and only reasonable government.  We need a system that provides that finance without causing unintended consequences (like the rich guys that were planning on leaving France, or the putting of funds in off shore accounts etc).  We need a system to fund government, fair or not.  That system needs to take into account human motivation and that system should be focused not on social engineering but on very strict limits of funding (a small) government.  The pain level of taxation must be shared by everyone, not just the upper classes.  It has to be a citizens tax, everyone pays and everyone shares in the benefits or lack thereof.   

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers
that it can bribe the public with their own money.”
—Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 - 1859)

A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy …” —Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor 1787

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Posted: 06 January 2013 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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“...it is the belief that the rich should be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else.  That is then termed as fair because it is converted into a percentage of income.  It is not about data as much as it is about philosophy of taxation, the perceived definition of fair and how one chooses to interpret data.”  None of that is my philosophy.  Only a rich person’s income above a certain amount is “taxed at a higher rate”.  On lower levels of income, the poor pay just as much as the rich.  That’s the progressive nature of our tax structure.  You must include the data to make any sense of our system.  Otherwise you’re arguing based on belief.  Like the one that lower taxes on the rich create jobs.  Look at all those jobs created during the Bush years…not.

Doesn’t it make sense that if I make 3% of the income in this society, I should have about 3% of the tax burden, and, if I make 20% of the income in this society, then I should pay about 20% of the total taxes?  Through progressive taxation of income, that is exactly what is happening.  The pain is being shared equally as you say.  When I was a kid, the top income bracket was taxed at around 90%.  Now, the upper income folks think they’re burdened by 39.6%.  Since that gradual collapse of the tax brackets into three lower rates, we have seen a shrinking middle class.  That disturbs me more than losing all our rich folks to some other country.  They already hide a good portion of their wealth outside of the U.S. while reaping all the benefits this country provides.  I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t miss them.

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