By: James Delingpole, courtesy, UK Daily Mail
Imagine a world where CO2 was our friend, fossil fuels were a miracle we should cherish, and economic growth made the planet cleaner, healthier, happier and with more open spaces.
Actually, there’s no need to imagine: it already exists. So why do so many people still believe otherwise?
How come, against so much evidence, everyone from the BBC to your kids’ teachers to the Coalition government (though that may change somewhat now Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has resigned), to the President of the Royal Society to the Prince of Wales continues to pump out the message that man-made ‘climate change’ is a major threat?
Why, when the records show that there has been no global warming since 1997, are we still squandering billions of pounds trying to avert it?
These are some of the questions I set out to answer in my new book — which I can guarantee will not make me popular with environmentalists.
Almost every day, on Twitter or by email, I get violent messages of hate directed not just at me, but even my children. Separately, I’ve been criticised by websites such as the Campaign Against Climate Change (Honorary President: the environmental activist and writer George Monbiot). I’ve had a green activist set up a false website in my name to misdirect my internet traffic. I’ve been vilified everywhere from the Guardian to a BBC Horizon documentary as a wicked ‘denier’ who knows nothing about science.
Not that I’m complaining. Margaret Thatcher once famously said: ‘I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.’
That’s just how I feel about my critics’ ad hominem assaults. They’re born not of strength but out of sheer desperation.
The turning point towards some semblance of sanity in the great climate war came in November 2009 with the leak of the notorious Climategate emails from the University of East Anglia.
What these showed is that the so-called ‘consensus’ science behind Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) — ie the theory that man-made CO2 is causing our planet to heat up in a dangerous, unprecedented fashion — simply cannot be trusted.
The experts had, for years, been twisting the evidence, abusing the scientific process, breaching Freedom of Information requests (by illegally hiding or deleting emails and taxpayer-funded research) and silencing dissent in a way which removes all credibility from the scaremongering reports they write for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
(The IPCC is the heavily politicised but supposedly neutral UN advisory body which has been described by President Obama as the ‘gold standard’ of international climate science.)
Since Climategate, the scientific case against AGW theory has hardened still further. Experiments at the CERN laboratory in Geneva have supported the theory of Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark that the sun — not man-made CO2 — is the biggest driver of climate change.
The latest data released by the Met Office, based on readings from 30,000 measuring stations, confirms there has been no global warming for 15 years.
Now, with sunspot activity (solar flares caused by magnetic activity) at its lowest since the days of the 17th-century frost fairs on the Thames, it seems increasingly likely we are about to enter a new mini Ice Age. Should we be bothered by this? Of course we should. Not only does it mean that for the rest of our lives we’re likely to be doomed to experience colder winters and duller summers, but it also makes us victims of perhaps the most expensive fraud in history.
Over the past 20 years, across the Western world, billions of pounds, dollars and euros have been squandered by governments on hare-brained schemes to ‘combat climate change’.
Taxes have been raised, regulations increased, flights made more expensive, incandescent light bulbs banned, landscapes despoiled by ugly, bird-chomping wind farms, economic growth curtailed — all to deal with what now turns out to have been a non-existent problem: man-made CO2.
But if anthropogenic warming is not the threat environmentalists would have us believe, why do so many people believe it is? And how come so many disparate groups — from the hair-shirt anti-capitalist activists of Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth to the executives of big corporations, to politicians of every hue from Gordon Brown to David Cameron to scientists at NASA and the UEA — are working together to promote this pernicious myth?
Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the UEA which was at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ scandal, for example, was given £13.7 million in grants for his department’s research work; the environmental non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace came on board because scaremongering helps them raise revenue.
Politicians were attracted because it was a good way of being seen to be addressing an issue of popular concern, and a handy excuse to put up taxes.
Big corporations joined in the scam as a) it enabled them to ‘greenwash’ their image through campaigns like BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’ and b) it meant all that extra environmental regulation would be a handy way of pricing their smaller competitors out of the market place.
But money isn’t the only reason. If you read the private emails of the Climategate scientists, what you discover is that most of them genuinely believe in the climate change peril.
That’s why they lied about the evidence and why they tried to destroy the careers of those scientists who disagreed with them: because they wanted to scare politicians into action before time ran out. This was not science, in other words, but political activism.
A similar ‘end justifies the means’ mentality seems to prevail among all those environmental lobby groups. They don’t exaggerate or misrepresent because they’re bad people. They do it, as a former head of Greenpeace once charmingly put it when accused of having overstated the decline in Arctic sea ice, to ‘emotionalise the issue’; because they want to make the rest of the world care about these issues as much as they do.
Powerful feelings, though, are hardly the most sensible basis for global policy. Especially not when, as it turns out, they are based on a misreading of the facts.
One of the grimmest ironies of the modern environmental movement is just how much damage it has done to the planet in the name of ‘saving’ it. Green biofuels (crops such as palm oil grown for fuel) have not only led to the destruction of millions of acres of rainforest in Asia, Africa and South America, but are now known to produce four times more CO2 pollution than fossil fuels.
Wind farms, besides blighting views, destroying topsoil and causing massive noise pollution, kill around 400,000 birds a year in the U.S. alone. Environmentalists, in fact, have a disastrous track record when it comes to predictions and policy recommendations. Rachel Carson’s 1962 bestseller Silent Spring — which promised a cancer epidemic from pesticides — led to a near worldwide ban on the malarial pesticide DDT, thus condemning millions in the Third World to die from malaria.
Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, meanwhile, rehearsed another of the green movement’s favourite themes: overpopulation. By the Seventies and Eighties, he warned, hundreds of millions of us would be dying like flies because there wouldn’t be enough food.
Why did Ehrlich’s prediction never come to pass? Because, like most of the greenies’ doomsday scenarios, it overlooked one vital factor: progress.
Because the green movement has for years been ideologically wedded to the notion that mankind is an ecological curse (‘The Earth has a cancer. The cancer is man’, as a global think tank called The Club of Rome, which includes several current and former heads of state, puts it), it fails to understand the role which technology, human ingenuity and adaption play in our species’ survival.
Ehrlich’s population disaster was averted thanks to a brilliant American scientist called Norman Borlaug who devised new mutant strains of wheat which managed to triple cereal production on the starving Indian subcontinent.
Of course, there is still widespread concern over the use of genetically modified crops, but scientists argue that with proper safeguards in place they can actually be more environmentally friendly than conventional crops, using less water and fewer pesticides.
Similar technological advances in the field of energy make a nonsense of environmentalists’ claims that we are running out of fuel: long before coal ran out came the petroleum revolution; and, though we still have plenty of oil left, we now have the miracle of shale gas which lies in abundance everywhere from Blackpool to the North Sea, and is released using blasts of high-pressure liquid to open pockets of gas in rock.
Economic progress is not our enemy but our friend. It is an historical fact that the richer nations are, the more money they have to spare on ensuring a cleaner environment: compare the relatively clean air in London to the choking smog that envelops Beijing and Delhi; look at where the worst ecological disasters happened in the last century — under impoverished Communist regimes, from the Aral Sea to Chernobyl.
But the greens refuse to accept this because, according to their quasi-religious doctrine, industrial civilisation is a curse and economic growth a disease which can only be cured by rationing and self-sacrifice, higher taxes and greater state control.
That’s why I call my new book Watermelons — because it’s about zealots who are green on the outside, but in political terms, red on the inside. If only their views weren’t so influential, in schools, universities, in the media, in the corridors of power, the global economy wouldn’t be nearly in the mess it’s in today.
As someone who loves long walks in unspoilt countryside and who wants a brighter future for his children, I’m sickened by the way environmental activists tar anyone who disagrees with them as a selfish, polluting, anti-science ‘denier’.
The real deniers are those ideological greens who refuse to look at hard evidence (not just pie-in-the-sky computer models which are no more accurate than the suspect data fed into them) and won’t accept that their well-intentioned schemes to make our world a better place are in fact making it uglier, poorer and less free.
Part Two of the Four Part Series.
From Glenn Beck: Ginsburg – Don’t look to U.S. for a Constitution
Is it too much for a United States Supreme Court Justice to have a little reverence for the Constitution of the United States? Apparently that’s the case for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who on a visit to the Middle East was asked if Egypt should model the United States Constitution when setting up theirs. Her response was a disturbing ‘no’ — who did she think Egypt should model and what does the Justice think about our Constitution? Prepare to be offended.
The Blaze reports:
The Supreme Court‘s midwinter break is often used by justices to fly off to sunny vacation spots or European capitals where they address an audience or two on someone else’s tab. But this year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on a different sort of visit to two North African countries where popular uprisings helped topple longtime leaders. And in one of those countries — Egypt — she raised eyebrows after saying, during a television interview, that she “would not look to the United States Constitution” as a blueprint for crafting the nation’s new constitution.
The New, New Math
I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried…
Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1960s:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?
2. Teaching Math In 1970s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1980s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit ? Yes or No
4. Teaching Math In 1990s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 2000s
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it’s ok).
6. Teaching Math In 2012
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?
ANSWER: His profit was $375,000 because his logging business is just a front for his meth lab.
This is a 4 part series on what is likely in America unless enough of us wake up.
As Rudy Gulliani says, the further we get from 9-11, 2001, the safer we think we are. This is a false sense of security. These Islamic radicals are a very patient bunch. Whereas we Americans may think in terms of weeks or months, they will plan things for years. This isn’t an episode of Hawaii Five-O, where they solve the murder and catch the bad guy in an hours time.
I would like to first apologize for the length of this article, but I thought it too important to cut down. Anyway, here we go.
I’d say, evidently so, but you may judge for yourself.
I was going to disect this article myself, when I heard Mark Levin had already done it.
Due to the length of Levin’s rebuttal, I will, at times, paraphrase.
Three cheers for RomneyCare
by Ann Coulter
If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, Romneycare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles — as it was at the time.
Levin: No it wasn’t a triumph for the free-market. Ted Kennedy was one of the main collaborators. He didn’t view it as conservative free-market principles.
It’s not as if we had a beautifully functioning free market in health care until Gov. Mitt Romney came along and wrecked it by requiring that Massachusetts residents purchase their own health insurance.
Levin: I don’t think we have a perfectly functioning free-market in anything we do. The free-market accepts successes & failures & that there are many imperfect people within that system. That’s part of the brilliance of the free-market. That imperfection is not a justification to detroy it.
In 2007, when Romneycare became law, the federal government alone was already picking up the tab for 45.4 percent of all health care expenditures in the country.
Levin: So…what does that have to do with anything. Did all the other states say, “Hey, that’s a great idea, individual mandates. Let’s all copy Romneycare.” Have any of them copied Romneycare? No.
Until Obamacare, mandatory private health insurance was considered the free-market alternative to the Democrats’ piecemeal socialization of the entire medical industry.
In November 2004, for example, libertarian Ronald Bailey praised mandated private health insurance in Reason magazine, saying that it “could preserve and extend the advantages of a free market with a minimal amount of coercion.”
Levin: Apparently Ronald was wrong, Ann.
A leading conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, helped design Romneycare, and its health care analyst, Bob Moffit, flew to Boston for the bill signing.
Levin: What Ann leaves out of her column is that Heritage has since renounced the individual mandate.
Romneycare was also supported by Regina Herzlinger, Harvard Business School professor and health policy analyst for the conservative Manhattan Institute. Herzlinger praised Romneycare for making consumers, not business or government, the primary purchasers of health care.
Levin: Really, Ann. So Herzlinger supported it. But you left somebody out, didn’t you. Jonathan Gruber. Why did you leave Jonathan Gruber out, Ann? Because he’s a leftist? Jonathan Gruber had the biggest role in designing Romneycare of anybody and he was also one of the main architects of Obamacare. He has said publically that there is little difference between the two. Somehow Mr. Gruber didn’t make it into Ann’s piece. Anyway, why does it matter what any of these people thought. We can all think for ourselves, can’t we? The fact is, the only one who bit, was Mitt Romney. If any other Governor adopted such a thing, they’re awfully quiet about it.
The bill passed by 154-2 in the Massachusetts House and unanimously, 37-0, in the Massachusetts Senate — including the vote of Sen. Scott Brown, who won Teddy Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate in January 2010 by pledging to be the “41st vote against Obamacare.”
Levin: So now we’re going to sight Scott Brown who’s feet are firmly planted in the air. Scott Brown voted for Romneycare and against Obamacare. You know why that is? Because his constituants are turning. The more people are invloved in Romneycare, the less they like it. But again, what does that have to do with anything, particularly if you are a Constitutionalist. The fact that anything like Romneycare empowers any government to interfere with your private medical decisions, who cares how many people vote for it. Politicians imposing their will on the people. The Founders rejected all of that.
But because both Obamacare and Romneycare concern the same general topic area — health care — and can be nicknamed (politician’s name plus “care”), Romney’s health care bill is suddenly perceived as virtually the same thing as the widely detested Obamacare. (How about “Romneycare-gate”?)
Levin: You can mock it, Ann, but the architect of both, which you left out of your column, he said they were the same.
As The New York Times put it, “Mr. Romney’s bellicose opposition to ‘Obamacare’ is an almost comical contradiction to his support for the same idea in Massachusetts when he was governor there.” This is like saying state school-choice plans are “the same idea” as the Department of Education.
Levin: No it’s not like saying that. It is like saying it’s the same mind set, that government knows best. Government can and will pass laws and has no respect for the circle of liberty.
One difference between the health care bills is that Romneycare is constitutional and Obamacare is not. True, Obamacare’s unconstitutional provisions are the least of its horrors, but the Constitution still matters to some Americans. (Oh, to be there when someone at the Times discovers this document called “the Constitution”!)
Levin: So what, who cares. Romney says it’s different. You (Romney) says he believes in the tenth amendment, but you don’t believe in the individual and that’s the proiblem. You believe in Utopianism, these impossible fantasies, State run healthcare.
As Rick Santorum has pointed out, states can enact all sorts of laws — including laws banning contraception — without violating the Constitution.
That document places strict limits on what Congress can do, not what the states can do. Romney, incidentally, has always said his plan would be a bad idea nationally.
Levin: Well, good for him. It’s a bad idea, period.
The only reason the “individual mandate” has become a malediction is because the legal argument against Obamacare is that Congress has no constitutional authority to force citizens to buy a particular product.
The legal briefs opposing Obamacare argue that someone sitting at home, minding his own business, is not engaged in “commerce … among the several states,” and, therefore, Congress has no authority under the to Commerce Clause force people to buy insurance.
Levin: There is absolutely nothing in American history, including the examples Ann has given, that compels two private parties, an individual & a business to enter into a private contract for goods or services the individual may not want nor the business may not want to give, and none of the examples Ann provides, disputes that.
No one is claiming that the Constitution gives each person an unalienable right not to buy insurance.
Levin: No, what we’re saying is that people should free to pursue their own interests and to be unmolested by government a much as possible. I’m not even sure why she’s mixing the Constitution with state issue. Maybe she thinks she’s on to something? She’s on to nothing.
States have been forcing people to do things from the beginning of the republic: drilling for the militia, taking blood tests before marriage, paying for public schools, registering property titles and waiting in line for six hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to drive.
Levin: None of these are examples of entities being forced to enter into private contracts with other entities against their will. That has never been done in the history of this country. Are we to reject our principles to defend this man? I don’t believe in three cheers for socialism.
There’s no obvious constitutional difference between a state forcing militia-age males to equip themselves with guns and a state forcing adults in today’s world to equip themselves with health insurance.
The hyperventilating over government-mandated health insurance confuses a legal argument with a policy objection.
If Obamacare were a one-page bill that did nothing but mandate that every American buy health insurance, it would still be unconstitutional, but it wouldn’t be the godawful train wreck that it is. It wouldn’t even be the godawful train wreck that high-speed rail is.
Levin: Some of us have been arguing to the Supreme Court, that this individual mandate changes the relationship of the individual to the government. That government can order you to enter into private contracts against your will, or fine you, penalize you, sick the IRS on you. There is not a single example in history of that. None! What then, would prevent the government from ordering to buy anything? I don’t know. I’ll have to wait for Ann’s next column.
It would not be a 2,000-page, trillion-dollar federal program micromanaging every aspect of health care in America with enormous, unresponsive federal bureaucracies manned by no-show public-sector union members enforcing a mountain of regulations that will bankrupt the country and destroy medical care, as liberals scratch their heads and wonder why Obamacare is costing 20 times more than they expected and doctors are leaving the profession in droves for more lucrative careers, such as video store clerk.
Nothing good has ever come of a 2,000-page bill.
Levin: Really. She just gave a explaination for what is beginning to happen in Massachussetts, albeit, on a smaller level, because it’s a state.
There’s not much governors can do about the collectivist mess Congress has made of health care in this country. They are mere functionaries in the federal government’s health care Leviathan.
Levin: So every governor is compelled to do what Romney did, right? There’s evidently only one response, Romneycare.
A governor can’t repeal or expand the federal tax break given to companies that pay their employees’ health insurance premiums — a tax break denied the self-employed and self-insured.
A governor can’t order the IRS to start recognizing tax deductions for individual health savings accounts.
A governor can’t repeal the 1946 federal law essentially requiring hospitals to provide free medical services to all comers, thus dumping a free-rider problem on the states.
Levin: While a state does have to deal with these things like free hospital care, there are ways to deal with it. Why can’t they garnish wages, seize assets, do all those things for people who really can afford there hospital & medical care, but simply refuse to pay for it.
It was precisely this free-rider problem that Romneycare was designed to address in the only way a governor can. In addition to mandating that everyone purchase health insurance, Romneycare used the $1.2 billion that the state was already spending on medical care for the uninsured to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance for those who couldn’t afford it.
Levin: So as Governor, he was concerned about those poor. It’s just unfair. Sounds just like a liberal. So in the name of fairness & equity, we will create a whole top down government run system. That’s what every Governor would do, right? Problem is, every Governor didn’t do that. You want to look at a Governor whose making real progress, fighting like hell. Look at Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Where as Teddy Kennedy stood shoulder to shoulder with Mitt, you won’t find anyone like that standing with Scott Walker. Tells you something, doesn’t it.
What went wrong with Romneycare wasn’t a problem in the bill, but a problem in Massachusetts: Democrats.
Levin: That’s precisely the problem. When George Bush opened the door to bailouts, did he think would end with him? Did Mitt really think when he opened the flood gates the water would stop when he left? Just as Bush did, you and he only laid the foundation and set the precedent for future governors and presidents to run with it, as it were.
First, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature set the threshold for receiving a subsidy so that it included people making just below the median income in the United States, a policy known as “redistribution of income.” For more on this policy, see “Marx, Karl.”
Levin: Gee, that was utterly unpredictable!
Then, liberals destroyed the group-rate, “no frills” private insurance plans allowed under Romneycare (i.e. the only kind of health insurance a normal person would want to buy, but which is banned in most states) by adding dozens of state mandates, including requiring insurers to cover chiropractors and in vitro fertilization — a policy known as “pandering to lobbyists.”
Levin: We know they do these things in advance, Ann, don’t we? DON”T WE!
For more on “pandering” and “lobbyists,” see “Gingrich, Newt.” (Yes, that’s an actual person’s name.)
Romney’s critics, such as Rick Santorum, charge that the governor should have known that Democrats would wreck whatever reforms he attempted.
They have, but no more than they would have wrecked health care in Massachusetts without Romneycare. Democrats could use a sunny day as an excuse to destroy the free market, redistribute income and pander to lobbyists. Does that mean Republicans should never try to reform anything and start denouncing sunny days?
Levin: That’s your defense? Liberals & democrats will do what they always do. Is this why we elect republicans? This isn’t reform, it’s big government. This is absurd!
Santorum has boasted of his role in passing welfare reform in the 1990s. You know what the Democrats’ 2009 stimulus bill dismantled? That’s right: the welfare reform that passed in the 1990s.
Levin: Isn’t that interesting. Santorum tried to undo the welfare state. She says because liberals can undo it, why bother. Liberals try to undo a lot, but we must fight the good fight. Romneycare was not the good fight.
Levin: Actually, Ann, the problem is leftists and republicans who play along with them. Shame, shame, shame.
The Government is Playing Hide and Seek With Airfare Taxes
By Daniel Horowitz:
When purchasing a product or service, we all like to see the itemized list of charges – one that separates the cost of the purchase from the share going to Uncle Sam through the form of taxes and fees. Needless to say, government bureaucrats don’t like that. They desire that we remain blissfully ignorant of government’s burden on our everyday lives. This is one reason why they concocted the withholdings scheme for income tax collection. Now, they are expanding their tentacles into commercial taxes so they can obfuscate the magnitude of taxes and fees on airfare purchases.
Without much fanfare, the Department of Transportation (DOT) enacted a rule which requires airlines to ensconce all government taxes and fees in a single total advertised price with the fare. For example, if you purchase a $350 plane ticket with $50 of taxes and fees, the DOT is demanding that the airline advertise the price as $400. Airline passengers pay over a dozen taxes and fees on any given airplane ticket, but the government doesn’t want us to know that. The rule was finalized last April, but only took effect last week.
The timing of this rule is very fortuitous. This week, Congress will finalize negotiations for a long-term FAA funding bill. This bill authorizes the collection of all taxes – including taxes on aviation fuel, domestic and international ticket taxes, and cargo –directed to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which provides the bulk of FAA funding. As usual, Democrats want to spend more money on wasteful projects, and are all too hungry to increase aviation taxes. What better way to leverage tax increases than by forcing airlines to hide their cost and to shoulder the blame for the perceived higher price tag at the top!
This is yet another insidious plan to raise taxes and place unconstitutional mandates on private enterprise – all by administrative fiat. It must be stopped in its tracks. Today, conservative Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) is introducing a bill, the Travel Transparency Act, which will void the DOT rule, and demand that passengers have the right to view all the aviation taxes in separate line items for each ticket purchased. Graves asserted that “the federal government should not be inserting itself in the private sector to limit consumers’ ability to see how much they’re getting taxed. If the American people can’t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge.”
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who used to be a Republican, defended the rule as a necessary means to ensure that passengers are treated with “dignity and respect.” The only thing this rule will accomplish is ensuring that passengers retain their “respect” for government, while blaming the airlines for perceived increases in ticket prices.
At present, airline passengers are on the hook for at least 16 different taxes and fees on the average airline ticket. Additionally, they must incur the most harmful backdoor tax; the high cost of jet fuel resulting from decades of anti-energy growth policies. We must ensure that the existing taxes remain transparent so that Congress will have a harder time sneaking through new tax increases. Please ask your member of Congress to cosponsor Tom Graves’s Travel Transparency Act.
Let’s file this one in the , “Could we get any Dumber”, category.
Much ink has been poured over the fact that 51% of tax filers paid no federal income taxes in 2009. There is less attention directed towards the more outrageous statistic; 30% of tax filers had a negative tax liability that year. In other words, they made money off the tax system.
Those who won the jackpot on tax day benefited primarily from refundable tax credits; the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Additional Child Tax Credit
(ACTC, the refundable portion of child tax credit), and the now-expired Making Work Pay Credit. In 2011, refundable credits cost the treasury about $94.4 billion. Keep in mind that this is just one small portion of the burgeoning welfare empire, approaching $1 trillion in total federal, state, and local expenditures. While it would be nice to get rid of these redistributive “tax expenditures” for everyone, we could start with illegal aliens.
Last July, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Collection released a shocking report detailing how illegal aliens are able to utilize a filing loophole to obtain billions in ACTC funds. While EITC appropriations are protected from illegals (those who don’t engage in identity theft) because they are only awarded to those who provide a valid Social Security number, the same cannot be said for the ACTC. Illegals can receive the ACTC by merely providing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on their 1040 form, which is blithely issued by the IRS. In 2010, according to the report, illegals received $4.2 billion in ACTC payouts. That accounts for roughly 15% of all outlays for that refundable credit.
During the December imbroglio over the payroll tax cut, the House inserted a provision to require a valid Social Security number in order to collect the ACTC. Republicans planned to use the savings as part of the offset package. Now that the bill, HR 3630, is pending before the conference committee, we must ensure that the ACTC provision is part of a legitimate proposal to offset the cost of the extenders package.
Originally, the Joint Committee on Taxation scored the savings as $2.6 billion for 1 year and $9.4 billion over 10 years. However, as Joint Committee on Taxation Politico noted earlier this month, that estimate assumes the Bush tax cuts – along with the expansion of the child tax credit – will expire. If you assume a baseline in which the tax cut is extended ($1,000 per child, instead of $500), the ten-year savings can be as much as $24 billion.
Now, obviously $24 billion over 10 years is not enough to offset even the unemployment and doc fix components of the package for just 1 year (a cost of up to $70 billion for the Senate version). Nonetheless, it is a legitimate offset, and should serve as part of a broader package of spending offsets for the bill. If we can’t force the issue on refundable tax credits for illegals, we will never be able to cut one inch from the welfare empire for the broad populace.
I recently received an email titled: “UNBELIEVABLE” Fwd: If you own a home, please read this!
It was regarding a hidden real estate tax buried in Obamacare.
“Is it true?”, I was asked.
This should clear things up. Although it is not a new, stand alone tax, the short answer is YES.
Settling the Question of a Real Estate Tax in Obamacare
By now, Americans have become well acquainted with the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will have a multitude of adverse effects. The new law is certain to add to the federal deficit. It increases taxes on all Americans in a number of different ways, encourages employers to dump coverage, and will cause many to lose their current health plan. However, a circulating claim that the PPACA includes a tax on real estate sales has misinformed the American public.
There is not a new specific tax on all real estate transactions in the PPACA. But that’s not the end of the story. There is a surtax on real estate transactions that are already taxed under current law. Capital gains in excess of $500,000 from the sale of primary residences already face the capital gains tax. The new tax in the PPACA will raise the rate on these gains.
The Tax Foundation clears the air by explaining how the new tax will work:
The bill would impose essentially a capital gains taxes on some home sales made by a limited number of taxpayers. (The health care law contains a new 3.8 percent tax on “unearned income” for high-income taxpayers. Unearned income includes capital gains.) To be hit by the 3.8 percent capital gains tax, you first have to be a married couple making more than $250,000 in adjusted gross income or $200,000 if you are single. The capital gain on the home sale must also exceed $500,000 if this is a primary home and you are a married couple ($250,000 for singles).
Here’s an example of how the tax would work: Say a couple makes $260,000. They purchase a primary residence at $400,000 and sell it for $1,000,000. This would amount to a capital gain from the sale of their home of $600,000. Capital gains tax plus the new Medicare tax would apply to profits over and above the threshold of $500,000. In this case, the couple’s capital gain of $600,000 exceeds the threshold by $100,000. The couple would pay the capital gains tax, which rises to 20 percent in 2011 under President Obama’s tax hike plan, plus the new 3.8 percent tax for a total tax rate of 23.8 percent on that $100,000. Their tax bill in this scenario is $23,800. The PPACA adds $3,800 to the couple’s final tally in this example.
The new Medicare investment tax provides a disincentive for business expansion. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports, “The $250,000/$500,000 thresholds only apply to the sale of a primary residence, so the tax will hit other property sales harder.”
NFIB also points out that this tax “marks the first time that non-wage income is designated to fund Medicare.” Beyond its marginal effects on real estate sales, the new application of the Medicare tax to investment income will have substantial effects on the economy at large. Analysts in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis write, “Raising the tax burden on investment income further damages the economy and ultimately affects all members of society.” Their findings show that this tax will result in lost job opportunities, a reduction in productivity, losses in gross domestic product, and reductions in household income.
So is there a sales tax on real estate included in the health care law? In some cases, yes. But will the same provision that taxes some profits from real estate cause widespread damage to the economy? Absolutely.