Joke du Jour

A young man, who was also an avid golfer, found himself with a few hours to spare one afternoon. He figured that if he hurried and played very fast, he could get in 9 holes before he had to head home. Just as he was about to tee off, an old gentleman shuffled onto the tee and asked if he could accompany the young man as he was golfing alone. Not being able to say no, he allowed the old man to join him.

To his surprise, the old man played fairly quickly. He didn’t hit the ball far, but plodded along consistently and didn’t waste much time. Finally, they reached the 9th fairway and the young man found himself with a tough shot. There was a large pine tree right in front of his ball and directly between his ball and the green. After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot, the old man finally said, “You know, when I was your age, I’d hit the ball right over that tree.”

With that challenge placed before him, the youngster swung hard, hit the ball up, right smack into the top of the tree trunk and it thumped back on the ground not a foot from where it had originally laid.

The old man offered one more comment, “Of course, when I was your age, that pine tree was only 3 feet tall.”

This Lake’s not for Swimming

The scientific community is holding its breath for a team of Russian scientists that has been out of contact with colleagues in the U.S for six days, as they drill through the ice to obtain access to a lake buried beneath the Antarctic ice for 20 million years.

Lake Vostok lies in the middle of the Antarctic continent and is buried more than two miles beneath the ice.

Lake Vostok circled in red

Luckily for them, it’s not winter down there yet, but it is fast approaching. They currently only have to contend with temperatures of minus 66C (-87F).

The expedition has to evacuate their station by Tuesday,  when winter proper kicks in and temperatures start to drop to an less hospitable minus 85C ( -121F). On July 21, 1983, temperatures at Vostok Station hit the lowest level ever recorded on Earth – minus 89.2C (-128.56F) That’s chilly bean, baby!

Geothermal heat under the ice keeps the lake liquid, and its conditions are often described as ‘alien’ because they are thought to be akin to the subterranean lakes on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Valery Lukin, chief of the Russian Antactic Expedition, said last month: “We do not know what is waiting for us down there.”

Last year scientists working the lake were unable to break through but came within ten to 50 meters (33 to 165 feet) of the surface.

Robin E. Bell, a researcher at Columbia University who has visited the region, told reporters that the team is focused on getting their job done while they still can, and it is premature to fear the worst.

Microbiologist Dr. David A. Pearce, a scientist on a competing mission to plumb the depths of another Antarctic lake, had been in contact with the Russians, but is now in the dark as well.

Ms. Bell said: “I wouldn’t read too much into it. When you’re doing something very challenging, the last thing you want to do is chat to people”.

Regarding the working conditions, Dr Pearce said, “If you left your eyes open, the fluid in them would start to freeze. Your nostrils would start to freeze. The moisture in your mouth would start to freeze.”

He added: “It’s not just physically challenging, it’s psychologically challenging. You’re away from your family and friends, and there’s pressure to deliver the science you’ve promised.”

They are hoping water in the lake, the most inhospitable region of the planet, would reveal more about ancient life on our planet. The water inside the lake will have had no contact with man-made pollutants or Earthly life forms for millions of years.

The world can only wait to hear what has become of the explorers.

When they finally do breakthrough, great care must be taken not to contaminate the hidden underground lake with bacteria and drilling fluids.

To make sure the water stays completely pure, the machinery will not even touch the lake surface.

Instead they will use suction will to extract samples of the unique water into the borehole, where it will freeze before being raised to the surface for analysis.

The team also faces the risk of a potential explosion with oxygen and nitrogen trapped below. To avert this risk, the team will try to make sure only a small amount of air can escape.

John Priscu, a Montana State University Antarctic researcher, told the Washington Post the Russian scientists told him they were just 40ft from where the waterline is thought to lie.

He told the Post, “This is a huge moment for science and exploration, breaking through to this enormous lake that we didn’t even know existed until the 1990s.”

Priscu added, “If it goes well, a breakthrough opens up a whole new chapter in our understanding of our planet and possibly moons in our solar system and planets far beyond. If it doesn’t go well, it casts a pall over the whole effort to explore this wet underside of Antarctica.”

Priscu insists the Russians are not lost. “What I can tell you is that they are doing something that has never been done before. Think of it, sampling a lake under 2.5 miles of ice at a location that is the highest, driest and coldest desert on our planet.”

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister or ominous,” he added. “The Russians have their own way of dealing with things, particularly the media, which I respect.”

Specialists at the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute predict they will find “the only giant super-clean water system on the planet”.

They forecast the extraordinary 5,400 cubic kilometers (3355 cubic miles) of water in the pristine prehistoric lake, encased by ice since before man existed, will be “twice cleaner than double-distilled water”.

There is also the strong prospect of discovering completely unknown life forms in its clear ancient waters.

The worst possible scenario could be the water suddenly shooting up through the hole when the breakthrough is made. “Up to a quarter of the lake’s water could shoot out of the hole”, Dr Priscu said, if their worst fears are realized.

For now, we’ll all have to just wait and wonder if they will accomplish what they set out to do, or have died trying.

Attribution: Rob Cooper and Thomas DuranteH

Joke of the Day

A Rabbi, a Hindu and a lawyer were driving late at night in the country when their car broke down.

They set out to find help and came to a farmhouse. When they knocked at the door, the farmer explained that he had only two beds, and one of the three had to sleep in the barn with the animals. The three quickly agreed.

The rabbi said he would sleep in the barn and let the other two have the beds. Ten minutes after the rabbi left, there was a knock on the bedroom door.

The rabbi entered exclaiming, “I can’t sleep in the barn; there is a pig in there. It’s against my religion to sleep in the same room with a pig!”

The Hindu said HE would sleep in the barn, as he had no religious problem with pigs. However, about five minutes later, the Hindu burst through the bedroom door saying, “There’s a COW in the barn! I can’t sleep in the same room as a cow! It’s against my religion!”

The lawyer, anxious to get to sleep, said he’d go to the barn, as he had no problem sleeping with animals.

In two minutes, the bedroom door burst open and the pig and the cow entered…

Ann’s Pretzel Logic

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.

Has the once great conservative voice, Ann Coulter, become a moderate loving, Romney Zombie?

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.

Knowing I could never compete with the intellect of Levin, I will instead pull some exerpts from his brilliant rebuttal of the following.

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.

Levin: Gee, ya think?

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.

The problem isn’t health insurance mandates. The problem isn’t Romneycare. The problem isn’t welfare reform. The problem is Democrats.

Levin: Actually, Ann, the problem is leftists and republicans who play along with them. Shame, shame, shame.

Sneeky Uncle Sam

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.

Joke du Jour

A man was dining alone in a fancy restaurant.

There was a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table.

He had been checking her out since he sat down, but lacked the nerve to talk with her.

Suddenly she sneezed, and her glass eye came flying out of its socket towards the man. He reflexively reached out, grabbed it out of the air, and handed it back.

“Oh my, I am so sorry”. the woman said, as she popped her eye back in place. “Let me make it up to you by buying your dinner.”

They enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and afterwards went to the theatre followed by drinks.

They talked, they laughed, she shared her deepest dreams and he, his. She listened to him with interest.

After paying for everything, she asked if he would like to come to her place for a nightcap and stay for breakfast. They had a wonderful, wonderful time.

The next morning, she cooked a gourmet breakfast with all the extras. The guy was amazed. Everything had been so incredible!

“You know”, he said, “you are the perfect woman.. Are you this nice to every guy you meet?”

“No”, she replies. . ..
>

>
>
> Wait for it … ….

>
>
>
> It’s coming ….. ….
>
>
>
>
> The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?
>
>
>
>
>
She said … …:
>
“You just happened to catch my eye.”

Attribution: Karen

American Hyper-Stupidity

Let’s file this one in the , “Could we get any Dumber”, category.

By Daniel Horowitz (The Madison Project):

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.

Joke of the Day

A woman rushes into the foyer of a large hotel and sprints up to reception desk. She hammers on the bell.

“Yes”, says the receptionist irritably.

“Excuse me”, says the woman, “but I’m in a frightful hurry, could you check me out, please?”

The clerk stares at her, looks her up and down.”Not bad baby,” he smiles, “not bad at all.”

Real Estate can be Taxing

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 Kathryn Nix & Derek Pyburn (IBD)

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.