Quick Hit News

Rep Says Democrats Like Bank Robbers

Sandy Fitzgerald, NewsMax:

Idaho Republican Rep.Raul Labrador said on Sunday that he’s “not really sure”
Democrats want to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, and that they’re like “bank
robbers” who want to raise taxes on everyone.

Labrador, appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” also believes President Barack Obama has successfully provoked a civil war among Republicans, which has been the Democrats’ goal from the beginning.

“They have tried to get us to fight against each other on taxes when — I’m not really sure that they don’t want to go over the fiscal cliff,” said Labrador.

Meanwhile, Labrador was one of the House Republicans who opposed a plan by House Speaker John Boehner to raise taxes only on people making more than $1 million. But he said if Democrats really wanted to avoid the fiscal cliff they could have voted for the bill.

“There were only about 50 of us in the House who said that we were not going to vote for
John Boehner’s deal last week,” he said. “All they needed was 50 Democrats to vote for the deal, and it would have passed last week.”

But, Labrador said, the Democrats have been trying to divide Republicans “from day
one.”

“They have tried to get us to fight against each other on taxes when — I’m not really sure that they don’t want to go over the fiscal cliff,” he said. “They want to expand the growth of government. They need more revenues. You know, Democrats are like bank robbers. You don’t have the money in the 2 percent — the money is in the 100 percent. They want to raise taxes on everyone.”

Labrador also said history will repeat if leaders talk about raising taxes.

“What happens in Washington is that we talk about raising taxes today and then we talk about cuts 10 years from now,” Labrador said. “It happened under Reagan, it happened under Bush, and it’s what’s going to happen to us once again.”

Milk Prices to Skyrocket

Reuters:

Farm-state lawmakers have agreed to a one-year extension of the expiring U.S. farm law that, if enacted, would head off a possible doubling of retail milk prices to $7 or more a gallon in early 2013.

The extension would end a 32-month attempt to update farm subsidies dating from the Depression era, when farmers were crushed by low prices and huge crop surpluses, to meet today’s high-wire challenges of tight food supplies, high operating costs and volatile markets.

Traditionally, the dairy program sets a minimum price for milk through government purchase of butter, cheese and dry milk. If Congress does not act, the dairy support price will revert on Tuesday to the level dictated by an outmoded 1949 law and which is roughly double the price now paid to farmers.

The potential retail milk price has been estimated at $6 to $8 a gallon versus current levels near $3.50.

Mexican Smuggling Tunnels

Associated Press:

Mexican authorities have discovered a sophisticated smuggling tunnel equipped with electricity and ventilation not far from the Nogales port of entry into Arizona, U.S. and Mexican officials said Friday.

The Mexican army said the tunnel was found Thursday after authorities received an anonymous call in the border city of Nogales, Sonora, south of Arizona. U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed that the Mexican military had discovered the football field-long tunnel with elaborate electricity and ventilation systems.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Victor Brabble said the tunnel did not cross into the U.S.

The army said the anonymous caller was reporting gunmen standing outside a two-story house in a hilly neighborhood near the international bridge where motorists travel between Mexico and the United States.

Inside the house, soldiers discovered a fake wall inside a storage closet under a staircase that led to a dark room with buckets and clothes. After lifting a drain cover in that room, soldiers found another staircase at the entrance of the tunnel that went 16 feet underground and measured a yard in diameter. Light bulbs lit the underground passage and pipes stretched across the 120-yard tunnel that Mexican army officials believe was built to smuggle drugs.

It was unclear whether officials made any arrests, but the house where the tunnel was found was seized by the local government. Military officials did not say how long they believed the tunnel had been under construction, but authorities say it can take six months to a year to build such a passage.

Sophisticated secret tunnels stretching across the international border have become increasingly common as drug cartels invent new ways to smuggle enormous loads of heroin, marijuana and other drugs into U.S.

No Gold at the End of This Moonbeam

Predictably, California has gone from bad (Governor  Schwarzenegger, the Governator) to worse (Gerry Brown, Governor Moonbeam). Who could have predicted this?

How long will it be before California comes to Washington, hat in hand, for a bailout?

Even the NY Times can’t sugar coat this one.

LOS ANGELES — The state budget shortfall in California has increased dramatically in the last six months, forcing state officials to assemble a series of new spending cuts that are likely to mean further reductions to schools, health care and other social programs already battered by nearly five years of budget retrenchment, state officials announced on Saturday.

Gov. Gerry Brown, disclosing the development in a video posted on YouTube, said that California’s shortfall was now projected to be $16 billion, up from $9.2 billion in January. Mr. Brown said that he would propose a revised budget on Monday to deal with it.

“We are now facing a $16 billion hole, not the $9 billion we thought in January,” Mr. Brown said. “This means we will have to go much further and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year.”

Mr. Brown disclosed the news in a video that had all the trappings of a campaign announcement. In it, he aggressively accounted for the steps he said he had taken to try to scale back a $26 billion deficit he found upon taking office. And he urged viewers to back an initiative he is putting on the November ballot that would increase sales taxes by 0.25 percent and impose an income tax surcharge on wealthy Californians to try to stave off more cuts.

State officials said Mr. Brown’s proposal would include a package of immediate cuts, as well as others that would be triggered only if voters failed to approve his tax plan. The sales tax increase would expire after four years, while the income tax surcharge would last for seven years.

State officials said the shortfall was a result of disappointing revenue collections in April as California continued to struggle to pull out of the recession. “We are still recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s,” Mr. Brown said.

Still, the state controller reported that the state had exceeded spending by $2.1 billion as well, though Mr. Brown said court rulings and other actions that restricted California from making the cuts were at least partly to blame.

At the same time, the deficit projections — which have been increasing since Mr. Brown and the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a budget last summer — suggest that the state may have been overly optimistic in estimating what kind of revenue it would take in. That has been a repeated problem in Sacramento as officials have struggled over the past five years with the state’s worst financial crisis since the Depression. Mr. Brown, in taking office last year, pledged to end what he said were the tricks lawmakers regularly used to paper over budget shortfalls.

Attgribution: NY Times

Taxmageddon

From:

Mike Brownfield

Mike Brownfield at Heritage

Brace yourself. In a mere 271 days, you and your fellow Americans will be hit with a tax hike the likes of which this country has never seen. The Washington Post aptly called the unprecedented $494 billion tax hike “Taxmageddon”, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described it as a “massive fiscal cliff.” Whatever your preferred imagery, it’s a really big deal.

Despite all the warnings, President Barack Obama has kept his silence while Congress has made no apparent effort to prevent this impending calamity to families and the economy. The prevailing wisdom is that “something will get done” in a lame duck session of Congress after the election. But why wait? And why after the election?

Here’s why you should be worried. For starters, remember that this is the same President who in 2009 promised, “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.” That’s a vow he’s broken, and in 2013, things are going to get even worse if this year Obama doesn’t lead and Congress doesn’t act. Katy, bar the door, there’s big trouble in store.

The tax man won’t draw his billions from the American taxpayer with just one big needle — the massive tax increase will be the product of tax policies expiring in seven different categories, on top of five new Obamacare tax hikes taking effect. In a new paper, Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013, Heritage’s Curtis Dubay details the tax hikes that will occur if President Obama and Congress do not act before the end of the year:

Almost 34 percent of the tax increase from Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. These cuts are best known for reducing marginal income tax rates, but they also reduced the marriage penalty, increased the Child Tax Credit and the adoption credit, and increased tax breaks for education costs and dependent care costs.

Another 25 percent of Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the once-temporary payroll tax cut. The expiration of the patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) — which would raise the income threshold over which families qualify for the AMT to prevent middle-income families from paying this tax that is only supposed to impact “the rich” — accounts for 24 percent of the total potential 2013 tax increase.

The balance of the tax hikes comes in part from new taxes under Obamacare, the expiration of tax cuts in the 2009 stimulus, the expiration of a group of policies known as “tax extenders,” changes in the current policy on the death tax (in 2013, it will rise from 35 percent today to 55 percent and the exemption will fall from $5 million to $3.5 million), and the expiration of businesses’ ability to fully expense new capital investments.

This $494 billion in higher taxes will certainly hit families and business hard in 2013, but their effects are already being felt. Dubay explains that Americans must plan for tomorrow, and the tremendous uncertainty about tax policy makes the future much more uncertain, thus discouraging the investments and other actions needed to spur the economy to create jobs faster today.

So while the President and Congress appear content to put off ’til the 11th hour what they can and should do today, those who will have to pay the higher tax burden are waiting to see what the future holds. Dubay says that this is “slowing job creation and stopping many of the millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.”

Early on in his presidency, Barack Obama said he knew about the impact of taxes. Back in 2009, on a visit to Elkhart, Indiana, Obama emphatically stated his belief that raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea. Though America is not in recession today, it still struggles with very high unemployment, and so the President’s logic applies with equal force — raising taxes is a drag on job creation. Unfortunately, in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, President Obama unabashedly revealed that preventing tax hikes is not his priority. In fact, he wants to see even more taxes imposed on the American people and on job creators all in the name of “fairness” — may of which are in his budget. That’s a political doctrine, not an economic policy, and it’s a proven recipe for economic disaster.

If the President doesn’t work with Congress to take action soon to prevent a 2013 Taxmageddon, his brand of “fairness” will result in the biggest tax increase in the nation’s history. And that storm will wreak even more damage on America’s already fragile economy. Congress shouldn’t wait for Obama to take the lead in preventing a policy nightmare he might actually favor. Instead, it should act now to prevent these tax hikes from crushing America’s families and our economy.

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.