Posts Tagged ‘Taxes

10
Nov
10

Trickle-Down Down

The finer points of economic theories have eluded me for most of my life. I’ve had enough book learning to understand that supply-vs-demand graph, but it pretty much ends there.

It’s a shame, really, because so much of what drives the current political debate is supposedly about the economy. And I know a lot of it has to be bullshit, but I don’t know enough to know what not to believe. So I usually dismiss most of it as political clap trap. Doesn’t matter what either party says on the campaign trail. Chances are it’s not going to happen anyway.

When I hear Republicans and Tea Partiers hammer away at their small-government/cut-taxes/create-jobs dogma, it makes me wonder if they’re as interested in the truth about how the world really works as they are in convenient populist political ideology.

So I got curious about that tent post of the Right, the axiom that, above all else, cutting taxes is an absolute guarantee of job growth. Is this true? Can it be proved?

Continue reading ‘Trickle-Down Down’

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04
Feb
09

The ‘M’ Word

The discovery of Tom Daschle’s whopping unpaid tax bill of $146,000 is a big let down to say the least. I always liked Daschle, his goofy red glasses, his cogent and clear-headed leberalism, his class and demeanor as Senate majority leader. I loved that he was respected (dare I say it?) Democrat during the Bush administration. But he is reduced in an instant to a rusty old Washington crony. His specs are cracked and our president’s vision is blurred.

One bright spot in the whole mess was Barack Obama’s admission on half a dozen networks that he made a m— … a mmm— … mmmistake!

“I think it was a mistake. I think I screwed up,” he said.

I nearly choked on my coffee when I heard it on NPR. In the last eight years, I cannot recall a single instance of George W. Bush ever admitting to a mistake. The word never even got stuck in his throat, because it apparently never even entered his mind. Even his press secretaries would infuriatingly admit nothing more than “mistakes had been made,” but no one ever was culpable — except the scapegoats he expelled from his administration after they had done all they could to undermine the will of the people.

I respect a man who knows when he screws up. Whether or not Obama was cornered by the press, whether or not his mea culpa was a calculated move, this signifies a major turn in the conduct of the nation’s highest office. It is a turn toward the light.

But there is still a major problem in Washington. OK, first of all, who are these people not paying taxes? It defies explanation in obvious ways.

And do they seriously think it won’t be discovered? Especially following the scandal around the confirmation of the new treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, who owed $43,000 himself? Daschle probably would have made it through if he hadn’t stepped out of the process, and it’s a good thing he did. But the real kicker is he probably would have been tremendously effective as head of health and human services. We are all losing out here.

There must be a common root to this problem. Why does all this scrutiny happen during the cabinet confirmation process? Why not earlier? Why is their no indication of their “error” until this confirmation process begins? The damage is done when the taxes are not paid, not when the non-payment is discovered.

Maybe some good will come out of all this exposure, and the president will look into some measures to prevent these people from not paying their taxes. Serving in the government is a privilege, not a free pass. How about we set up a new branch of the IRS to go after these people — not the little people like you and me. Let’s guarantee that senators and representatives and other elected Washingtonians are paying their taxes from the beginning? Don’t they count? Certainly they do, and I’m sure there are legions more of these folks, each owing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Getting wind of Daschle’s planned withdrawal, Nancy Killefer, a nominee to a lesser position, chief White House performance officer, pulled out as well because of unpaid taxes on a household employee. I guess she owed no more than $900. Not a big deal. She could write a check right now. But the principle stands, and in this climate she was wise to disentangle herself from the administration.

Let’s hope the others in line for the cabinet wise up and start putting their fellow citizens before their wallets and their careers.

There’s always hope, I guess.

20
Feb
07

Death and … (Well, You Know…)

Three things are inevitable in this world. In order of difficulty: Death, taxes and the propensity for party guests to stain one’s rugs. (This, among other reasons, is why white carpet is a cardinal sin.)

Death… well, let’s not get into that right now.

And I am coping rather well, I think, with the recent news that I owe thousands of dollars to the governments of the United States and the state of New York. That’s the big news in my life, at present. I just did my taxes last night and accidentally opened an artery. Those paper cuts can be a bitch.

At this rate I’ll be serving government cheese and generic brand soda crackers at the Oscar Night gathering we’re planning for Sunday. It’s not a party, I hasten to clarify. It’s a very small gathering.

At an Easter party we threw last year — bloody marys and mimosas; boiled eggs, kielbasa and saurkraut — a few of our thirstier guests wreaked unintentional (i.e., drunken) havoc on our floors, spilling red wine or cranberry juice (or both — who brought the wine anyway?) on literally every rug in our apartment. The colors in our rugs run from beige to gold, gray to brown. Mostly neutral tones, except for a blue, white and gray rug in the bedroom. You don’t exactly need a map to hit the lighter, easy-to-stain areas, but our guests were a consistent lucky shot.

A tempest in my head roiled and sent electricity coursing up my spine every time I saw someone teetering this way and that, red wine or a strong cape cod sloshing dangerously close to the edge of his or her plastic cup.

I had been told that cold water and salt will usually lift the color out of a wine stain. So I got all Martha Stewart and managed get the stains out. I kept calm and maintained a good host’s smile — and, to a degree, conversation — while I flitted from spot to spot all night, liberally sprinkling Morton’s. (When it rains, it does indeed pour.) The rugs remained largely unspoiled, and I felt spiritually and emotionally purged. It was a triumph.

After that trauma, however, I think we’ll have white wine this time on Sunday. And white cranberry juice. (But I’ll have my spot remover, my yellow rubber gloves and a salt shaker at the ready, stashed behind the couch, anyway — just in case!)




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