Tag Archives: tax policy

2017 American of the Year: Donald Trump

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It’s hard to imagine any first-year American President having to cope with partisan trials such as Donald Trump was forced to endure in office during 2017.

Trump was sworn-in back in January as the first-ever President of the United States to not previously have been an elected politician or serve in the American military ranks.

The new President was under attack from the opposition Democratic Party and liberal-slanted media outlets from day one.

On the television airwaves, networks such as CNN and MSNBC, programs like “The View”, and talk hosts led by Jimmy Kimmel continually bashed the President and his ideas and programs. While these same outlets and individuals had treated the last Republican President, George W. Bush, in much the same way, they chose to take it to a new level with Trump.

Meanwhile the Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren attacked Trump through their media friends as often as possible, and on every issue. Their hatred, and that is what it is, pure hatred, came largely due to their shock that Trump was in office at all.

They had collectively believed that their idol, the socialist-leaning Barack Obama, would be followed to the highest office in the land by Hillary Clinton. The first black POTUS to be followed by the first female President. Even more importantly to them, the liberal progressive agenda would continue on.

When it didn’t happen, the Dems and the media were legitimately shocked. They responded by lashing out in an open, obvious, childish tantrum never seen previously. It is a whining, crying, stomping feet tantrum that continues today.

Trump had established during his campaign in 2016 that he was never just going to sit back and take it from the media. He continued taking to Twitter to get out his message unfiltered. Often those messages were direct counter-attacks at the media.

The media had never experienced anything like it. They were used to controlling the message heard by the vast majority of Americans. Here was a President not only going around them to deliver his program and policy ideas, but also his personal thoughts on a wide range of issues.

Donald Trump is the first POTUS to make such aggressive use of social media to reach the masses. It has backfired on him occasionally. He has at times come across as petty and vindictive.

However, there is not doubt that he has also kept his base fired up. And there is no doubt that his Twitter account has been a major public relations and messaging tool.

Thanks to the President’s past as a businessman rather than a politician, he is beholden to far fewer special interests than normally chip away at the energy of other administrations.

His personal wealth allows him an independence of thought, speech, and action rarely seen in occupants of the Oval office. And his life experiences as a public figure for decades have left him unafraid of how he is perceived.

Because of the uniqueness of the man, he has won the year by successfully labeling as “fake news” that old school media. That the moniker has stuck is largely their own fault.

The media has often gotten away from its reporting responsibilities to actually become a second form of opposition. So instead of simply battling Democrats, the President has to battle an ego-shattered media.

However, defeating a biased media that has largely abandoned any expectations of impartiality in reporting is not the reason that he has been selected as the 2017 American of the Year. That’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really a minor factor.

There have been a series of big victories during this first year for President Trump that have led to his selection for the honor. In many ways, his has been one of the most effective freshman season’s in POTUS history. Let’s examine this substantive list of accomplishments.

We’ll begin from the end: the President was a pivotal voice in getting tax reform done for the first time in more than three decades. As Sarah Westwood and Gabby Morrongiello at the Washington Examiner stated: 

“In addition to slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, the landmark legislation cut individual rates for all income tax levels, doubled the child tax credit to $2,000, and dramatically increased the standard deduction.”

President Trump also began to change the face of the American judiciary, consistently and insistently pushing the courts toward the right with his nominations and appointments. This was led by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, an originalist in the mold of his friend and idol, the late Antonin Scalia, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The appointment of Justice Gorsuch, a dozen judges to the federal appeals courts, as well as a host of lower court appointments made and to come, will be a legacy that will positively effect the nation for decades after he leaves office. And again, that’s only year one.

All year long, Trump signed executive orders rolling back Obama-era regulations which had handcuffed the American economy. He had promised during the campaign to cut two regulations for any new regulation put in place. Here at year’s end, the administration has announced that it has saved billions by actually slicing 22 regulations for each new one.

Trump pushed for the FCC to end so-called “net neutrality”, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and set aside policies aimed at normalizing relations with the dictatorial Cuban regime.

These were all in keeping with another of Trump’s campaign pledges: “America first.” Those Obama-era programs, policies, and deals were not good for America. We were always being asked to carry the burden for the rest of a world that often seems disinterested in changing to help themselves.

President Trump showed the leadership spine necessary to call out the international community, as well as to once again set free the vital communications and information services of the Internet.

In perhaps his boldest statement to that international community, the President finally did what numerous predecessors had promised but fell short in having the courage to actually deliver. I’m talking here about his public recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his statement announcing the move, the President also let it be known that he planned to have the United States embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital.  This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago. Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.”

Key themes during his campaign were tougher immigration policy, increased border security, and more aggressive action against criminal illegal immigrants. Check, check, and check.

President Trump immediately removed the handcuffs which had been placed on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by Obama. As reported by Avery Anapol at The Hill, this was made plain in a statement made by ICE director Thomas Homan in early December:

“This president has done more for border security and public safety than any of the six presidents I’ve worked for. Just since his leadership in January, border crossings are at a 45-year low. Now that’s not a coincidence. That’s because this president has let the men and women of Border Patrol and ICE do their job.”

The goal of radical Islam is nothing less than the establishment of a worldwide caliphate under Sharia law spread through jihad in its various forms. The U.S. military virtually dismantled ISIL (also known as ISIS) this year, largely thanks to greater freedom provided through President Trump’s leadership.

All year long, the President battled liberal judges on the federal bench over the issue of a travel ban aimed at restricting traffic into the U.S. from a number of Muslim-majority nations. Despite the best efforts of these jurists, a version of Trump’s ban is now in place. Per Mark Sherman of the AP through Fox News, the ban “applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The President formed a lasting, positive relationship with a number of foreign leaders during the year. However, he also battled it out with a number as well, none more publicly and menacingly than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

In the administration’s list of foreign policy achievements for 2017, the actions against the North Koreans are front and center. They include designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, banning more than 90% of that country’s exports, and encouraging other nations to join with tougher actions, especially China. 

During his first year in office, the President visited the Middle East and Europe, met with the Pope in Vatican City, and undertook the longest trip to Asia by any POTUS in the last quarter century.

Through his own statements and those of his appointed U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the President made it known that America would always act in its own self interests first.

The President is still fighting to get a full, secure wall built along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. But not waiting, his unleashing of the Border Patrol has resulted in the fewest attempted illegal crossings in decades. His newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, let it be known that going after the violent MS-13 gang was a top priority.

President Trump has delivered on many of his promises already, and it was only the first of at least four years. Shackles have been removed from both the economy and homeland security that will benefit all Americans. The courts are gradually returning to the Constitution. The world is learning that “America first” is real, not just a campaign slogan.

The President has accomplished all of these things with absolutely no help from that opposition Democratic Party. He has accomplished them despite mischaracterization and at times outright character assassination from leftist media. 

For his accomplishments on behalf of the United States of America this year, President Donald J. Trump is selected as our 2017 American of the Year.

The following are the previous 11 honorees (there was no selection in 2014 or 2015 due to a temporary change in direction by the website):

2004 – Pat Tillman, 2005 – Bill O’Reilly, 2006 – Rev. Billy Graham, 2007 – P/O Chuck Cassidy, 2008 – President George W. Bush, 2009 – Glenn Beck, 2010 – Senator Ron Paul, 2011 – U.S. Navy Seal Team 6, 2012 – Michael Phelps, 2013 – Senator Ted Cruz, 2016 – Kellyanne Conway

Articles written on these prior honorees can be viewed simply by clicking on the “American of the Year” tag following this article.

Why Democrats don’t want you to have nice things

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The Republican Party-controlled United States Congress led by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky passed historic tax reform legislation this week. This tax relief will lower the tax burden for nearly every American individual and business.

The Tax Policy Center is a nonpartisan joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. They are an organization made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government.

Howard Gleckman at TPC had this to say about the changes:

“About 80 percent of households would get a tax cut while about 5 percent would pay more in 2018 (the rest would pay roughly the same as under current law). Among middle-income households, about 90 percent would pay less and 7 percent would pay more.”

So then why would every single Democratic member of Congress, Senators and U.S. Congresspersons led by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, vote against the legislation? Why would not one single Democrat want middle-class workers and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money?

The answer is simple: control. It is the answer to the same question asked in the headline accompanying this piece. That answer lies in the fundamental difference between today’s American conservatives, found mostly in the Republican Party, and Democratic Party liberal progressives.

Conservatives – and trust me, not all Republicans are true conservatives – want you to keep more of your own money and power. They desire more familial, local, and state control over your finances and your personal lives.

As Republican ad-maker Brad Todd put it per James Hohmann at The Washington PostGod created Republicans to cut taxes. Big bills are always complicated, but in time the truth comes out when something costs them (the American people) more or less money.

Liberal progressives want greater state control. The lib-progs believe themselves to be fundamentally more capable than you to make decisions regarding how your money is spent, what your children are taught, and in fact, what you as an individual should think and feel.

Liberal progressives want businesses taxed and regulated so as to have more control over their product output and direction, regardless of the impact on the economy or society. With taxes lowered and regulations loosened on businesses, the worn and tired lib-prog talking point of Republicans “helping only the wealthy and corporations” is once again foisted on the gullible.

The liberal progressives have taken control of the Democratic Party over the last century. Today they are moving ever leftward, marching towards outright Socialism as publicly proclaimed by one of their most popular leaders, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

(Milton Friedman on capitalism over socialism)

Why don’t publicly proclaimed socialist Democrats such as Senator Sanders want businesses to receive even greater tax and regulatory relief? Why are even supposed “mainstream” Democrats voting against tax relief for middle-class Americans workers and families?

Dems don’t want business to receive such relief because it will mean profits will increase. Profits increasing will result in business expansion and hiring. It will result in job creation and technological innovation. Middle-class tax relief will mean more real money in the pockets of the average American individual and family.

Those are nice things, but not for Democratic Party pols. That’s because they have come out publicly in opposition to the tax cuts and regulatory relief. Republicans will get credit for an increase in American wealth at all levels, resulting in election wins and less power for Democrats.

And there it is, the answer to why the Democrats don’t want you to have nice things. Control. The Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, are giving Americans the Christmas gift of tax relief. It is a gift that returns a measure of control to all of us. It is a gift that has been decades coming, and one that will keep on giving well into the future.


Tax reform postcards from the edge

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The Republican controlled United States Congress is attempting something significant that has not happened in more than three decades. Yet it is something that almost everyone in both parties believes to be grossly overdue.

Updates to the United States tax code have not been accomplished since Ronald Reagan was President.

That long ago legislation passed a voice vote in the House of Representatives in December 1985. It then took another seven months before finally passing the Senate in June 1986. President Reagan then signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 into law on October 22, 1986.

Over the ensuing decades, further changes to the tax code have been discussed and debated in both formal political circles as well as in the media and in academia. Many on both sides of the American political aisle have voiced their concern that tax reform was necessary. Agreeing to the specifics and getting such reform done has been much more elusive.

Charles Rangel is as liberal a Democrat as you are going to find. He served in Congress for nearly five decades before retiring earlier this year. Per Brainy Quotes, Rangel once stated “We all want a simpler code, but tax reform is about much more. It is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.

Those final words have usually become the rub. What makes up a “fair share?” Reaching any consensus is becoming nearly impossible now in an era where American politics are as partisan and polarized as any in history. 

That 1986 tax legislation was actually co-sponsored by a pair of Democrats, Congressman Dick Gephart and Senator Bill Bradley. While Republicans held a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, the final vote in support for tax reform was 97-3. 

When the 2017 House vote was taken on November 16, no Democrats voted for it. None. Their mantra, as it has always been, claimed that Republicans were cutting taxes for “the top 1%” of earners, while giving no or little actual relief to the middle class. 

The Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, responded per Naomi Jagoda and Cristina Marcos for The Hill that “Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity and help these middle-income families who are struggling.

The fact is that on most issues, especially the big ones, votes in both the House and Senate now come down rigidly along party lines. Where there used to be a dozen or more “swing” votes to be had, legislators of either party who could be appealed to and lobbied for support, that is rarely the case today. 

There is always an obligatory appeal to the middle class by both parties. Each claims to want to bring relief to those middle income earners. Yet somehow, the two parties can never agree on any issue that will actually help the middle class.

Getting actual tax reform done now is going to come down to one party or the other gaining control of both the House and the Senate. Then they are also likely to need a President of their same party who is willing to sign the new tax proposal into law.

Right now, Republicans have just such control. The GOP holds a slim 52-48 edge in the U.S. Senate, and a tight 239-194 edge in the House of Representatives. And, of course, a Republican now sits in the Oval office for the first time in eight years.

A big election will take place in Alabama in two weeks for a Senate seat. The result of that election will either maintain the Republicans edge, or tighten it even further to a barely noticeable 51-49 advantage.

In next year’s mid-term elections, Democrats will need to defend the seats of 25 of their voting members in the Senate. Republicans have eight seats to defend. All 435 voting Congress persons will also have to defend their seats.

With uncertainty always a hallmark of mid-term elections, now is the time for Republicans to get tax reform done. Having missed out on a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare, the GOP needs to begin showing that it can get major legislative initiatives accomplished.

While the Republican Congresspersons of the House have now passed their plan, the Republican Senators are now preparing to vote on their own tax reform proposal. That vote is likely to take place this week.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, always a key vote in these big issues, today came out in support of the Republican tax plan readying for that Senate vote:

“This tax bill is a true test for my colleagues. I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. But I’ve been immersed in this process. I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now.”

Assuming those Senators actually get their plan to pass a vote, we still won’t have tax relief. Leaders in the House and Senate would need to get together, and hash out some compromise regarding the details of their separate proposals.

Once that happens, which would likely come in the spring, then there would be votes in both Houses on the final legislation. Should that pass both votes, then it tax relief would finally get to President Trump’s desk. It is presumed that the President would sign any tax reform legislation put before him.

Chris Edwards for the Cato Institute opined back in late October that “the GOP plan would give the largest relative cuts to people in the middle. On average, middle-income earners would receive larger percentage tax cuts than higher-income earners.

One highlight of the House reform plan that has been constantly pushed is that most Americans would be able to file their income taxes on a form the size of a postcard. I’ll be curious to see if that actually comes to pass. 

Politics in this country are on the edge right now. The edge of sanity, that is. Next year’s mid-term elections are going to be hard-fought and bloody. Passing tax reform before those elections hit would be a welcome postcard from the edge for American tax payers.

Miniumum Wage: Be Careful What You Wish For…You Just Might Get It

Democrats, led by President Obama, are trying to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour up to $10.10 per hour. Many Republicans have come out against such an increase.

Efforts such as raising the minimum wage are attempted, not to help the poor or middle-class, but to wage (pun intended) a continuing political and ideological war within the United States of America. It’s not about compassion. It’s about power, plain and simple.

Democrats believe that their continued, traditional use of buzzwords and terms such as “living wage”, “fairness”, and “equity” will keep certain segments of the population voting their way in elections. They count on it to keep them in power. Their main carrot to garner and control these votes is the oldest in the book: they pay for them.

Many people want, and a surprising number of people even expect, something for nothing. They feel that government owes them something, including money, food, medicine, transportation, and much more, with nothing expected in return. This is the mentality behind the support for a raise in the minimum wage.

Now supporters of that effort will try to sell you that such an increase will help everyone. That minimum wage earners are helped by making more money. And other workers will then have their own wages also raised to keep them ahead of these entry-level and lesser-skilled workers.

Frankly, that is a farce. What does indeed happen when wages are artificially, forcibly increased is that companies cut back and/or raise prices. They hire fewer people, meaning less opportunity. They raise prices on their goods, meaning more money out of the pockets of those who just had their wages artificially raised.

No company is just going to accept any increase, be it in forced wage increases, greater taxes, or anything else, without eventually passing that increase on to it’s customers. Forcing wages up artificially means that we will all pay more. Meanwhile, fewer jobs will be available for that lesser skilled workforce.

President Obama and his Dem cronies will try to tell you that the minimum wage needs to be raised to $10.10 per hour in order for Americans to meet their vision of a certain standard of living. They say that it will be good for everyone. But they ignore a fundamental flaw in their argument.

If $10.10 per hour is good for Americans, why not $11 per hour? Why not $15 per hour? Heck, why not a minimum wage of $25 per hour? If minimum wage workers earned much more, wouldn’t they spend more, helping the economy more? Why is $10.10 just right?

They stop at $10.10 per hour because it is a figure at which their own studies have shown that business will take the increase with a minimum of job cutbacks. There will still be cutbacks, layoffs, and other ramifications. But they will be minimal when compared to the expected political gain of tens of millions flocking to the polls on the Dems behalf.

Meanwhile, back at the minimum wage worker home, many of those actual workers will be losing their jobs, rather than ever seeing that increase. Companies will simply make due with fewer employees. Sure, some workers pay will increase. But how does that help the individuals trying to get a start, or supplement an income, or pay for school books, who once had a $7 per hour job and now have none?

When Democrats pass programs that increase handouts, giveaways, and other “benefits”, their supporters seem to think that it will be the “wealthy corporations”, the “rich”, the “well off”, who will be paying. But what the Dem politicians, labor leaders, and others will never tell them is the truth.

The truth is that every time the government spends more money, something has to give, and that something will be a hit to every single consumer and American worker’s pocketbook. Every time the government forces economic sanctions on the economy, something has to give, and that something is usually jobs.

Every family is hurt by increased prices, higher taxes, fewer jobs. Those are the ultimate prices of forcing changes on the American economy such as an increase in the minimum wage.

Now, am I against people making more money? Absolutely not. Stay in school. Don’t waste your life. Be willing to work hard for minimal pay when young. Get more education, in a field where opportunities are expected to be available. Be flexible in life, willing to go where the opportunities are located. Do not depend longterm on a minimum wage job as the primary source of income for you and/or your family and expect to support cable TV, cellphones, and restaurants.

Minimum wage jobs were not created for, and have never been intended as, the primary lifetime career of the principle wage earner in a family. They were intended for young people just starting out in the work force, for retirees looking to supplement pensions, for management trainees looking to gain boots-on-the-ground experience.

If the federal minimum wage is raised, it will result in fewer jobs, greater unemployment. It will result in higher prices to those who do indeed get to keep their job with that increased wage. Those who want the minimum wage raised should be very, very careful. They just might get what they want. That is going to be very different than what they believe, and what they are being sold by lying politicians.

Tired of All the Financial Hand-Wringing

Am I the only one who is more than a little bit tired of the end-of-the-world financial hand-wringing going on in the news these days? Every day, day after day, both the local and network news lead with stories about the ‘fiscal crisis’ or the ‘financial meltdown’ that is happening at all levels of government. Cutbacks, layoffs, budgets, spending, revenues, stocks, bonds…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! Now anyone who knows me knows that I take these kinds of things seriously, so this is no sports or entertainment-starved and isolated individual talking here about being fed up. I have read books on economics on my own, not school related. That isn’t to brag about any alleged intelligence, just to note that I do really have an interest in these matters. I like to understand what people are talking about, at least to a certain level. But what is happening today in this country is utter and complete doom-and-gloom defeatism. As always, I do have a political take on at least a part of the problem. But it might surprise some of you where I lay that political blame. I blame my own Republican Party and its leadership at the Presidential level and at the Congressional levels. You see, I fully expect Democrats to spend your hard-earned money and mine like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave. I fully expect the Dems, leaning more and more towards open socialism these days, to demand government intervention and control over as many facets of our day-to-day lives as they can get their grubby hands on. Those things are a given with me, and with most people who look at the political world with open eyes. But I expect more from my Republican Party, and I am not getting it. Much to the Dems chagrin, George W. Bush was in the White House for eight long years. He had a Republican-led Congress for a part of that time. But despite this advantage in political power, the nation took steps backwards in key areas where Republicans are supposed to move us forward as a part of our very fundamental structure. This was highlighted by their spending your money and mine at a pace that leaves only a one word description – Democrats. For the past eight years Republicans have been as much to blame if not more so for the fiscal problems in which we now find ourselves mired. Republicans are supposed to stand up for two major fiscal principles: lower spending, lower taxation. As we all know, when we lower spending federal money, and we lower the amount of money taken from the pockets of individuals and the accounts of business, we increase freedom. People and businesses have more of their hard earned money and are free to spend it on their own wishes, needs, desires, futures. We also need some solid controls to ensure that people don’t go crazy and mortgage away their future on dreams that they cannot handle. Why give someone a mortgage for a $500,000 house when they cannot possibly afford it based on any reasonable estimate of their income and employment history when balanced against the likelihood of future market changes in things like interest rates? But that is just what we allowed to happen over the past decade or so. People were allowed to buy bigger homes than they could afford, or second/vacation homes, or rental properties that they could not afford. It was up to Republicans to be smart and pull in the reigns, or at least to publicly put out stern warnings. It didn’t happen. Now another key Republican idea is that we are all big boys and girls. We know very well what we are getting into when we sign on the dotted line. If you signed up for a huge variable rate mortgage that you could only afford because that rate was so low at the time that you obtained it, and then could no longer afford the payments when the rates inevitably went up and were in danger of losing your home, that is absolutely on you. You knew without a shadow of a doubt when you signed those papers that this was a serious risk that you were taking. We all make decisions in life, from what we put in our bodies (food, cigarettes, other people) to what we put in our financial portfolios (properties, stocks, artwork) and we all take on the risks and consequences of those decisions. We love it when things are riding high, but we all know that the party is going to end some day, and we need to make sure that we are prepared for that day. In this case, very few people made the adult decision to let us know that the sky was going to fall, and likely fall hard and fast. Now everyone is running around like Chicken Little, and I am just a bit tired of it all. I want my Republican Party leadership to stand up for fiscal sanity and a return to their roots. They made a good start last week when every single Republican member of the House of Representatives voted against President Barack Obama’s massive socialist spending boondoggle that he calls a “stimulus” package. They need to continue that very real and very Republican leadership, and inspire more and more Republican leaders to step forward and take those same positions as we move forward and try to regain both Congress and the Presidency. But even if we can win those elections it won’t matter a hill of beans if there is no basic philosophical difference manifesting itself in the actions of Republicans over what their Democrat counterparts would have done. It’s not rocket science, it’s basic conservative Republican ideals at their best: lower spending, lower taxes, more freedom. Long live democracy and capitalism. Let’s put an end to this socialism and defeatist hand-wringing right now.