Tag: reform

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As a student of history and growing up the child of two history teachers, you do learn a fair amount about the odd times in US history. There are a couple of compromises in US Presidential election history of note. The one in 1824 is extremely fascinating, but not very applicable right now. The Compromise […]

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Jonah Goldberg has a worthwhile take in https://gfile.thedispatch.com/p/new-deals-old-arguments/comments Pointing out that the Democrats are going to repackage their Green New Deal, or something like it, as a Coronavirus recovery plan, he suggests a better analogy is the Marshall Plan.  What kind of streamlining and governmental reform can be used as a force multiplier with government […]

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Another round of reports on Catholic priests abusing children has come up.  As a Reformed Calvinist in good standing I’m somewhat detached from this, but I still find the whole mess despicable.  This post is not about that, really, though it’s related.  What I’d like to know from the Catholics on our site is a […]

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A Summary of the GOP Tax Reform Bill

 

On Friday, Republicans released the final version of their tax bill. It combines parts of both the House and Senate versions. Here are the details.

On the individual side:

  • We’re back up to seven tax brackets again, but the rates on each change slightly. They are 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. (The current ones are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%, respectively.)
  • It eliminates the individual health insurance mandate which, as we all know, is actually a tax.
  • The much-discussed state and local tax deduction remains, but the deduction is capped at $10,000.
  • The cap on the mortgage interest deduction is lowered from $1 million to $750,000.
  • The AMT remains, but the income exemption is raised to $70,300 for singles and $109,400 for married couples.
  • The estate tax remains, but the exception is raised so only 0.2 percent of estates will get it.
  • The standard deduction is almost doubled. From $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for joint filers. This probably means fewer people will itemize their deductions.
  • The personal exemption is eliminated. You can currently claim a $4,050 personal exemption for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. That is gone now.
  • The child tax credit is double to $2,000 and is now available to higher earners, up to $200,000 for single parents and $400,000 for married couples.
  • There is a temporary tax credit for non-child dependents. People can take a $500 credit for non-dependent children, ailing elderly adults, or adult children with disabilities.
  • There are other smaller tax breaks that were gone in earlier versions of the bill but are restored for the final version. For example, allowing teachers to deduct supplies they buy with their own money.
  • There is a change to the inflation adjustment to the tax code. The new measure is slower than the current measure, so the net effect of deductions and credits will be worth slightly less.

On the corporate side:

Corporate Tax Reform Is a Good Idea. Let’s Do It in the Growthiest Way Possible.

 

I hope the current Washington political turmoil doesn’t torpedo tax reform. It would be an important element — though not the only one — in boosting the US economy’s growth potential by raising productivity. As a new Capital Economics report notes, US business investment as a share of GDP has been trending lower since the late 1990s. And that may be feeding into chronically weak productivity gains since the Great Recession.

From the report: “According to the BLS, the contribution from capital intensity (aka capital deepening) fell from an average of 1.0% between 2000 and 2007 to 0.5% between 2007 and 2016.” (The above chart from the firm provides a breakdown.)

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss President Trump’s executive orders that scrutinize the amount of land designated as national monuments and Obama-era restrictions on offshore drilling.  They also groan as it looks like the update health care bill is also struggling to find the votes to pass.  And they take aim at the ACLU for suing a Catholic hospital for refusing surgery for a transgender patient.

Ian Tuttle of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are cautiously optimistic as an amendment to the GOP health care bill gives more power to the states and brings more conservatives on board.  They also discuss President Trump’s willingness to renegotiate NAFTA, and Ian explains why he’s concerned about Trump’s approach.  And they dive into the effort by Democrats in California to bar businesses from future state contracts if they help to build a border wall.

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Perhaps you’ve read one of Tony Robbins books like Awaken the Giant Within, Unleash the Power Within, Giant Steps small changes to make a Big Difference, or Unlimited Power. If you have, then I’m sorry. And if you’re not familiar with Tony Robbins he is a celebrity self-empowerment motivational speaker and life coach. He’s a […]

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Drain the Real Swamp: Academia

 

Suppose for the past half century or so you’ve been forced to pay the Acme Swamp Company to engorge all lakes, caverns, rivers, streams, and puddles with effluents, along with enough reptiles to put Jurassic Park to shame. Then, after you’ve discovered that the Acme Company has also supplied Wile E. Coyote with Roadrunner-catching equipment since the Truman Administration, you decide to “drain the swamp.” And then—surprise! surprise! —you’re devastated to learn that the swamp you tried to drain simply filled up again from tributaries that cannot be shut off. And you’ve been paying for those tributaries, too, for a long, long time. In fact, you’ve discovered that these streams are not only exorbitantly pricey, but frequently destructive, parasitic, and virtually impregnable. Question is, what can you do?

The “swamp” in question of course is Washington DC, but also includes much of the bureaucracy, judiciary, and cultural command posts of the country, such as the media and entertainment industries. The tributaries comprise America’s educational system, long dominated by the radical left and protected by tenure and union power. It is this ideological effluent center that has done so much to poison the discourse of American politics, smearing every institution that contributed to the country’s greatness, and radiating hatred of all things most citizens hold dear—family, patriotism, free enterprise, free speech, freedom of religion, the Bill of Rights generally, and of course America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Certainly, storming the Bastille of Ivory Tower totalitarianism constitutes a very great challenge, beset with tribulations and struggle. But one must start somewhere, so here is a short list that could be considered by State legislatures, as well as by an institution that itself should be abolished—the Federal Department of Education.

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I had a great meeting with my friend, an up-and-coming politician in my Blue City (please do not name it). The ideas I advanced are positive – “Price-Matching” all permits/regulations/bureaucratic hurdles. If an applicant can show things are easier in another jurisdiction in the state, they can point it out, and get the equivalent treatment. […]

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SELL FREEDOM. Any American citizen over the age of 18 shall have the right to freely contract with any other party for any product or service for which they reach mutually agreement. In so doing, however, both parties must explicitly waive all regulatory or legal relief or recourse save for whatever is specified in their contract. […]

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Fixing Our Primaries’ Hot Mess

 

The designer of the US Presidential Primary System is being transported to the Home for Retired Masochists

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, our system of primaries and caucuses are a method of selecting candidates designed by a bipolar orangutan with a masochistic streak.

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With more Obamacare co-ops closing their doors the death spiral is upon us (don’t look for the MSM to report this). After personally losing my Dr. of over 15 years (who no longer takes individual policies) my deductible is now so high I pay for EVERYTHING out of pocket by negotiating cash prices, including prescriptions. My […]

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Notes from the “Justice Reform” Bandwagon

 

shutterstock_245621518Yesterday, Mona Charen posted some skeptical thoughts on justice reform. I’ve been working on this subject for a few months now, so I thought I might offer some responses to her queries. The short of it is: she’s right that there are reasons to be cautious about reform, but there really are problems that need addressing. Furthermore, some reasonable answers have already been offered to many of her questions.

First of all, I should commend Mona for correctly debunking the oft-cited but highly misleading “two thirds of inmates are non-violent drug offenders” claim. As she reports, that is only true of Federal prisons, which represent a very small minority of America’s inmate population. The make-up of state prisons is quite different, and a majority of inmates have been convicted for violent crimes. So no, it isn’t the case that most of our nation’s inmates are basically harmless people who maybe used (or sold) a few drugs. The majority are there because they’ve hurt people, and it would be quite foolish just to release them en masse.

Republican presidential candidates should not be talking about “the new Jim Crow.” That phrase is pulled directly from Michelle Alexander’s foolish, irresponsible book (of the same name), and we shouldn’t lend it any credence. Incarceration is not the new Jim Crow, and approaching it that way will only precipitate a different kind of broken system.

What Can Republicans Get Done?

 

shutterstock_100254761The folks at Reason have a list of ten suggested reforms the 114th should pass. Though the it has few surprises — most of Reason’s hobby-horses make an appearance — the list struck me as (comparatively) modest and (almost) realistic. It focuses more on reforming existing institutions and programs in ways that at least conceivably could get past senate Democrats and President Obama’s veto pen, than on sweeping changes that would be awesome, but would never happen.

Definitely read the whole thing — each is given just a few paragraphs’ outline, including a brief summary of recent efforts to pass similar legislation — but the list is:

  1. Restore “fast track” trade promotion authority;
  2. End blanket NSA surveillance;
  3. Curtail civil asset forfeiture;
  4. Kill the renewable fuels mandate;
  5. Lower the drinking age;
  6. Audit the Fed;
  7. Fix government worker pensions;
  8. Implement sentencing reform;
  9. Let federal education funds follow kids; and
  10. Respect marijuana federalism

Obviously, some of these are highly unlikely to see the light of day —  lowering the federal drinking age, for instance, strikes me as sensible-but-impossible and many of the others run into the time-honored problem of asking the Federal government to willing curb itself — but others might stand a fighting chance. Fast-track promotion gives the president more power (though, ironically, the power to do less); asset forfeiture has something approaching bi-partisan support; the specific pension reforms Reason recommends shouldn’t get too much opposition; and some kind of federal accommodation on marijuana seems almost inevitable.

‘Bob, He’s Gonna Kill Me’

 

As America oscillates through the recent civic upheaval in its concepts of policing, it has been hard to miss that the conversation is very uninformed. While it is imperative that the citizens of a democracy set the rules by which the laws are enforced, it is equally imperative that they understand the repercussions.

Just as football fans would ignore the opinions of TV talking heads who’ve never stepped foot in a stadium (never mind never actually played the game), citizens should be extremely wary of politicians and yaktivists who condemn police tactics without understanding their underlying principles.

Pro-Choice Republicans and the Art of War

 

Frontal assaults rarely succeed in war, and they are even less likely to be successful in politics and policy. Defense is easier than offense, and troops rarely have the stomach for the kind of sustained attack (and all the casualties) required to have a chance of victory against an entrenched enemy. Hard-won campaigns can often end up as losses.

Republicans did not campaign on a coherent platform, nor do they have the fortitude or unity for a frontal assault. We should not castigate them for it! In the history of the welfare state, full-frontal assaults on entrenched bureaucracies have, with almost no exceptions, always failed.

Freezing Time, Moving Forward… — Barkha Herman

 

The left wants to freeze time. 

The world population needs to be limited to an arbitrary number of some recent year. The air needs to be as clean as the most famous environmentalist’s memory renders. Trade needs to be at the level of the trendiest primitive society du jour. Food needs to be prepared the way someone remembers it.