November 06, 2009

Is This the Change You Were Hoping For?

The Return of the Inflation Tax
In order to raise enough money to make their plan look like it won't add to the deficit, House Democrats have deliberately not indexed two main tax features of their plan: the $500,000 threshold for the 5.4-percentage-point income tax surcharge; and the payroll level at which small businesses must pay a new 8% tax penalty for not offering health insurance.

This is a sneaky way for politicians to pry more money out of workers every year without having to legislate tax increases. The negative effects of failing to index compound over time, yielding a revenue windfall for government as the years go on. The House tax surcharge is estimated to raise $460.5 billion over 10 years, but only $30.9 billion in 2011, rising to $68.4 billion in 2019, according to the Joint Tax Committee.

Americans of a certain age have seen this movie before...

I also recall some yak-yak from Our Puffery in Chief about only raising taxes on the rich. Being of a certain age, I remember the much less radical Bill Clinton making that same promise, and my subsequent annoyance at discovering that despite having a middle-class income at best we were somehow among "the rich."

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does play encores for the short-of-memory.

November 03, 2009

Election Night 2009

I'm kicking back with a bowl of popcorn to watch the results come in, for much the same reason a hardcore baseball fan will go watch a Little League game rather than hang out in a bar.

The pundits and partisans have spent weeks or months telling us what all the results will mean, and they're pretty much all full of crap. Without having turned on the newsfeed yet, I can tell you that Virginia is getting a GOP guv, Maine will probably turn back the anti-gay-marriage forces, NJ will have voter fraud and perhaps be contested, and that the NY 23rd is a unique situation that mostly just shows us the more strident divisions in the GOP and the right wing.

Jay Cost says it better than I do.
Wow. The pundit class is in full swing, interpreting the meaning of NY-23. "What's it say about Obama's administration?" "What's it say about the state of the Republican Party?" "What's it say for the upcoming health care debate?" So many questions. I'll do my best to answer them, each in turn.

Nothing, nothing, and nothing!

If you're watching the elections tonight rather than, say, re-runs of CSI, then you're a politics junkie like me. But you need to admit to yourself that there is little actual meaning of any national import in tonight's results. All politics is local, and we get to see a few isolated examples of the local struggle playing out without the big contextual backdrop of nation-wide contests. Enjoy it. But don't read too much into it, because there really isn't all that much there.