POLITICAL POTPURRI

Three things that aren't long enough to justify a full post on their own can, if taken together, reasonably sum to one post.

1. I just finished my taxes. My effective federal tax rate, due to some divorce-related shenanigans, reached a personal all-time high: 9%. I usually clock in between 5 and 7 percent. I earn about 80% of the U.S. median income for an individual male taxpayer, and at 33 I've never hit 10% with my effective tax rate. Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire, has revealed an effective tax rate of about 15% (comparable, as the folks at Fox are all too eager to point out, to multimillionaire John Kerry's 13%). Remind me again where all of this tax rage comes from? I do not speak from experience, but I find it hard to believe that everyone who makes an amount of money between Romney (Assloads) and Ed (Dick) is paying 30%-plus in effective taxes. Yeah, yeah, Social Security and Medicare too – which are a great deal if you're a high earner (since they're capped) and for the rest of us they pay out far more than we will ever pay in. Property taxes? Kindly blow it out your ass; nobody forced you to buy a house, and owning a home entitles you to about 1000 different writeoffs and loophole deductions. I wonder how many of these 15% Flat Tax advocates realize that most Americans are paying that share or less already. The actual numbers in the tax code are irrelevant.

2. The Republicans in favor of Voter ID laws have finally found a clear-cut case of widespread fraud on which to hang their rhetoric: it appears that 953 dead people managed to vote in the South Carolina GOP Primary.

3. The best of the Gingrich jokes so far:

- Maybe America should say it has cancer so Gingrich will leave it.
- If Republicans are so uncomfortable with Mormonism, why did they vote for the guy with three wives?
- Every time he seems like he's down Gingrich rises up again, which is fitting for a man who appears to be made of dough.

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26 Responses to “POLITICAL POTPURRI”

  1. HoosierPoli Says:

    "In a letter dated Thursday, Wilson says the analysis found 953 ballots cast by voters listed as dead. In 71 percent of those cases, ballots were cast between two months and 76 months after the people died. That means they "voted" up to 6 1/3 years after their death."

    Scandalous! Tell us more!

    "The letter doesn't say in which elections the ballots were cast."

    In other words, ginned-up horseshit to push through poll taxes, err, voter ID laws.

  2. Sharkbabe Says:

    There's also Dan Savage's suggestion for Newt's new campaign slogan – "Screw as I say, not as I screw."

  3. blahedo Says:

    > "I find it hard to believe that everyone who makes an amount of money between Romney (Assloads) and Ed (Dick) is paying 30%-plus in effective taxes."

    Is anyone claiming that? What are you even trying to argue against here? My understanding of the usual argument is that the effective rate goes up with income, into the 20s and maybe even 30s, but for the very highest incomes it ends up plummeting back down to the 13-15% range because the highest-income folks are rentiers that aren't drawing salaries, but rather drawing interest, dividends, and capital gains from their various holdings.

    Me, I think nearly everybody, or at least everybody over the median income (which includes me), should be paying more in taxes, but then that's because I want to actually fund the things I actually want the government to do, so I'm sort of in a minority there.

    > "Property taxes? Kindly blow it out your ass; nobody forced you to buy a house, and owning a home entitles you to about 1000 different writeoffs and loophole deductions."

    Two things here: one, people who rent houses and apartments still effectively pay property taxes, because their landlords pass them through in the form of higher rent. Two, it depends on the house and your income. I own a house in a smaller city with a lower-cost market, and in all but two years since 2005 it has actually been to my tax advantage to take the standard deduction (and in one of those years, the difference was minimal so I took the standard deduction anyway for convenience).

  4. Da Moose Says:

    I've said it here before but I'll say it again. Ultimately, the only reason that I dislike the current tax system is that automatic withholding from my check gives Congress and the President an endless stream of cash to waste. It's not coincidental, in my opinion, that the rise of the MIC coincided with the advent of withholding. When Congress knows that they've got guaranteed cash coming in, they think little on how to spend it wisely. Get rid of withholding and you get rid of special interests.

  5. cromartie Says:

    Get rid of withholding and you get rid of special interests.

    Hilarious. You might get rid of somethings by eliminating withholding, but special interests aren't one of them. The "in" for special interests involves the private funding of elections. If you want to get rid of, or curtail the influence of, special elections, publicly fund elections, removing private money from the process.

  6. Morzer Says:

    At some point, Gingrich will realize that the US is actually over 200 years old. At that point, expect him to skedaddle for the hills with his tail on fire.

  7. Middle Seaman Says:

    A nice assortment of commenting monkeys this early Monday morning, you must be doing something right, or wrong, Ed. I pay federal, state, SS and Medicare taxes at about 30%; it's been like that since my income reverted from a six figure starting with a 4 or 5 to my current 1. (I am old and happy.) I used to pay about 20% in the good old days.

    The dead people all voted for Genghis guy. He is not funny; he's scary. Don't forget the only capable president we had in the last 32 years is Big Daug and many hate him for that.

  8. c u n d gulag Says:

    Newt hit all of Conservative G-spots in SC, the absolute craziest of all of the crazy states.

    The ignorati in the base think that in debates, he's going to do to Obama what he did to Juan Williams.

    If Newt, despite the efforts of the money folks in the party, somehow or other becomes the candidate, in real debates, Obama will carve him up and gut him like a Halloween Jack-o-lantern.

    Obama is smart. Newt is faux, FOX, smart.

  9. JazzBumpa Says:

    I know I caused great waves of nausea with the last link i posted here, but I won't apologize. We might as well understand the world as it really is.

    Back on topic, here is a Newt take-down you all will enjoy.

    http://www.mrdestructo.com/2012/01/world-war-newt.html

    Cheers!
    JzB

  10. Xynzee Says:

    @C U: as smart as Obama maybe, never underestimate the power of large blocs of stupid people voting.

    Romney being Newt-ered, would actually be the best possible outcome. He's crazy enough to keep the T-tards from splitting the ballot w an independent (of course never rule out the Toupéed Sphincter torpedoing the ticket).

    That will either drive the Independents and more sensible Rs into the Ds camp or make them stay home. Like an alco hitting rock bottom, only by handing the Rs Newt's bloated arse after a complete and utter route will force them to do some soul searching and purge their crazies. Romney losing with or without an indepenent splitting the ticket will only cause them to double down on crazy in the coming years.

  11. mm Says:

    Wages have been stagnant for the vast majority of American workers for the past 30 years.

    As you make more money you pay more money.

    People don't have enough money.

    They blame taxes for that rather than blame the forces allied against the worker to keep wages down.

    People also complain about how much teachers and cops and post office clerks make. I tell them that the problem isn't how much those people are making. The problem is that you don't make enough.

    I understand why people have to take a lot of the under the table jobs. But I think a lot of people ask for cash because they think they're paying too much tax. This is going to bite them in the ass when they get older because they won't show up in the system and won't get as much social security as they should be entitled to.

    They think they're screwing the government and brown people but they're really screwing themselves.

    I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to who have been voting Republican for years and then are shocked to find out that college aid for their children or disability income for themselves is not available.

  12. Major Kong Says:

    If I'm paying taxes it means I'm making money. I can live with that.

  13. Sluggo Says:

    Lots of taxes means lots of income, so I would not mind paying more in taxes in that way.

    All in all, I feel like I get a lot for my tax dollar, roads, meat inspectors, a military to to keep those godless Canadians up north etc. Sure the money could be better spent, and getting rid of special interests and political money would make things better, but considering Congress is actually a 535 person committee, the Federal Government works ok. Not perfect, but ok, in light of the 535 person committee.
    Insurance, on the other hand, pisses me off. Best case scenario, I spend the money for insurance and I never get anything back. If do get something back, then it means that something has gone south in my life.

    A couple of other thoughts: many people don't think of the different level of government as different entities, they think of it as something monolithic. Second, all their withholding gets lumped into 'taxes' subconsciously, even if part of it goes into their own pocket via an employee savings program or 401k. Finally, regression taxes like sales tax, gas tax, car stickers are always in your face, reminding that they are there. Even when they don't amount to much, there is a burr under the saddle quality to them.

  14. Number Three Says:

    For the past few years, the missus and I have paid 17% in federal income taxes–more than Mitt!–but I am not complaining, as we are doing quite well.

    The one claim on taxes that I find hard to swallow was Newt's–that he and missus number three paid 32% last year. Given the way the tax system is set up, it's almost impossible to do that. I'm not saying he's lying. I'm saying that he needs better tax planning.

  15. Kulkuri Says:

    Agree with Blahedo, having been a homeowner since the 70s and have never been able to game the system in order to use the 1000 different writeoffs and loophole deductions."

    One year a Senator for the state I was living in at the time released his tax return for the previous year(his wife's millions were a different matter and kept private). Between his salary and some other income, he made over 10 times what I did and his tax bill in actual dollars was less than half of what I paid. That's what pisses me off!!!!!

  16. Morbo Says:

    As of 2005, the only percentiles paying over 30% in effective federal taxes were 99.5% and up. The average household pre-tax income for the lowest data group (99.5th to 99.9th) was $1.2 million.

  17. eastriver Says:

    My wife and I work as freelancers, under an LLC umbrella. We do quite well, and have been fortunate that our income hasn't been hurt by the downturn. We live in NYC. We pay a shitload of taxes. (Sorry to get technical.) Between city, state, fed, and other bullshit fees (my apologies for the fiscal lingo), we pay 40 to 45%, depending on how you figure it.

    Fuck R-money and his 15%.

  18. Monkey Business Says:

    The way the tax structure exists now, there is an upward curve for everyone whose primary income is a salary, rather than investments. Once you have invested enough to live comfortable on interest, dividends, etc., your effective tax rates drop dramatically, as that kind of income is very lightly taxed.

    Moreover, it's self renewing. If you continue working, you can continue to reinvest your interest and dividends and eventually end up with significant personal wealth on which you pay very little in taxes.

    Because of family investments made in my name, my effective tax rate hovers around 20%, or more than any candidate for either party pays. In a good year, I usually owe taxes. In a bad one, I'll get a small return.

  19. JohnR Says:

    W/ref to your comment #2: these "dead" people – were they all dead or only mostly dead? Because mostly dead is slightly alive, and that would be allowed under present voting laws.

  20. anotherbozo Says:

    Speaking of Gingrich jokes, if you missed it, Wanda Sykes on Newtie the other night, not to mention the rest of the circus:

    http://www.shewired.com/box-office/2012/01/20/wanda-sykes-talks-republican-candidates-tiny-penises-and-obsession-gays-video#.Txsbxi0WMbe.facebook

  21. NoPublic Says:

    My total taxation rate (not including "buried" taxes like sales and gas) was 29.6% last year. About 25% of that was the Fed in one way or another (SS, Med, Income), so Income Tax alone ran around 17% IIRC. I don't make anything like what the 1% makes but I think I'm somewhere in the very bottom of the 10%.

  22. Sarah Says:

    Off-topic, but did you all hear that a Democratic campaign manager in Arkansas came home with his family recently to find that the family cat had been killed and left on the front porch with the word "liberal" written on the carcass?

    http://bluearkansasblog.com/?p=8417

  23. mothra Says:

    When I was a contract paralegal, I was paying 17% taxes. The self-employed get screwed, I tells ya what. Of course, I wasn't able to capitalize on deductions which could have helped me out (didn't have a home office), so it's partially my own damn fault…

  24. c u n d gulag Says:

    Sarah,
    Yes, and that is some sick shit.

    This is NOT a 'both sides do it," situation.
    I can't imagine any Liberal harming an animal to make some stupid, mindlessly violent, political point.

    The police need to look for someone in a black or brown shirt. This is clearly some Facist wannabe nut.

  25. Daniel Murphy Says:

    "2. The Republicans in favor of Voter ID laws have finally found a clear-cut case of widespread fraud on which to hang their rhetoric: it appears that 953 dead people managed to vote in the South Carolina GOP Primary."

    That statement is very wrong.

    On January 11, 2012, the South Carolina Attorney General directed that office's State Law Enforcement Division to investigate irregularities allegedly found by the State DMV director. You 'll notice that January 11 is before the South Carolina primary. The "953 dead people" are alleged to have voted in previous elections in South Carolina, not in the primary.

    The allegation by the DMV director that "953 dead people" have voted in previous elections is based on discrepancies between the DMV database and voter registration records. The allegation is disputed by Marci Andino, the director of the South Carolina. Election Commission. Testifying before a South Carolina state house committe, Andino said that many of the dead people are known to be alive. She said she had requested from DMV a list of all the "953 dead people" but had so far been given only six names. Of those six:

    "One was an absentee ballot cast by a voter who died before election day. One was the result of an error by a poll worker who mistakenly marked the voter as

  26. Daniel Murphy Says:

    "One was an absentee ballot cast by a voter who died before election day. One was the result of an error by a poll worker who mistakenly marked the voter as “John Doe III” when he was really “Joe Doe Jr.” Two were the result of clerical errors — stray marks on the voter registration list detected by the scanner that counts votes. Two were the result of poll managers incorrectly marking the name of a deceased voter instead of the actual voter who was listed either above or below the deceased voter on the list." – thestate.com

    In summary, the story of "953 dead people" voting in the SC primary is hogwash. The allegations predate the primary. No one in South Carolina has yet identified a single "dead" person who voted. The 953 names that the SC DMV director claims to have found might all be explained — when anyone bothers to investigate — by errors in DMV records, absentee ballots cast by voters who subsequently died, electronic scanning errors, confusing the names of living voters with dead nonvoters, clerical errors by poll workers, and South Carolina Repubican voter fraud scare hyperbole.