September 19, 2018

bearded journalists

David Cay Johnston’s Plan to Save Social Security Has Some Really Big IFs

David Cay Johnston has a story with the counterintuitive headline "Social security is not going broke."  How does that work? With the coming bulge in retirees, Social Security will start to pay out more than it takes in 2021, according to projections in the latest annual report. Under current law the program would be able […]

David Cay Johnston Wonders If It’s Time We Threw the Income Tax on the Scrap Heap

Income tax pontificator David Cay Johnston can't help but think that maybe this particular revenue generation policy has run its course. It’s time to consider whether to get rid of income taxes, personal and corporate. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current system? Should we tax individual and corporate income — or something […]

David Cay Johnston: President Obama Has Out-Norquisted Grover Norquist

Granddaddy of tax gazetteers, David Cay Johnston, is poking at Grover Norquist again, this time over the quagmire that the Republicans find themselves in over President Obama’s payroll tax cut proposal. The very proposal that could make Obama the biggest Grinch of 2011. Ruined holidays aside, DCJ points out that if the Republicans shoot this down, they do so at the behest of what seems to be a very popular idea:

[N]umerous opinion polls show overwhelming public support for continuing tax cuts for workers and for raising taxes on millionaires. That has left Republican leaders no choice but to silently cry uncle and agree to the president’s request to extend and possibly expand the payroll tax cut.

The reason that Republicans aren’t so hot on the payroll tax cut is that it’s “temporary.” They’d rather see “permanent” tax cuts enacted, although those “permanent” tax cuts are never “permanent.” The “permanent” Bush tax cuts, for example, had to be “extended” last year because they were about to “expire” which basically makes them “temporary.” The payroll tax cut was originally enacted last year with the Bush tax cuts but as Paul Ryan says, it’s supposed to be like a holiday, which is to say, “We lived through it and we’ll just move on with our lives and never to speak of it again.” DCJ writes that this means Obama has beat the Republicans at their own game:

Having outsmarted Norquist, Obama gets to run for a second term as the champion of at least a $100 billion tax cut. Obama can even say that if Republicans had had their way, working people’s taxes would have gone up while taxes on billionaires would have gone down. And he gets to tell small business owners that, but for Republicans, their taxes would have gone down too.

This is a marketing fiasco for Republicans to rival the Ford Edsel and New Coke. Already more than 40 congressional Republicans have taken steps to distance themselves from Norquist, who scowls at the mere mention of what could have been his, but is now Obama’s, very popular tax cut.

In other words: Whose shorties are snagged now?

Republicans paint themselves into a tax-cut corner [DCJ/Reuters]

Steel Cage Death Tax Match: David Cay Johnston vs. Grover Norquist

Yesterday we called attention to the 60 Minutes interview of tax hatchetman Grover Norquist. Norquist haters nationwide were no doubt gritting their teeth while GGN yukked it up with Steve Kroft and spread the gospel of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge (aka “THE PLEDGE”). This may have inspired today’s column by the Godfather of Tax Journalists, David Cay Johnston. It explains first, how the utter failure of the Congressional Supercommittee actually will result in tax increases:

[B]arring a mad scramble to pass new laws in the next six weeks, workers will pay around $110 billion more in payroll taxes next year and they will not get a $55 billion tax cut proposed two months ago by President Barack Obama. Absent another last-minute fix, more than 22 million families will be required to pay higher income taxes due to the Alternative Minimum Tax, some only because a parent or child has cancer or some other costly medical need.

DCJ is of the opinion that these tax increases would violate THE PLEDGE and thus, should put every signer of THE PLEDGE directly in the tax assassin’s crosshairs. In short, THE PLEDGE is bullshit, says DCJ and its signers should really thinking about another pledge they took and act accordingly:

Pledge signers cannot serve two masters, Norquist and the Constitution. Politicians who do not renounce their pledge of allegiance to Norquist do not deserve to hold office as it prevents them from doing whatever is in the country’s best interests.

You have a choice to make, GOP lawmakers. This plea comes from another bearded man, so it should be taken just as serious.

GOP inaction means higher taxes [DCJ/Reuters]

David Cay Johnston Has A Few Questions

Why do we let corporations pick their auditors? Why do we have only four big firms instead of a dozen, a score or more? Why doesn’t government do the audits, as the IRS does tax audits? Why is law enforcement handcuffed by inadequate budgets and rules that hinder investigations? Why are auditors allowed to quietly resign instead of being required to blow the whistle? Auditing needs a shakeup, fundamental restructuring and the accounting firms need a serious debate about their failings, practical and moral. [DCJ/Reuters]

David Cay Johnston Impressed with Obama’s Wily Plan, Will Stand Up to Those Bullying Social Security

DCJ is putting the rubes (read: Republicans) on notice that A) Obama is one crafty SOB and B) if Rick Perry wants to throw around “Ponzi scheme” then two can play at that game.

Obama has also set a clever trap for anti-tax Republicans. Obama’s American Jobs Act would lower Social Security taxes for all workers and for all businesses in 2012. Republicans who vote against the bill would be voting against a tax cut. They would also be voting against a huge business tax break, letting business immediately write off all capital investments made in 2012. […] The latest assault on Social Security comes from Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican presidential hopeful who insists that social insurance for widows, orphans, the disabled and the old is a Ponzi scheme. If Social Security is a Ponzi scheme then so are public education, businesses and the state government that has for decades employed Rick Perry.

Father Christmas seems a little surprised that the GOP would find a tax cut they didn’t like but as we know, many don’t find the Social Security tax cut to be their cup of tea because of its lack of eternal life.

More for the rich [DCJ/Reuters via TaxProf]

David Cay Johnston Has a Reading Assignment For Anyone Not Sold on Government’s Role in Stimulating the Economy

Those who said after President Barack Obama’s speech last week to Congress that government does not create wealth, does not create jobs and cannot stimulate the economy spoke nonsense. So do those who say that only private business creates wealth, as if any revenue going to taxes destroys wealth. Adam Smith, who figured out market capitalism in his 1776 book “The Wealth of Nations,” could set them straight. We have plenty of equally competent economists who understand these issues today. They just do not get the attention that the news media lavish on high-profile politicians and pundits who speak with absolute certainty on matters about which their words show they know nothing. [DCJ/Reuters]