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The BOLO List And The Question Of Optics VS Effectiveness

TIGTA IRS Audit Wordle

The TIGTA audit reveals the BOLO “Tea Party” list was right 81% of the time. But does that change anything?

1/3 of Flagged 501(c)(3)&(4) Applications were from Non-Conservative Groups

EO "Potential Political Case" Breakdown

Tax analyst Martin A. Sullivan finds that 1/3rd of “potentially political applications” approved by the IRS were from non-conservative groups.

So Far, Issa’s IRS Transcripts Contain A Whole Lot Of Nothing


Just about all of the substantive information in the excerpts was already revealed in the TIGTA audit.

Open IRS/501(c)4 Discussion: Crime and Damages

TIGTA IRS Audit Wordle

Today on the Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Doug Urbanski asked the following open-ended question about the “IRS Scandal”: “Why has no one been fired or arrested for this clearly criminal activity?” That comment led me to some linked questions that I’m currently working my way through. I thought that OTB readers (in particularly lawyers – […]

Tax Day Rage


Dave Schuler’s a hard man to rile. But stay away from him on tax day.

Thoughts on Illinois’s Fiscal Mess

Earlier today James mused about my reactions to the income tax increase that the Illinois legislature has passed. I’ve put my thoughts here.

Obama: Don’t Raise Taxes During Recession


A year ago, President Obama was emphatically against raising taxes during the recession — even on the rich.

Conservative Class Warfare


Before we raise taxes on the rich, let’s first stop the flood of tax money that’s subsidizing their lifestyle.

Whites 5 Times Richer Than Blacks


After reading a Guardian story is headined “A $95,000 question: why are whites five times richer than blacks in the US?” I still don’t know. A typical white family is now five times richer than its African-American counterpart of the same class, according to a report released today by Brandeis University in Massachusetts. White families […]

One-In-Four U.S. Households Have Ditched The Landline


A new government survey indicates that the number of American households who have decided to get rid of the once-ubiquitous land-lane phone has hit another high: One in 4 households has a cell phone but no traditional landlines, a trend led by the young and the poor that is showing no sign of abating. The […]

Bob Bennett Loses in Republican Fight: Purge of the RINOs?


In the leading edge of what is expected to be a minor wave, Utah Senator Bob Bennett was defeated in the Republican nominating process last evening. Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah has lost his bid to serve a fourth term after failing to advance past the GOP state convention. Attorney Mike Lee and […]

Frustration and Ideology


Radley Balko “got a little more libertarian” yesterday after a frustrating experience with his income taxes.  Essentially, his e-file was rejected because of an invalid Social Security number which wasn’t invalid at all, the Social Security office wouldn’t help him by phone, and the office was closed by the time he got there.  And he […]

Americans Giving Up Citizenship Over Taxes


A small but growing number of Americans are renouncing their citizenship because the tax burden outweighs their perceived benefit: According to government records, 502 expats renounced U.S. citizenship or permanent residency in the fourth quarter of 2009 — more than double the number of expatriations in all of 2008. And these figures don’t include the […]

Tax Resentments: A Nation of Freeloaders?


John Hinderacker pronounces this the “Greatest. Cartoon. Ever.” He comments: Is the US turning into a nation of freeloaders? One certainly hates to think so, but there are powerful forces pushing us–lots of us–in that direction. Michael Ramirez captures the phenomenon of the 21st-century freeloader brilliantly. If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention. […]

Misinformed on Taxes


Fellow conservative apostate Bruce Bartlett points out that, not only do Americans wildly overestimate their tax burden but that Tea Party supporters are especially likely to do so. This poll sampled all Americans for their views on taxation and oversampled those who claim to be tea party supporters. Question 54 (page 25) is reproduced below. […]

America: Economically Unfree?


When the Heritage Foundation announced this week that it had moved the United States to “mostly free” for the first time in the history of its Index of Economic Freedom, I took it as a flaw in the index rather than a useful statement about freedom in this country. Like many libertarian-leaning conservatives, I frequently […]

47% Pay Zero Federal Income Taxes


The combination of a down economy and various stimulus givebacks means that nearly half of Americans paid no federal income tax in 2009. Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions of Americans, but for nearly half of U.S. households, it’s simply somebody else’s problem. About 47% will pay no federal income taxes for 2009. […]

Alan Simpson: Best Damn Record of No Taxes of any Son-of-a-Bitch

Alan Simpson 2007

Alan Simpson’s wit, candor, and integrity made him one of my favorite senators of all time. And now he’s fighting back against the interest groups that are killing our party. Former Sen. Alan Simpson is none too pleased with conservatives who say he lacks sufficient antitax fervor.  “I got the best damn record on no […]

Is Karl Rove Conservative?


Reagan apostles Craig Shirley and Donald Devine take to the WaPo editorial page to argue that Karl Rove is not a conservative. From William F. Buckley Jr. to Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan, the creators of the modern conservative movement always taught that excessive concentration of power in government leads inevitably to corruption and the […]

Taxes Per Person


Harvard economist Greg Mankiw argues that taxation as a percentage of GDP is a misleading way to compare national tax burdens and instead argues that we should consider taxes per person, which he calculates as Taxes/GDP x GDP/Person.   Using this metric, the United States is in the middle of the pack of major economies: France […]

Misery Loves . . . More Misery


Matt Yglesias points to David Brooks’ assertion that “The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting” in order to tout a congestion pricing tax. Brooks doesn’t pivot from this into any real policy specifics. But the upshot of the commuting point is very clear—we should charge people a fee to drive on crowded roads […]

Social Security Payouts Exceed Pay-ins


The Social Security Ponzi scheme* is collapsing sooner than expected: The bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing recession have hurt jobs, home prices and now Social Security. This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross […]

Radical Center: Friedman’s Fantasy


For a really bright fellow who spends a lot of time talking to cabbies and world leaders, Tom Friedman has a remarkably naive view of how the world works.   His latest brainstorm is a “Tea Party of the radical center.” My definition of broken is simple. It is a system in which Republicans will be […]

The Power of Education in California

Pulp Fiction UC Santa Cruz

John Ellis, president of the California Association of Scholars and a former professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, argues that the state university system in which he taught for nearly four decades helped ruin the state’s economy. [W]hy is the California legislature so irresponsible, not to say goofy? Well, California is extremely rich in […]

Consent of the Governed


Glenn Reynolds has been pushing an interesting meme: that somehow the United States should be a direct democracy. This seems to be the direct implication of his Sunday Examiner column and this morning’s  link teased with “If members of Congress won’t come to their constituents, their constituents will come to them,” but it’s also endemic […]

Harold Ford Tennesee Tax Resident, New York Political Resident

Harold Ford

Harold Ford, who is seeking to get elected to the United States Senate from New York has been filing his taxes in Tennessee instead.  Or, more accurately, not filing them since the Volunteer State doesn’t have income taxes. Gawker‘s John Cook: When it comes to his shadow run for Senate, Harold Ford is a New […]

Tax Increases For the Middle Class–Nope


According to this story President Obama is planning on letting the Bush tax cuts and the ATM. In the 2010 budget tabled by President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House wants to let billions of dollars in tax breaks expire by the end of the year — effectively a tax hike by stealth. While […]

Time for an Investment Tax Credit?


Greg Mankiw has 9 reasons on why an investment tax credit (ITC) is a good idea. The one that I think will resonate most with people is number 7, 7. So much for theory, but would it work? The cash-for-clunkers program is thought by many to have promoted, or at least accelerated, car purchases. An […]

Why Raising Tax Revenue is Hard


Reuters blogger Felix Salmon contends that our tax system encourages income inequality because it generates more revenue for the treasury. [W]hen you have a progressive tax system, especially when there are surcharges on people making seven-figure incomes, you also have a system where for any given level of national income, the greater the inequality, the […]

Krugman on the Debt and Deficits


Paul Krugman has taken some rather interesting stances on the fiscal situation here in the U.S. First up is a piece entitled Fiscal Train Wreck from March 2003, With war looming, it’s time to be prepared. So last week I switched to a fixed-rate mortgage. It means higher monthly payments, but I’m terrified about what […]

Lies, Damned Lies, and Health Care Polls


Ezra Klein points to a new ABC/WaPo poll showing a solid majority support “a law that requires all Americans to have health insurance, either getting it from work, buying it on their own, or through eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid.” Further, the same poll finds a third of those who oppose would switch sides “if […]

Health Care Reform Tax on Low Income Earners


James Capretta does a back of the envelope calculation on the Baucus health care reform bill and concludes that it would be like having a 70% marginal tax rate on the low income. According to CBO, family coverage in 2016 is likely to cost about $14,400 under the so-called “silver option” in the health-care reform […]

9/12 Protests

9-12 protest NYT

Yesterday, somewhere between “tens of thousands” and “two million” people flooded the nation’s capital to protest somethingoranother. Thousands Rally in Capital to Protest Big Government (Jeff Zeleny, NYT) A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since […]

President Obama = President Carter?

Avedon Exhibit

That is what Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie argue in their Washington Post article. Barely six months into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be driving south into that political speed trap known as Carter Country: a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets not just with failure but with scorn from political allies […]

Stupid Chart of the Day


Conor Clarke has devised the following chart of the federal effective tax rate paid by the wealthiest 1% over the last 15 years: While he doesn’t “love the idea,” he think it justifies paying for health care for the poor by taxing the rich.  Kevin Drum agrees, adding, The basic story is simple: As their […]

Health Reform Politics

Health Care Debate Graphic

Mickey Kaus calls Ezra Klein a “concern troll” for his “unsettling thought” that: [H]ealth-care reform isn’t simply suffering because the public is overly opposed to some of its revenue raisers. It’s suffering because the public is insufficiently supportive of its core. … [snip] [I]t’s not obvious what health-care reform will do for the average American. […]

Yet Another Appointee with Tax Problems


Capricia Penavic Marshall, President Obama’s nominee for chief of protocol at State (an ambassadorial position) failed to file taxes in 2005 and 2006.  She filed late in November, citing various excuses that are ever-so-slightly plausible. Marshall joins Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, and others.  (And eventually-to-be Senator Al Franken got a jump on all […]

Birmingham Cuts Services After Losing Tax Money

Birmingham Tax Cuts

A court decision striking down Jefferson County, Alabama’s commuter tax — combined with an impasse in the state legislature — has led to the shutdown of significant government services, Bloomberg reports. Alabama’s most populous county is preparing to stop road maintenance, close courthouses and shutter services for the elderly after a court struck down taxes […]

Just Prisoners There, Of Their Own Device


Jon Henke Twitters: “The California referendum proves that what voters want to spend is not well-connected with what voters are willing to pay.” Quite right.  Californian Kevin Drum takes as a given that his state is “broken” but sees no solution in sight.  While he’s in favor of Governor Schwarzenegger’s idea of a constitutional convention […]

Taxing Beer to Pay Doctors


USA Today reports on a proposal circulating in the Senate Finance Committee to fund health care through sin taxes on booze. Beer taxes would go up by 48 cents a six-pack, wine taxes would rise by 49 cents per bottle, and the tax on hard liquor would increase by 40 cents per fifth. Proceeds from […]

Obama Winners and Losers


I mentioned Newt Gingrich‘s article “Are You an Obama Winner? Or an Obama Loser?” at the tail end of Wednesday’s episode of OTB Radio (“Republican Party, RIP?“) but never got around to blogging it.  It is both a classic Frank Luntz-inspired use of obnoxious language to paint a dire picture of the Democrats — and […]

British Celebs Fight Taxation with Representation

Michael Caine

In my New Atlanticist piece, “British Revolt of the Artists,” I take a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at the threats of  Michael Caine and Andrew LLoyd Webber to leave the UK if a Labour plan to raise taxes goes through. While refraining from gratuitous Alec Baldwin references, I do point out that, “Rich artists are perhaps […]

Great Minds Think Alike


A Gallup poll showing that 48% of Americans believe their federal income tax burden is “about right,” and 46% saying it’s “too high” has naturally generated some conversation. Both Dave Schuler and Kevin Drum, though, looked behind the numbers and realized the 48% figure isn’t so impressive once you factor in the fact that somewhere […]

Ari Fleischer’s Flat Tax


Ari Fleischer‘s WSJ column “It’s Bad for Our Democracy to Exempt Half the Country From Income Taxes” is attracting widespread commentary, mostly along predictable party lines. While I agree with the basic premises (see, for example, “Class Warfare: Framing the Debate“) I am rather dubious of his actual programmatic prescription: I favor the abolition of […]

Obama’s Tax Pledge


Isn’t true if you engage in a lifestyle that most people find icky. You know that pledge that if you make less than $250,000/year you won’t see an increase in your taxes? Yeah, well not if you smoke. One of President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges on taxes went up in puffs of smoke Wednesday. The […]

Our Stupid Tax Code


The stories of Obama appointees whose integrity had heretofore been unassailed having to file amended tax returns are now so common that I don’t find them blogworthy.  Paul Caron‘s post yesterday (via Insty) on how visiting professors on sabatical from their home institutions, though, provides yet another opportunity to examine the bewildering complexity of our […]

AIG Executive Quits in Style


Jake DeSantis, an executive in AIG’s much-derided financial products unit, has resigned in protest of what he believes shoddy and dishonorable treatment by his firm and his country’s political leadership.  NYT has published an open letter to CEO Edward Liddy. I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can […]

AIG Bonus Tax Constitutional, Bad Policy, Unnecessary


Jack Balkin, the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, examines the Constitutionality of the Houseand Senate versions of the bills taxing bonuses of AIG and other companies that received government bailouts and pronounces them Constitutional.  He quickly dismisses arguments under the Due Process, Takings, Ex Post Facto, and […]

AIG Executives Remind Gregg of Founding Fathers


Senator Judd Gregg makes a rather thin analogy here regarding the punitive taxing of AIG executive bonsues. “Using the tax code to exact retribution or divert public attention from the government’s own errors is unjustifiable. Also, the implications of pursuing this course of action are not that we will recover the bonuses distributed to AIG […]

Taxing Bonuses Bad Policy


There’s a consensus emerging among the bloggers I read that taxing AIG bonuses, in addition to being Constitutionally questionable, is just a really bad idea.   Let’s leave aside the conservative die-hards and libertarian types, who might be expected to think that, and concentrate on those on the leeward side of center. Nate Silver offers some […]

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