Open Thread for Tuesday, June 27, 2017

John Kasich, pictured here campaigning in South Carolina last year, and other governors led the charge against the Senate bill.

John Kasich, pictured here campaigning in South Carolina last year, and other governors led the charge against the Senate bill.

Since there was little interest in today’s earlier offerings, let me try a few other topics to see what bait you’ll rise to:

  1. Why a new car in SC will cost $200 more starting this week — I’ll tell you why. Because the car sales tax has been kept artificially, absurdly low for a generation, and lawmakers finally got up the nerve to raise the $300 cap a bit. If you buy a typical new car, you still won’t be paying sales tax on most of the value of the purchase. This is about as regressive as a tax can get. A poor man buying a beat-up used car to get to work pays full sales tax on the $10,000 price. Someone buying his kid a $50,000 Lexus to park at college doesn’t pay a dime in tax more than the guy buying the $10k model. This is backwards. We should make the first $10,000 in value tax-exempt, and tax the amount above that. (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as Bernie Sanders as you’ll see me get — unless you want to talk single-payer.)
  2. Senate leaders postpone vote to overhaul Obamacare as bill faces GOP rebellion — That’s a good start. Now if you’ll just go ahead and delay it for good, you’ll be onto something. It couldn’t happen to a meaner bill.
  3. Key Constituency Against Bill: Governors of Both Parties — Because governors have to deal just a bit more with reality than Congress does. Or some governors do. The maxim doesn’t necessarily apply to governors we’ve had in South Carolina for the past 15 years (although I still haven’t entirely given up on Henry, and Nikki did get better toward the end). The first governor cited in this story: My man John Kasich, who should be president now.
  4. New Ransomware Cyberattack Spreads From Europe to U.S. — Maybe we should go back to doing everything on paper. That would be a drag — instead of Twitter, I guess I’d have to write my tweets in a notebook, tear out the pages and throw them into the wind from the Capital City Club, which would put a crimp in my likes and retweets — but this is getting ridiculous.
  5. Pregnant Serena Williams poses nude for Vanity Fair cover shoot — Hah! Let’s see John McEnroe do that! On second thought, let’s not and say we did…


42 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, June 27, 2017

  1. bud

    We should make the first $10000 tax exempt …

    Now you’re thinking like a true liberal.

    1. Harry Harris

      My thinking over the years has been to exempt about the first $6K. This would eliminate a lot of the onerous “casual sale” transactions that bring in some money but are a burden for folks sekking their used cars to another individual.

      1. Claus2

        Used vehicles should not be charged the sales tax, the vehicle sales taxes have already been paid on the vehicle when originally sold.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        And Cindi recently proposed exempting just the first $1,000 of value:

        Under current law, someone who buys a $6,000 car pays the equivalent of a 5 percent sales tax, while someone who buys a $56,000 car pays a tax that is just 0.54 percent of the purchase price. The House bill would raise the cap to $500. So people would now pay the full 5 percent on cars that cost up to $10,000 — but someone buying a $56,000 car would still pay just 0.89 percent. That change, which would generate $70 million a year, is not much of a step toward a fairer tax.

        A better way to raise that same amount of money is to eliminate the cap entirely and lower the tax rate on automobiles, so everyone pays a tax of about 3 percent on the total purchase value; that is, make it an actual sales tax rather than a fee for purchasing a vehicle. Alternatively, exempt the sales tax on the first $1,000 of the purchase price, and tax the rest of it at the normal 5 percent. That is, create a tax floor instead of a tax cap…

        I’d exempt more than that, and I wouldn’t lower the tax. I might, though, lower or even eliminate the personal property tax that people have to pay every year. That’s more onerous than having to pay a sales tax….

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Ah, but wait!

          MORE recently, Cindi said what I said — make the floor $10,000:

          And then there’s the change to the sorest sore thumb in our tax code: raising from $300 to $500 the cap on the sales tax for cars, boats, motor homes, planes and other vehicles. The $300 cap means someone who buys a $6,000 car pays the equivalent of a 5 percent sales tax, while someone who buys a $56,000 car pays a tax that is just 0.54 percent of the purchase price. With a $500 cap, people will pay the full 5 percent on cars that cost up to $10,000 — but someone buying a $56,000 car would still pay just 0.89 percent. Lawmakers could have raised the same amount of money by exempting the first $10,000 of a vehicle’s value and taxing the rest, even at something less than 5 percent. And they should have….

  2. bud

    Another good progressive tax policy would bo to tax property at a higher percentage as the value goes up. Example: a 100k house you pay 1% or $1000. Tax the next 400k at 2%. A 500k home would have a tax of $1000 + $8000 = $9000. The next 500k @ 3%. And so on. This would help working class people get into a home faster and also tax the people who benefit from government services most. You could call this the fair tax 🙂

    1. Claus2

      How is that fair? A “fair tax” is where everyone pays the same percentage.

      Who benefits more from government services more, someone who makes $100,000/yr. or someone who makes $1,000/yr.? If the former, I’d like to know where I too can receive my government subsidies and government provided services for free. I’m going to get an Obamaphone!!! Obama is going to pay my mortgage!!!

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You mean a Reaganphone.

        Here we go again with this ridiculous notion that lazy poor folks are living high on the hog at the expense of all their betters — the decent, hard-working folks (who ALWAYS succeed, just because they TRY).

        Who benefits more from taxes — from having infrastructure and public health and schools and a clean environment and law enforcement and laws protecting personal property? Rich people do. No one benefits more than they do from the amenities that our taxes pay for. All of those things lead to a safe, healthy society where people can go out and make a lot of money and be confident of keeping it. It gives them healthy, educated customers with cash in their pockets, without whom they’d have nothing.

        Everyone benefits from taxes well spent. It’s just that those who thrive and become wealthy in the environment those expenditures help create benefit more, at least materially.

        I’ll never, EVER understand how people can’t see that. It’s all so obvious

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t know if it’s a matter of not being rational, although that could be part of it. Certainly there’s emotion involved.

            But I think it’s more a matter of not SEEING the connections, actually not perceiving the complex ways our activities and interests interact in a modern economy.

            It’s not that they’re seeing it and then reaching irrational conclusions. I think a lot of folks just don’t SEE it…

            1. Claus2

              Pre-Widespread Entitlements Programs, did hard working people get and stay rich? You make it sound like this is impossible unless lazy people receive enttilements. How about we seriously try to cap benefits like they do for things like Unemployment Insurance? Is there a cap on EBT, subsidized housing, free medical benefits, etc….?

            2. Bob Amundson

              When emotion is involved, humans are not rational. There is a plethora of research supporting this concept.

              1. Bob Amundson

                In fact, it turns out that making decisions by “gut instinct” are invariably wrong. A good primer is “The Undoing Project.”

          2. Claus2

            And some humans don’t rationalize using their head.

            Why are entitlement programs in this country as large or larger than our military? Why is it so easy to get government subsidies? I believe it’s easier to get on them than to get off them. Ever offered someone a job and they respond with the paycheck interfering with their welfare benefits? “Sorry, I can’t take the job because it would reduce or disqualify me from receiving EBT benefits.” Yeah, isn’t that the point of working???

            1. Claus2

              Am I the only person here who remembers a time, or grew up in an area, where being on welfare was an embarrassment to you and your family? I remember families who would grocery shop at weird hours just because they didn’t want to have someone see them paying with food stamps. I guess times have changed, now people brag about how much they receive in government assistance as if it’s something to be proud of.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yeah, I remember a time when “being on welfare was an embarrassment to you and your family” — right now.

                Who are these people who’ve been bragging?

                1. Claus2

                  Not to the extent it once was. I had a friend’s mother who used to break down crying when it was time to go pick up government subsidies (cheese, flour, powdered milk, etc…) because she knew the people who worked at that location. Now unless you know what an EBT card looks like you don’t know if they’re swiping their EBT card or their debit card. Until you hear the clerk tell them they purchased items that aren’t approved (there aren’t many) or they don’t have enough on their card to cover… then all hell breaks loose.

                  I guess being able to buy healthy things like PopTarts, frozen dinners, and soda’s is better. It also coincides with the obesity epidemic in this country. Poor people used to be skinny, now they’re the fattest.

                2. Claus2

                  WIC I believe has limits… milk, formula and other things only a baby or infant would need. EBT needs to be limited to staples only, no prepared food especially fast food.

        1. Claus2

          I never said they’re living high on the hog, but they’re living higher than they should factoring in the amount of time and effort they put in to receive these benefits. Every able bodied man and woman should fit into three classes… working, actively seeking work or going to school. 3rd generation professional welfare recipient isn’t a career path. I’ve met people who are on welfare and have never held a job in their life and don’t intend to because anything they’re qualified to do would reduce their standard of living.

          You get to keep all the money you make?

        2. Bob Amundson

          Humans are heuristic unless they consciously involve the “higher” brain. What did you think of Bret Stephens’ NYT’s op-ed “How Twitter Pornified Politics?”

    2. Doug Ross

      It’s always so easy to raise taxes on the people who will pay more than you will. So brave! So compassionate!

      I give 40% or more to the cause now. I’m not rich. That’s enough. Hard work cures a lot of problems. So does being responsible.

      1. Harry Harris

        Actually, it’s not easy. The wealthiest are the most aggressive political funders.

          1. Phillip

            So, only those who own estates with a value over five million dollars are allowed to utter an opinion, cast a vote, in whether there should be an estate tax? Only those who actually own stocks and bonds are allowed to have a voice as to the level of capital gains taxes? Otherwise, you’re a thief? Why don’t we just stop the illusion of democracy now and say that if you are worth more than $100 million you get to cast 100 votes, if you are worth $50 million you get 50 votes, and so on, and if you are worth less than $1 million you get disenfranchised.

          2. Harry Harris

            I’m actually calling for several taxes I don’t currently pay but think I should. I want a 1-2% social security tax on my dividend and interest income and a small, maybe 1/4% transaction tax on securities bought and sold – partly to damp speculation and arbitrage/hedging. Our securities markets have become a betting parlor as much as an investment opportunity.
            Theft is my other occupation.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Or maybe he believes the First Amendment should be amended to say, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, unless someone dares to call for a tax he will not pay, in which case he should be prosecuted as a thief.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If I had to do it to keep a promise, I suppose I would.

      Cindi Scoppe did a few years back… it was during a stretch of time when I was not her editor (between the time when I moved from news to editorial and she did), so I don’t recall all the details. But she did go to jail…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        OK, I just dug up the details on when Cindi went to jail, from a column she wrote about it years ago:

        What I and three other reporters did years ago was refuse to testify for federal prosecutors trying to convict then-Sen. Bud Long on extortion charges as part of Operation Lost Trust. As a result of our refusal, U.S. District Judge Falcon Hawkins found us in contempt and ordered us held by federal marshals; he let us go the next day when prosecutors rested their case.

        Unlike most such cases, though, we weren’t protecting confidential sources; the feds wanted us to testify about what Mr. Long had said to us on the record. Instead, we were making the point that people needed to be able to feel free to talk to reporters – on or off the record – without fear that the reporters were working as agents of the government to convict them of crimes. In other words, we were fighting to preserve the integrity of journalists….

        I forget exactly when it was. Cindi moved to editorial and left being a reporter behind in 1997, so it was before that…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, it’s not accurate to say Cindi “left being a reporter behind.” Even as an associate editor, she’s a reporter, and a great one.

          She uses her reportorial skills in every editorial and column.

          My approach was different. As an editor almost all my career, I was used to sending other people out to report, and made decisions based on what they brought me. So while I did do original interviewing and calling to get questions answered for the things I wrote, I didn’t dig up new material to the extent that Cindi does.

          She remains a reporter through-and-through…

        2. bud

          Funny how you defend journalists but patriotic whisleblowers like Edward Snowden are regarded as evil incarnate. Quite the double standard.

          1. Doug Ross

            Because Brad believes our intelligence agencies are pure and infallible. And to question their actions is akin to treason.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Thanks for exaggerating my views in order to make yet another spectacularly cynical point about our country and its institutions.

              Snowden didn’t question anyone’s actions. He betrayed highly classified information with which he was entrusted — plus, if I remember correctly, information to which he shouldn’t even have had access. He broke the law, he broke faith. He took it upon himself to appoint himself as knowing better than the duly constituted authorities under our Constitution, in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government.

              “Questioning their actions” is an absurd way to characterize what he did.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Defend reporters from what? What’s the allegation?

            Snowden spectacularly betrayed his country. He broke the law big-time. He should spend the rest of his life in prison, rather than hiding behind the Russians.

            I’m not following your comparison at all…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Go to jail.

          Of course, I have complicated views on this, which I may have expressed here in the past.

          I worry that, in standing defiant before a court, journalists can seem to be claiming special privileges for themselves. And that worries me, because we can ill afford to be viewed as a privileged class, despite the First Amendment responsibilities we have.

          When we can be helpful to law enforcement without compromising important principles, I think we should. We are, after all, citizens.

          I’m put in mind of a brush I had with law enforcement back in the early ’90s.

          We had reported something of high interest to law enforcement, something the FBI did not know about. So they wanted to know more. They requested an interview with me.

          It was arranged that I would meet them at the offices of the newspaper’s lawyer.

          I arrived at the same time as the two agents, and we exchanged pleasantries while waiting for the elevator.

          Then we got up to the lawyer’s office, went into a conference room, and sat down.

          The attorney started the meeting by asking whether these gentlemen had been properly introduced to me. Not understanding that it was a formal, legalistic question, I started to say, “Sure, we were talking on the way up…”

          The lawyer cut me off. His question had been a prompt for the agents to identify themselves formally to me and show me their credentials.

          Oh. Duh. Sorry…

          I forget the rest of the interview. I assume we stuck to line of “All we have to say is what was in the story,” because after all, that’s all we could nail down and say with certainty that we KNEW. But honestly, after more than 25 years, I don’t recall at this time…

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