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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Reagan’s Way to Pay for Health Care
Returning to an equal-tax policy—taxing long-term capital gains at the same rate as taxes on earned income—could nearly pay for the health care bill all by itself.
"Afiscal Frankenstein”; so said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) about the health care bill just passed by the Congress. Soulmate Republicans echoed his warning, predicting budgetary doom.
But GOP legislators who cry fiscal wolf are twice trapped. For eight years, they aided and abetted as President Bush turned a budget surplus into a $1.2 trillion deficit. Worse, an inconvenient truth has inconveniently turned up: a tax policy passed by right-wing icon Ronald Reagan could pay for Barack Obama’s health care reform.
The policy is equal taxes on income from wealth and income from work, and it was a key part of Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986. The Act raised the tax on long term capital gains and set the rate the same as that on earned income.
Returning to an equal-tax policy could nearly pay for the health care bill. This simple fact was buried in the 2008 capital gains data released early this month by the Internal Revenue Service. Here are the numbers from a Bloomberg report:
“The [IRS] data show that 11.2 million tax returns out of 142.4 million filed last year reported $447 billion from capital gains. Most of that income, $363.3 billion, was earned by 964,160 households reporting overall income of $250,000 or more.” That $447 billion in gains, the article noted, was down 40 percent from the $749 billion racked up in 2007.
Now for some tax arithmetic. At the current 15 percent levy on long-term gains, the Treasury would have realized $67 billion on the gains for 2008. By comparison, if taxes had been paid at the top ordinary income rates of 33 percent and 35 percent, the Treasury’s take would have risen to more than $150 billion. The difference between the two figures is $83 billion—not far from the new Congressional Budget Office estimate of $94 billion a year for the health care bill. Using the IRS’s gains figure for 2007, and performing the same exercise, the difference would have approached $150 billion.
To be sure, the IRS figures do not indicate what portion of the reported capital gains was long-term (taxed at 15 percent) or short-term (taxed the same as other income). Nonetheless, especially for Blue Dog Democrats and other fiscal hawks, the message is compelling: look hard at Reagan’s tax equity policy.
The Tax Code was taken in the opposite direction long ago. President Clinton lowered the rate on long-term gains to 20 percent. President Bush cut it to 15 percent, little more than half what middle-class Americans pay on their wages. The Bush tax cuts are due to expire the end of this year, returning the capital gains rate to 20 percent. In addition—with fiscal strain ahead, and with Reagan guarding his back—President Obama should map out our return to the equal-tax path.
You can see how Reagan got there by looking into the reason that’s always given for low capital gains taxes—the claim that buying stocks drives the economy, growing new businesses and new jobs. Nice try, but The Gipper saw through it.
Only a trace amount of all the trading on Wall Street grows anything. Small companies with big dreams raise seed money through initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary offerings. These investments deserve a bigger tax break than they get now; there’s a strong case for making them tax-free. All other stock market gains should be taxed the same as wages (which they were, back when).
Doing so again would raise the cry that the rich were being hosed to pay for health care. On the contrary: tax equity penalizes nobody—on top of which, America’s taxpayers will never recover the hundreds of billions in restored tax breaks that Reagan, citing fairness, tried to end. How to pay for health care reform? It could be as simple as once more levying equal taxes on capital gains and other income. It’s only fair (and Reaganesque).
Copyright 2010 Gerald E. Scorse. Gerald E. Scorse helped pass a bill that tightens the rules for reporting capital gains.* He is a member of Responsible Wealth, an advocacy group for economic fairness.
*”The basis reporting legislation follows years of hard work by Prof. Jay Soled of Rutgers University, Prof. Joseph M. Dodge of Florida State University, and more recently...Gerald E. Scorse, who read about the work of the two professors and decided to make this reform his cause.” – Excerpt from David Cay Johnston’s "Tax Notes" column of 10/13/2008.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on April 25, 2010.