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For three years, "tax reform" has been the centerpiece of the Republican Party's program for the American economy. Ever since taking control of the House, GOP leaders have promised that "lowering rates" while "broadening the base" would produce "revenue-neutral" tax reform. In 2011, 2012 and again in 2013, 95 percent of congressional Republicans voted for the Paul Ryan House GOP budget establishing just two tax brackets at 10 and 25 percent, while promising to recoup hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue annually by closing some of the tax breaks that now cost Uncle Sam about $1.2 trillion a year. "We won't duck the tough issues," Mitt Romney's newly anointed running mate Paul Ryan told voters in August 2012, "We will lead."

As it turns out, ducking the tough issues is exactly what Ryan and his GOP colleagues in Congress have done. After three years of refusing to name a single tax expenditure or deduction they would curb or close, Republicans are chickening out on tax reform altogether.

That's the word from Politico, which reported this week that House Republicans have put the tax reform proposals of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) on ice. Seven months after they threatened to tie any debt ceiling increase to tax reform and five months after Camp promised them 50 years of secrecy for any loopholes they'd suggest for closure, Paul Ryan and his Republican allies have decided discretion is the better part of valor:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others pulled the plug last month on Camp's long-standing vow to take up a tax overhaul bill this year, putting his three-year quest in limbo. The reversal shows how support for tax reform, even among Republicans, is broad but not deep. They routinely say they want to overhaul the Tax Code, but when the Michigan Republican pushed to take the first big step -- putting out a bill -- party leaders blinked.
They blinked because the math is hard—and the politics even worse.

Here's why. While repealing Obamacare, slashing Medicaid funding by a third and leaving roughly 38 million more people uninsured, the Ryan budget still runs up trillions in new red ink thanks to its massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Ryan's plan to reduce the top tax rate from 39.6 to 25 percent, to shift from seven income brackets to two (10 and 25 percent), to cut the corporate tax from 35 to 25 percent and other changes will cost Uncle Sam $5.7 trillion over the next 10 years. In March, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) forecast that Ryan's payday for the gilded class would slash the average tax bill for millionaires by $330,000 (15.4 percent) a year.

Read more about tax reform below the fold.

As TPC's Howard Gleckman explained the numbers:

The tax cuts described in Ryan's budget would generate a huge windfall for high-income taxpayers. On average, households would get a cut of $3,000. But those in the top 0.1 percent of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average-a 20 percent increase in their after-tax income.
To put it another way, each of the Ryan budget budgets backed by House and Senate Republicans over the last three years inevitably will produce both oceans of red ink and a Treasury-draining payday for the rich. Unless, that is, Republicans can identify which tax breaks and loopholes they would limit or end to prevent those two certainties from coming to pass.

And from the beginning, that's precisely what they've been too cowardly to do.

As the Washington Post showed (chart above), the trillion-plus dollars in annual tax expenditures is now larger than Uncle Sam's take from the income tax each year. Much of the estimated $1.3 trillion in annual tax expenditures in 2015 (a figure almost double the size of the last fiscal year's budget deficit) benefits working and middle income Americans. For example, the home mortgage interest deduction was worth $89 billion in 2011. Tax-deferred 401K accounts cost the Treasury $63 billion that same year. The Earned Income Tax Credit had a similar price tag. It's no wonder, as the Post concluded, "ever-increasing tax breaks for U.S. families eclipse benefits for special interests."

So which ones would John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and company curb or close?  We're still waiting for an answer.

Matthew Yglesias mocked the dodge at the center of Ryan's 2012 budget, the same one he used before and since:

Thirteen pages dedicated to explaining his vision for revenue-neutral tax reform. And even so he manages to not name a single tax deduction that he's planning to eliminate. Home mortgage interest deduction? I dunno. Electric vehicle tax credit? I dunno. Deductibility of state and local income taxes? I dunno.
That same month, Paul Krugman tried to decipher which deductions and tax breaks are actually in the mystery meat that is Paul Ryan's budgetary dog food. As he explained in "Pink Slime Economics":
We're talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That's a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That's the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe on March 20, 2012, Congressman Ryan declared he would "get rid of the special interest loopholes, special deductions, lower everybody's tax rates, bring in at least as much revenue to the government but grow the economy and create jobs, and get spending under control so we can pay off this debt." But when host Joe Scarborough asked, "Which one of those [loopholes] do you eliminate," Ryan decided to duck and cover:

"We want to do this in the light of day and in front of everybody. So the Ways and Means Committee, which is in charge of the tax system, sent us the plan here, which is a 10 and 25 percent bracket for individuals and small businesses, and then they want to have hearings and, in light of day, show how they would go about doing this."
Appearing on CBS' Face the Nation just days later, Ryan again claimed that "We're proposing to keep revenues where they are, but to clear up all the special interest loopholes, which are uniquely enjoyed by higher income earners, in exchange for lower rates for everyone." But he once again pleaded the Fifth when asked which "special interest loopholes" he would do away with:
"That's what the Ways & Means Committee is supposed to do. That's not the job of the Budget Committee," Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. "What we're saying is, we want to do this in the light of day, not in some backroom deal. We want to have hearings in the Ways & Means Committee that Chairman Dave Camp has already started that work, to say what tax benefits should go."
Almost two years later, Camp won't publicly say what tax benefits would go, either. As McClatchy reported in June on the progress he and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) had made:
Both chairmen refused to say what they supported or what tax loopholes they'd propose closing. Camp focused instead on areas of agreement.

"There are so many good (tax) simplification policies that we agree on," he said.

Asked whether they'll propose limiting the mortgage-interest deduction that homeowners now enjoy, Camp acknowledged that two-thirds of Americans don't itemize their federal taxes and said that perhaps a complete rethink was in order.

A complete rethink, indeed. During the 2012 campaign, Paul Ryan's running mate Mitt Romney similarly called for closing tax loopholes to offset his huge tax cuts for the wealthy. For months, Mitt Romney had performing the same trick as Ryan, promising only that the "1 percent keeps paying the current share they're paying or more." His economic adviser Glenn Hubbard even confirmed Romney's cowardice, explaining "it is not his intention to take on any specific deduction or exclusion and eliminate it."

Unfortunately for the Republican ticket, nonpartisan analysts trying to model Romney's proposals did. And the picture they painted wasn't a pretty one. Even after assuming the closure of tax loopholes and deductions which disproportionately favor the rich, the Tax Policy Center forecast that President Romney would end up cutting  taxes for the richest five percent of earners while increasing the tax bill for the other 95 percent of Americans. It's no wonder Ezra Klein concluded that "'broadening the base and lowering the rates' is anti-family tax reform," adding:

"The size of the tax cut he's proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more."
Romney stuck to his line, assuring voters those gains for the gilded class weren't true because no one could predict what his plan would do. During an appearance on CNBC, he went for the full ostrich:
"So I haven't laid out all of the details about how we're going to deal with each deduction, so I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly it can't be scored, because those kinds of details will have to be worked out with Congress, and we have a wide array of options."
In response, the Post's Klein could only shake his head:
"Let's be clear on this: A tax plan that can't be scored because it doesn't include sufficient details is not a plan. It's a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it's not a plan."
It's certainly not plan, but instead a fraud. Yet just days after Barack Obama vanquished his Republican opponent, Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt suggested the president make the Republican scam his own. "Look at ways to increase revenue by one growing the economy," he said on Fox News. "And two, maybe look at the tax code, just like Governor Romney suggested, you look at the tax code and increase revenue without increasing taxes." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor agreed:
"What would be best is a fundamental reform of the tax code that lowers rates, broadens the base, makes America's business competitive again, and reduces the burden imposed by taxes on work and investment."
But by September, Cantor didn't even include tax reform in his list of priorities for House Republicans. As for Paul Ryan, next week he has a compromise budget proposal to work on with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, a task he must complete to avoid another embarrassing government shutdown for the GOP. And after that, he has a 2016 presidential campaign to contemplate. All of which means the Republicans' three-year tax reform scheme is, at best, on the backburner. As Politico concluded, Camp and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan did not make it any easier on themselves:
Lawmakers had no idea how they'd make the math work. It would be a mammoth task, forcing them to dig into big, popular middle-class tax breaks.
Or, to put it another way, tax reform is dead. Long live tax reform.
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Comment Preferences

  •  eliminate the tax cut for (17+ / 0-)

    6 of McCain's 7 homes.

    And eliminate corporate welfare tax breaks

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:36:16 AM PST

    •  Tax home sales (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noodles, agoldnyc

      My theory is that the lack of tax on all homes sales capital gains has more to do with the housing bubble than Clinton's desire to have everyone own a home.  A home should not be seen  tax free saving account or a easily accessible source of short term cash.  The mortgage deduction is good, not taxing income from a house is as bad as not taxing other capital gains at a high rate.

      Charitable deductions also need to, or be deducting at 50% or less.  A lot of these go to churches, which is basically used to provide services to the member.  It is like setting up a non profit to take care of one's lawn. Other money goes to places like united way, which recently built a massive complex on one of the most expensive pieces of land in the city.  Then there was the story on the Washington Post of the probleM with embezzlement and how nothing is done about.

      What annoys me most about charitable contributions is that a corporation probable gets a publicity return at least equalling the contribution, but still gets to deduct the contribution.

      •  The home mortgage deductions is a tax on renters (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman, OooSillyMe

        It is unfair. In some places one may be earning a huge amount of equity through owning a home while paying less in monthly mortgage payments than what a renter across the street pays for their house or apartment. If anything, shouldn't renters be getting a break because they can not afford to earn that extra equity. At the very least, no one should have such a tax break short of being unable to afford a place to live in the first place.

        •  If they really want to go to the most regressive (0+ / 0-)

          tax policy possible they should do what the Union of South Africa did under apartheid and go to a stiff head tax as the only federal tax with the death penalty for failure to pay.  That would serve mostly as an excuse to exterminate the poor--if they could manage to capture and execute the poor who couldn't pay their head tax.  I doubt it would raise much revenue.  It would be more likely to start a serious civil war--the federal government versus the poor fighting for their lives.

      •  _some_ home sales are taxed (0+ / 0-)

        but this article still calls the deduction the "best tax break available to Jane and John Q. Public"

        http://www.bankrate.com/...

        "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

        by agoldnyc on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 12:57:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  nonprofits (0+ / 0-)

        -- even crazier is deductions for lobbying.

        ALEC's nonprofit status is, I hope, gone, but there are likely others

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        http://www.alecexposed.org/...

        "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

        by agoldnyc on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 01:01:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Red ink? (5+ / 0-)

    IOKIYAR!

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:43:59 AM PST

  •  The Democrats need to run on the idea (16+ / 0-)

    of eliminating the lower rate on capital gains.  Why should workers have to pay a higher tax rate than the rich?  And the lower capital gains rate has never been shown to provide the economic boost its backers always claim.

    •  that's pretty quixotic. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir

      there's probably a lock in effect when rates get high enough; people just don't sell because they want to defer the taxable event. that's probably a bad thing.  

      the reality-based tax policy question, then, turns on what rate that effect kicks in and what sort of negative impact there is on investment.

      •  I don't think that's really proven (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Julia Grey, Egalitare, Rolfyboy6, Odysseus

        There's certainly a lock-in effect if you think the rates are going to drop.  (But unlike in Republican fantasies the windfall effect at the other end (people realizing their gains after the drop) has always been short term and not enough to make up for the lost revenue.

      •  well (11+ / 0-)

        First, that's basically the Laffer curve argument, if you really want to be making it.

        But more importantly, we were promised when the cap gains rates were lowered that lower rates would boost the economy, and not just be a perk for the rich. Didn't happen. Like the 401k, it's an experiment that failed.

        •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

          If only someone had the stones to stand up to the Insane Teabagger Cabal and increase the Capital Gains Tax to match the Earned Income Tax.

          Oh, and for any US-based corporations, just like expatriates, tax the money they make overseas.

          Boo, hoo - the 1% have to pay an extra $300,000. That is so miniscule for folks who make HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS; they won't even notice it.


          Bigotry, prejudice and social "conservatism" always fail. Always.FloydA

          by Simolean on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 10:08:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  That isn't what happened before 1996 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Angie in WA State, desert rain

        or whenever the last major rate drops happened.

        Rich people went along merrily buying and selling stocks anyway. (The high-frequency-trading and arbitrage opportunities were a lot fewer pre-computers, but frankly, putting a bit of a damper on those through higher rates or a transaction tax might well be a good thing for the markets.) "Buy and hold and collect the dividends" was a more common philosophy, but I know of no studies attributing its demise to tax rates rather than "get rich quick" propaganda.

        What high rates (and the estate tax threat) DID do was give wealthier people large incentives to gift some appreciated stock, artwork, and other assets to charities. The Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Mellons did not fund libraries, museums, and universities just because they were better human beings than the current crop; they also had astute tax advisors who told them it would actually save them money.

  •  Paul Ryan doesn't know what the fuck he's doing. (20+ / 0-)

    I wish people would stop taking him or his proposals seriously.  Oh, a Ryan budget!  Let's all ooh and ahh at how wonky he is!

    It's basically a P-90x program for fucking over the poor.  Every. Single. Time.

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:47:27 AM PST

  •  Republicans want to cut taxes for the filthy rich? (8+ / 0-)

    I'm shocked! Shocked, I say!

  •  Camp has come out with a bunch of specific (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Rolfyboy6

    proposals, but word is those have been shelved.

  •  I found the 50 year gag rule amusing. (7+ / 0-)

    Because discussing SS contribution caps is just like investigating the Kennedy assassination.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:53:51 AM PST

    •  I am so tired of the DC crowd, including the prez, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yoduuuh do or do not

      going with 50 year gag rules, fast tracking a "secret" trade deal that includes raising prescription costs, and all of the politicians giving us the "we feel your pain", "inequality is bad", but "we must cut entitlements" like we didn't pay for them in advance.  I guess they think we will just "shut and take it."

      These secret trade deals are shipping more factories, etc. overseas and losing more jobs!  Fifty year gag rule - are you kidding me.  We need some sunshine laws!

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        If something has to be "kept secret for 50 years," then it has no business being enacted/discussed.

        Hell, if historical records/policy decisions have to be kept secret for any amount of time, then they're in opposition to the core tenet of Democracy.

        "Oh but national security derp, derp!"

        Nope. If the government can't figure out how to release the general info (withholding the operational details ONLY for a short period of time, but eventually releasing them as well), then they are unfit for office.


        Bigotry, prejudice and social "conservatism" always fail. Always.FloydA

        by Simolean on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 10:14:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Someone please explain to me (5+ / 0-)

    how enacting tax reform that results in "broadening the base" and is "revenue neutral" accomplishes anything, particularly what the Republicans say is their highest goal, i.e., lowering the deficit and eventually lowering the national debt.

    I can understand their wanting to broaden the base to accomplish moving employer benefit deductions to individual employees where they would not be treated as deductions, but that's not actually revenue neutral.  So why promote a policy that wouldn't amount to much of a move toward reducing federal spending?

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:54:45 AM PST

    •  efficiency. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Julia Grey, SueDe, nextstep

      as a general matter, we don't want people bending over backwards to structure their affairs just to get tax benefits.  if nothing else, that results in assets being overallocated to tax lawyers and accountants. (like me!)

      •  Don't buy that... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lencialoo, marty marty, Miira, desert rain

        The euphemism "broadening the tax base" is a pleasant way of saying they're going to shift the tax burden downward. The phrase makes the policy sound "fair" to all others yet still caters to the people rich enough to hire tax accountants/lawyers. Efficiency? Hardly. The fact that people structure their affairs for tax benefits and hire attorneys to advise them doesn't phase people like Paul Ryan at all. Hell, he might even call it a jobs program for folks like you! (a little snark... sorry).

      •  Bending over backwards to build a business? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marty marty

        Or is it something else, like defining your business as a corporation to shield yourself for liability and having all your relatives designated as the shareholders?

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 12:33:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's just doublespeak (13+ / 0-)

        "Broadening the base" is conservative code for "shifting the tax burden downward".  It's a way to sell tax increases to the middle and working classes, while doing nothing about the deficit (which is nothing more that a bogeyman, as opposed to an actual policy stand).

      "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

      by Buzzer on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:07:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, just look at the details (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Buzzer

        "Broadening the base" does not ever include sweeping in income that the rich do not want taxed -- offshore bank accounts, the "carried interest" scam for hedge funds, reducing the amount rich people can stash away in 401ks, eliminating the Romney ruse of buying artifically low penny stocks in one's IRA that immediately multiply in value exponentially, etc. etc.

      •  Oh I'm very aware of what (0+ / 0-)

        "broadening the base" means in their parlance, but what's the point of arguing for a "revenue neutral" plan.  Why?  Is that supposed to make it easier for Democrats to agree to changing the tax code?

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 12:37:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Another way to send more money to the top 1% from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        desert rain

        the poor and middle class.  In reality they want to get rid of the middle class because we demand things, like good schools, decent roads, good jobs, hospitals, clean water, etc. etc. etc.  They want to put all of us in with the poor.  Then it will be the "winners" against the "losers."  They can't stand our demands.

        The politicos are willing to destroy our states and thus our country for their own way of thinking.  GOP governors are destroying the states over taking Medicaid and the ACA.  Here in Georgia we have lost 3 rural hospitals....but both wealthy farmers and others live in the rurals - making their life harder and threatening their lives.  Heck, most of Georgia is rural.  What corporation wants to come to a state with jobs if there are no hospitals.  These governors put everyone in the state in danger - but they don't care.  Just like the GOP who shut the government down because of ideology!

  •  Damn, I was sure (0+ / 0-)

    that first graphic was titled 'Popular Perversions'

  •  Let's go back to Johnson's top rate. (9+ / 0-)

    In 1953, under President Eisenhower, the rate for top earners was 92%. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson lowered the top rate to 70%...

    The top federal tax rate was reduced from 92% to 70% by Johnson in 1964 and the Gross Federal Debt was reduced from 71.4% of GDP down to 35.6% over the next two decades.
    The above is from an article in Forbes that can be found HERE.
    From the same article, another relevant point...
    The 92% tax bracket applied to income over $400,000 in 1953, equivalent to an income of $3,439,611 today. Since this tax bracket applied to very very few, the economic destruction was small. It was still a large disincentive for those subject to these rates, but the total effect on the economy was small.
    Republicans "worry" so much about debt and deficit, and yet all Republicans since Eisenhower only pay these things lip service, and Democrats are the ones who actually do the heavy lifting required to reduce debt and deficit.

    Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

    by Icicle68 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:57:13 AM PST

    •  the old code was like swiss cheese. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      It was a gazillion times more loopholey than what we've got now.  So much so, in fact, that effective tax rates were roughly what they are now despite the drastically higher marginal rate.

    •  Actually it was lowered to 77% in 1964. (0+ / 0-)

      Then to 70% in 1965. Actually Kennedy wanted it lowered to those rates and ran on that. Keep in mind there were many more tax brackets back then as well, about 25 of them. Looking at a chart which I found here. I noticed that, when looking from 1971 on (when a separate category for singles was created) that many of the tax rates under 100K were not that much different from today (aside from some brackets of married, filing separately) are fairly consistent with today's rates. Even though earning 50K a year was really big money back then.

  •  I decided to take the NYT graphic (5+ / 0-)

    "Who Gains Most From Tax Breaks"
    and see how the top 20% compare to the bottom 80%.

    According to the NYT there is a total of $939 Billion in tax breaks. The top 20% receive $602 billion of these tax breaks, which is 64%.

    About 2/3rds of the tax breaks go to those with incomes over $100k.

    To be first in the soil, which erupts in the coil, of trees veins and grasses all brought to a boil. -- The Maxx

    by notrouble on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:04:55 AM PST

  •  "Tax reform" (8+ / 0-)

    to Republicans basically means making the tax code even more stacked in favor of the wealthy.

    I do not understand why it must be "revenue-neutral," either, except to please Grover Norquist.  The tax code needs to be reformed so that we can actually, you know, pay for shit.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:13:32 AM PST

  •  speaking of economics i just sent $$ to kos as i (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paige, Angie in WA State

    did last week. their appeal so far has resulted in $116,000 being contributed by a total population of 8,000 readers. frankly i am not impressed. if you are broke then by all means you get a pass and my hope that things turn around for you. if you are fairly comfortable then you should pony up immediately. this site is the best source for news and comradeship and ideas and so on that i have been able to find. just blogging as vote returns come in is worth much more than the price of admission ( the price of admission being zero near as i can tell). so send 5 or 10 or 20 or a 100 dollars today to keep this ship afloat. i truly believe stuff that happens here spills out into the non-cyber world and increases the chances of our kids and their kids living in a better world.  

  •  Income Inequality (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, marty marty

    The fortunately now dead Ryan/Camp Tax Reform proposal would be income inequality on steroids and the complete economic destruction of what's left of the middle-class in this country.  

    I kinda wonder if part of the reason Ryan has decided to back-off has anything to do with the recent statements by "his" Pope?

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:36:07 AM PST

  •  Tax reform is important (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, desert rain

    Here's what I'd get rid of:

    1. Employer health insurance tax break.  Put everyone on Obamacare or a single-payer system (done by the states).

    2. Capital gains tax break.  Treat capital gains as income.

    3. Tax breaks for estate assets.

    4. Child tax credit.  Should be limited to a lifetime total of two per person, and the credit should be increased for low and middle class individuals.

    "The Republican Party is at a crossroads. It must decide whether it wants to be the party of Lincoln or the party of apartheid." -Ted Kennedy The teabaggers have chosen to be the party of racism and apartheid.

    by TeaBaggersAreRacists on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:42:49 AM PST

  •  And only a very few tax breaks go to people ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Eric Nelson

    ... who pay no tax. (Some do, because they're designed as credits and go toward reducing the tax to zero.)

    It's not surprising that most deductions, credits, rate preferences and tax avoidance structures go to taxpayers ... and to the more well-heeled, the more breaks. Breaks like the preferential rate Romney of Bain pays benefit only the well-heeled. That's another reason why the GOP's incantations about prohibitively high tax rates are irrelevant and misleading.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:51:56 AM PST

  •  Help (0+ / 0-)

    Please help us put pressure on our Governor to expand Medicaid (Phone number) 334-242-7100 or fax 334-353-0004 governoralabama.gov/contact/

     Please support the citizens of Ala. (Medicaid expansion) please sign the petition http://www.crumpton2014.com/...

    Here's his facebook page also (let him have it) https://www.facebook.com/...

  •  Tax Reform (0+ / 0-)

    Personally, I would like for them to go to a flat tax, business and individuals alike, no matter the income, pay the same percentage. No deductions, no loopholes, just a flat percentage. I don't know what that rate would need to be, I'm sure somebody is smart enough to figure that out. Also would like to see a national sales tax of one or two cents on the dollar that, by law, must be dedicated to paying off the debt. The only problem with my idea, it treats us all the same, no way republicans will go along with that.

    •  Consumption taxes make much more sense (0+ / 0-)

      as the wealthy would pay much more with the middle class receiving rebates. But that will never happen here as long as we have hedge fund managers using loopholes like carried interest to keep their tax rate at 14-15%.

      Ryan's two tier system doesn't say anything about the carried interest loophole. Why? Because Ryan himself wants to preserve it so that after he leaves congress he will be able to benefit from the carried interest loophole just like Romney does now.

      Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering. If you like hypocrite Obama, you'll love hypocrite Hillary.

      by harris stein on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 11:29:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit (0+ / 0-)

    as soon as you turn 65, whether retired or not, receiving Social Security or not. You can get a credit the prior 50 years, but it ends at 65 - which is not even the retirement age (66 or more now, soon 67).

    Isn't it great to be old - and you can't get Obamacare either, only Medicare, which costs you more, even though you paid into it all your life.

  •  Immediately after the first president of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skepticalcitizen

    republican party, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated by a white southern racist, laissez-faire capitalism became the rallying cry of both political parties. It wasn't until the urbanized cowboy of the gilded age, Teddy Roosevelt, that the politicians understood that without a solid middle class the nation was doomed to a pseudo democracy that was more like medieval feudalism.

    Now we have tea baggers repudiating the history of the republican party as if the last 150 years never happened. They are again singing the praises of laissez-faire capitalism. Laissez-faire capitalism as a system to bring the work a day masses out of poverty is an abject failure. So why do people like Paul Ryan and his ilk continue down the path they have staked out? Obviously for Ryan all one needs to do is follow the money. As the chair of the house budget commitee he can demand out sized campaign cash from folks like the Koch brothers. Also he is privy to confidential economic and financial information that he can use to increase his personal wealth. But what about the tea baggers at the bottom of the totem pole? Do they really believe that tea baggers like Ryan and his Koch brother mentors are going to let them in the power center?

    This is a delusion the republicans and some democrats have used for generations to scam the American people. As long as there are middle class tea baggers who believe that they can rise in the ranks by following Ryan down the garden path we will always be dealing with this shit.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering. If you like hypocrite Obama, you'll love hypocrite Hillary.

    by harris stein on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 11:16:29 AM PST

  •  My suggestion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Eric Nelson

    would be to use the NSA to track down the Billions in
    unreported offshore Income that never gets taxed at all.

    That will NEVER happen. The NSA is OWNED by the folks
    that are Hiding all that Money.

    The last estimate of All unreported income in the world
    was 32 Trillion dollars.

    Is there really any Question of WHY this country
    has a budget Deficit ?

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 11:17:31 AM PST

  •  seems to be missing a few - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marty marty

    like the Carried Interest rate, for instance.

    Focusing on tax deductions for regular individuals is ABSOLUTELY the wrong framing to accept in any discussion about taxes and the budget.

    The focus needs to be on a return to a reasonably progressive rate schedule - for example, how about a mantra of

    Restore Reagan Rates

    During the bulk of Reagan's tenure, the top rate was 50%.  He cut it to 28% in his last year in office - a typical rebublican tactic; trash the place for the next guy.

    If the top bracket was increased to 40-45%, the deficit would be not an issue, funds to rebuild infrastructure would be readily available - AND we could stop talking about cutting Social Security, etc or eliminating meaningful deductions for working citizens.

    •  The republicans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paradise50

      have and always will insist on the middle class paying the bill for their failed policy. I do believe government spending and fiscal responsibility has to be a part of any reform, but saddling the middle class with the bill, while continuing to give the rich a free ride is bullshit.

      •  ...the middle class always pays for... (3+ / 0-)

        ...the bills. They pay the largest amount of their income to pay for the bills. They pay the bill for TARP and George Bush's wars. They pay the interest on the debt (which is the biggest reason the deficit keeps going up).

        The system is rigged for the rich to screw up yet not pay for their mistakes...

        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 12:54:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  spending and responsibility - right (0+ / 0-)

        like cutting defense budget by 50-60% - by ending wars and occupations abroad that mainly create the enemies we ostensibly are defending against,  by ending the corporate welfare for Boeing, MacDac, et. al. building overpriced weapon systems designed for an enemy that doesn't exist, etc.

        like instead of subsidizing oil, gas and coal extraction - tax them and put money into better solutions - e.g. lighter/graphic structure electric cars, cheaper led lighting, etc.

        yes there are many ways to cut government spending - none of them involving social programs, infrastructure, eduation and other basic common good policies.

        blah blah blah.

    •  No such thing as (0+ / 0-)
      the Carried Interest rate

        A portion of such a partnership interest may or may not be Cap Gains quaifying for the long term CG tax rates.

      My Karma just ran over your Dogma

      by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:14:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  fascinating charts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marty marty

    I'm especially intrigued by the comparison (in the first chart) between the cost of the capital gains rate and the Earned Income Credit. If the Republicans were being honest about wanting to close loopholes, they would bundle those two together in an offer. But no, they only want to end the EITC and anything else that gives money away to poor "takers" rather than rich ones.

  •  Grover Norquist's pledge can get in the way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    Many tax reform items can have unintended consequences of raising somebody's tax bill. Game over.

  •  It may be they have reached the point... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    ...of severely diminished returns from all inputs.

    No matter what additional resources they apply - whether it's voter suppression, greater undisclosed campaign "assistance", etc., they just might not be able to "move the needle" anymore.

    And "the Owners" REALLY, REALLY don't like diminished ROI of any sort.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 01:05:39 PM PST

  •  A bit OT; Dave Camp/republicans are aiming.. (3+ / 0-)

    .. for their favorite massive loophole as Kossack jamess covered earlier; the repatriation loophole

    Exempts 95 percent of overseas earnings from U.S. taxation when profits are brought back to the United States from a foreign subsidiary.
      [...]
     -- Frees up existing overseas earnings to be reinvested in America after they are taxed at a low rate in line with current repatriation proposals.
    I commented with some recent links to the fight against this massive giveaway/ tax evasion scheme the republicans pull every 5-10 years or so.

     the guardian has exposed a list of those evading taxes:

    multinational corporations are holding somewhere in the range of $2 trillion outside of the country, to avoid paying the taxes they owe when they bring the money back to the U.S.

    ................................................

    Thx Jon Perr for covering the whole republican scheme on this
    ............................................
    BTW; I think your title nailed it:

    Republicans chicken out on tax reform
    Paul Ryan was practically laughed off the stage with his last BS 1%er giveaway. It looks like the GOP's latest tax scheme is just as foul as the last.
    Lawmakers had no idea how they'd make the math work. It would be a mammoth task, forcing them to dig into big, popular middle-class tax breaks.
    No wonder they don't want to it out there under scrutiny before 2014. - that's my take anyway
    •  All carrot, no stick (3+ / 0-)

      They want the money repatriated with no strings attached.

      Low or no taxes is one thing. Not that I condone that, but it is one thing.

      But presumably favorable tax treatment is tied to targeted use of the newly available capital, an entirely different thing. In the old days, building new plant and equipment as opposed to gratuitously rolling around in a new pile of cash.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 02:33:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  End subsidies for oil and corporate agriculture, (0+ / 0-)

    and end tax exemption for ALL religious/church property and for the NFL.

    And deport all the republicans.

    Bring me the head of Geraldo Rivera.

    by old mark on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 01:53:25 PM PST

  •  My question for Paul Ryan, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, marty marty

    since he's advanced a plan that he claims will be revenue neutral, while not decreasing the amount that the wealthiest Americans pay in taxes--"What the hell is the point?"  

    If all that's being done is changing the labels on the same amount of money that everyone is going to be paying, then isn't it just a dog and pony show?

    And yes, I realize that Ryan is full of shit and his actual agenda is to give tons more money to rich people, but my point is that even if we take him at his word then there still doesn't really seem to be any good reason to bother doing what he suggests.

  •  Now is a golden opportunity for real tax reform (0+ / 0-)

    This is where the Democrats have a chance to pick up the ball and run with it by redefining the term and closing out loopholes at the top. In fact, everyone seems to agree that tax reform would simplify the tax code. So why shouldn't there only be a drive towards having as few loopholes for the rich as there are for poor individuals and businesses alike? The poorer you are the more you need tax breaks while the more you make, the more you should be required to pay the full amount. Most American families and businesses only have a handful of exceptions to the tax codes while the wealthiest have potentially hundreds of ways to do so.

    Progressive taxes, when high in the past, kept the profitability of the wealthiest businesses and individual at capped at rates which were not greater than that of smaller entities, allowing all equal opportunity to prosper.

  •  No surprise, they're a bunch of cowards. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marty marty

    "Really nice, but also very serious about his job." Jackie Evancho on President Obama 6/7/12

    by BarackStarObama on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 02:44:58 PM PST

  •  In the US Congress 'tax reform' is just another (0+ / 0-)

    way to say 'how can we look like we're busy without actually doing anything'.

    Want real tax reform?

    Stop taxing income (with all of it's attendant, endlessly produced loop-hole legislation).

    Start taxing sales of services and goods. Exempt food to cook at home, mortgage or rent on a single home, medical services and products including drugs. These are what the poorest among us spend most of their dollars on (I know, I've been one for decades now).

    Stop fooling ourselves that in the age of computers and exhaustively extensive tax codes, the rich will ever pay anywhere near the rate they should. They never will.

    The only way to stop the legal evasion of taxes by they wealthy and corporations? Stop using a tax system they can continue to beat.

    If you only tax services and products (sales and/or value-added taxes), and capture the tax at the retail sales level (just as states like Washington do today), there will be no cheating or evading paying.

    It's that simple.


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 03:58:55 PM PST

  •  They want our refundable credits (0+ / 0-)

    that the chart shows...it just kills them that they do not get a lion's share of that pie.

  •  It was always a Gimmick (0+ / 0-)

    Tax Reform has always been a gimmick to cut taxes for the well off.

  •  A REFRESHING CHANGE... (0+ / 0-)

    It's rather nice that when the Republicans finally act with the courage of their convictions (once in a blue moon), and they chicken out on pushing for something like tax reform, it actually works out well for the American peons on the bottom of the economic totem pole. Of course, the conservatives' tabling their tax reform proposal has less to do with courage, and more to do with not wanting to commit political suicide. Oh well, we'll take it any way we can get it...

  •  Definition of a loophole (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    The Republicans' dilemma is the operational definition of special interest loophole.  It is any tax deduction I can't take.

    Every loophole is a crucial deduction for someone, and will piss off the recipient.  The Republicans are too cowardly to do that.

  •  personal memorandum (0+ / 0-)

    add to any statement of intent by a GOP candidate (not).  as in "Congressman Ryan declared he would (not) "get rid of the special interest loopholes, special deductions, lower everybody's tax rates, bring in at least as much revenue to the government but grow the economy and create jobs, and get spending under control so we can pay off this debt."
    and conversely remove 'not' from any statement containing it.  as in "We (will) won't duck the tough issues," Mitt Romney's newly anointed running mate Paul Ryan told voters in August 2012, "We will (not) lead."

  •  Tax Code Reform (0+ / 0-)

    I find it interesting that one of the ways mentioned in which Congress is losing tax revenues is through tax-deferred 401Ks. I only wish the newspaper had done their homework & reported on the rest of this. Beginning in 2016 (a scant 24 months away), and continuing for another 10-12 years, the baby boom generation will begin to turn age 70 1/2. All who hold these tax-deferred accounts will be subject to RMD (required minimum distribution). In 2016? over 3.5 million eligible, and every year after that, another 3.5 million added to those who will be in their 70s. Income tax boon for Congress? - you bet, without Congress having to change one thing in the tax code to get it. Let's see, in about 2028, there should be over 75 million folks paying new income taxes to the government. Which sector will get the shaft? Try mutual fund companies, the stock market, & the bond market. As we are taught in Econ 101, if there are more sellers (all those boomers) than buyers for any commodity, the price of that commodity will drop. My prediction - by 2028, the Dow will be at around 8,000.
    Watch for it...

  •  Losing a Tax Break By Default (0+ / 0-)

    People who use mass transit will be losing a tax break at the end of the year by default.  The tax break provides for pre-tax dollars to be set aside (similar to medical flex accounts) to pay for the costs of riding mass transit.  The expiration of the current bill will reduce the amount that may be set aside for mass transit while increasing the amount that may be applied to driving costs.

    This will have the effect of discouraging use of mass transit while encouraging the use of cars - exactly the opposite of what we need if you want to reduce the number of cars on the road, importation of petroleum, pollution, uninsured drivers, etc.

    Tax Break For Mass-Transit Commutes May Soon Be Slashed

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