What Kansas says about our political future

Democrats got a huge boost this month in their campaign to maintain control of the Senate when their candidate in Kansas dropped out of the race. That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the declining influence of both political parties in a nutshell.

Independent candidate Greg Orman has carved out a space for himself in the policy gaps left by the two parties, but his appeal has little to do with his platform. He’s popular mainly for what he’s not. Orman describes himself as “business-friendly and socially tolerant,” in other words a Republican time-traveler from an age when the party didn’t scare people. Orman represents all the things people admire in a traditional Republican without the crazy.

Kansas is experiencing a fascinating political moment. The religious right seized power decisively over the past two elections and has pushed through a comprehensive conservative fantasy agenda. Rigid new abortion restrictions, draconian tax and budget cuts, new limits on voting rights, the Tea Party fringe got everything they could ask for short of a gold standard. The results have been as depressing as they were predictable.

The extremists who hijacked the GOP in Kansas have discovered, to their utter surprise, that drastic tax cuts do not produce budget surpluses. Exempting whole sectors of the economy from taxation has not spurred job growth or economic activity. The whole agenda has accomplished nothing but fiscal catastrophe. Their response so far has been to stick to the script and blame the font of all evil – Obama.

What makes Kansas interesting is that it is not Texas or Alabama. The outcome of this policy template in Texas for example has been far more catastrophic than in Kansas, resulting in massive budget cuts to key government services and a growing unease over fundamentalist religious regulations. The difference is that there are still pragmatic Republicans in Kansas and they have launched a revolt.

In one of the most reliably Republican states in the country, the Republican Governor is on his heels and the Republican Senator is trailing an independent. Why isn’t this good news for the Democrats?

In the short term maybe it is. Thanks to a growing wave of not-Republican voting Democrats appear likely to hold on to the Senate. Prospects for Republicans nationally in 2016 are extremely grim, with a strong likelihood of losing the ability to exercise any legislative influence at all nationally.

For Democrats the problem is that few people like them much either. All over the country Democrats are running on their singular strength – the fact that they are not as batshit crazy as their Republican opponents. That may win an election, but it is not a mandate for policy. Their biggest mistake of the past ten years was imagining that their victories in ’06 and ’08 were anything other than a protest vote. They are likely to make the same mistake again.

Orman would join two other officially independent Senators, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME). That is more independent Senators than we have ever had before before. Unofficially, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who won in 2010 by defeating the Republican Party’s nominee should probably be added to that roster. Rhode Island is being governed by an Independent. Charlie Crist who is running a close race for Governor in Florida is a de facto independent who has run for office in both parties and with no party backing.

Kansas is often regarded as a bellwether. What the state’s voters seem to be telling us right now is that they will vote for a Democrat when a Republican candidate is too dangerously bizarre to be tolerated, but they would much prefer an independent. That’s bad news for both parties, but it may open some promising possibilities for the emergence of a new Republican model.

A younger crop of Republicans in places less dominated by religious extremists is beginning to mature. In states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Orman would be a Republican. Bruce Rauner is running a very strong Republican campaign for Governor in Illinois that looks very much like Orman. Deep in the red state fortress, Republican bomb-thrower Doug Ducey is trapped in a tie with his Democratic challenger for Arizona Governor. Far right Republican candidates are facing surprisingly tight challenges in Georgia and South Carolina. Tea Party darlings in Maine and Pennsylvania are all but doomed.

Disappointments that loom over the GOP in the next few years could be the forge of a new vision for the party. Tone down the paranoid rhetoric, drop the religious authoritarianism, allow reality to once again influence our vision of fiscal responsibility and you could have a powerful, nationally competitive platform. Robbed of blubbering, terrifying Republicans to run against, a Democratic Party still chained to the anchor of 20th century union machine politics might finally drown.

That policy platform isn’t going to emerge from the red state fortress, but Republicans winning elections in the north and west could point the way forward. Both parties may be unpopular, but thanks to the disruptive power of defeat it may be easier for Republicans than for Democrats to pivot to adopt a winning platform.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2014, Republican Party
176 comments on “What Kansas says about our political future
  1. kabuzz61 says:

    Captain, you are correct and JG is wrong. The left constantly harps on the separation of church and state but JG doesn’t see the quid pro quo. Constitutionally the government can’t take any actions against a church unless they can prove without a doubt that they are in fact not a church. I would like the left to try to get a judge to take an action against a church without very clear evidence of wrong doing.

    • Crogged says:

      Freedom to refuse medical care is something I support, ask my doctor about my ability to follow her directions. In an earlier posting Fitty was in favor of the Freedom from BO Act passed by the Kingdom of San Diego, which put me in an uncomfortable position, as I’m not a true fan of bad smells, but was forced to defend the right to stink………

      • fiftyohm says:

        Oh fiddle. I never suggested BO legislation. I said only that we didn’t have to be all good with it for the sake of political correctness. And you, old pal, suggested our cultural odorlessness was a corporate conspiracy!

      • johngalt says:

        As I recall, the BO issue had to do with cab drivers. Cabs are a public service licensed by the city. If the city can issue regulations regarding hygiene for food prep workers (hand washing, hair nets, etc.), why can it not require hygiene standards for other licensed public service workers? Now, if you tried to make it a misdemeanor for a private individual to stink up an elevator, that would be over the line.

      • Crogged says:

        I’m outta here on this topic, in more ways than one I’m sure……..no correctness intended, just a little more tolerance, to a point of further disagreement obviously. New blog post, wonder how I can not not let go of this there.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Don’t say, “Let go here”! That’s worse than BO. Especially in an elevator, as JG said!

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I dont think the tax free status of churches has anything to do with sovereignty. Churches are not some sort of parallel form of government, a theocracy, which requires immunity. The immunity from taxes would be tied in with the freedom to practice religious expression. But would that mean that the newspaper industry should also be tax free, since it is practicing freedom of speech?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Just as its not an issue of sovereignty, it’s not about protecting a “feel-good” club either as JG suggests. It’s about protecting a constitutional right. The question would be how far to extend tax free status. Is the NRA tax free? The Houston Chronicle?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And if the US govt taxes churches, that doesnt give churches the right to tax the govt. Churches have no right to tax whatsoever, no right to sovereignty, only the right to be tax exempt as an entity which practices religious expression and perhaps as a non profit charitable organization.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Your last comment is what we do as a society for freedom of religion.

        I wish the church would get taxed so there is no barrier to the pulpit discussing important issues but the church is so afraid of losing their tax exempt status most practice ‘safe’ sermons. Except black churches, for some reason they are free to talk politics all they want.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        It’s a conspiracy, kabuzz. As you’ve detected, the Black folks are secretly in charge.

        Why, look at the utopia they’ve been able to create in places like Ferguson, Missouri!

    • johngalt says:

      The position kabuzz and Sternn are taking is bizarre beyond belief. Churches employ people, yes? Are they subject to payroll taxes, minimum wages, and workplace regulations? Yes. Are these any different than any other employer? No. Do churches have to obey building codes and be inspected by fire marshals? Yes. These are just a few of the small examples of civil laws to which non-profits, including churches, are subject. Given that churches benefit from the things that property taxes pay for – the police and fire protection, the paved streets outside, the local legal system – why should they not pay for this?

      Now, if governments said churches were subject to extra taxes, or that only churches demarcated by a cross were tax exempt, while those with stars or crescents were not, this would be unconstitutional.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        As always JG, you compare apples to oranges. Church staff and congregants buy gas and pay the taxes. When the congregants shop they pay sales taxes. Church charters are files with their state, etc.

      • johngalt says:

        I most certainly am not. Churches pay payroll taxes for the employees of the church. Churches are obligated to follow myriad laws just like the rest of us. Could a church buy a pirated copy of “Noah” and show it to their congregants? Of course not. Could a church force its secretary to work 60 hours a week? Of course not. Could a church build an annex without proper permitting? Of course not. This sovereignty bit is just nonsense dreamed up by the two of you.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Kabuzz, there is no “quid pro quo”.

      That’s your problem.

  2. fiftyohm says:

    Now let’s continue. Sorry.

  3. rightonrush says:

    OT- I always knew I had something in common with Stephen Hawking. LOL, Let the stoning commence.

  4. rightonrush says:

    Topeka — A group of dissident former Republican legislators has endorsed Democrat Jean Schodorf in her campaign against Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach….


    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      Kansas, like many other states (including Texas), used to be a very progressive state. Kansas was extremely radical in many respects even. One of the state’s heros is John Brown (there is a painting of him in the Kansas Statehouse). The state had a long history of reforms aimed to support rural farmers against the interests of bankers and lenders. The People’s Party of the late 1800’s found strong support in Kansas, electing several members to Congress. The Progressive Movement really had its roots in Kansas. It was the first state to offer workers compensation and was the first state to regulate the securities industry. Later, Kansas was a a big supporter of the New Deal and the efforts by the US government to revive the economy. Kansas was a base to moderate-to-progressive Republicans for generations. It was also the home of Dwight Eisenhower (a man that would probably be thrown out of today’s Republican Party).

      All this started to change in the 1970’s with the social blacklash to the 1960’s and the rise of fundementalist religious movements. Social conservatism is now the driver and basically trumps aalmost all economic arguments for many voters.

      That being said, I think much of the social conservatism is based in a generation that is now fading. Will Kansas shift back to a more progressive state again was the older generation disappears? Will the extremism of the current Republican Party drive moderates to the Democratic Party or to third-parties?

      Not sure.

  5. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Obviously off topic:

    Just stumbled into a minimum income article for a pilot program in the 1970s in Canadian small town.


    Enough in there to cause an “I told you so” from both sides.

    Lots and lots of positive results were seen, and those lay-about Canadians still managed to go to work. As Chris has suggested, it allowed new parents to stay at home more with kids and kept more teenagers in school rather than working.

    The downside? It cost more than originally estimated.

    I remain very, very skeptical of a minimum income idea, but the more we knock it around, it may be more viable than I think.

    • flypusher says:

      If I’m being purely selfish, I’m saying “Hell Yes!” to a minimum income, as that would be more $ in my bank accounts. But given all the jobs that are/ are becoming obsolete, the question of exactly how are people going to live is quite pertinent.

  6. objv says:

    This is On Topic, not Off Topic …


    “The survey, conducted the first week of September, showed 49% of those polled said they support churches and other houses of worship expressing views on political and social questions—up from 40% in 2012. That still leaves the nation divided: 48% said churches “should keep out” of politics.”

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I think churches should stay the hell out of politics. I want to go to church for peace and quiet, to escape all mention of politics. The subject of politics is too pervasive. It saturates the media and internet 24/7. I can’t stand people bringing up politics at work or at family gatherings. Is no place sacred? A church should be a sanctuary.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      In a country where 77% identify as Christian (not necessarily church-going Christians), it would kind of suck to be in the other 23% if Christians tried even harder to insert their religion into politics (’cause they try hard enough as it is).

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I guess there’s a difference between bringing politics to church and the other way around — bringing religion into politics.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        You may disagree with me, but the way I see it: politics sullies the sanctity of the church, but the church brings a touch of dignity and class to politics.

      • rightonrush says:

        I don’t identify as a Christian. I’m more of the old time dance buck naked around a bonfire type myself. I, or I should say we (my wife helped) have a diversity of religions in our family. We have Jewish grandchildren, and a couple of budding Buddhist granddaughters. I say budding because as juniors in college they haven’t written that into stone yet. The rest are just your average tepid religious folks. I’ll have to brag that there isn’t a hypocrite in the bunch which makes me mighty proud. Family gatherings are not only fun, it is a learning experience.

      • johngalt says:

        Most churches (or organized religions at least) seem to do a fine hub of sullying themselves without needing to involve politics.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        JG, that may be the case for some churches and perhaps even many of them, but I would not say that is the case for MOST churches.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…I’m going to have to greatly disagree that bringing religion into politics brings dignity and class.

        Well…I guess it could be classy unless you were a gay person wanting to get married (or to adopt a kid or teach in a school), or if you were a woman who did not believe life begins at conception and wanted to do something about an unwanted pregnancy, or if you would prefer to keep mysticism out of a science class, or if you would like to have an adult beverage in the town in which I grew up.

        Folks don’t seem to cotton too well to introducing Sharia Law in Oklahoma, and I would hope that we are not open to Christian influence only.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, HT, contrary to popular belief and your own habitual, benign sarcasm, religion is not all bad.

        Doing charitable works for religious reasons is classy, don’t you think?

        Being opposed to the death penalty for religious reasons is dignified, is it not?

        Wanting to help newly arrived immigrants for religious reasons is classy, or no?

      • johngalt says:

        Tutt, I think you could remove “for religious reasons” from your statements and they would be no less true.

      • ROR, I count myself as a Christian, although I’m a pretty poor specimen. It sounds like your family gatherings are a hoot. I suspect the exclusivity claimed by all major religions is an artifact of our human nature, not our Maker’s nature. After all, would a loving Creator be so niggardly as to send only one? Somehow I doubt it.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…no doubt the things you listed are wonderful things, and they are decidedly outside the political sphere. My examples were of when religion mixes with politics (to the point of your comment).

        I’m a touch disappointed in the slight “oh, you people are picking on religion” tone. There is no “popular belief” that religion is all bad. Again, 77% of the US claim to be Christian, and then you have any number of other religions taking up most of that other 23%.

        If anything, the popular belief is that religion and very very good. Heck, being a Christian is so popular that people pretend to be Christian even when they are generally non-religious.

        You will be very hard pressed to ever find me saying that religion is all bad. I’ve spent many an hour poorly singing with the Baptists and on my knees with the Catholics. Religion can be a force for much good, unfortunately, man tends to screw it up far too often.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am not playing the victim. I am calling people out for making generalizations about religion. So leave me alone.

        Actually, i could be accused of doing the same with politicians — lumping them together and expecting the worst.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I find it is safer to expect the worst.

      • Crogged says:

        Tutt I didn’t think you were playing the victim, but it has been played here by others

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crogged: I think it’s funny how you always cite Andrew Sullivan. He must be your intellectual idol.

        I wonder who my intellectual idol would be.

      • Crogged says:

        Idol is a bit strong and also I think of him more as a conduit or aggregation of information rather than a personal provider. I do tend to agree with his pov, which of course determines what he finds interesting when he links to other sources. He changes his mind and also admits error, a rare quality from media opinion writers.

        BTW he self identifies as devout Catholic.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tutt —

        There are non-religious reasons to support charitable works.

        There are non-religious reasons to oppose the death penalty.

        There are non-religious reasons to assist newly-arrived immigrants.

        Religious faith can be a fine addendum to support for policies conceived in secular logic and real-world practicality.

        But religion faith should NEVER be used as a justification for policies which CANNOT be successfully explained and defended without resort to that religious faith.

    • objv says:

      While churches, synagogues, and mosques shouldn’t endorse specific candidates or political parties, I don’t see how they can avoid any discussion of social issues.

      The main purpose of a house of worship, should be, well, worship, and a church SHOULD be a sanctuary, but it is also a place where people learn the doctrines of their faith. Large portions of the Bible, Torah and Koran would have to be disregarded to avoid speaking and giving an opinion about social issues.

      • flypusher says:

        How about issues are fair game but an endorsement of any candidate or party from the pulpit revokes tax exempt status for the next five years?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, seems to me that many on the left don’t quite grasp the concept of soveriegnty and the reason the state doesn’t tax the church, same reason the church doesn’t tax the state. If one can tax the other, the other can tax the one.

        Congress has threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of a church if the preacher or pastor preaches politics from the pulpit, but it is highly unlikely that it would ever act on that threat.

        Congress doesn’t have the legitimate constitutional power to revoke tax exempt status over the use of free speech, be it a church or any other non-profit organization. It would be struck down by the courts, congress doesn’t want to risk such a thing happening because their threats would fall apart.

        Congress could change the tax code across the board and try to revoke all tax exemptions for everybody, and even then, with the church, it would come back to the soveriegnty issue. Does our federal government have the power to tax the Vatican? Does the Vatican have the power to tax our federal government?

      • CaptSternn says:

        That being said, I am with Tutt on my views, I don’t want to have politics preached to me from the church pulpit. If that started happening often, I would quickly be in search of a different church. Social issue are a different matter because that comes from the concept of sin, and sin is a religious area.

      • I agree, objv. Law is ultimately informed by morality, and morality is ultimately (at least for many of us) informed by faith.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, tthor, Cap — I’m always taken aback when I enter a church and see the American flag alongside the cross. I don’t think the flag belongs in a house of worship.

        Of course, morality has its place in religion, but as a Catholic I was raised in an environment of positive morality, with a focus on what is good, on striving for good, as opposed to a negative morality, with a focus on sin and defeating or avoiding evil.

        The “social aspect” of my Catholic upbringing pertained more to social justice than to social issues and morality. It was about helping people, not condemning them.

        If “politics” ever came up, it included entreaties to pray for the President and legislators so that they would make wise decisions, not to defeat them.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fly, I was addressing you as well. Sorry, I didn’t mean to exclude you.

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, Congress has the right to tax anyone or anything. Churches at present get special treatment: they are a private club that is not liable for taxes on pretty much anything other than payroll. They don’t pay income taxes or property taxes. Why? Why are my taxes higher to compensate for your feel-good club?

        The sovereignty of the Vatican has nothing to do with this. The Vatican does not own church property in the United States. This is owned by archdioceses, which are legal (non-profit) entities). Other churches are owned by individual congregations or national organizations. End it all – all property tax exemptions in particular. These entities (any nonprofit) derive benefits from the paved streets outside, police and fire protection, and court systems. Why should they not pay for some of it? Many universities recognize this and volunteer “donations” to their host city in lieu of tax payments to cover the fire and police departments, etc.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, John, we own the government. Let us tax the goverment. Let us tax governments through religious organizations. The people are the soveriegn, government exists because we allow it to exist. Why should we allow it to exist without taxing it? The governments, different levels, owns property. Let us tax that property through private and religious organizations.

        You do not think. You do not understand. You only want to control and oppress. That is the signature of the left. Government over the people, people are servants, serfs, subjects of the government, propertry to be killed (aborted) for convenience, socialism, no private property, all that we are allowed to keep is government expense. That is why people like you and I will never see eye to eye.

      • flypusher says:

        “You do not think. You do not understand. You only want to control and oppress. That is the signature of the left.”

        So much irony.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Very well said Captain. I would add the left likes all the amendments to the constitution as long as it is used how they say it should be.

      • johngalt says:

        We will never see eye to eye, Sternn, because I could never bring myself to write such nonsensical drivel (and a lot of other reasons).

      • Crogged says:

        The idea we would have a democracy or a representative republic out of the Bible, Torah and/or the Koran is a real reach. We have this form of government despite the Bible, not because of it and need to be a little more kind to the multiple gods of the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and other pagans when discussing politics and religion.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Very well said Captain.”

        Buzzy – Do people shear you for wool each spring?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Turtles — They do certainly do that, and kabuzz then keeps the resulting product perched just above his eyebrows, so Sternn can tug on it whenever necessary.

      • CaptSternn says:

        John, my comment was probably a little more “enthusiastic” than I meant it to be. Sometimes I get to a point where I want to beat my head against a brick wall to see if that would make things from the left a bit more clear sounding. Probably not, and then I would have a headache to boot.

        The part you are missing here is the soveriegnty issue. The church is viewed as a soveriegn the same way the state is viewed as a soveriegn. That being the case, one has just as much right to tax the other as the other has to tax the one. Does the church have the right, the power, to tax the state? If the answer is no, then the state doesn’t have the right, the power, to tax the church. That is the basic concept and why the state doesn’t tax the church. Simple enough now?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy – What the fudge are you smoking?

        That is one of the most ignorant comments you have ever made. Pat yourself on the back, you really accomplished something there, sort of.

      • johngalt says:

        Enthusiasm and idiocy often look alike. The church, which is not some monolithic entity, is not sovereign. It does not have diplomatic immunity. It is not a state. Under the law churches are non-profit legal entities entitled to some extraordinary constitutional protections in that Congress cannot specifically regulate them. There is nothing to say that governments, whether local or national, could not treat them like any other legal entity, requiring the same tax payments as everyone else. The idea that a church is a sovereign power is without precedent in American law. The sole exception is the Apostolic Nuncio, which is legally an embassy of the Vatican State and is entitled to the same diplomatic protections as the embassies of the United Kingdom or Palau.

        As I said before, I have no idea why I am expected to subsidize your feel-good club. If I feel a need to talk through some feelings and go to a psychologist, the fees I pay him or her are not tax deductible. If we call that psychologist a priest and the fees a “donation” then they are. Why? I have a feel-good club too. We have special rituals in which the women consume primarily red liquids from California and the men brownish liquids from Scotland. We often see god near the end of our meetings. I’d like to apply for tax free status. Do you know where I can get the forms?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I’ve known the answer for a while now, but It took me a bit to figure out what OT stands for.

      At first glance I thought of “overtime,” but I knew it couldn’t be that, since it was out of context.

      For a while I thought it meant “over-the-top,” which usually seemed appropriate, considering the subject matter.

      I just had a flashback to Otis Thorpe.

    • johngalt says:

      I’m not seeing the humor in airstrikes.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ha! So OT DOES mean “over-the-top.” You conduct airstrikes from over the top. Get it?

      • objv says:

        Tutt: OT obviously stands for Old Testament although I don’t see most here becoming biblical scholars.

        I was thinking of you recently when I got a letter in the mail. I wanted to buy some land behind my house and wrote to the person that owned it. I received a reply on gold edged stationary written by a REAL typewriter! Unfortunately, the lady in question did not want to sell any of her land, but I have to admit to being overcome by nostalgia. I given an old typewriter when I was a little girl. I have no idea what happened to it, but I suspect my parents threw it away because it never did work. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, if you’re ever in need of a typewriter I can lend you one from my collection, shipped UPS Ground to New Mexico!

    • Crogged says:

      Second president in second term continues previously failing strategy for 14th consecutive year and doesn’t see end to said strategy and lives lost, hahahahahahahahaha

      • johngalt says:

        I don’t think we have much choice with IS. At least Obama strong-armed the unpopular and divisive al-Maliki to resign so there is a chance (albeit a small one) that a more inclusive Iraqi government might wean support away from Sunni extremists.

  7. johngalt says:

    So lowering tax rates with a radical plan is bad and raising them without any plan whatsoever is worse. If only there were a third way…

  8. johnofgaunt75 says:

    To be perfectly honest, I have not been paying much attention to Mr. Orman and know little about his policy positions. All I know is that the GOP was fighting desperately to keep the Democratic candidate on the ballot (despite that candidate stepping out of the race), in an attempt to deflect votes away from Mr. Orman.

    But, I like the idea generally of independenet candidates given our political system. Strong party loyalty and rigid ideology works fine in a parliamentary system but in our system, it leads to inaction and gridlock. Given the number of problems this country is facing, that is not what we need right now (and can have very dangerous consequences in the long term).

  9. Is the ACA written in the font of all evil? Is that Obama font a TrueType font? At least I finally know the font used for Alhazred’s “Necronomicon.” It’s a real bear getting that darn thing to export properly to pdf… 😉 (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    I am pretty much in agreement, although I’d say “*small* business friendly, socially tolerant, *and* fiscally responsible.”

    • johngalt says:

      The biggest argument for comprehensive tax reform is that the current mess is horribly anti-small business. They (generally) do not benefit from all the loopholes inserted by corporate lobbyists so they’re really the only ones paying the 35% rate on their entire earnings. Since it is small business that drives job creation, they are the ones we should be encouraging.

      • JG, as a small business owner, I agree. One of the most pernicious aspects of big government is what we refer to “crony capitalism,” or corporatism. (Although, to be frank, this terminology is somewhat of a misnomer. Crony capitalism inevitably reaches its apogee in authoritarian states, e.g. the USSR, or in social democracies, e.g. Airbus. It is, by definition, not capitalism. Maybe “fascist plutocracy” is a more apt term.)

        In the U.S. corporatism proceeds not via direct nationalization of industry, but rather through nationalization via regulation, often with the largest players in the target industry playing a complicit role in the drafting of such regulation. The result is the creation of what amount to federally governed public utilities dominated by a few large players who are completely in bed with the bureaucracies designated to “regulate” them, and the politicians who fund the bureaucracies. Those who can afford a stable of K Street lobbyists get to shape anti-competitive regulation that feathers their own nests at the expense of *everybody* else. Dodd-Frank and the ACA are the two most egregious recent examples.

        The 35% corporate tax rate is not the half of it. My company is organized as a C-corp. All revenues distributed as salaries are expenses to the company, and taxed at individual rates (less the employer “contribution” to payroll taxes, i.e. 7.65%). Whatever is left is first taxed at the corporate rate of 35%, and then, if distributed as dividends, taxed *again* at 15-20%, depending on your individual rate tax bracket. Adding insult to injury, thanks to the ACA, if your joint income exceeds $250K, you get smacked with another 0.9% Medicare tax, and also the additional 3.8% “Net Investment Income Tax” (a.k.a. the BOHICA tax). Should I ever sell the business I have built over decades, paying these taxes every year, day in and day out, then I’ll be hammered with an addition 20% capital gains tax on so called “unearned” income. It’s not double taxation, it’s TRIPLE taxation. GAAAAAGH!

        The majority of my employees are well paid professionals, the very heart of what we call the “middle class.” Knowing what my employees make, and knowing their withholding, I can make a pretty reasonable estimate of the total federal tax burden on every dollar that comes through my company’s door. That number is ~40%, and rising. That number is *F*ING OBSCENE*. If you want to know why our economy remains locked in the doldrums, look no further.

        As a C-corp I have some latitude in determining how I am personally going to be raped by the IRS. Business owners organized as S-corps are *really* hosed. Any reasonably successful S-corp business owner is going to find themselves facing combined top marginal rates of 59.6% (including payroll taxes).

        All of this is simply mind boggling, but it’s inevitable in a country where more than 1/3 are receiving federal wealth transfers of some sort, and nearly half pay no federal income taxes at all. The big corporations with the big lobbies get all the loopholes, and the small businesses that employ the bulk of American workers get *hammered.* And it all results from government grown far too large for our own good. The smallest possible government that is closest to the people governs best. We had best rediscover that truth in hurry. And I very much doubt *either* party is ready to deliver it. Q.E.D.

      • johngalt says:

        We’re not exactly immune to crony capitalism here in small government Texas, Tracy. Whether it is questionable payments from the governor’s exchange funds or Bob Perry essentially designing the agency that oversaw his industry, there’s a lot of back scratching going on here. I find this a far more pernicious cronyism than Airbus: Airbus is a de facto state corporation in which the shareholders and management are bribed to protect French jobs; it’s pretty predictable. Boeing could (and has complained), but the government contracts it gets to build refueling tankers aren’t exactly transparent either.

        Your story of the tax burdens is not a new one and I understand your frustration. It must be all the more galling to read about GE’s negative tax liability or inversion deals that change nothing but the tax address of a company. Your taxes are directly higher because of the rigging done by armies of lawyers at these places.

      • Yes, JG, GE is an example that sticks in my craw, as was Immelt’s elevation to the administration’s “Economic Recovery Advisory Board.” That was rich.

        If inversion was a realistic option for a companies like mine, I’d do it in a heartbeat. It would mean higher salaries for both my employees and myself. The math is *easy* on that one.

        Corruption close to home is that much easier to deal with, and of far less magnitude than that which is SOP in D.C. I’d much rather be tasked with stomping on a small bug next door that I can easily spot than be faced with confronting a giant, shadowy behemoth 1,400 miles away. That’s one of the many advantages of federalism as envisioned by the Framers.

      • johngalt says:

        Since the overall tax take from the federal government is ~16% of GDP (every dollar generated in the country), then 40% is ridiculous. But I don’t get why inversion would help you pay higher salaries to your employees. Wouldn’t a lower corporate tax rate only affect the amount of post-tax profit you could distribute to your shareholders (if any besides you)? If you chose to give all of your employees raises (or bonuses) this counts as a business expense and lowers the company tax liability by trading the 35% rate for 7.65% withholding. Of course, all it really does is transfer the income tax liability from the company to the individual, but that’s a separate issue.

      • JG, it all comes out of the *same* revenue bucket. There is no magic wall separating employees from owners in an outfit our size – the owners *are* employees, too. We look at the issue from the standpoint of overall tax rates. With the current tax structure it’s actually less costly tax-wise to pay out profits to owners as salary bonuses. Were the corporate tax structure less onerous, we could instead pay dividends to the owners, rather than salary bonuses. This in turn would free up more dollars for employee salaries and bonuses. I’m no expert on inversion, but one assumes the same principles apply. Less dollars going to the federal government = more dollars to employees and owners. Period.

      • johngalt says:

        So let’s say that you have $100,000 in net profits. You can distribute that in the form of salary bonuses, in which case you pay no corporate tax and a 7.65% payroll tax (assuming the employees are under the FICA cap). They then pay another 7.65% plus the marginal income tax rate. If they’re under the FICA cap, this is probably 28%, so that is 43.3%. If they’re over the FICA cap, the marginal rates go up, but the payroll taxes go down.

        If you distribute that as dividends, you pay 35% for the corporate tax rate and (probably) 15% at the individual level. If you reduced the corporate taxes to 25%, a common suggestion I’ve heard, the two compensation models become pretty close, in this simplistic example. I’d be all over that idea as long as all the loopholes we discussed were eliminated. If someone ran some revenue projections for me, I might support even lower rates.

      • JG, you are on the right path. I encourage you to think a little more radically. Corporations exist solely to generate profits (income) for their shareholders. This income is paid out in the form of dividends. Given that, I humbly suggest that the corporate tax rate be set to 0%, and that dividends be taxed as ordinary income and at the same rates. That way there is no question over whether to pay salary or dividends to employee-shareholders; tax-wise the two would be treated exactly the same. And our tax code would instantaneously become far, far simpler, and far, far more transparent.

        Corporate income is taxed for one reason only, and that reason conforms to the the Russel B. Long maxim of, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!” The corporation is the poor schmuck behind the tree. Politicians through time have always done their level best to make taxation invisible, opaque, and painless. There are many very good reasons why our tax code is the way it is. Unfortunately they are *all* political.

        I submit to you that Obama is not in fact the “font [sic] of all evil.” Rather, federal withholding is the root of all evil. Corporations don’t do withholding, so each quarter I get to write a check to Uncle Sam on our estimated taxes. I assure you, nothing focuses the mind like writing a check to the IRS. People might actually pay a little more attention to what they are getting for their tax dollar if they had to write Uncle Sam a check four times a year.

      • Crogged says:

        I think the American Bar Association and the National Association of State Boards of Accounting just got wind of you guys and your crazy ideas of simplicity and transparency. Better tread lightly, you wouldn’t want a three foot stack of forms, regulations and case studies to accidentally fall on you, would you?

      • johngalt says:

        In the absence of any corporate income tax, there would be a motivation to retain more of the earnings, keeping it in cash or other assets rather than pay dividends. This would inflate the stock price (the company’s “book value” would go up) and those shareholders would accrue capital gains which, at the moment, are taxed at the lower rate. In your case (as a small business owner) this would also have the effect of deferring taxes indefinitely. This might be great for you, but not necessarily for the treasury or your heirs. I wouldn’t oppose this idea out of hand, but one must be careful of unintended consequences.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy, you’re welcome to your beliefs about the “purpose” of a corporation, but it’s not one which has been shared by everyone at all times.


        Click to access Unpacking_Corporate_Purpose_May_2014_0.pdf

        Click to access Aspen%20BSP%20Unrealized%20Potential%20May2014.pdf

        But “maximizing shareholder returns” is one of those utterly simplistic goal statements that apparently fits perfectly with the mental capacity of all too many conservatives.

    • objv says:

      Tracy, I’m back to getting a paper flung to the foot of my driveway daily. In today’s paper there was an article reprinted from the Orange County Register that meshed perfectly with your comments.


      • The OC Registry put it far more eloquently than I. The Rx is of course a smaller federal government.

      • objv says:

        Tracy, I believe you were the one who made the better case. 🙂

      • johngalt says:

        This editorial strikes me as an attempt to fit the modern business climate to a preconceived political philosophy. If you believe that government is bad, then everything that is bad somehow is the government’s fault. Where are all the young companies? An amazing thing to ask. On the list of the most valuable companies in the US, #1 and #4 are companies that are less than 35 years old (Apple, Microsoft). #3 is less than 20 years old (Google). Oracle, Amazon and Facebook are all in the top 25. Every one of these was started in what you would consider a big government state – there just isn’t much evidence that this matters that much. You don’t believe that there won’t be a couple of today’s startups in this list in 20 years, do you?

        Over the last five years, the lack of start-ups has more to do with the credit crunch than anything else. The recession seems a far more likely explanation for this than mushrooming regulations. Ironically, by decoupling health care from employment, this might actually make more people take the risks of entrepreneurship.

      • JG, looking back on it, I’m not sure I’d start my same business today. The regulatory intrusion, financial and legal liability associated with, for instance, our 401K program is *much* worse now that it was 20 years ago. Of course I state this with the benefit of hindsight. Were I a young man today, raised in this environment, I’d probably be starting a business. We can’t belie our natures.

        As for the ACA decoupling healthcare from employment, that’s simply risible. I invite you to investigate the penalties associated with *not* providing employer health insurance for any company with more than 50 lives. Not providing insurance is a non-starter, even for companies like mine that fall in the ACA regulatory donut hole.

        BTW, I don’t hate government. Rather I believe government should be treated in the same way I treat fine sippin’ whisky or fast Italian motorcycles. Moderate indulgence makes life all the more satisfying, but too much of good thing will kill you dead.

        $18 trillion in debt? In ain’t tough to figure out which side of the moderation limit our federal government falls on.

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy, I’m enjoying this discussion. A few comments…
        “The regulatory intrusion, financial and legal liability associated with…”
        Everything. The complexity of everything is greater today than before. McDonald’s has lawyers telling them to post warnings that their coffee is served hot. My YMCA swimming pool has a list of rules, written by their lawyers, that does their best to sap the fun out of kids swimming. The compliance rules, many of which come from the state, that I have to deal with as an employee of a medical institution are intrusive. The bogey man is not only in Washington.

        “We can’t belie our natures.”
        No, and you would have started that business. My father started a successful one 35 years ago, which he later sold. He now spends time advising people (pro bono) on how to do it themselves. You and he would see eye-to-eye on most things.

        “As for the ACA decoupling healthcare from employment, that’s simply risible”
        I meant something different that you thought from this. I have a friend who is immensely talented in the marketing world. She had a cardiac issue a few years ago when she was late 30s (it happens). She was literally uninsurable, except through a large group plan, so she stayed with a company for longer than she wanted. With the ACA (in Minnesota), she was able to get non-employer linked insurance and was free to quit corporate world and go into business for herself. How many people are in her situation, wanting to make more of their talents but feel constrained by medical issues to stay under the comfortable umbrella of their employer? What a waste.

    • “In your case (as a small business owner) this would also have the effect of deferring taxes indefinitely.”

      LOL. Only if I could also indefinitely defer eating, or paying my mortgage. 😉

      But your point has some merit. On the other hand, sooner or later that money is going to come out. After all, that’s why the company exists in the first place. There is probably no doubt that there would be some unintended perturbations associated with ratcheting the corporate tax immediately to 0%. Perhaps it would make more sense (and be safer) to ratchet it down systematically over some time period. (That would also allow us to gauge whether the net effects were beneficial or deleterious.)

      I didn’t address capital gains earlier because I am extremely ambivalent about the entire concept. When my partners and I created my company 20+ years ago it was worth exactly $0. It is now worth something considerably north of $0. We have, quite literally, created this capital from the sweat of our brow. Yes, *I DID BUILD THAT*. I’m not sure why I should be taxed *again* upon sale when in fact I’ve been taxed like the dickens at every step along the way. To the extent that I’ve benefited from the shared services/utilities provided by our society along the way, I’ve *already* paid for them (and paid for them disproportionately, as discussed above).

      Do we really want, as a society, to penalize the very people who are *literally* building wealth from nothing? Is it not enough that I’ve already paid more than my fair share back to society? Is it not enough that I’ve provided dozens and dozens of people with a good livelihood? Is it not enough that the products I’ve created have helped make our society safer, more secure and more productive? You would think we’d want to *encourage* people to do the types of things that I have done for the past two decades, not discourage them.

      Honestly, I believe capital gains taxes are morally repugnant and unjust. Taxation of capital gains appeals to the darker side of human nature, to envy and spite. No good can come of that.

      • johngalt says:

        I’m going to paint another picture of capital gains. I am imagining an heiress who has done not a lick of work in her life but has been handed an estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Her profligate lifestyle is supported by the income from this estate, which consists largely of capital gains, interest income and dividends. Her effective tax rate is 11%. In a world without capital gains taxes, it would be 4%. She enjoys the benefits of what the taxes that other people pay buy, which is a stable civil society, and she benefits more than most (because she has more to lose), but she pays rather little. Basically she’s a leech.

        I wish there were a way to distinguish “worthy” capital gains from “unworthy” ones that could be codified into IRS policy, but there isn’t. I note that when I hear people bitching about the rich, they are generally taking about inherited money, hedge fund managers, licentious actors, and personal injury lawyers. In contrast, there is a cult worship around people like Jobs, Brin and Page, Zuckerberg, Buffett, Musk, Gates, etc. These are people who actually built something revolutionary. They deserve their gains. But those gains would not exist without the promise of stability that our taxes buy and these gains prove quite ephemeral without constant investment to preserve that stability.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “We have, quite literally, created this capital from the sweat of our brow. Yes, *I DID BUILD THAT*.”

        Oh, bullshit.

        Were any of your workers educated in public schools?

        Who built the roads on which you receive your raw materials or other supplies?

        Who created the regulatory and business environment which allow your company to connect through voice and data communications with customers and suppliers around the planet?

        Who created and administers the body of contract law which allows you to successfully plan and enforce deals with domestic business partners?

        I’m sure you deserve a great deal of credit. But engaging in the Neanderthal chest-beating which claims that you and you alone bear all the responsibility and should receive all the credit is just nauseating narcissism, Tracy.

      • JG, your hypothetical heiress is not a leech on society, but rather a leech on the leavings of the capital created by an ancestor who, like everybody else, couldn’t take it with him/her. Our heiress would be unable to effectively leech were not that capital still out there being used by *somebody* to generate still more capital in the world. (Capital not put to use has the shelf life of green bananas.)

        Let’s put some names on these hypothetical leeches. Names like Sloan, Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Kaiser, etc. These men were the past equivalents of the very list of names you mention. The descendants of these people are the very incarnation of your hypothetical heiress. They remain quite wealthy by any measure, but their wealth pales in comparison to today’s economic titans. Those same venerable names are also attached to foundations that do a very great deal of good in the world. (You’ll be regularly reminded of those names when you visit various hospitals and museums, watch public broadcasting programs like NOVA, etc.) Bill and Melinda Gates are right now in the process of emulating actions of these early industrial magnates. (And the Gate’s kids will become the very leeches with whom you take issue.) So although I am perhaps a touch envious, I don’t begrudge our hypothetical heiress her “unworthy” capital gains. In the grand scheme of things they are irrelevant. And the largely arbitrary labeling of “worthy” and “unworthy” is nothing more than an appeal to our darker natures.

        This unsavory appeal to our darker natures is the rot that lies at the heart of “social justice” (an oxymoron if there ever was one.) The cry for social justice is effectively a cry against acts of God (or chance, for the atheists in the peanut gallery). At its core, social justice is an appeal to envy and spite. By the machinations of fate somebody has more than you or I; let’s jointly determine they don’t deserve it; let’s collectively *take* it away. Ugh. That thought process is repulsive.

        Social justice justifies putting some select group of individuals in place of God. As the law cannot distinguish between “worthy” and “unworthy” accidents of chance, it is left to the select group of demigods to determine outcomes on a case by case basis. As Madison so pithily pointed out, men are not angels. Human nature being what it is, nothing good can come of this, and history bears witness to horrors borne of such egalitarian yearnings.

        Better simply to leave well enough alone. Should fortune smile upon you, smile back, and do some good as you are able for those less fortunate. There is no need to bring the coercive might of the state into the picture.

      • And Owl, if you’d actually bothered to read the thread, I’ve already paid into roads, public schools, etc., etc., ad nauseum. It’s not like we don’t *already* pay taxes.

      • johngalt says:

        No, I don’t think I agree with much of this, Tracy. Many people have a romantic view of capital: the rich have lots of it and put it to use in ways that create jobs. And this can be true. Someone staked Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and this has created about 50,000 jobs. But if rich person A puts $100 million into the stock market it only creates jobs for his broker’s gardener and maid. This is because this money doesn’t go to the companies themselves (for the most part), it goes to the previous owners of those stocks. This is not new investment.

        Now you can argue that this investment might provide the former owner funds to invest again, and that would be true, but mostly this goes back into the same mix of assets. The new money from rich person A has basically driven an appreciation of this asset pool, by however small a percentage. Perhaps the seller was a small investor cashing in 401k assets during retirement – then they actually are going to consume it on things other people make. This does, however small, sustain jobs (and create them if consumption is strong enough). There is a limit to consumption, however. Someone whose income is $10 million/year does not consume 100 times what someone whose income is $100,000/year. From a strictly economic sense, the multiplier from $10 million in one person’s hands is far lower than if it were in 100 pairs of hands.

        Social justice is a touchy-feely term for wanting equal outcomes. This is contrary to all human nature. What is true, though, is that current wealth inequality hasn’t been this stark since the 1920s (and you know how the 1920s ended) and this is a problem. The amount of national income that goes to wages are at a modern era low and this is distributed more unevenly; there is less money to spend in the pocket of the average person – one estimate is the average person has $10,000 per year less in consuming power than they would have if the income distribution and percent of the pie remained what it was in the 1980.

        So what, you might say? This matters to Ford, which would like to get more people in a new Explorer than a used Escort (this was appreciated by their founder). Proctor and Gamble would like you to buy Tide rather than the generic store brand. St. Arnolds would like you to buy their (expensive) beer rather than Bud and Bud would like you to buy their (moderate) beer rather than Keystone Light. Apple wants you to turn over your iPhone to the newest model every two years or so. Consumers drive job creation. Whatever your business, Tracy, you need consumers with money to spend and for a huge chunk of our economy, that’s getting increasingly scarce. That’s a problem.

      • objv says:

        I’ve been enjoying the discussion here although I don’t know enough about small business to contribute much.

        The idea of a heiress living off capital gains doesn’t bother me as much as another kind of person. I just came back from having lunch with a friend and doing some errands. My friend was telling me about a neighbor of hers. The neighbor had gotten a 6-8 million dollar government grant to open a business that would train Native Americans in a certain kind of job skill. Shortly afterward, the neighbor took a long vacation in Europe, rented a Lamborghini here, and started a landscaping project in her backyard that my friend estimates might cost upwards of $100,000.

        I’d much prefer it if my friend’s neighbor is a heiress who had inherited all her wealth than a person who is feeding off of government pork. While Tracy and other small business owners like him are being double and triple taxed, the aforementioned person’s “non-profit” organization was probably not being taxed at all.

      • “…if rich person A puts $100 million into the stock market it only creates jobs for his broker’s gardener and maid. This is because this money doesn’t go to the companies themselves (for the most part), it goes to the previous owners of those stocks. This is not new investment.”

        JG, I was going to say that statement is just flat wrong, but of course it’s not; it’s only mostly wrong. Yes, there are many distortions in the market where value is not properly reflected. Yes, appreciation without any creation of value occurs. The market isn’t perfect by any means. But mostly, that money *does* go to the companies themselves, even when it just supposedly sits in the bank. It has to, because that’s the only way real wealth and new capital gets created. That’s what capitalism is fundamentally all about, irrespective of its warts and imperfections. It’s why we enjoy a standard of living that would make an Egyptian pharaoh blush. Capitalism is the greatest wealth creation engine ever devised by humankind.

        Like you, I am concerned about our growing wealth and income disparities. Were I a pessimist, I’d be really worried. But I’m an optimist, and I think I recognize in all this sturm und drang the creation of something new, and potentially much better. Throughout pretty much my entire lifetime our civilization has been undergoing massive economic change on a scale to rival the original industrial revolution. We have witnessed the transition from a heavy manufacturing, mass production economy to a service economy. I believe we are currently witnessing the transition from a service economy to an economy dominated by mass customization where bespoke products become the norm. Robotic automation is trickling down from large scale manufacturing into businesses my size. Likewise, computer aided design, CNC machining and 3D printing are working their way into the small business world. This is dramatically changing how we build and manufacture things, and for the better. These changes will ultimately raise the average standard of living dramatically, in much the same way as the industrial revolution did 200 years ago.

        That’s not to say getting there will be without pain, and we’re experiencing some of that pain right now. As ever in times of change, those who are adaptable, flexible, intelligent and industrious will flourish. Those less well endowed with these qualities will struggle. The greater the rate of change, the larger the number who struggle.

        I’m a geochemist by academic training, so I tend to think in terms of chemistry analogies. The pre-crash economy was much like a supersaturated solution, waiting for some precipitation event. That event was the great recession, and it’s triggered economic change at a startling rate. It’s great sport to skewer the sitting president for our economic woes, but the real truth is that our economy responds to forces far larger than can be brought to bear by the President or Congress. (I believe Obama has actually uttered words to that effect.) Anyway, the unaccounted for dip in the labor participation rate is not magical. That number represents jobs that have gone away for good; they’ve been replaced by activities requiring a completely different set of skills (and fewer workers). Those who have been unable to adapt or update their skills are really hurting.

        The only real cure for that hurt is to adapt and change, and that’s never easy, or quick. That’s where we are right now. But I have great faith that the people of this country will figure it out and muddle through. We always do.

      • Objv, I think you’ve stumbled across a prime example of the crony capitalism, i.e. faschist plutocracy, that we’ve been talking about. The foxes are running the hen house. Grrr!

      • johngalt says:

        ” But mostly, that money *does* go to the companies themselves, even when it just supposedly sits in the bank.”

        It certainly does not, unless this is a new stock issue. When I buy 100 shares of existing stock of Google, the money I invest goes to the previous owner of those shares and I get a (metaphorical) certificate. Not one dime of this transaction ends up in Google’s accounts.

        In 2013, NYSE’s parent company (Intercontinental Exchanges) raised $59 billion in 157 IPOs. The average trading volume on the NYSE (one of several exchanges owned by ICE) is in the neighborhood of $30-50 billion PER DAY. The vast majority of the trades are shares exchanged amongst investors whose proceeds do not go to the companies themselves.

        “Those less well endowed with these qualities will struggle. The greater the rate of change, the larger the number who struggle.”

        True. And many of these less well endowed can vote. You can make small changes to help them adapt voluntarily or risk letting a decidedly less salubrious democratic process do it for you.

      • Crogged says:

        As I noted earlier–roughly 80 percent of all equity is owned by 10 percent of our households. We have succeeded fantastically in blowing up the top end of our distribution scale, good for them, but it takes a willful blindness to not equate that ten percent with the royalty of England and the actions of the American revolution, especially if our next American presidential election is a House of Clinton vs a House of Bush. A rose is a rose, metaphors aren’t reality, correlation isn’t causation, what do we have?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy whines, “And Owl, if you’d actually bothered to read the thread, I’ve already paid into roads, public schools, etc., etc., ad nauseum. It’s not like we don’t *already* pay taxes.”

        You certainly haven’t paid taxes for the entire installed apparatus, which results from the cumulative investment of your forebears. Heck, nowadays, due to craven Republican tax cuts, we often don’t spend enough to *maintain* that inheritance. So for you to whine about “already” paying taxes is rich.

  10. rightonrush says:

    OT but just too good not to share. http://nypost.com/2014/09/19/isis-fighters-terrified-of-being-killed-by-female-troops/

    I personally know dozens of Kurds and Kurdish families from Turkey & Iraq. Trust me, their ladies are a force to be reckoned with.

  11. CaptSternn says:

    “Independent candidate Greg Orman has carved out a space for himself in the policy gaps left by the two parties, but his appeal has little to do with his platform. He’s popular mainly for what he’s not. Orman describes himself as “business-friendly and socially tolerant,” in other words a Republican time-traveler from an age when the party didn’t scare people. Orman represents all the things people admire in a traditional Republican without the crazy.”

    Or, in other words, a libertarian leaning conservative. The very definition of members of the tea party movement.

    • GG says:

      Socially tolerant is not how I’d describe most tea party folks.

      • flypusher says:

        “Evelyn Howard, a 92-year-old born at a midwife’s house in Minnesota, doesn’t have a birth certificate. She appealed to the election board, using her family Bible as proof she was born in this country.”

        So conservatives, what do you suggest she do?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think we should allow for extenuating circumstances as it’s done in other application processes.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Unfortunately, as I recall, Texas Republican legislators specifically brushed aside many mitigating amendments that would specifically allow for such extenuating circumstances.

        It’s a crooked deal, through and through. As we’d expect from our institutional Texas Republicans.

      • flypusher says:

        IIRC Chris called out the Dems for their response in this issue, that their energies would have been better spent making sure people like Ms Howard could get acceptable ID, rather than fight it out in the courts. On the face of it, requiring proof of eligibility before voting is reasonable. But that is contingent on everyone who is eligible being about to get that documentation with minimum hassle. That condition does not yet exist, otherwise Ms Howard would not be denied her rights.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        The election judge and clerks can only do what they can by the law. Just because she is 92 and has a Bible doesn’t mean we accept it without question. In Texas, if there is a doubt, they still vote but it is filed as provisional, to be sorted out later.

        You always want to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

      • johngalt says:

        If the law puts undue burdens in the path of exercising our most important right, then it is unconstitutional. Having to go to court to prove that she is still, after 92 years, eligible to vote sounds like an undue burden to me.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        By the way, it seems Mrs. Howard is a Republican.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “If the law puts undue burdens in the path of exercising our most important right, then it is unconstitutional.”

        Like being required to show a valid state issued photo ID and submit to a background check?

      • johngalt says:

        Did you read the links? This 92-year old woman did not have a birth certificate because she was delivered by a midwife at home in 1922. She does not have a passport. The Kansas law specified that you had to prove you were a U.S. citizen. How, exactly, does one prove they are a citizen without one of these things? A driver’s license or photo ID doesn’t cut it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I smell a trap. I think Cap is referring to the second amendment and CHL requirements (note his mention of background checks), and comparing it to the right to vote.

        Does one right take precedence over another? I would think the right to vote is more important than the right to bear arms, and therefore should be as accessible as possible, without fraud, of course.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        All are rights created equal?

      • Turtles Run says:

        “You always want to make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

        Yes, why should this old woman complain about losing her right to vote. I am sure you would take the lose of your rights in stride. One thing the TB’ers are known for is their easygoing carefree manner.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…there are a few here who will happily tell you that you have the right to vote because they have the right to bear arms (or to arm bears).

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        But what if the ever-modest Tutt decides not to take advantage of her right to bare arms?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl and HT: Your militias humor has brought a smile to my face this morning!

      • objv says:

        Mine too, Tutt!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, their humor is militias but harmless.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Pearls before swine Captain. The liberals do not want a dialogue only a monologue. If they actually looked into this, the DNC asked the dem to step down so they can funnel their money to the ‘independent’. Let’s guess who he will caucus with.

      • flypusher says:

        Looks like you just topped your personal best in non sequiturs. Plus we have Sternn claiming the Indy exemplifies tea party values, while you grouse about how he’ll caucus with Dems. But that is consistent with those claims that the TP is not an official, organized party.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        When is a cat not a cat but a sow?

  12. rightonrush says:

    I sincerely hope this P.O.S. loses his position because IMO he has lost his mind. Kudos to Kansas for leading the nation back to sanity (I hope).

    “Kobach is running for re-election against Republican-turned-Democrat Jean Schodorf. Ordinarily, a race like this would be irrelevant in national politics, but Kobach is a crusader against illegal immigrants—and, by extension, most immigrants not of European extraction—and has used a minor state office to rewrite Kansas’s voting laws. He has long been associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization founded by a proponent of eugenics and population control and funded in part by the Pioneer Fund, an organization founded to promote “race betterment.” He is also quite effective, and even brilliant, at what he does”

    • GG says:

      “and, by extension, most immigrants not of European extraction”————In other words, he only wants white people. How much more blatantly racist can he get?

      • rightonrush says:

        The Republicans should run from this joker like he’s the plague. Instead they seem to bask in the warm glow of burning crosses.

    • objv says:

      ” … an organization founded by a proponent of eugenics and population control ”
      The same could be said for Planned Parenthood. Do I really need to dig up those Margaret Sanger quotes? Here’s one:

      “Such parents swell the pathetic ranks of the unemployed. Feeble-mindedness perpetuates itself from the ranks of those who are blandly indifferent to their racial responsibilities. And it is largely this type of humanity we are now drawing upon to populate our world for the generations to come. In this orgy of multiplying and replenishing the earth, this type is pari passu multiplying and perpetuating those direst evils in which we must, if civilization is to survive, extirpate by the very roots.”

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The Federation for American Immigration Reform was founded in 1979.

        Margaret Sanger opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States in 1916, and founded the American Birth Control League (predecessor to Planned Parenthood) in 1921. Her writings on eugenics date from the 1930s.

        Fifty years or more make just a *bit* of difference in context, wouldn’t you think?

      • objv says:

        Owl, 1979 was 35 years ago. While I agree that fifty years is a long time between the founding of the two organizations, much can also change in 35 years.

        Just because organizations such as Planned Parenthood and FAIR were founded by eugenicists doesn’t necessarily mean that their members have the same beliefs as the founders had decades later.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh, beliefs can definitely change.

        I’m just pointing out the false-comparison trumpery of your trotting out an 80-year-old Sanger quote in order to defend a conservative think-kennel which in all probability still contains many of the same libertarian whelps who started it a mere 35 years ago.

      • objv says:

        Owl, my beliefs have definitely changed in 35 years. In 1979 I was just a baby. (I’m using a very liberal interpretation of the word “baby” and definitely not referring to a fetus.) 😉

  13. flypusher says:

    Ryan Cooper of “The Week” agrees:


    “Naturally, the cuts have required more cuts to critical government services, and most of the tax benefits have been vacuumed up by the rich. Worse still, the promised job-creating effects have also failed to appear. On the contrary, Kansas has actually been performing worse than its neighbors on the jobs front.”

    So can we FINALLY toss tickle-down-economics next to Communism on the trash heap of failed economic theories??? Please?????

  14. geoff1968 says:

    It’s about damn time that the party started to come to its senses. Fiscal conservatism does not mean we give up the ranch. I’ve studied economics enough to know that there are different solutions to different problems. It would be nice if one size fit all, but obviously that is not the case.

    Socially, it is what it is. I don’t think that I like it much, but I don’t care to force the issue. Let the left play its hand, and we will see what the real agenda is.

  15. fiftyohm says:

    “The extremists who hijacked the GOP in Kansas have discovered, to their utter surprise, that drastic tax cuts do not produce budget surpluses. ”

    It’s only fair to point out here that the spendthrift Illinois legislature are perhaps too thick to have discovered that jacking up income tax rates by 60% has, in similar but opposite fashion, not solved their budget crisis either, nor raised the state’s credit rating above dead last of the 50 states. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-illinois-credit-rating-negative-outlook-20140723-story.html

    But to the post, while the rise of moderate independents may bode ill for the two parties, for the rest of us, they represent a more flexible and agile influence than either of the major parties can ever be.

    Fair winds, Mr. Orman.

    • flypusher says:

      “….jacking up income tax rates by 60% has, in similar but opposite fashion, not solved their budget crisis either, …”

      Score another for the Golden Mean.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      To be fair, we should point out that this scare language of “jacking up income tax rates by 60%” refers to an increase of individual income tax rates from 3% to 5%, and of corporate rates from 4.8% to 7%. So, while strictly mathematically true, it’s also somewhat disingenuous in turning small numbers into rather large-sounding ones.

      That said, you’ll get little argument from me about the near-incompetence of the Illinois State Legislature in how they used increased receipts without significantly addressing the state’s actual problems.

      An increase of estimated FY2014 tax revenues by 68% (from $11.3 billion using pre-hike revenue measurements to $18.97 billion with the increase) would be a significant aid to most logical, thinking, human beings in resolving all manner of budget issues. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the solution but in Springfield, that they are idiots.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Ah – I think we agree completely, save for the “disingenuous” and “scare language” parts. There is no need here to embellish or overemphasize the facts. They pretty much speak for themselves.

      • goplifer says:

        Um, I think a 2/3 tax increase (larger on the corporate size) is a pretty big deal. If that were needed to fund some new program or if it was actually going to close the state’s budget hole, maybe it could be justified. But raising taxes that much as a pure band aid with no plan in place to fix the underlying problem is arguably insane. It is not a casual move by any standard.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I hasten to point out that we all seem agreed on the folly of Illinois legislators, and that most of those worthies (of what, I will not say) are with the Democratic Party.

        But I must whole-heartedly reject a school of numerological rhetoric which makes it seem that raising a tax rate from 1% to 3% (a 200% increase) is worse than raising a tax rate from 5% to 7% (a 20% increase), when the amount is exactly the same in both cases. That is, at the best, disingenuousness and, at the worst, innumerate partisan propaganda.

        Illinois instituted a 2% absolute increase in the individual income-tax rate. That should not, in and of itself, be a horrific burden to most people. The scandal is not the amount of the tax increase, but the utter incompetence with which Illinois’ budgeting process is plagued.

      • Crogged says:

        I think context should be left to the reader, but reading in this country is colored by the glasses we all wear.

        Today on Chronicle website the headline is, “Stock gains lift US household wealth to a record”.

        In the text is the following, “But roughly 10 percent of households own about 80 percent of stocks.” Me and the millionaire average 500k-but my wealth is a little more abstract…….

      • johngalt says:

        If I had been paying $3,000 in taxes to Illinois and now found myself paying $5,000, I don’t think I would consider that a 2% increase.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Owl- I am a bit baffled here. Not being amongst the innumerate we have both decried lately, I fail to see your objection. If I paid $3,000 in state income tax in 2009, and $5,000 in 2010 after the increase was passed, my tax bill went up 66%. This is neither disingenuous nor a rhetorical device. It’s just a fact. I realize it’s a small point, but rates should be compared to rates. Taxes compared to taxes. It seems to me that arguing for presentation of the data as an increase of a mere 2% of income is a real rhetorical device.

      • flypusher says:

        I think using actual real # examples, like $3k to $5k, is the best way to go in these discussions. If my taxes had increased that much, it would be annoying and an inconvenience. If they increased that much and there was jack and squat to show for it, it’s anti-incumbent time.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Of course, if you previously paid $3,000 on a tax rate of 3%, that meant you were pulling down $100,000 per year.

        The median household income for Illinois was $56,210 in 2013. So that’s an increase in taxes from $1,682.30 to $2810.50, or $1,128.20. That’s about $3.09 a day, or less than the cost of a gallon of gas.

        Had the money been used for good government, I again submit it’s not that big a deal. The problem is not the tax increase itself; it is the utter inability of the legislature to use it productively.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Were only the inability of government to use tax revenue effectively so rare, those of us on the side of allowing individuals keep more of what they earn might have a different view of it all.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        There are many government efforts for which I’d happily “spend” three dollars a day. Heck, that’s less than some people’s cable-television bills.

        Unfortunately, it sounds like the 2014 Illinois Legislature may not have managed even that level of service and success.

      • Crogged says:

        I have to say I’m on Fitty’s side on this because even a hundred grand a year doesn’t ensure fiscal security for life for the recipient and requires real attention to budgeting. Why shouldn’t public servants always use the scariest manifestation of statistics, and if 40 percent causes a “Wait a minute” more than “It’s just a few bucks a day” then I’m all for using the scare tactic to force attention.

        TThor points out the bewildering dance of percentages we use to send money here and yon amongst multiple spreadsheets which never have a zero in the bottom right corner, except for the poor devil getting a pay check from his boss. The Gordian knot had a simple solution and even as a dyed in the wool don’t spend money on guns but butter liberal, a far simpler method of taxation and public accounting is not against my religion. All I ask In return from my conservative brethren is to grasp the ultimate value of insurance and pooling risk for life events none of us will escape.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “All I ask In return from my conservative brethren is to grasp the ultimate value of insurance and pooling risk for life events none of us will escape.”

        It is all fine until you start forcing people into it, including attempting to force them to violate their religious beliefs by rule of law at the point of a gun with threats of possible loss of property and prison. The last part is an assumption you made, a false assumption at that.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Cap – Actually, (and without getting into specifics), Crogged is right.

        Life is composed of two distinct components; the deterministic and the nondeterministic. The former is composed largely of those things that we can steer through individual behaviors like effort and strategy. The latter are, for most purposes, beyond our control; things like catastrophic illness, employment dislocations, etc.. We, (you and I), share the notion that the consequences of missteps made in the former should not be borne by the collective. You make your bed, and you sleep in it. But…

        We have decided that we are going to set aside resources to aid fellow citizens who get crossed with the latter. This is the social safety net. While its breadth can be a topic of rational discussion, the concept of its mere existence cannot be.

        Therefore – we are agreed that all in the society contribute to a risk pool. It seems that your position is that such contributions should be voluntary. The extension of that is, should an individual be heading at high speed toward said net, but opted not to participate in its construction, it should be opened under his flight path, and he be allowed to fall through. Well, we have also decided collectively that we’re not going to do that. So, we’re left with an untenable situation – one that cannot be resolved by any means apparent to me at least.

        You go further down Untenable Avenue. You suggest that benefits provided by the Net should be a matter of personal caprice; that Christian Scientists should be forced to pay for blood transfusions, that Vegans not be compelled to pay for meat products for the indignant, and on ad nauseum.

        I think you need to get a bit more specific regarding your general philosophy and address the untenable, the fundamental contradictions of its extension, if you are to convince anyone of its essential validity.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        What essential validity? It’s the moronic effusion of an ignorant child.

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, Fifty, we have not decided collectively, we have had it forced on us by a few.And it goes against everything this great state and even this great nation is founded on, individual liberty and rights.

        Too many people making too many assumptions about others and deciding they need to take away freedom and control people, micromanage our lives. One assumption, everybody will need major health care at some point, this is false. Many people die without ever needing much more than an occasional office visit. It may be a house fire, a car wreck or just some freak accident, has happened to people in my own family. Or …

        Another assumption, if a person is faced with a major health issue, they will pay any cost to be treated. This is also false. My grandmother got lung cancer, never smoked a day in her life, she refused treatment. They said she had maybe six months, she lived for another five years, the last two or three months were not quality. She spent those last days in my aunt’s house, no major hospital bills.

        Two uncles told they had clogged arteries and needed bypass surgery. They had great health insurance, one of them a multi millionaire. They both refused treatment, and they died of heart attacks, no major medical expenses there. Another developed a brain tumor, told he had about 11 months to live, with or without treatment. Without it he would just sleep more and more until one day he wouldn;t wake up, or he could suffer through the treatment. He chose treatment, he suffered and died 11 months later.

        Is it a good idea to have health insurance? Maybe, probably, but not certainly. Like any other choice, it is a gamble, a risk, and people have the right to make those choices and take those risks and reap the rewards, or maybe suffer the consequences, then go on to reap the rewards down the road. Those rights are being infringed on, being violated.

        They are being violated because so many on the left are afraid of taking personal responsibility for their own choices, and they seem just as afraid of seeing others taking the risks, making their choices and becoming successful.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Cap- First off, I said nothing specifically in regard to health insurance. I was speaking in general about the safety net. It is your position that the safely net does not include things medical care – only food and the like? Upon what principle would that be based? Or is it your position that there should be no safety net at all?

        Please don’t ‘assume’ anything I’m trying to say. I’ll say it clearly enough. Don’t jump ahead. (You see, that’s a fundamental problem. You cannot come to a conclusion without considering the steps it takes to get there.)

        Not let’s continue…

      • fiftyohm says:

        *Now* let’s continue. Sorry.

      • fiftyohm says:

        I think we’re pretty much all on the same page wrt Sheila Jackson-Lee here. There are two things I most detest about her; the fact that whenever asked a direct question, she filibusters, and rants on her own agenda without concern at all for the question at hand, or even peripheral respect for the questioner, and secondly, the asoundly ignorant, ill-thought out tripe that spills from her pie hole. To be frank, I’m not sure what nauseates me most.

        This is not a random observation at this point in the dialog.

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