Bernie Sanders will release his “very boring tax returns” sometime soon, in the future, just not right now.
The socialist senator from Vermont owns several homes and has inked lucrative book deals in recent years, despite his heated rhetoric about evil rich Americans who allegedly don’t pay their fair share.
Sanders recently joined a crowded field of Democrats vying for the presidential nomination for 2020, including some who’ve promised to divulge their tax returns, prompting CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to broach the subject with Sanders at a town hall Monday.
“Will you release 10 years of your tax returns, as you know Elizabeth Warren has decided to do that?” Blitzer questioned.
“Ya,” Sanders said.
“What was the delay? Why haven’t you done that so far?” Blitzer pressed.
Sanders suggested there’s pending issues with the documents, though he wouldn’t elaborate on what the issues are or when, exactly, the public might get a glimpse at them. The issue became a flashpoint for Democrats in the 2016 election when President Trump refused to release his tax returns, but it appears Sanders is also less than eager to put his documents on display.
“Well, you know, the delay is not … our tax returns will bore you to death,” Sanders said, sidestepping Blitzer’s question. “It’s simply a ma… there’s nothing special about them. It just was a mechanical issue, we don’t have accountants at home, my wife does most of it and we will get that stuff out.”
But when? Blitzer questioned.
“Sooner than later,” Sanders said.
Blitzer pressed for a specific time, but Sanders wasn’t having it.
“Soon,” the senator said. “I think we have to do just a few more little things, check them out, but they’re ready.”
Blitzer pointed out that folks have been calling on him to expose his finances since he ran for president in 2016 and questioned why Sanders is only now deciding to do so.
“I didn’t end up doing it because we didn’t win the nomination,” Sanders alleged. “If we would have won the nomination, we would have done it.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed a universal child care plan that would limit American families’ expenses to 7 percent of income regardless of how many children they have in care — paid for by a tax on the ultra-wealthy.
The Massachusetts senator’splan, unveiled Tuesday on Medium.com, would make child care free for families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, or less than $51,500 for a family of four. Other families would pay up to 7 percent of income, depending on how much they earn.
The proposal marks the latest policy entry into a 2020 contest that features scores of progressive Democrats competing over how best to mitigate income inequality and expand the economic safety net for working families. Americans paynearly as muchfor child care as they do for rent, with the average cost of child care in the U.S. approaching $1,400 a month, according to a 2018 HotPads analysis of a Care.com state and metro areapricing index.
Warren’s economic populist vision, paired with fierce attacks on corporations and wealthy Americans who she says are rigging the system for self-interest, is at the heart of her campaign, which has already drawn attacks from President Donald Trump.
Warren’s plan would cost taxpayers $70 billion per year, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics economists Mark Zandi and Sophia Koropeckyj. It would be paid for with some of the revenue from an annual wealth tax Warren has proposed on assets above $50 million, the person said.
The proposal would “substantially increase the number of children able to receive formal child care” from 6.8 million (or one-third of those under 5 years old) to 12 million (or 60 percent of children under 5), the economists said. It would cut formal care costs for families with young children by about 17 percent.
In an email to supporters, Warren said her proposal would include locally licensed child care centers, preschools and in-home child care facilities with governments, school districts, nonprofits, tribes and faith-based organizations to create a network of care options. Local communities would be in charge and held to national standards, Warren said.
It would be set up as a federal program, built on existing ones like Head Start and administered by local governments and nonprofit entities.
Save it for a rainy day. Some of your hard-earned dollars may be taken away as the weather turns ugly and rain drops fall on the Garden State. A new bill calls for the creation of local or regional storm water utilities, giving local counties and municipalities the power to collect a tax from properties with large paved surfaces such as parking lots, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
That’s businesses and homeowners.
The bill passed in the Senate and the Assembly and is now headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.
Is It A Good Idea To Tax People When It Rains?
“With all the salt that we’ve had on roads recently, that’s all running into the sewer systems. So you can’t ignore problems because they don’t go away,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said.
Sweeney said most states already have storm water utilities that collect and filter runoff from storms. In New Jersey, the runoff goes directly into streams, rivers and bays, carrying with it pollution like lawn fertilizers that contaminate the waterways.
Some Republicans have dubbed the bill the “Rain Tax,” saying another tax makes New Jersey even more unaffordable, and state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. agrees.
“We all want to protect our environment. We all want to preserve it for future generations. But this is a weighted tax. The citizens of New Jersey … really with no oversight and no way to defend themselves against tax increases at local levels,” Kean said.
When asked what he would say to taxpayers who say they cannot afford another tax, Codey said, “It’s a small cost to live safely.”
Other supporters say creating these utilities would help reduce flooding caused by storms.
Yet despite the prestige behind the impressive list of signers, the economists mislead the American public on several key points.
Specifically, there is quite open hostility on the progressive Left to merely a carbon tax—for example as is spelled out in the “Green New Deal” that has attracted so much attention. It is thus very dangerous for these economists to tell the public that a carbon tax would promote economic growth by eliminating unnecessary regulation. Furthermore, there is no discussion of just how severely economic growth would be limited, even if the carbon tax receipts were refunded dollar-for-dollar (which of course they won’t be). The talk about average families receiving more back in dividends than they pay out in higher energy prices is extremely misleading, and could only be true if the scheme fails in its ostensible goal of drastically cutting emissions. Finally, the attempt to maintain American competitiveness with a “border adjustment” would simply ensure that the program was symbolic and did little to slow global carbon dioxide emissions.
No, a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Deal to Replace Regulations Is Not Going to Happen
The letter is composed of five separate principles upon which the distinguished economists agree. Here are two of them:
II. A carbon tax should increase every year until emissions reductions goals are met and be revenue neutral to avoid debates over the size of government. A consistently rising carbon price will encourage technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development. It will also accelerate the diffusion of carbon-efficient goods and services.
III.A sufficiently robust and gradually rising carbon tax will replace the need for various carbon regulations that are less efficient. Substituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth and provide the regulatory certainty companies need for long- term investment in clean-energy alternatives.
Yes, it is certainly true that if the federal government institutes a carbon tax, then it would be better to keep it revenue neutral, and to also scrap the existing regulations on the energy and transportation sectors that are ostensibly in place to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
However, those observations don’t prove that it’s a good idea to go down this route in the first place, or that these “if, then” statements have any practical relevance. It is extremely naïve for these economists—many of whom are quite familiar with the Public Choice school, and are usually quite skeptical of “government solutions” to social problems—to lead the public to believe that either of these outcomes will occur. Does anyone really believe that in this political climate, with a massive federal debt that is projected to grow by more than a trillion dollars next year, that the federal government will install a gigantic new tax and not touch any of the incoming receipts? (Keep in mind, even if the government didn’t engage in any new spending, but instead used just some of the new carbon tax receipts to partially offset the budget deficit, then that would still constitute a net tax increase, and would not be revenue neutral.)
Regarding the regulations, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), CAFE mandates requiring ever higher fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and the so-called “Clean Power Plan” which punishes coal-fired power plants: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that these are absurdly inefficient regulations, even if we stipulate the basic climate change externality framework. But these economists should ask themselves: If these regulations are so inefficient, then why do they exist in the first place? The answer, of course, is that they are there for political reasons, not because they passed a legitimate cost-benefit test.
Indeed, in contrast to the economists in the Wall Street Journal’s claim that “bipartisan support” exists for the carbon tax, here is what Paul Krugman (who is also a Nobel laureate) said recently in the New York Times: “[C]laims that a carbon tax high enough to make a meaningful difference would attract significant bipartisan support are a fantasy at best, a fossil-fuel-industry ploy to avoid major action at worst.”
A U.S. Carbon Tax (With Border Adjustments) Will Not Solve the Problem
IV. To prevent carbon leakage and to protect U.S. competitiveness, a border carbon adjustment system should be established. This system would enhance the competitiveness of American firms that are more energy-efficient than their global competitors. It would also create an incentive for other nations to adopt similar carbon pricing.
Here’s what’s going on in principle IV, quoted above: If the U.S. government enacts a stiff (and rising) carbon tax on American industry, it will raise the prices of American-made goods. If foreign imports from countries without a carbon tax were allowed in, they would undercut American products. Not only would this hurt American-based firms, but it would perversely shift production to other countries where emissions are higher (per unit of output) than they are in the U.S., even before the implementation of a carbon tax. (This is the problem of “leakage.”)
In order to stop leakage and maintain U.S. competitiveness, therefore, the WSJ letter calls for a border adjustment, where a special tax is added to any imports coming from countries that lack a carbon tax, and where U.S. exports entitle the American producers to a refund, so that they can still compete in the global market without being hobbled by a unilateral U.S. carbon tax.
A border tax adjustment can indeed partially cushion the blow from a U.S. carbon tax, but it does so by limiting its applicability. In particular, U.S. firms are still allowed to produce and sell to foreigners without taking account of the greenhouse gas emissions involved. Furthermore, most (perhaps all) of the economists signing the WSJ letter are fierce critics of President Trump’s moves on international trade. It seems odd then that they would so cheerfully embrace a proposal that would involve massive new taxes to be levied at the border on imports, especially when there could be all sorts of “regulatory arbitrage” in which multinational corporations rearranged their production chains in order to exploit imperfections in the border adjustment rules.
No, American Families Won’t Benefit Financially From Getting Some of Their Money Back
One of the most misleading claims in the WSJ letter is the final plank:
V. To maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates. The majority of American families, including the most vulnerable, will benefit financially by receiving more in “carbon dividends” than they pay in increased energy prices.
On this one, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the WSJ letter is accurately describing the situation. It is telling Americans that only a small segment of the population—“the rich”—have above-average emissions, and so they will be the ones to pay out on net, once we take into account the “carbon dividends” funded by the new tax.
Even on these terms, it is odd to see so many economists—several of whom are considered politically conservative—embrace the claim that a new tax is “fair” if it redistributes hundreds of billions of dollars from a small segment of the population to everybody else. Suppose instead the government levied a one-time surtax of 50% on everybody’s checking account balances, and then sent the money raised in equal lump-sum installments to every citizen. Under that scenario, the “majority of American families” would “benefit financially” too, but how many of these Nobel-winning economists call it fair?
In any event, the claim is extremely misleading. Remember, the whole point of doing this—so we are told—is to drastically cut U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide. If households and businesses completely revamp their operations in order to reduce their carbon footprint, then they won’t be paying taxes on those avoided emissions. The government can’t send out lump-sum checks with money it hasn’t collected.
I have written on this issue before, with different types of examples to explain the situation to the reader. For our purposes here, let me try this approach: Suppose the economy consists of 90 poor people and 10 rich people. Originally, each poor person emits 10 tons of carbon dioxide per year, while each rich person emits 20. The government institutes a stiff new carbon tax of $100 per ton, leading everybody to cut emissions in half.
When the dust settles, each poor person emits 5 tons of CO2, on which he or she pays 5 x $100 = $500 in annual carbon tax. Similarly, now that the stiff tax is in place, each rich person emits only 10 tons, on which he or she pays 10 x $100 = $1,000. Put the money from the 90 poor people and the 10 rich people into one giant pot, and you have (90 x $500) + (10 x $1,000) = $55,000 in total carbon tax receipts. The government thus mails out lump sum checks of ($55,000 / 100) = $550 to each person in this hypothetical community.
Now in this setting, the rich people are clearly hurt: Each one faces much higher prices on goods and services, and must explicitly pay out $450 in net carbon taxes. (Each rich person pays in $1,000 and gets a rebate of $550). The poor people, on the other hand, might seem to be ahead: Each one only explicitly paid out $500 in carbon taxes, while receiving a lump-sum rebate of $550. What’s happening is that the explicit losses of $450 per rich person adds up to $4,500 (because there are ten total rich people in this example), which is then used to send a net $50 to each of the 90 poor people. Because there are more poor people than rich people, the explicit losses of the rich group are spread out and diluted when they’re redistributed among the whole society.
However, simply following the dollars around is not the full pain caused by our hypothetical carbon tax. Everybody suffers from a lower standard of living. For example, with a $100 per ton carbon tax, according to this online calculator, gasoline prices rise 44 percent, natural gas prices rise 124 percent, and home heating fuel rises 56 percent. And if we consider coal prices, they would rise a whopping 660 percent—which would of course completely knock out coal as a viable energy source, even though it currently provides almost 30 percent of U.S. electricity.
And these obvious jumps in fuel prices (which are calculated based on the chemistry of their carbon content) would spill over into everything you buy. Imagine how much more it will cost to have goods shipped via Amazon, or how much more fruit in the store would cost, when gas and diesel prices rise so much.
This is the way to think about the much-ballyhooed “dividends” that our WSJ letter writers are promising to American households. Right now, would you, the reader, agree to a deal that raised prices by the percentages I outlined above, even if you got an extra annual check for $550 to help compensate you? In this framework, would the extra $50 per year you’re effectively skimming off the rich guy down the street really make you whole?
To repeat, part of what’s going on in the numerical example is that the stiff carbon tax is causing people to reduce their use of carbon-intensive goods and services. To the extent that it is successful, a carbon tax causes people to avoid paying the carbon tax. When economists discuss the society-wide burden or compliance cost of a tax, the issue is not the flow of dollars into the Treasury, but rather it comes from changing patterns of behavior that are less efficient than the status quo.
Now of course, the economists who signed the Wall Street Journal letter would reply that these large economic compliance costs would be more than matched by the environmental benefits of reduced emissions. But if they want to tell Americans that the carbon tax will reduce their material lifestyle, in exchange for less climate change, then they should do so openly.
Before leaving this section, let me try one last attempt to get the reader to see the sleight-of-hand that these economists are pulling here. Suppose that President Trump had his protectionist economic adviser, Peter Navarro (who has a PhD in economics from Harvard, by the way), announce a new tariff of 100% on all Chinese imports, but that the proceeds from this new tax would be sent lump-sum to every American citizen. Would the economists who signed the WSJ letter then agree that “most American families” would benefit financially from the tariff? I mean after all, rich people tend to spend more dollars (in absolute terms) on imported goods than poor people do, so the statement would be correct. And yet, of course none of the WSJ letter signers would endorse such a plan. They would (rightly) warn Americans that such a large tariff would disrupt production decisions and lower just about everybody’s standard of living. The fact that these economists are adopting a completely novel talking point to sell a carbon tax should make Americans quite suspicious.
Dozens of heavy-hitting economists have sent a letter to the WSJ, praising a bipartisan revenue-neutral carbon tax that halts climate change, eliminates inefficient government regulations, and makes most families richer. It would be more fitting for Nobel laureates in literature to pen such a plea, because it’s based entirely in fiction.
As many of these same economists recognize in their other work, there are institutional reasons that government wastes money and produces counterproductive regulations. The only way the “border adjustments” and rebate checks will actually limit the economic fallout from a new carbon tax, is if the scheme fails in its ostensible purpose of sharply curtailing emissions. The simple fact is that rapidly reducing U.S. emissions through a massive new tax is going to have huge economic consequences. If some economists think that this cost is worth it, they should make the case plainly to the public and policymakers, rather than engaging in misleading talk about dividend checks.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested in a “60 Minutes” interview scheduled to air Sunday that the highest-earning Americans may need to pay an income tax rate as high as 60 to 70 percent to combat carbon emissions, reports Politico.
Speaking with Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” interview scheduled to air Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez said a dramatic increase in taxes could support her “Green New Deal” goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels within 12 years, a goal which even she acknowledges is ambitious.
“What is the problem with trying to push our technological capacities to the furthest extent possible?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “There’s an element where yeah,people are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes.”
Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that in a progressive tax rate system, not all income for a high earner is taxed at such a high rate. Rather,rates increase on each additional level of income, with dramatic increases on especially high earnings, such as $10 million. –Politico
Of course when France floated a 75% tax on the uber wealthy it resulted in a flood ofhigh-profile departures, including French actor Gerard Depardieu who fled to Russia, while cratering the country’s real estate market and ultimately leading to the plunge in Francois Hollande’s approval rating.
Ocasio-Cortez relished Anderson Cooper’s characterization of the tax plan as “radical,” before comparing herself to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“I think that it only has ever been radicals that have changed this country,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Yeah, if that’s what radical means, call me a radical.”
Protestors in France are protesting toll roads, destroying speed cameras and repealing fuel taxes.
But in the USA the new Congress will have a Democrat heading the House Transportation Committee and he’s preparing a bill to require you to put a black box in your car so you can be tracked and taxed — taxed MORE if you’re in a traffic jam.
U.S. President Donald Trump said China had agreed to cut import tariffs on American-made cars, buoying shares in BMW and Daimler AG who manufacture in the United States for export to the world’s biggest auto market.
Shares of Chinese car dealers also perked up on hopes that such a move could revitalize the domestic auto market that is poised for its first annual sales contraction in decades amid cooling economic growth and a debilitating U.S.-China trade war.
Trump, fresh from agreeing a 90-day cease-fire in his trade war with China at the meeting of the G20, said on Twitter “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.”
One of the least discussed parts of America’s income tax is how progressive it is, andthe tax overhauldidn’t change that fact. In 2018, top earners will pay a higher share of income taxes.
The individual income tax matters—a lot—because it is the largest single source of U.S. revenue. And its share has risen in recent years. For 2018, it could raise 50% of total federal revenue, according to estimates from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, up from about 48% last year.
Republicans have spent the last year cutting taxes and regulations, which hasn’t been easy. But now some Members of Congress want to blunt their handiwork by passing an online sales tax. Yes, they actually believe this would be good policy and politics.
A large faction of House Republicans are pressing GOP leaders to attach legislation……..