More Republicans willing to accept tax increases to avoid cliff

In a sign that Republicans feel the pressure from the White House and Congress to pass “something” that resembles fiscal reform, more Republicans in D.C. are showing signs that they are willing to accept tax increases on the wealthy to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that looms in the near future.

This includes Tea Partiers who at one point slammed Congress for not doing enough to curb spending and provide tax relief for the majority of taxpayers.  At the heart of the matter is whether or not the Bush-era tax cuts will get extended to all Americans, or just those who make under $250,000 a year.

“I am not going to take anything off the table if we can resolve some of our biggest issues as a country,” said Michigan representative Justin Amash – an attorney by trade – who enjoyed big-time Tea Party support.  Or Sean Duffy from Wisconsin, who said that he believes in a “balanced” approach to the fiscal problem and generally accepting of the language put in place by Democratic leadership to raise revenue via taxation.

Even Florida Congressman Allen West, who recently lost his re-election bid (but still holds his seat until January) said he generally supports tax increases on wealthier Americans.  He believes the threshold for “wealthy” needs to be set at $2m, rather than the $250k set forth by the president.

Many of these Republicans seem unaware that public revenues often decrease as taxes on the wealthy are increased.  Facts and basic economic principles be damned, though, as our elected representatives decide on which Americans to screw over in order to fund the next wave of government spending.

Many support the closure of loopholes in the system, and that’s good.  But far too much attention is being paid on the easier solution of raising taxes on those who already pay the majority of taxes – which, as we’ve stated many times before throughout SmallGovTimes.com, encourages the exploitation of loopholes, offshore bank accounts and in some cases a straight exodus of revenue-generating businesses from our nation.

Republican Steve King said of the matter, “Conservatives might be able to figure how they can go home and rationalize a vote that included a revenue increase and or a tax rate increase.”  There always seems to be a way, and that is the problem.

What will happen to a post-Ron Paul Republican Party?

After 23 years in Congress, Dr. Ron Paul will retire as a state Representative from Texas, sell his condo in Washington D.C., and return to the Lone Star state to live out his remaining days without the spotlight of the political process.  Unfortunately for the GOP, he might be the Republican’s last remaining voice of true small government and individual liberties.

Ron Paul ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988 as a Libertarian, and again in 2008 and 2012 as a Republican.  Arguably, Paul’s realistic hopes of becoming president as a Republican were overshadowed by the need to get his message across to the American people at the national level with television cameras rolling and radio microphones on.

Indeed, the retired OB/GYN was widely known as one of the last remaining members of the Republican party who believed in consistent small government policy across the board.  Routinely, Paul would fight spending, fight government intrusion into the social lives of the American people and question the United States’ involvement (read: meddling) in matters overseas.  Paul believes that U.S. foreign policy perpetuates aggression towards U.S. interests abroad, and argues that our reliance on the Federal Reserve is destroying the value of the American dollar.

Readers of our nation’s founding fathers will quickly recognize their spirit and dedication in Paul’s voice.  A small federal government that relies on state governments to make decisions that favor local citizens is a concept that enveloped Paul’s ideas, writings and speeches.  Sadly, this spirit is now in the minority as government dependence increases among the American people, and deficits rise, wars continue, and peace dwindles.

The Republicans are left with a stark future.  While it is true that no single man shapes an entire political party, the Republican’s lone voice of a significant downsizing of Washinton D.C. is retiring.  The Republicans are left with the burden of creating an image, or at least an illusion, of a party that remains in support of a smaller government – somehow.  With John “Obamacare is the law of the land” Boehner at the helm in the House, the task is nothing less than daunting.  The only constant within the Republican party is its failure to enact significant reform of any kind.  Wars, wasteful stimulus and deficits litter the political resumes of virtually everyone in Congress.

In truth, the Republican party leadership is probably relieved to have “trouble-maker” Ron Paul out of the spotlight.  After all, who needs a member of their own party calling out party leadership?  Who wants to be exposed for what they truly are?  Hiding behind the cloak of a perceived belief in small government is far more comfortable.  Ignoring a cranky old man who supports the removal of power from Washington bureaucrats gets tiring.

But this relief will soon turn to shock as the defunct party is forced to find its way in the political discourse, furiously searching for ways to separate itself from the Democrats.  When the leader of the Republican party goes limp-wristed on one of the most expensive and manipulative regulations of the American people (Obamacare), it is a tough road to travel – with or without Ron Paul.

Without Paul, it just got tougher.  Without Paul, their voice of small government and freedom is gone.  No other member of the GOP seems willing to pick up where Paul will leave off.  No other member seems willing to question government involvement in unnecessary and endless wars, reckless spending, regulation of marriage and the War on Drugs.  The party’s small government side is barren.  Within the party, Paul was sitting in an auditorium alone.  Now, that same auditorium rests dark and silent.

Will the Republican party find a way to give the American people a legitimate choice in the future, or will they continue to follow in line with Democrats and fall on what’s left of their swords as they maintain their commitment to destroy any semblance of small government in Washington D.C.?

 

Wealthy Britons flee country as tax rates skyrocket to 50%

In 2011, Britain saw a dramatic decrease in the number of affluent citizens in the country after then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown instituted an astounding 50% tax rate on Britons earning more than $1m.  In fact, less than half of those who reported incomes exceeding one million reported the same after tax rates increased.

Naturally, wealthy Britons took steps to either reduce their taxable incomes through the exploitation of loopholes or simply fled the country altogether.  It is estimated that the loss in revenue due to fleeing Britons amounts to more than 7 billion pounds.  In Britain, if tax rates are raised too high, revenues decrease.  But, this is not a phenomenon unique to our friends across the pond.  Anyone hear about France’s richest man applying for citizenship in Belgium after a promised skyrocketing of French taxes?  Or why it benefits French companies to cap the number of employees to 49 as to avoid expensive regulation?

To curb the exodus, British Chancellor George Osborne announced a decrease in the top tax bracket from 50% down to 45%.  While still amazingly high, the number of $1m/year earners shot up almost immediately in the country, although still short of the original number previous to 2011.

Are we paying attention, U.S. government?  The United States needs to learn from history that nations cannot punish the wealthy for the supposed benefit of the rest.  Further, punishing tax rates naturally deter entrepreneurs from doing business in the country.  Fleeing British business owners attest to the fact.  How about the number of overseas bank accounts?  Outsourcing jobs to cheaper nations?  Taxes have consequences, and unfortunately the American people are forced to shoulder the burden of governmental ignorance of basic economic concepts.

Rhetoric from career politicians in Washington indicates a steadfast commitment to killing entrepreneurship and success in the United States as federal bureaucrats continue to blow through piles of taxpayer dollars on hollow initiatives, clumsy stimulus packages and never-ending wars throughout the world.

Barack Obama has repeatedly promised to raise taxes on “the rich”, to punish those for having more than the rest of us.  Deficits are running high, and so is economic uncertainty.  Spending less and downsizing government is never the solution in a government where politicians are unaccountable and the American people seem unwilling to make a drastic change in their leadership at the voting booths.  And so, government spending will increase, taxes will rise and business owners and would-be entrepreneurs will continue seeking safe havens overseas from punitive tax rates.

The more successful nations in the future will be those who create a welcoming culture where success is praised, not punished, and where the free market dictates policy, not career bureaucrats.

Mark my words.

High Court strikes down state law to prevent videotaping police

Although Illinois has some of the toughest laws against monitoring the police, TSA and other authority figures, the Supreme Court this week struck down an eavesdropping law that allowed for the imprisonment of up to 15 years for the “crime” of videotaping police while on duty.   The Supreme Court ruled the law violates the right to free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the law in 2010 in response to legal trouble regarding the group’s video recording of officers while on duty.  The high court left in place a lower court’s decision that the anti-eavesdropping law in Illinois violates the Constitution.  The law had been in place in the state for 50 years.

Outrageously, Illinois prosecutors pleaded with the Supremes that the lower court’s decision provides “a novel and unprecedented First Amendment protection to ubiquitous recording devices”.  First amendment protection is unprecedented?  Who knew.  Apparently, state prosecutors believe that the protection of first amendment rights of the American people is somehow strange.

Civil libertarians and lovers of freedom and liberty, of course, believe the monitoring of enforcement officers in this country is not only a protected constitutional right (apparently, the court agrees), but also a critical monitoring tactic to ensure against the abuse of powers given to police and government.  Americans should, and do, have every right and obligation to “watch the watchers”.

After victory, the ACLU said of the incident, “Empowering individuals and organizations in this fashion will ensure additional transparency and oversight of public officials across the state.”

The case now goes to an Illinois district court in Chicago where the ACLU will ask a judge to make the temporary injunction of the enforcement of the law permanent.

This comes just months after a similar case in the District of Columbia, where a bystander to a traffic stop on a public street in our nation’s capital was detained and questioned for 30-minutes after snapping pictures of the incident.  The ACLU filed suit on behalf of the man, and the court ruled “a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.”  Videotaping officers while on duty is perfectly legal and constitutional provided the photographer is not interfering with enforcement officers.

Is United States foreign policy to blame in Mideast conflict?

In his usual fashion critical of big government and interventionism, outgoing Texas Representative Ron Paul blasted the United States’ role in the Israeli v. Palestine conflict and cautions Americans to be prepared for a potentially short cease fire in the middle east.

“While we should be pleased that this round of fighting appears temporarily on hold, we must realize that without changes in US foreign policy it is only a matter of time before the killing begins again,” he wrote.

Paul noted that President Obama said last week that no country would ever tolerate bombs falling on their citizens and the United States must stand behind Israel.  “Considering that this president rains down missiles on Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and numerous other countries on a daily basis, the statement was so hypocritical that it didn’t pass the laugh test. But it wasn’t funny,” he added.

Indeed, the same mistakes made under George Bush are evident with this president who, even after rampant and demonstrable discontent from the American people over our government, was given another 4-years in the White House.  Taxpayers are forced to fund a conflict with roots so deep in history that no living American could possibly claim to have seen the beginning.

How much peace can our nation reasonably expect with a foreign policy that relies on dropping bombs and, in some cases, arming the enemy?  Who can predict a lasting cease fire in the region as our tax payers are continuously forced to fund a battle that has gone on for decades, even centuries?  Who expects a country to simply buy its way out of a conflict rooted in religious oppression and third-world societies?

“We are on a collision course with much of the rest of the world if we do not right our foreign policy. Ending interventionism in the Middle East and replacing it with friendship and even-handedness would be a welcome first step.”

Leahy would give government unrestricted access to emails

In yet another rampant example of federal hatred of the Constitution and the basic right to privacy, a re-written bill by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy would give a slew of government agencies (22 to be exact) virtually unrestricted access to emails, Facebook posts and Twitter messages of the American people.

According to a report by CNET, Leahy’s original version of the bill actually protected Americans from warrantless searches of personal information.  After complaints from law enforcement and government entities arguing that obtaining warrants would have an “adverse impact” on investigations, the senator re-wrote the bill and added provisions that destroy personal privacy and allows government agencies access to information without warrants or oversight.

The bill would give the Federal Bureau of Investigation complete access to American’s personal information through their Internet Service Provider without notification of the account holder – or even a judge.  The bill essentially eliminates privacy and personal security and recklessly gives unrestrained access to federal agencies – a power that is ripe for abuse.

Under the bill, agencies like the Federal Reserve, OSHA, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Labor Relations Board would gain easy access to American’s information.  It is puzzling why any of these organizations need access to personal information of the American people, especially without basic due process of obtaining a warrant.

A vote on the bill is scheduled for next week.  However, after public outcry over the blatant and transparent destruction of the privacy of all Americans, Leahy backed off of his support of his own bill, a damage control move by the senator in an attempt to save any shred of credibility he may still have with the American people.

Leahy’s attempt at damage control is meaningless, however.  The bill remains scheduled for a vote next week.  American’s privacy remains at stake, and the career Vermont politician is doing his best to skirt the line between getting the bill passed in the Senate and dodging responsibility for the continued destruction of privacy in the United States.

After such a public outcry, it is unclear how many in the Senate are in support of this bill, although one would hope a bill this transparently destructive to the privacy of all Americans would garner very little support – with or without negative publicity.

Federal government raids legal CA marijuana dispensaries

In September, the federal government raided several California-based marijuana dispensaries and issued letters to dozens of others threatening the shops to comply with federal law, even though the shops are perfectly legal within the state.

The hell with state’s rights.  The federal government will stop at no law or regulation when it comes to enforcing regulations put in place by unaccountable career politicians.  Apparently to the Drug Enforcement Agency, a state’s ability to design their own set of laws for its own people takes second fiddle to the power of Washington D.C.  The feds have shut down more than 500 peaceful, legal dispensaries in the past couple of years.

Virtually unrestricted federal reign over legal state matters has no place in a free society.

Citizens in several states, including Colorado and Washington, voiced their discontent with Washington’s drug policy and voted in November to legalize the recreational use of pot.  17 states have already voted to legalize the medical use of the drug.  Federal law, however, prohibits the drug’s use in any circumstance.

In a land where the federal government rules, state’s rights be damned.