Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Madness

The Lame Ducks have concluded quacking in Washington, and are wrapping up their duck-turd-manufacturing in Lansing. Where are we at?

Another Bad Idea for Roads

Lawmakers seemed determined to come up with the most regressive plan possible for funding road repairs. 
The latest trial balloon is for raising vehicle registration fees. Governor Rick Snyder had proposed raising registration fees on private cars a whopping 60% in his original package.
Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), in supporting the idea, actually explains why it is a bad idea. He tells The Detroit News the increase should be considered because taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal tax returns can deduct some of those fees and reduce their federal taxes.
Of course, lower income folks do not itemize. Many seniors don't itemize, because they don't have a mortgage deduction anymore. So those folks don't get a federal tax benefit.
And the tax is uneven. One of The Curmudgeon's neighbors is a 91-year-old woman, in good health, who drives her car about 4,000 miles a year (mostly to get to the grocery store or medical appointments). Someone with an identical car who drives 10-times that amount would pay the exact same increase in registration fees.
Another bill eliminates the depreciation schedule for most new vehicles and locks in the registration fee for the life of the vehicle. So a person driving a 15-year-old car would be paying a fee based on the original new-car price of the vehicle, not the $3,000 he paid at the used car lot. Guess who gets screwed in that scenario?
Another sign that the registration fee idea is a bad one: it is supported by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, long a champion of insulating businesses from as much responsibility for state finances as possible and dumping it on the shoulders of low- and middle-income workers.
Democrats need to say 'no' to still another effort to add to Michigan's already too-high income gap.

Enabling Tax Cheats

The tea party that now essentially runs Congress hates the IRS. After all, in enforcing laws passed by Congress, the IRS had the temerity to challenge whether all those right-wing political groups really qualified for tax-exempt status. What the tea party saw as a political vendetta was actually the IRS trying to keep tea party types from cheating on their taxes.
So Congress got even with the bad guys in Treasury and cut their budget ... again. The net effect will be to make it easier for people with high-priced accountants (or one of those firms Alan Thicke shills for) to cheat on their taxes. So those of us who file an honest (well, mostly honest) tax return end up paying our share while the fat cats dodge their taxes. Because without enforcement, only a fool would pay their full share.
To make it even more enticing for those fat-cat CPAs and attorneys to help their clients skim money out of the treasury, they keep adding more loopholes to the tax code.
Because taxes are evil. Government is evil. Paying our fair share is evil.

Unintended Consequences

The planned Satanic display
With Republicans in a lather to pass the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it is entertaining to note that our Bible-thumping lawmakers will have to put up with a Satanic holiday display during December. Unlike the Legislature, the Michigan State Capital Commission actually recognizes that the Constitution protects all of us, not just Christians, and has approved a three-day display by a bunch called The Satanic Temple.
Former Engler chief flack John Truscott, chair of the Commission, says the idea of non-Christians "hijacking" the holiday disgusts him but he recognizes the First Amendment protects things that disgust him.
Maybe we need a Festivus Pole as well?

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