When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676

They call it Tax Reform. A Jobs Bill. That’s what it must be, right? Journalists and commentators are playing the same old game. Argue a proposed piece of legislation on its merits. Time to reset the boundaries in When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

Freedom Of Choice

While listeners to The Bob Davis Podcasts always have the freedom to choose what they think is right, I want to introduce the concept of marginal improvement. Legislators on both sides of the political spectrum talk big about ‘reform’. Usually though they make what really are marginal changes. This is especially relevant when we’re talking about the tax code.

The Real Football Game Is Congress

Team Red moves the ball back to the Blue thirty yard line. It’s hailed as a great victory. Team Blue moves the ball back to the Red twenty yard line a few years later. These are what both sides call marginal improvements. Meanwhile, as economist Milton Friedman famously suggested, they keep getting elected by making the tax code more complicated.

Budget Neutrality Isn’t A Thing

Enter a legislative concept called Budget Neutrality. The idea every expenditure must be ‘paid for’ with tax increases, or budget cuts. You think Tax Reform means lower taxes. What they’re really doing is taking away tax deductions and loop holes, and increasing our overall tax. The sad part is, it’s not their money, it’s our money. In When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

What Is Real Reform?

If you want real reform. The end to this kind of corruption? Then the power of the federal government to tax our incomes and our property must be permanently eliminated. Should corporations be taxed at all? Do you have property rights if you pay property taxes? How does government pay for the wonderful things both sides wants it to provide? We talk about it in When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

Already Socialists

So called conservatives like to argue the merits of capitalism versus socialism. It seems like I’d be on pretty safe ground if I suggested the United States has been collectivist for decades. Our economic system is not so much capitalist as it is a controlled market economy. Our elected Kings and their privy courts control our behavior and our futures with regulation and a tax code so complex, were it to be proposed as a single law in its present form, it would cause a revolution.

(Editor’s Note: While the first actual income tax in the United States was levied during the Civil War, it was later repealed as ‘unconstitutional’. Several attempts were made to establish an income tax through the late 1800’s which were unsuccessful, until the 16th amendment, ratified in 1913.)

Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul and Reliafund

When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676

Podcast 521

Stormy Weather. In a surprise only to ‘conservatives’ who listen only to ‘conservative’ talk show hosts, watch ‘conservative’ TV shows and go to conservative websites, the FBI decided not to recommend criminal prosecution of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her use of a personal email server while she was in the Obama Administration. Why? The short answer is, intent is a key consideration in cases like these. The long answer is, Mrs. Clinton played her ‘Benghazi Card’ better known as ‘If I go down, you go down’ and she got action from the administration. At least that’s one possible explanation. In the past few days President Obama suddenly closed ranks with the Clintons (despite all the rumors of the rancor between the Obamas and the Clintons). Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a now famous ‘tarmac meeting’ with former president Bill Clinton and President Obama allowed Hillary Clinton to ride Air Force One with him to a campaign event, where they walked, hand in hand, down the steps. “If I go down, YOU go down”. Now it’s a matter of politics. He said, she said. He said she’s a crook. She said he’s an anti semite. Congress releases a damning report on the administration’s conduct regarding ‘Benghazi’…Democrats say it is a partisan document. Republicans say it’s the ‘truth’ about Mrs Clinton and her boss, President Obama. “If I go down, YOU go down.” More fodder for the campaign trail. They were asleep and the switch, says one side. They’re partisan dividers, says the other side. Meanwhile the world’s leading economies are drowning in a sea of paper money and deficit spending, and economies are faltering. Do you really think this election is going to fix anything? We live in interesting times, with the great potential of a new technical industrial revolution and all that portends, and a personal challenge to change the way we think and how we work, and what we demand of our political institutions. Too bad our sclerotic politics delivers a statist who wants to spend and tax more, and a statist who wants to wall the country off from the rest of the world. We could have this technology revolution now, or we can languish for another thirty years while these idiots we call presidential candidates stumble around in economic darkness. Yeah sure, go ahead and talk until you’re blue in the face about Hillary’s email server, or about the Star of David on Trump’s twitter account, while the printing presses debase the currency, governments spend themselves into the poor house, the media puts on cartoons and calls them news, and we hurtle toward our destiny, whatever that may be. The US is now a country that’s happy about revised economic growth from .5 percent to 1.1 percent, with 95 million people out of the work force, a media that writes gossip and calls it news, and a population that believes Russian Propaganda and You Tube conspiracy theories because…what’s the difference? The Earth is hollow, you know and there’s a whole civilization down there, right? And you wonder about moral hazard? Sponsored by Karow Contracting and Brush Studio in the West End, Saint Louis Park. (Editor’s Note: In this podcast I refer to former CIA Director David Petraeus’ offenses regarding passing classified information with intent, and engaging in a coverup after as occurring while Petraeus was on active military duty. I wondered whether he would be under the Military Code of Justice in this case. This is incorrect. Petraeus was director of the CIA when the offenses occurred and not on active duty. For comparison to the Clinton question, one should refer to the FBI director’s congressional testimony regarding the differences between the Clinton question and the Petraeus case.)

Podcast 372

Memorial Day Weekend 2015. A midnight walk in the park, as we head into Memorial Day Weekend, 2015. As the country slows its roll for the big three-day weekend, it feels like the pace of the news is also slowing down. In the Upper Midwest, the big thing is opening the cabin, getting the RV ready to roll, and heading up to the lake. This is a weekend for putting in the dock, and establishing a ‘beach head’ for the summer. Some will be heading to state parks, others will be working, or hanging around the house. With a sense that people are slowing down for the weekend, the flow of news events also seems to be a bit stale. More stories about ‘candidates’ for presidential office, over a year away. More stories about things happening thousands of miles from the Upper Midwest. More blather about ‘Obama’, or ‘Clinton’, or ‘Jeb Bush’. In this podcast some observations from a day spent driving around the metro in gridlock traffic in search of parts – or a truck wash – for Mobile Podcast Command, visiting the ambulance supply warehouse, RV centers, and friends at various businesses around town. This driving around town thing is exhausting! After reading a thatch of news stories, taking a nap and dinner, time for coffee and a midnight walk through a deserted suburban town. Stories about summer’s and memorial day weekend’s past … the cold ones, and the hot ones. It is better to put the dock in when it is warm and sunny than it is to put it in when there is still ice floating on the lake. This year, the Upper Midwest has been lucky so far. It’s been a warm spring, and the forecast for the weekend is pretty good. Is it a good thing that there’s so much focus on Iowa for both political parties, this early? Events in other parts of the world continue, but things still don’t seem to have reached a point that requires decisions, or provokes new actions to debate. As summer comes on, it still feels like resolution on so many different news fronts will take a little longer. Maybe its a good time to pick out that summer novel. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul

Podcast 370

Final Mad Men. On the night of the final episode of the AMC hit show Mad Men a review of the top stories for the week of May 18th. The economic news these days isn’t good, but you don’t hear too much talk about it because the magpies in the mainstream media are too busy grousing about funding for their precious personal train service in the North Eastern Corridor known as Amtrak, a service the rest of America does not ride very much but has to pay for anyway, or the 45 idiots running for President and what a few Iowans think of them. Meanwhile, the US economy just put in the worst numbers since 2008. Don’t worry, the sunny analysts say, it’s the result of the West Coast Port Strike resolution. Or, the weather. Or … something. There’s always an excuse. Meanwhile economists and analysts are telling us, no-growth is probably the new normal. Really? The future belongs to those who build it, and people who actually build things don’t pay any attention to those who measure, analyze and report what ‘will be’. Its time we had a conversation about what’s really wrong; pursuit of Keynesian economics — or whatever you call whatever it is the policy makers are doing — and its powerfully destructive effect on the world economy. Whether you’re talking about China, Europe, Latin America or Japan, things ain’t to rosy, even though they keep saying, “Don’t worry it’ll get better next month”. Manufacturing is way down. Why? Because of a slow down in the energy industry, after all the so called ‘experts’ said lower gas prices acted as a tax cut on the economy … since all they ever think about is stimulating the consumer. Meanwhile, consumers aren’t seeing any wage growth and are exhausted because the economy is not growing. Who’s fault is it? Who’s in charge? Too much spending, too much taxation and regulation, and not enough leaving people alone to solve their problems. It’s time we cut the government back to what is required to protect our rights, and nothing more. Cut spending, cut taxes and cut regulations, and watch the economy grow. And, people are already working in ways we couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago. There’s a new kind of worker, who employs services like AirBNB and work hubs to cut the strings completely, and wander the world, working when and where they choose. You might be surprised at how easy it is … right now. Finally, are a few hundred Iowa Republicans (Editor’s note: I mean political groupies) the reason people are already sick of a presidential campaign that hasn’t even started yet? Is it time to politely tell Iowa to stick a sock in it? Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul

Podcast 323

Obama Checks Out. After the President’s White House summit on ‘extremist violence’, a firestorm of controversy erupted when he refused to characterize the ‘extremists’ – the subject of the summit – in language that would actually describe them. Our current problem is, after all, referred to as THE ISLAMIC STATE! The President reminds us lowly peasants we are not to refer to the Islamic State as Islamic Terrorists, or even ‘Islamic’. This is apparently so that the President will still be invited to cocktail parties with the nuanced and beautiful. Obama also took care this week to describe the ‘root’ of the problem in the Middle East as a ‘lack of jobs and democracy’. This is a statement which is patently false, since almost all top Islamists hail from upper middle class families, and are well educated. Critics say the President is never going to be able to defeat the Islamist Threat if he can’t name it. The bottom line? Whether President Obama knows it or not, he has telegraphed to the American people and the world he has checked out. Its clear he just wants to make it to January 2017 with his ‘legacy’ intact. For this, we are grateful. We do not want this president conducting a major war, as long as we can get through the next 22 months or so without being blown to smithereens, burned in a cage or beheaded by ‘extremely violent people’. If you’re upset about the possible threat, channel the angst into the 2016 presidential race, because the next guy in is going to have a lot of work to do. It will fall on the next President and Congress to figure out how to clean up this mess, because the current President isn’t going to do a damn thing about ISIS, Putin, or anything else. Do we really want him to? It seems all the world’s leaders are at a loss to figure out what to do about anything. The EU is on the verge of a financial crisis and is probably in a recession, while its leaders burn the midnight oil feverishly negotiating cease fires that are apparently meaningless to people like Putin. As fighting between Ukrainian government troops and ‘separatists’ in eastern Ukraine intensified, ending in a rout for the Ukrainian troops, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the short lived cease fire negotiated just last weekend in Minsk, “It’s not Munich’. Is there anyone in charge these days? Or are they all waiting for their people to tell them what to do? Do they know what to do? (Wait! Don’t answer that.) The real question is what the US role in the world should be, and how this country should handle itself. This is a question that is clearly being left up to the people. Some final updates and conclusions on the foreign policy front to end the week. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing

 

 

Podcast 267

Cooking and Talking. Updating you on some key stories for midweek, while cooking dinner. Pan fried steak, broccoli and salad. One of the things cable news and talk radio does is talk about things over and over again, in an effort to gin up emotional response and viewership. They seem to get ‘stuck’ on stories and can’t move on until the next ‘big’ story. In our ongoing discussion about media and its pitfalls, one of the things podcasting allows is for more varied content. We don’t have to keep talking about the same subjects, because podcasts about those subjects are up to be listened to whenever subscribers desire. So podcasters can add to stories when its appropriate and begin talking about new stories that will be top topics in a few days or weeks. In this podcast, updates to the bias story on Rolling Stone magazine’s coverage of the ‘rape’ story at UVA, and how narrative journalism ill serves the people. The next big narrative story? The Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of the report on the CIA’s interrogation methods. At first blush it looks pretty bad, and it is reported may even spur terror attacks across the world, and on US citizens. On second thought, it looks like the last shot by democrats at the Bush Administration’s policies. And whether deserved or not, former CIA directors and employees are pretty upset at what they see as a biased report. Dad always said, “There are two sides to every story”. As people react to the emotional and lurid nature of yet another ‘narrative’ story, will the ‘rest of the story’ get covered with equal intensity? On the terror front; word is ISIL has yellow cake which it procured from a University in Mosul Iraq, and used to make at least one radioactive explosive device which has been spirited into Europe. Let’s wait and see how this one develops. On the political front: With all the talk about the Republican Brand being ‘dead’ it turns out the GOP is in the best position it has been in since the 1920’s, especially in individual states. 2014 turned out to be a great year for Republicans, but Minnesota republicans missed out. Why? Is it time for a change of state party leadership as in a house cleaning? Finally, the pundits saying lower gas prices act as a ‘tax cut’, a position which should be questioned. It has been reported this week that lower fuel prices also mean lower commodity prices, since farm cost inputs will be cheaper. But, lower oil prices also means big oil companies may reduce their capital investments, which hurts manufacturing and employment. Are oil price reductions due to the price war, or to more supply and less demand because of economic slow downs in China, Europe and Latin America. Will the effect be positive? Not so fast, say some. Sponsored by X Government Cars, and by Depotstar.

Podcast 256

Obama’s Executive Orders. As we head into the weekend, we’re in the middle of a political firestorm. The President has issued orders granting a 3 year amnesty to a selected group of illegal immigrants. To begin with, the major broadcast networks refused to give the President air time, which infuriated the White House. Staffers complained the networks had given President George W. Bush airtime to announce the National Guard was being sent to the southern border to assist in security, in 2008. The networks retorted that Bush’s announcement was a bipartisan enforcement of existing immigration law. Kind of a slap in the face to the current administration, and from the major mainstream media broadcast networks no less. However, don’t think the networks are finally coming to their senses. Maybe it’s just that the President doesn’t command the kind of audiences he used to, given a popularity rating hovering around 40 percent. The biggest problem with the President’s executive order? Not long ago, he himself said he didn’t have the authority to make law. Whether or not the President’s orders are legal will have to be determined going forward with lawsuits and legislation. Largely though, it will be a matter of public opinion, due to the fact that courts are loathe to intervene in disputes between branches of the federal government. In the end this will be worked out through the ballot box, and citizens will have to decide whether they think the President overstepped authority. It is certainly true Congress chose not to act on immigration, which is itself acting. It is also true that courts have suggested the president’s authority to act through executive orders has limits. One of the key questions is whether he has usurped the congressional constitutional responsibility to legislate and whether he has refused to enforce the law in this case, which could end up creating a constitutional crisis. This whole controversy drives home the fact that elections – especially Presidential elections – have long term consequences. The reaction to this action churlish action by President Obama should be to organize neighborhoods and precincts, so that attempts to use the office to build support for progressive policy and politicians in the future, won’t work. One of the craziest suggestions this week was that the US should repeal the 22nd amendment, which term limits the US presidency. The argument suggests that if Obama had to run for a third term, he wouldn’t be as likely to issue these kinds of orders. Meanwhile, for the time being the White House has succeeded in taking control of the news cycle. The good news is we can depend on this White House acting true to form, which suggests they’ll encounter a real crisis, which the President will screw up and then we’ll all be talking about that! One person who is thrilled with the executive order … Jonathon Gruber, the ‘brilliant’ MIT ‘economist’ who thinks the voters are stupid, and he is thrilled because for the time being, no one will be talking about his latest video. Sponsored by X Government Cars

 

Podcast 255

Immigration Reform. (Midweek update, a little late due to a long podcast with Andrew Richter and Jason Bradley. The point of podcast 254 is that you can stop unelected regional boards from encroaching on your town. While critics of organization say you have to have candidates who inspire people to get involved first, where will the candidates come from? Local politics is one of those areas were individuals can have a huge impact. Thanks again to Community Solutions MN for joining the Bob Davis Podcasts.) President Obama prepares to issue executive orders granting amnesty to some three million illegal immigrants across the US, igniting a political fire storm. The President wants Republicans to pass the Senate Immigration ‘Reform’ bill, which has been languishing since last year, Republicans don’t want to pass it. So, the President will issue orders that accomplishes the same thing. Sort of. The idea of using executive orders to ‘legislate’ from the White House is controversial; one of the oldest constitutional arguments in the Republic. Courts have supported Presidents who use executive orders in an ’emergency’, but that doesn’t make them any less controversial and politically provocative. George W. Bush got into hot water with detentions , surveillance and ‘Gitmo’. Obama questioned how far he could go on immigration as late as last year, suggesting to supporters in the Latino Community that he could only use executive power related to existing legislation. Now he appears to have changed his mind. Since the President and now minority Democrat leadership in the House and Senate are moving to the left, expect more executive orders designed to ignite debate and draw attention to their issues, and their agenda in preparation for 2016. Don’t expect President Obama’s actions to be designed to help Hillary Clinton. Rather, it might be suggested the President, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are moving to the left, to lay the groundwork for an Elizabeth Warren presidential run. Deflation is now the number one financial news story after being featured on the Bob Davis Podcasts last month and earlier in November, 2014. With Japan in recession, Europe on the brink and China in trouble, central bank stimulation and big government public works projects are not working. The solution? More central bank intervention and public works projects! Really? Meanwhile, depending on what fourth quarter US economic numbers show, get ready for sandbagging. Already defenders of more public works projects and cotton candy from the central banks are pointing to ‘cold weather’ as the reason for potentially (hasn’t happened yet, but just in case) negative economic numbers. We have had earthquakes, hurricanes, hot summers and cold winters during economic boom times as well, but suddenly ‘the cold’ (which has lasted two weeks) is causing an economic slow down? Keep in mind as late as a week ago the media was telling us the reduction in oil and eventually gas prices would act as a boon to the US economy. What happened to that line of reasoning? “Cheaper gas acts like a tax cut” they say. Really? Bottom line is, Keynesian economic policies don’t work. One thing cheaper gas means, according to Bloomberg.com, is people will be flooding onto the nation’s highways for the Thanksgiving Holiday. A whopping .1 percent increase as compared to air travel this year. The Bob Davis Podcasts will be out on the road to report on this story. If you plan on driving to this year’s Thanksgiving feast at the relatives, Podcast 255 has some suggestions on how to avoid the traffic. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.

Podcast 224 – Twila Brase – Ebola

Ebola. Now playing in the United States. Even though the President assured the nation two weeks ago that the government had procedures in place to make sure people infected with the ebola virus would be detected if they tried to fly here, we now have at least one confirmed case of the Ebola Virus in the US. As this story has the potential to take over US media, what is our government up to? Twila Brase, President and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom , has some chilling information about what many State Governments are empowered to do in case of a pandemic. Why hasn’t the government flat-out barred people from countries with Ebola outbreaks from entering the United States? When the President doesn’t seem able to make sure his own security is functional, how can we expect him to be responsible for the security of the citizens of the United States, even though that’s one of his primary responsibilities. Why haven’t governors barred flights potentially carrying anyone from a ‘hot zone’ into the airports in their cities? The United States is thought of as a sophisticated, even complex society; Modern. Doesn’t a virus like Ebola understand we’re a sophisticated and complex society? Can the kind of panic we see in Sierra Leone, and Liberia happen in the United States? As one of the country’s authorities on the Affordable Care Act, Twila also talks about a new storyline these days that claims Obamacare is working. With the ACA part of debates in the Senate race in Minnesota and across the country, as well as gubernatorial races, what’s the latest status? Finally, it’s fair to say that authorities in Texas, Atlanta and Washington may have the expertise and tools to contain this Ebola infection, and there’s no need for unnecessary alarm. However, studies show we can manage one, or even two crises, but a third causes a cascade of problems that can lead to catastrophe. Considering Benghazi, the Border, ISIS, the Secret Service and now Ebola in Dallas, being slightly concerned about this administration’s demonstrated incompetence might be warranted. Sponsored by Depotstar

Podcast 203

Being Right. An email sparks some thoughts about the political discourse in The United States. Should a person who puts themselves out in the public eye as a commentator always be right, as in ‘correct’? Should everything they say be required to be proven ‘correct’ at a later date? Should a major league ball player leave the game if he fails to make an important catch? What does it mean to take a risk? What lessons have been learned in almost twenty years of talk radio? Political figures, writers, musicians, actors, comedians, and especially talk and podcast hosts take risks and put themselves ‘out there’ everyday. Should a person decline to use their talents because they are afraid of being ‘wrong’? Moreover, does the country gain from the increasing practice of demonizing and trying to destroy people who say things others disagree with, or are ‘shocked’ by? How has talk radio, and cable television (which has stolen the talk radio format) turned the body politic into tribes that demand their point of view, and only their point of view, be heard. Why radio and TV managers are suddenly terrified by opinions. How podcasting is changing this. And, a pitch for contributions to the Bob Davis Podcasts for the Podcast Van. Sponsored by Baklund R & D.