Posts tagged spending
By Tona Monroe
Wheel Tax is latest ploy demonstrating hypocrisy of Republicans
Blount County voters will once again decide if they wish to pay a Wheel Tax, in the specially called election on June 11. The cost to the taxpayers for the special election will be at least $80,000, but saving money is of little concern to the resolution sponsors who have a habitual history of tax and fee increases. The Wheel Tax is the latest demonstration that being a Republican doesn’t necessarily mean limited government and low taxes.
All 21 members of the Blount County Commission were elected as Republicans in 2010, at a time when people were angry with Democrats and calling for a return to constitutionally limited government. The Blount County Republican Party sent a post card mailer warning people not to vote for local Democrats because of the big tax and spending Democrats in Washington DC. The three Democrats on the Commission were easily defeated.
Blount County voters handily defeated a wheel tax in 2006, with 71% of the voters rejecting it. Voters rejected a sales tax increase in 2008. Both of these votes took place prior to the current Commission, but Republicans had a super majority on the previous Commission, with a majority of the current Commissioners sitting on the previous Commission.
The current all-Republican Commission voted to raise the property tax rate the first year of their new term in 2011. While some of the Republican Commissioners voted against the tax increase, many of them voted for most or all of the spending that caused the tax increase, which makes them guilty of big spending and culpable for the tax increase.
Instead of creating a Committee to cut waste, the Commission created a Committee to Study Lost Revenue. The all-Republican Commission finished out the last month of the first year of their current term with litigation fee increases, with the resolution reading “WHEREAS, Blount County is in need of additional revenue.”
Rather than increase property tax in the second year of the current term, a sales tax increase was proposed in 2012. Blount County voters defeated the proposed sales tax increase a second time, but with a much narrower margin of defeat than in 2008.
Now the Wheel Tax is back, as the all-Republican Commission faces a huge spending increase from Blount County Schools, in its third year. The timing of the special election is interesting, the middle of June when School is out and people are taking vacations. The Commission has been unable to get voters in November elections, when voter turnout is at its highest, to approve tax increases. The date of the election appears to be deliberately set to catch people off guard so that the tax can be slid through, knowing that government employees usually vote, while hoping that those opposed are unaware or busy during the specially called election.
Republicans gave Blount Countians a property tax increase and fee increases in their first year. Republicans tried to give Blount Countians a sales tax increase in their second year. Now Blount Countians are faced with a Wheel Tax. The Commission could implement a Wheel Tax on its own authority with a two-thirds majority vote during two consecutive Commission meetings. Republican Commissioners don’t want to do this, partly because they hope to get the voter to do it for them.
The other reason is because the Wheel Tax won’t fix the School Budget problem entirely. The $86.8 million School Budget means a funding deficit of $6.9 million. Commissioner Holden Lail, one of the Wheel Tax resolution sponsors who is a retired Blount County educator and is married to Blount County educator, doesn’t know how much the Wheel Tax will actually generate. Estimates range from $2.5-3.5 million, which is far short of the $6.9 million needed. The Commission would then have to decide whether to increase the property tax rate to fund the deficit or tell the School Board to cut its budget.
The Wheel Tax proposal is sloppy, slothful and sly. It’s sloppy because the amount it generates is unknown but the best estimate shows it only providing about half of the requested increase. It’s slothful because it raises taxes without making any attempt to cut wasteful spending. It’s sly because it’s planned to avoid a general election so that County employees can ramrod it through.
The people of Blount County need to critically evaluate the performance of this all-Republican Commission. Voters have rejected all proposed tax increases, while the all Republican Commission has proposed a tax increase each year. Republicans railed about the dangers of big government Democrats in Washington DC in 2010, but the people of Blount County have an all-Republican Commission that hasn’t gone a single year without trying to increase taxes since their rhetoric about the Democrats in Washington DC.
Tona Monroe, a regular contributor to BCPublicRecord.com, is actively involved in state and local politics having a keen desire for restoring privacy and our right to travel. She resides in Greenback, Tenn. with her husband and dogs and enjoys a healthy lifestyle and dog rescue work.
In this great post by Charles Hugh Smith at OfTwoMinds.com, he explains that life can be lived without debt. I totally agree. But for most of us who are not privy to piles of wealth it does take some work though.
Reducing debt is key to living a high quality life. When I was a stock broker in a small college town in Virginia, the clients who had it most together generally were the ones who had the least debt. They never had the fanciest cars and rarely had the largest houses, but they often had far more wealth than my doctor and lawyer clients who all drove Mercedes’ and lived in McMansions.
But there were exceptions to the general lawyer/doctor rule. One older doctor I came to know who I thought was particularly prudent with his money told me a great story that he told residents at the university.
A young med student is walking the halls with an old and respected doctor doing the rounds. The med student knows that this doctor is well respected and appeared to be very happy in his work despite his age and in contrast to many of the other older doctors at the hospital. So the med student asked,
“Doctor, you’ve been successful and you really seem to enjoy your work. What is the key? I’d like to be as satisfied in my work as you appear to be.”
The old doctor stops and smiles at the young man and says,
“Don’t buy the big house.”
We are so often told that we should buy a house, a college education, a car, even vacations (!) by going into debt. But as many in the middle class know, especially in light of the current economic slowdown, debt is a ball and chain. To the degree possible it should be minimized.
(From Of Two Minds)
There are three key dynamics to debt-serfdom:A. The serf is never free of debt, i.e. he/she is programmed to being indebted for life.B. Most of the serf’s income is devoted to servicing debt.C. Most of the debt is unproductive: marginal-utility college education, needless auto loan, leveraged McMansion that loses value in the inevitable speculative bust, and so on.
By CBC News
Venezuela’s government announced Friday that it is devaluing the country’s currency, a long-anticipated change expected to push up prices in the heavily import-reliant economy.
Officials said the fixed exchange rate is changing from 4.30 bolivars to the dollar to 6.30 bolivars to the dollar.
The devaluation had been widely expected by analysts in recent months, though experts had been unsure about whether the government would act while President Hugo Chavez remained out of sight in Cuba recovering from cancer surgery.
It was the first devaluation to be announced by Chavez’s government since 2010, and it brought down the official value of the bolivar by 46.5 percent against the dollar. By boosting the bolivar value of Venezuela’s dollar-denominated oil sales, the change is expected to help alleviate a difficult budget outlook for the government, which has turned increasingly to borrowing to meet its spending obligations.
Planning and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said the new rate will take effect Wednesday, after a two-day banking holiday. He said the old rate would still be allowed for some transactions that already were approved by the state currency agency.
Venezuela’s government has had strict currency exchange controls since 2003 and maintains a fixed, government-set exchange rate. Under the controls, people and businesses must apply to a government currency agency to receive dollars at the official rate to import goods, pay for travel or cover other obligations.
While those controls have restricted the amounts of dollars available at the official rate, an illegal black market has flourished and the value of the bolivar has recently been eroding. In black market street trading, dollars have recently been selling for more than four times the official exchange rate of 4.30 bolivars to the dollar.
The announcement came after the country’s Central Bank said annual inflation rose to 22.2 percent in January, up from 20.1 percent at the end of 2012.
The oil-exporting country, a member of OPEC, has consistently had Latin America’s highest officially acknowledged inflation rates in recent years. Spiraling prices have come amid worsening shortages of some staple foods, such as cornmeal, chicken and sugar.
Seeking to confront such shortages, the government last week announced plans to have the state oil company turn over more of its earnings in dollars to the Central Bank while reducing the amount injected into a fund used for various government programs and public works projects.
Giordani said the government had also decided to do away with a second-tier rate that has hovered around 5.30 bolivars to the dollar, through a bond market administered by the Central Bank. That rate had been granted to some businesses that hadn’t been able to obtain dollars at the official rate.
It was the fifth time that Chavez’s government has devalued the currency since establishing the currency exchange controls a decade ago in an attempt to combat capital flight.
Republished with permission
Gary Franchi and Next News Network interview Trends forecaster Gerald Celente covering our current condition and future paths. Topics discussed cover the economy, the power play behind ever expanding wars and the natural resources involved, Wall Street and the government blessing to the “too big to fail” organizations plus the recent gun control moves by the administration and the history behind it all.
The EU will spend more than $3 million on ‘troll monitors’ to trawl Eurosceptic debates on the internet ahead of European elections in June 2014, UK media reports. It comes amid fears that hostility against the EU is growing.
The new strategy will include “public opinion monitoring” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of a political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest,” according to internal documents reportedly discovered by the Telegraph.
Spending on “qualitative media analysis” will be increased by more than $2.6 million. Most of the money will be found in existing budgets, although an additional $1.2 million will be needed.
“Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” a confidential document said.
The monitors’ roles are clearly laid out in the documents. The controversial plan is designed to promote a stronger Europe, while engaging in conversation with those who hold an anti-EU sentiment.
“Parliament’s institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.”
“In order to reverse the perception that ‘Europe is the problem’, we need to communicate that the answer to existing challenges… is ‘more Europe’ – not ‘less Europe’.”
But the EU is facing an uphill battle, as it seeks to change the minds of those who associate the bloc with economic crisis and high rates of unemployment.
“It is evident that the EU’s image is suffering,” the document said.
The information has been met with disapproval by many, who say the strategy is a waste of time.
“Spending over a million pounds ($1.5 million) for EU public servants to become Twitter trolls in office hours is wasteful and truly ridiculous,” UK Independent Party Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall told the Telegraph.
Training for the so-called “Twitter trolls” is set to take place later this month.
The news comes as Eurosceptic moods continue to gain momentum in the union.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership.
Without reform, “Europe will fail and Britain will drift to the exit,” the leader said in a January speech.
Cameron has been dubbed a “trendsetter” by Conservative MP David Campbell Bannerman, who believes many other countries are seeking more flexibility within the EU.
But it’s not just governments looking for a bit more leeway when it comes to EU membership – individual workers in crisis-hit countries are unhappy with the bloc’s leadership and austerity measures, too.
Last Wednesday, anti-austerity protesters in Athens broke into a government building and threatened the labor minister. Riot police then responded with tear gas, batons, and pepper spray.
Even German citizens have expressed interest in leaving the EU – despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ongoing support of EU policy.
Last September, a poll conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation showed that 49 per cent of Germans believed things would be improved by leaving the European Union.
And the Germans aren’t alone – 34 per cent of French citizens also said they would be better off without the EU.
Spotted on http://www.activistpost.com/
Please note Ron Paul’s message regarding the site that this article was originally posted and linked below.
***Please note: This is the temporary home for my weekly column until my personal web page is up and running.***
Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk
By Ron Paul
Last week the Senate and House demonstrated again why their approval ratings are so low. The 154 page “fiscal cliff” bill was made available to Senators just three minutes before the vote was taken on the legislation. No one can read 154 pages in three minutes, so it is safe to assume that the legislation was passed without being read.
Then the House brought the lengthy and complicated bill to a vote just 22 hours after the text had been available, meaning a full reading of the legislation was not likely possible. This was a clear violation of the “three day rule” adopted by the 112th Congress, which in the name of transparency ordered the House to make legislation available to the public a full three days before a Floor vote.
Perhaps this race to a vote, amid cries of the end of the world without a solution to the manufactured crisis, explains why an even greater than usual amount of special-interest carve-outs made it into the bill.
Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution clearly states that “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” but as has been done many times, the Senate simply attached its bill to an existing House bill and claimed that this Constitutional requirement had been satisfied.
If the process was dishonest and unconstitutional, the content of the bill was even worse.
The “rescue” legislation was packed full of special tax deals for well-connected corporations with the money to hire high-profile lobbyists – usually those who have spent a good deal of time as legislators themselves.
The principle of tax cuts and breaks themselves are not the problem, however. It is incorrect to view any return of tax money to its rightful owner as money taken from the government. Wealth belongs to those who generate it not to government. However, while well-connected special interests like Hollywood and rum manufacturers were being granted targeted tax assistance, the vast majority of Americans were being hit with a significant tax increase in the form of higher payroll taxes. Rather than cut a dime from federal spending, this bill granted breaks to the corporate elites and paid for the “lost revenue” by passing the costs on to the rest of us.
The “fiscal cliff” bill also rescued other corporate interests. Included in the text was a nine-month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. This is corporate welfare at its worst, spending billions to enrich big corporate farms with direct subsidies at the expense of small farmers — and the taxpayer.
Last week’s last minute deal was the worst of both worlds: higher taxes on nearly all Americans now and a promise to begin thinking about modest cuts in spending growth two months down the road. While there was much hand-wringing over the “draconian” cuts that would have been imposed by sequestration, in fact sequestration would not have cut spending at all. Under the sequestration plan, government spending would increase by $1.6 trillion over the next eight years. Congress calls this a cut because without sequestration spending would increase by $1.7 trillion over the same time frame. Either way it is an increase in spending, however.
I have little hope that a majority of Congress and the President will change their ways and support real spending reductions. Fortunately, increasing numbers of Americans are awakening to the dangers posed by the growth of the welfare-warfare state. Hopefully this movement will continue to grow and force the politicians to reverse course before government spending, taxing, and inflation destroys our economy entirely.
Posted by Lew Rockwell
(Thanks to Travis Holte)
Posted by Lew Rockwell
Despite claims that the Administration and Congress saved America from the fiscal cliff with an early morning vote today, the fact is that government spending has already pushed Americans over the cliff. Only serious reductions in federal spending will stop the cliff dive from ending in a crash landing, yet the events of this past month show that most elected officials remain committed to expanding the welfare-warfare state.
While there was much hand-wringing over the “draconian” cuts that would be imposed by sequestration, in fact sequestration does not cut spending at all. Under the sequestration plan, government spending will increase by 1.6 trillion over the next eight years. Congress calls this a cut because without sequestration spending will increase by 1.7 trillion over the same time frame. Either way it is an increase in spending.
Yet even these minuscule cuts in the “projected rate of spending” were too much for Washington politicians to bear. The last minute “deal” was the worst of both worlds: higher taxes on nearly all Americans now and a promise to revisit these modest reductions in spending growth two months down the road. We were here before, when in 2011 Republicans demanded these automatic modest decreases in government growth down the road in exchange for a massive increase in the debt ceiling. As the time drew closer, both parties clamored to avoid even these modest moves.
Make no mistake: the spending addiction is a bipartisan problem. It is generally believed that one party refuses to accept any reductions in military spending while the other party refuses to accept any serious reductions in domestic welfare programs. In fact, both parties support increases in both military and domestic welfare spending. The two parties may disagree on some details of what kind of military or domestic welfare spending they favor, but they do agree that they both need to increase. This is what is called “bipartisanship” in Washington.
While the media played up the drama of the down-to-the-wire negotiations, there was never any real chance that a deal would not be worked out. It was just drama. That is how Washington operates. As it happened, a small handful of Congressional and Administration leaders gathered in the dark of the night behind closed doors to hammer out a deal that would be shoved down the throats of Members whose constituents had been told repeatedly that the world would end if this miniscule decrease in the rate of government spending was allowed to go through.
While many on both sides express satisfaction that this deal only increases taxes on the “rich,” most Americans will see more of their paycheck going to Washington because of the deal. The Tax Policy Center has estimated that 77 percent of Americans would see higher taxes because of the elimination of the payroll tax cut.
The arguments against the automatic “cuts” in military spending were particularly dishonest. Hawks on both sides warned of doom and gloom if, as the plan called for, the defense budget would have returned to 2007 levels of spending! Does anybody really believe that our defense spending was woefully inadequate just five years ago? And since 2007 we have been told that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down. According to the Congressional Budget Office, over the next eight years military spending would increase 20 percent without the sequester and would increase 18 percent with the sequester. And this is what is called a dangerous reduction in defense spending?
Ironically, some of the members who are most vocal against tax increases and in favor of cuts to domestic spending are the biggest opponents of cutting a penny from the Pentagon budget. Over and over we were told of the hundreds of thousands of jobs that would be lost should military spending be returned to 2007 levels. Is it really healthy to think of our defense budget as a jobs program? Many of these allegedly free-market members sound more Keynesian than Paul Krugman when they praise the economic “stimulus” created by militarism.
As Chris Preble of the Cato Institute wrote recently, “It’s easy to focus exclusively on the companies and individuals hurt by the cuts and forget that the taxed wealth that funded them is being employed elsewhere.”
While Congress ultimately bears responsibility for deficit spending, we must never forget that the Federal Reserve is the chief enabler of deficit spending. Without a central bank eager to monetize the debt, Congress would be unable to fund the welfare-warfare state without imposing unacceptable levels of taxation on the American people. Of course, the Federal Reserve’s policies do impose an “inflation” tax on the American people; however, since this tax is hidden Congress does not fear the same public backlash it would experience if it directly raised income taxes.
I have little hope that a majority of Congress and the President will change their ways and support real spending reductions unless forced to by an economic crisis or by a change in people’s attitudes toward government. Fortunately, increasing numbers of Americans are awakening to the dangers posed by the growth of the welfare-warfare state. Hopefully this movement will continue to grow and force the politicians to reverse course before government spending, taxing, and inflation destroys our economy entirely.
Photo added to original post.
By Lori Stacey
Every single member of Congress knows or should know the very basic rule stated in the US Constitution regarding which chamber can originate revenue raising bills (tax bills). But that seems to have not stopped any of the 535 members of the US Senate and US House of Representatives from once again proving that they have absolutely no intention of obeying even the most basic procedures for a tax bill becoming a legitimate law.
As many of us wrote about months ago, after the Supreme Court issued its ruling regarding Obamacare being declared a tax, millions of Americans should have been celebrating how Chief Justice Roberts had just in essence invalidated the entire bill. See my previous article, “Is Chief Justice Roberts actually sly as a fox?” That’s right. There should be absolutely NO reason for any state government or any business in America to be forced to move forward with any provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act.
Again, the constitution is very clear in this matter and every member of congress knows what type of bills each is allowed to originate. It is one of the most basic clauses in the US Constitution governing the actions of members of Congress.
Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the US Constitution clearly states:
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.
After watching the deafening silence within the mainstream national news organizations and by all Democrats and Republicans in congress, I published a follow-up article as to possibly the political reasons none of them were going to even whisper the truth about Obamacare being dead in the water and can be found titled, “Demand Congress start telling the truth about Obamacare”.
As usual, there was no massive effort by We The People to demand that congress or anyone else elected to office start telling the truth about anything or even begin to adhere to our constitution for which they take an oath to obey, uphold and defend. So as a result, here we go again, all over again.
UPDATED PARAGRAPH: Unlike the Obamacare bill which was in every way a Senate bill and was not expected to ever be ruled a tax, the Senate worked out a “deal” with the Obama administration on their own version of the fiscal cliff bill which ILLEGALLY (referred to as “unconstitutionally” so as to not make it sound so bad) submitted a complete substitute tax bill knowingly in deceptive defiance to the supreme law of our land. In a late-night vote reported by the Washington Post, the House apparently went along and hurriedly passed the Senate’s version of the bill without time for any amendments by the House. This should have been the full content of the House bill with the Senate adding amendments and then going back again for another vote by the House and then back to the Senate for a final vote. In all intent and purposes this was a “Senate bill” regardless of what bill they had to gut out and substitute it with. The House would not have been voting last on a bill they were just seeing the language of for the first time if they REALLY originated its content.
In the case of Obamacare however, there is no arguing over details. It was a Senate bill that was later ruled a tax by the US Supreme Court so there was no need at the time of its passage to play switch-aroo or rope-a-dope with which bill the language would be slipped into. When it was ruled a tax, it was no longer a valid law which may explain one reason why there was so much insistence by the Obama administration that it should not be ruled a tax.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense should realize by now that the fiscal cliff bill will not solve any of our financial woes. It should not even be spoken of as a band-aid as it is nothing but a theatrical performance. Our economy is still going over the ultimate cliff and time will tell just when that occurs. For now, a more serious issue should be to raise cane about congress boldly thumbing its nose at our constitution and placing themselves above the law. Do we really want them thinking we are all so ignorant that we just don’t know any better?
Writing as a child screaming in the wilderness: If we do not finally unite in insisting that our elected leaders obey our laws, then we deserve exactly the corrupt and tyrannical government that we surely will have coming our way. The constitution cannot police itself. It needs the masses to be united in demanding that it is obeyed or suffer the rightful and lawful consequences. Just tar and feathers at this point is not going to cut it.
Lori Stacey, DC Conservative Examiner
Lori Stacey has been passionate about politics all her life. She started working on political campaigns going back to Ronald Reagan’s 2nd bid for the White House while growing up in Sacramento. In November 2010, she ran for Secretary of State of South Dakota for the Constitution Party. Lori…