Desperate billionaires finally getting the help they need

first_imgOh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happening!Trump understands, for example, that health insurance isn’t all that important for the riffraff. So he and the Senate GOP have again targeted Obamacare, this time by trying to repeal the insurance mandate.The Congressional Budget Office says this will result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance.But what’s the big deal?The United States already has an infant mortality rate twice that of Austria and South Korea.American women are already five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as women in Britain.So who’ll notice if things get a bit worse? Categories: Editorial, OpinionIt is so hard to be a billionaire these days!A new yacht can cost $300 million. And you wouldn’t believe what a pastry chef earns — and if you hire just one, to work weekdays, how can you possibly survive on weekends?The investment income on, say, a $4 billion fortune is a mere $1 million a day, which makes it tough to scrounge by with today’s rising prices.Why, some wealthy folks don’t even have a home in the Caribbean and on vacation are stuck brooding in hotel suites: They’re practically homeless!Fortunately, President Donald Trump and the Republicans are coming along with some desperately needed tax relief for billionaires.Thank God for this lifeline to struggling tycoons.And it’s carefully crafted to focus the benefits on the truly deserving — the affluent who earn their tax breaks with savvy investments in politicians. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But the blunt reality is that we risk soul-sucking dependency if we’re always setting kids’ broken arms.Maybe that’s why congressional Republicans haven’t bothered to renew funding for CHIP, the child health insurance program serving almost 9 million American kids.Ditto for the maternal and home visiting programs that are the gold standard for breaking cycles of poverty and that also haven’t been renewed.We mustn’t coddle American toddlers.Hey, if American infants really want health care, they’ll pick themselves up by their bootee straps and Uber over to an emergency room.Congressional Republicans understand that we can’t do everything for everybody. We have to make hard choices.Congress understands that kids are resilient and can look after themselves, so we must focus on the most urgent needs, such as those of hand-to-mouth billionaires. For example, eliminating the estate tax would help the roughly 5,500 Americans who now owe this tax each year, one-fifth of 1 percent of all Americans who die annually.Ending the tax would help upstanding people like the Trumps who owe their financial success to brilliant life choices, such as picking the uterus in which they were conceived.Now it’s fair to complain that the tax plan overall doesn’t give needy billionaires quite as much as they deserve.For example, the top 1 percent receive only a bit more than 25 percent of the total tax cuts in the Senate bill, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.Really? Only 25 times their share of the population?After all those dreary $5,000-a-plate dinners supporting politicians?If politicians had any guts, they’d just slash services for low-income families so as to finance tax breaks for billionaires.center_img In fairness, Congress has historically understood this mission.The tax code subsidizes moguls with private jets while the carried interest tax break gives a huge tax discount to striving private equity zillionaires.Meanwhile, a $13 billion annual subsidy for corporate meals and entertainment gives ditch diggers the satisfaction of buying Champagne for financiers.Our political leaders are so understanding because we appear to have the wealthiest Congress we’ve ever had, with a majority of members now millionaires, so they understand the importance of cutting health for the poor to show support for the crème de la crème.Granted, the GOP tax plan will add to the deficit, forcing additional borrowing.But if the tax cut passes, automatic “pay as you go” rules may helpfully cut $25 billion from Medicare spending next year, thus saving money on elderly people who are practically dead anyway.If poor kids have to suffer, we may as well make poor seniors suffer as well. That’s called a balanced policy. More broadly, you have to look at the reason for deficits. Yes, it’s problematic to borrow to pay for, say, higher education or cancer screenings.But what’s the problem with borrowing $1.5 trillion to invest in urgent tax relief for billionaires?Anyway, at some point down the road we’ll find a way to pay back the debt by cutting a wasteful program for runny-nose kids who aren’t smart enough to hire lobbyists.There must be some kids’ program that still isn’t on the chopping block.The tax bill underscores a political truth: There’s nothing wrong with redistribution when it’s done right.Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

IRS needs more staff to help tax filers

first_img“It cannot answer the phone calls it currently receives, much less the phone calls it can expect to receive in light of tax reform, without adequate funding.”Indeed, the new tax law could prompt a wave of confusion that the IRS is ill-prepared to handle.The agency estimates it needs about $500 million just to change computer programs, update forms, write new regulations and answer questions stemming from the bill.After the 1986 tax reform, agency call volume spiked, and the number of returns that required corrections also ticked up, and it is fair to expect the same now. Though the IRS has tried to improve its phone service recently, even before the tax law passed it anticipated that fewer than half of callers would obtain help from a live person this year.Given the complexity of the new law, many people will have questions that are more than basic.“Taxpayers who want to learn about how the tax law affects them are left searching about 140,000 web pages on IRS.gov or turning to paid professionals,” Olson wrote. Worried that you won’t be able to fill out your returns correctly under the new tax law?Do not take it out on the poor IRS employee who could not answer your tax question, even after you spent a half-hour on hold.Blame the GOP-led Congress, which, in its anti-IRS fervor, has driven the agency into the ground. It has become one of the most reliable traditions in contemporary Washington.Every year, the national taxpayer advocate explains that under-funding the IRS makes the tax filing process unnecessarily miserable for those who follow the law, while rewarding those who flout it.And every year, the Republican-led Congress decides to keep the tax system unnecessarily miserable for the law-abiding and easier on the lawbreakers.“Funding cuts have rendered the IRS unable to provide acceptable levels of taxpayer service, unable to upgrade its technology to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, and unable to maintain compliance programs,” national taxpayer advocate Nina Olson wrote in her annual report to lawmakers. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post.Hate the Internal Revenue Service?center_img While the taxpayer advocate argued that the IRS could do more with less, there is no doubt that underfunding is a key driver of the dysfunction.Congress has cut the agency’s budget by some $300 million since 2009, a bit under 3 percent.During that time, lawmakers have saddled the IRS with responsibility to oversee the phase-in of a new health-care law and, now, a major tax overhaul. Can’t the IRS — and the Americans it is supposed to serve — just cope?“On the surface, it appears ‘customers’ (taxpayers) don’t have a choice about seeking another tax agency to work with — there are no competitors to which they can move their ‘business,’” Olson wrote.“In fact, however, there is a competitor, and it is the lure of noncompliance. If the IRS isn’t going to provide you the assistance you need in the manner you need it, then why bother complying with the tax laws?” More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

Leftists paint false picture of Trump

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion While promoting his movie at the Cannes Film Festival, Spike Lee during a press conference launched into a profanity-laced tirade against President Trump. These vitriolic attacks have become common by the Hollywood community. It plays well in front of a leftist crowd like Cannes. But ultimately, his inflammatory commentary only exacerbates the divisive tone and further divides the nation’s political differences.The media will never challenge Lee to explain facts that contradict the narrative that Trump is a racist, such as the record unemployment of African-Americans and Hispanics, the huge drop in enrollment of the food stamp program or the increase in wages for the working class. These achievements are the opposite of the agenda of a white supremacist. Yet Lee and countless leftists continue to smear the president with this ubiquitous charge, while the media is happy to provide them with an unfettered platform.President Obama had the cool style and swagger that inspired millions to buy into his message of hope and change. But he failed to deliver any substantive results for the black community.For all his blunt talk and bluster, President Trump has delivered results that are making a positive difference in people’s day-to-day lives. The actions the president has taken to cut regulations and create jobs are much more significant than his clumsily spoken words that the media takes out of context in a concerted effort to paint him as a racist.William AikenSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Schenectady department heads: Budget cutbacks would further stress already-stretched departmentsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationSchenectady NAACP calls for school layoff freeze, reinstatement of positionsSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%Schenectady High School senior class leaders look to salvage sense of normalcylast_img read more

Agents of gloom

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Royal & Sun set to take 25% Moorfield stake

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Ashtenne chalks up 24% rise in profits

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Entrepreneur set to bid for M&S City flagship

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New fund manager takes PUT into higher league

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Regional Development Agencies – more action and less talk

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Regeneration: A town on the mend

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