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The Joe Biden Presidency Thread


swordfish
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Biden's Plan To Crack Down on Tax Cheating: Snooping on Everyone's Bank Accounts: https://reason.com/2021/09/16/bidens-plan-to-crack-down-on-tax-cheating-snooping-on-everyones-bank-accounts/#comments

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In order to make sure the rich are paying their fair share in taxes, President Joe Biden says the IRS just needs two bits of information: all the money that goes into your bank account, and all the money that comes out.

That's how Biden pitched his plan for a more comprehensive financial surveillance state—all to catch those nasty tax-cheating rich folks, of course—during a speech from the White House on Thursday afternoon.

The plan "will give the IRS the resources it needs to keep up with the lawyers and accountants of the super-wealthy. It would ask just for two pieces of information from the banks of these folks: the amounts that come into their bank accounts and what amounts go out of their bank accounts," Biden said. Right now, he added, "the IRS can't see what they're making, and can't tell that they're cheating."

Thankfully, he stopped short of using the "If you've got nothing to hide…" cliché.

Still, Biden's framing of this plan to beef up IRS enforcement with an additional $80 billion in funding is wildly off-kilter. As I wrote in April, giving the IRS more information about the inflow and outflow of bank accounts won't automatically tell the IRS that someone is hiding unreported, taxable income. But it gives the federal tax cops another way to establish probable cause for a financial stop-and-frisk.

The details of Biden's plan are far different from the innocuous-sounding description he used Thursday.

"The administration's proposed 'comprehensive financial account reporting regime' would dramatically increase the types of financial institutions and transactions exposed to the feds' prying eyes,Reason's Matt Welch recently wrote. "The new domestic surveillance program, which requires congressional approval, is one prong of a tripartite strategy for transforming the entire global financial system into a harmonious, haven-free collection funnel to the IRS."

Closing the so-called "tax gap" and making sure everyone pays what they owe is a crucial part of how Biden and congressional Democrats plan to pay for part of the budget-busting $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill curring being crafted by the House. The $700 billion that will supposedly come from stepped-up tax enforcement was the largest single funding source for Biden's American Families Plan when he outlined it earlier this year (though Congress could make significant changes before the bill is finalized).

It is disingenuous to suggest, as Biden did Thursday, that letting the IRS peep at your bank records is about ensuring "that the wealthy can no longer hide what they're making, and they can finally pay the fair share of what they owe."

As the details of his proposal make clear, enhanced tax enforcement will mean hoovering up more data from crypto wallets, bank accounts, and third-party payment providers such as PayPal and Venmo. And that comes after Biden already ordered the IRS to give greater scrutiny to transactions in the so-called sharing economy.

Biden is pitching this plan as a way to go after the wealthy people who can afford tax lawyers and accountants. But as always, the people who can't afford those things will probably bear the brunt of the new rules.

"I'm not out to punish anyone. I'm a capitalist," Biden said Thursday. "All I'm asking is that you pay your fair share."

All he's really asking is the end of financial privacy for millions of Americans.

Be prepared to be audited for your garage and yard sales.  It's coming.

 

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Biden's Drug Price Controls Would Make Americans Sicker and Shorten Their Lives

https://reason.com/2021/09/17/bidens-drug-price-controls-would-make-americans-sicker-and-shorten-their-lives/

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Part of the way that the Biden administration and congressional Democrats want to pay for their $3.5 trillion social welfare "infrastructure" plan is by forcing pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices they charge the government for their medications. Democrats argue that benchmarking the prices paid for certain prescription drugs to prices paid by other developed countries will offset around $500 billion in government spending over the next ten years. Voilá—one-seventh of their infrastructure plan would be paid for.

First, I have been highly critical of pharmaceutical industry shenanigans such as paying off would-be competitors to delay introducing generic versions of their patented drugs and making minor tweaks to the formulations of their drugs as a way to drag out their patent protection beyond the 20 years they are granted. Some of the Biden administration's proposals are aimed at fixing those problems. So far so good.

However, imposing price controls on drugs is central to Democrats' plan to "save" $500 billion as a way to finance their massive new bill. Congress is supposed to authorize the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prices for medications with pharmaceutical companies. "An effective negotiation policy must establish criteria for market failure, define a fair price, provide the Secretary with tools and guidelines to negotiate a fair price, and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to participate in the negotiation process," states the HHS comprehensive plan. In addition, the negotiated (controlled) prices would not just be limited to government purchases, but also to commercial distributors and insurers.

Just how will the HHS "incentivize" companies to negotiate, i.e., lower their prices? Most likely by Congress enacting something like the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R.3) which was passed by the House of Representatives back in 2019. "Under H.R.3, if drug manufacturers do not agree to participate in negotiations, or do not agree to the negotiated price, they would be subject to an escalating excise tax on the sale of the drug in question," explained Tax Foundation economist Erica York. "The tax would kick in at 65 percent and would rise by 10 percentage points each 90 days the manufacturers are in 'noncompliance,' reaching a maximum tax rate of 95 percent." In addition, such excise taxes would not be deductible, which means drug manufacturers would have to pay taxes on their taxes, in which case companies could actually lose money if the punitively taxed drug were sold in the U.S.

Today's patients might enjoy the lower drug prices that these price controls afford them now, but tomorrow's patients would experience greater misery and more deaths than would have otherwise been the case. Let's rehearse basic economics one more time: Price controls reduce supply while increasing demand which results in shortages. What kind of shortages are we looking at? Fewer new medications in the future. Why? Because drug manufacturers would have far less revenue to invest in discovering, developing, and deploying new pharmaceuticals. How many fewer? A 2019 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis sanguinely calculated that imposing price controls would prevent only 8 to 15 new treatments from reaching patients over the next 10 years.

The CBO estimate is way too low argue University of Chicago economists Tomas J. Philipson and Troy Durie in their issue brief on the topic published earlier this week. They review the econometric literature and find that drug price controls would "lead to a 29 to 60 percent reduction in R&D from 2021 to 2039 which translates into 167 to 342 fewer new drug approvals during that period." This reduction in the development of new drugs is more than 10 times greater than the CBO calculated. The researchers conclude that the proposed price controls would significantly cut the number of new drugs and would therefore "lead to delays in needed drug therapies, resulting in worse health outcomes for patients."

If President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats really want to lower pharmaceutical prices, they should instead adopt radical Food and Drug Administration reforms aimed at enhancing competition among drug manufacturers. Such reforms would include allowing drug companies to sell their medications to willing patients once they've passed Phase I and Phase II safety and efficacy trials and reining in the agency's power to require prescriptions.

Ultimately, government drug price controls will result in more sick and dead Americans.

 

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On 9/8/2021 at 7:44 AM, Muda69 said:

Biden's Total Financial Surveillance

https://reason.com/2021/09/08/bidens-total-financial-surveillance/

I already perform about 50% of my financial transactions with cash,  that percentage is now likely to go up considerably.   Sorry, the federal government has no business knowing that I, for example,  used my debit card to purchase some 2x4's at Menards.

 

Big brother is watching you.

On 9/17/2021 at 7:19 AM, Muda69 said:

Biden's Plan To Crack Down on Tax Cheating: Snooping on Everyone's Bank Accounts: https://reason.com/2021/09/16/bidens-plan-to-crack-down-on-tax-cheating-snooping-on-everyones-bank-accounts/#comments

Be prepared to be audited for your garage and yard sales.  It's coming.

 

Big brother is still watching you.

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On 6/8/2021 at 11:48 AM, swordfish said:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/nbcs-lester-holt-grills-kamala-harris-on-migrant-crisis-you-havent-been-to-the-border

 

NBC anchor Lester Holt pressed Vice President Kamala Harris on why she has yet to visit the U.S.-Mexico border despite being put in charge of the nation’s migrant crisis, prompting the veep to wave off the question with a laugh.

Amid her two-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico to address the root causes of the surge of migration at the United States’ southern border, Harris sat down with Holt for an interview set to air Tuesday night on NBC. And while expressing cautious optimism about the ongoing immigration issues, the vice president warned that there is no “quick fix” to the situation.

“We are not going to see an immediate return. But we’re going to see progress,” she declared. “The real work is going to take time to manifest itself. Will it be worth it? Yes. Will it take some time? Yes.”

At the same time, Holt noted that Harris has been criticized—largely by Republicans—over her refusal to visit the border ever since she’s been tasked by President Joe Biden to lead the administration’s response to the influx of migrants.

“The question that has come up and you heard it here and you’ll hear it again I’m sure, is, ‘Why not visit the border? Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?’” Holt wondered aloud.

“Well, we are going to the border,” Harris responded. “We have to deal with what’s happening at the border, there’s no question about that. That’s not a debatable point. But we have to understand that there’s a reason people are arriving at our border and ask what is that reason and then identify the problem so we can fix it.”

Later on in the interview, the NBC News anchor circled back to that topic, challenging Harris on her personal absence from the border thus far, prompting the vice president to seemingly get a bit annoyed by the question.

“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked.

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris replied. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”

Holt shot back: “You haven’t been to the border.”

“And I haven’t been to Europe!” Harris exclaimed with an awkward laugh. “And I mean—I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

Holt, meanwhile, pointed out that it wasn’t just Republicans urging Harris to personally make an appearance at the border, noting that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) has repeatedly called on the Biden administration to visit the region.

“I care about what’s happening at the border,” Harris contended. “I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration. There may be some who think that that is not important, but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them. And so that’s what I’m doing.”

 

LH:  Why not visit the border?

KH:  At some point, we are going to the border,  We've been to the border, We've been to the border.....

LH: You haven't been to the border

KH:  And I haven't been to Europe....HahahaHA HA....I don't understand your question - smirk......

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10017659/Haitian-migrants-flooded-Del-Rio-cartel-let-cross-free.html

The secret behind the Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio, Texas is that they didn't migrate from Haiti at all but from Chile, where they had been granted asylum and were working and living comfortably as refugees.

The dozens of Chilean identity cards that litter the ground in Ciudad Acuna, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, all bear distinctly non-Hispanic names.

There is Prosper Pierre for instance, or Linode Lafleur or Eddyson Jean-Charles. None of the cards

carries a name such as Gonzalez or Muñoz or Rojas.

A closer look shows three telling letters - HTI - on the cards where they ask for the bearer's nationality.

These are the discarded ID cards of Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio by the thousands.

But they haven't come from Port-au-Prince or Cap-Haïtien or any other city in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. These have mainly come from Santiago, the glittering capital of relatively prosperous Chile. Many had jobs there.

'As one put it to me, "I love Chile, it's 1,000 times better than Haiti," migration expert Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies told DailyMail.com.

'But I want to come to the United States, that's a million times better.' 

SURPRISE!!  The Hatians camped out in Del Rio didn't actually flood into TX from Haiti.  The majority spent the Trump years in Brazil & Chile since the border was a bit stricter and the wall was progressing.  But since the Biden Administration changed the Trump policies, this flow of people are just trying to improve from 100% better than Haiti in Chile and Brazil to 1000% better in the US.  Now they are tossing their ID's leaving the border agents in quagmire to figure out what to do with them.

Somehow - this is all Trump's fault......

VP Harris DID go to the border once, though......

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, swordfish said:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10017659/Haitian-migrants-flooded-Del-Rio-cartel-let-cross-free.html

The secret behind the Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio, Texas is that they didn't migrate from Haiti at all but from Chile, where they had been granted asylum and were working and living comfortably as refugees.

The dozens of Chilean identity cards that litter the ground in Ciudad Acuna, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, all bear distinctly non-Hispanic names.

There is Prosper Pierre for instance, or Linode Lafleur or Eddyson Jean-Charles. None of the cards

carries a name such as Gonzalez or Muñoz or Rojas.

A closer look shows three telling letters - HTI - on the cards where they ask for the bearer's nationality.

These are the discarded ID cards of Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio by the thousands.

But they haven't come from Port-au-Prince or Cap-Haïtien or any other city in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. These have mainly come from Santiago, the glittering capital of relatively prosperous Chile. Many had jobs there.

'As one put it to me, "I love Chile, it's 1,000 times better than Haiti," migration expert Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies told DailyMail.com.

'But I want to come to the United States, that's a million times better.' 

SURPRISE!!  The Hatians camped out in Del Rio didn't actually flood into TX from Haiti.  The majority spent the Trump years in Brazil & Chile since the border was a bit stricter and the wall was progressing.  But since the Biden Administration changed the Trump policies, this flow of people are just trying to improve from 100% better than Haiti in Chile and Brazil to 1000% better in the US.  Now they are tossing their ID's leaving the border agents in quagmire to figure out what to do with them.

Somehow - this is all Trump's fault......

VP Harris DID go to the border once, though......

 

 

 

IIRC she went to El Paso. That and the little  junket across the border telling people not to come, like they're really going to listen, is about all that's been done to address this. If the government isn't going to guard the door, it's up to the state to take up that task. We're literally being overrun in parts of the state  down here.

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Democrats Are Denying Basic Economics

https://reason.com/2021/09/29/democrats-are-denying-basic-economics/

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The simplest way to understand economics is that it is a reckoning with unavoidable tradeoffs. If you spend money on something, you may obtain something in return—but you lose the ability to use those resources on something else. In the world of politics, economics helps us weigh the merits of those tradeoffs. It answers the question: Do the benefits of a policy outweigh the costs? Sometimes the benefits are larger. Sometimes they are meager or even nonexistent. But there are always costs. To acknowledge this is merely to acknowledge reality. 

Under President Joe Biden, however, Democrats in Washington have decided that they can simply wish those tradeoffs away by declaring that they do not exist. Over and over again, they have argued that their policies do not or should not have any costs whatsoever. 

Just this week, for example, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question about the tax impact of the $3.5 trillion spending plan now working its way through Congress by declaring that "there are some…who argue that in the past companies have passed on these costs to consumers…we feel that that's unfair and absurd and the American people would not stand for that."  

When taxes are raised on corporations—the "companies" in Psaki's response—corporations often respond by passing that tax on to others. In some cases, they pass costs to consumers. In others, as the Cato Institute's Scott Lincicome wryly notes on Twitter, they reduce the amount they would have otherwise spent on wages. They have to pay more to do business, and so they make adjustments accordingly. Costs create consequences and tradeoffs. 

Empirical research has consistently shown that a large portion of corporate tax increases is actually paid by labor down the line. There are some reasonable academic debates about the precise percentage of the tax paid by labor, and how that might change under certain circumstances. But there is little real debate about whether or not some of the costs are passed on. The point is that it happens. Workers, not owners, pay at least some share of higher corporate taxes. 

Yet Psaki's position—the Biden White House's position—is that this sort of thing is "absurd and unfair." 

One may feel that the omnipresence of gravity is unfair and absurd.

Nevertheless, few people plan their lives around the ability to leap into the air and fly whenever they would like. We accept reality and make plans around its constraints, however absurd or unfair they may seem. To do otherwise would be foolish. 

Yet that is essentially what Democrats are doing as they work to pass the Biden agenda. They are insisting that their plans, which are still in flux but amount to a call for some $4 trillion in spending over two bills, have no real costs at allor that the costs should not be factored in, because they are "unfair and absurd." 

Just last week, Biden himself tweeted that the $3.5 trillion spending bill would not actually cost $3.5 trillion. Instead, its true price was more like nothing at all. "We talk about price tags. It is zero price tag on the debt," Biden said from a White House podium. "We are going to pay for everything we spend."

 

Biden's remarks came after a week in which congressional Democrats had run into something of an impasse over their spending plans. In response, they decided that the problem was not with the plans themselves, but with the messaging. Early messaging for the bigger of the bills, which is mostly focused on welfare state expansions and climate policy, had revolved around the $3.5 trillion figure, which Democrats had taken to as a sign of how much they wanted to commit to their agenda. But the size of the spending package became a point of contention with moderates, who worried, understandably, that $3.5 trillion was a lot of money—probably too much. 

Some Democrats admitted that the final legislation would likely end up trimmed down. But some backers of the spending bill, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) have continued to insist that there is nothing that could reasonably be cut. After all, the $3.5 trillion figure was itself a compromise from their initial $6 trillion ask

So Democrats and their backers in the press focused most of their energy on altering the way they described the legislation. 

Hence we were treated to essays attempting to downplay the cost with headlines like: "$3.5 Trillion Is Not a Lot of Money" (New York magazine) and "It's Not Really a '$3.5 Trillion' Bill" (The New York Times). And then, of course, there were the official statements from Biden and White House communications functionaries making claims like "it's just a fact" that the plan "adds $0 to the debt."

It is not "just a fact." It is, at best, a dicey projection. And as Reason's Eric Boehm has noted, it may not even be that, partly because the legislation in its current form is structured via timing gimmicks intended to induce further spending down the road or begin spending late in order to hide the long-term, on-paper cost of the plans. 

But in some ways, this is all beside the point. It is a plan that, in its broadest form, calls for spending $3.5 trillion. Even in the unlikely event that such a plan turns out to be truly fully paid for, it would still spend $3.5 trillion. Those economic resources would be used to do some specific things, which in turn would reduce the ability to do other things. In other words, there would be costs and tradeoffs. 

Changing the description is just a way of wishing away those costs, of thinking that it is possible to make them disappear by saying that they aren't real or shouldn't matter. Under Biden, this has been the way for Democrats, especially the self-identified progressives, who have implied that large minimum wage hikes might not cost jobs (they would) and that debt and deficit-driven federal spending constraints are effectively not real (they are). The intent in every case is to downplay concerns that any significant tradeoffs actually exist. After all, costs and tradeoffs are absurd and unfair. Perhaps. But they are also real. And lawmakers ignore them at our peril. 

The Democratic party is the party of unhinged fantasies.

 

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On 9/29/2021 at 1:18 PM, Muda69 said:

Democrats Are Denying Basic Economics

https://reason.com/2021/09/29/democrats-are-denying-basic-economics/

The Democratic party is the party of unhinged fantasies.

 

What freaking dream world is she living in? English & Sociology major and working in politics from the get go. No real world business experience. Not surprised at these comments.

If she were a stakeholder in a business facing increased costs that would negatively impact her cut of the profits, she would be singing a different tune.

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1 hour ago, Bonecrusher said:

What freaking dream world is she living in? English & Sociology major and working in politics from the get go. No real world business experience. Not surprised at these comments.

If she were a stakeholder in a business facing increased costs that would negatively impact her cut of the profits, she would be singing a different tune.

Government is where many who can't cut it in private industry end up.  

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Joe Biden's Misguided Attack on Tax Havens

https://reason.com/2021/10/01/joe-bidens-misguided-attack-on-tax-havens/

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Leftists are thrilled by the Biden administration's plan to stamp out the bogeyman of tax havens—low-tax jurisdictions where corporations and other investors can keep their money away from the prying hands of the government.

They'd have us believe that corporations aren't paying their "fair share" in taxes— and that punishing these scofflaws will bring worldwide benefits. In particular, congressional Democrats are now pushing a re-jiggering of the tax system as a means to fund their $2.9 trillion welfare-spending program.

"The administration's strategy involves convincing other developed countries to adopt a global minimum tax for corporations, while reshaping the United States' own tax code to stamp out the advantages companies currently get from booking their earnings in tax havens," as Slate's Jordan Weissmann explained.

Some conservatives might support this redistributionist effort given that tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple are in the crosshairs. They shouldn't let frustration with those companies' content moderation policies let them jettison their long-term opposition to tax increases. After all, corporations don't really pay taxes—only consumers and workers do.

Let's dispense with the outrage about tax havens. There is nothing wrong with companies and individuals that shelter their earnings from governments, which are like organized mobs that can never seize enough revenue. One need only look at the U.S. government's $28 trillion-plus in debt to realize that its spending desires are insatiable.

If you believe that tax havens are immoral, then you should not claim any deductions on your tax bill. President Joe Biden apparently thinks it's wrong for corporations to locate their headquarters in low-tax Bermuda, Ireland, and Switzerland, yet why does his home of Delaware house so many U.S. corporate headquarters? Hint: It has nothing to do with the, er, lovely scenery around Wilmington.

California is a notorious high-tax state. In our federalist system, each state can develop its own tax policies, which is why so many corporations are moving to friendlier climes such as Texas and Utah. Such competition is a strength of the American system. A similar process works at the international level.

Tax havens provide pressure on big-spending governments to limit tax rates, and lower tax rates boost economic activity, create jobs, and incentivize investors to invest more. As economist Milton Friedman put it, "Competition among national governments in the public services they provide and in the taxes they impose is every bit as productive as competition among individuals or enterprises in the goods and services they offer for sale."

Governments propose these anti-tax-haven rules simply to keep companies from evading their tax grabs, thus allowing them to tax and spend with abandon. The main reason tax havens are good is they help corporations shield their money from the U.S. government, which already has plenty of revenues (and debt)—and needs to learn to spend it more efficiently.

Practically speaking, policies that crush tax havens are counterproductive. One prominent 2018 study by Duke University professor Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato found that an IRS rule that increased corporate tax rates for U.S.-based multinational companies had the perverse effect of causing them to lower their domestic investment and employment.

Also on a practical note, "Offshore centers allow companies and investment funds to operate internationally without having to abide by several different sets of rules and, often, pay more tax than ought to be due," noted the Institute for Economic Affairs' Philip Booth. "They make it possible for businesses to avoid the worst excesses of government largesse and crazy tax systems."

Furthermore, the Biden plan will raise taxes on reinsurance companies—insurance companies that provide insurance to other insurance companies—which simply will reduce the number of available insurance policies and raise rates on consumers.

Progressives argue that tax havens allow criminal enterprises to hide their ill-gotten loot, but the libertarian Cato Institute's Daniel Mitchell (who deserves a hat-tip for that Friedman quotation) explains that "the most comprehensive analysis of dirty money finds 28 problem jurisdictions, and only one could be considered a tax haven."

And he adds that tax havens also allow people living in oppressive regimes (such as Jews in some Middle Eastern countries and dissidents in Venezuela or Cuba) "to invest their assets offshore and keep that information hidden from venal governments."

After looking at how the U.S. government spends its money, it's hard to take seriously the claims of the tax-haven foes, such as Oxfam International: "Big business is dodging tax on an industrial scale, depriving governments across the globe of the money they need to address poverty and invest in healthcare, education, and jobs."

Oh please. If eliminating poverty were a function of the size of government tax receipts, then America (and California in particular) would have solved that problem decades ago. Those who oppose tax havens simply want the government to take more money and have more power. That's why I celebrate the wonders of offshore havens.

 

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No, Joe Biden Can't Save Christmas

https://reason.com/2021/10/15/joe-biden-is-not-americas-santa-claus/

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No, America, President Joe Biden is not Santa Claus.

It is tempting, of course, to believe in an all-powerful character capable of uniting the country politically, getting everyone vaccinated, and delivering Christmas presents to all the good boys and girls through nothing more than his sheer goodwill and the flexing of state power. It's been a rough couple of years, and now inflation is taking off like a team of flying reindeer. We could all use a nice story about a kindhearted hero bringing joy to a weary world.

A story like this one: "President Joe Biden is rushing to relieve congestion across the nation's complex shipping supply chain as it threatens to disrupt the holiday season for millions of Americans."

That's the first sentence—yes, really—of an article published this week by Politico about the White House's jolly old elf apparently scampering off to America's ports in order to save Christmas.

In reality, what Biden did was far less dynamic. He gave a speech browbeating companies and port operators for logistical logjams, and made some vague threats about dropping a sack of coal in their stockings. "If the private sector doesn't step up, we're going to call them out and ask them to act," Biden said.

As president, Biden has to give the impression of trying to do something. That's mostly what the job entails. "If there is one universally recognized principle in American political life, it's that the president of the United States should want Christmas to come off without a hitch," writes Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. To appear indifferent or helpless in the face of something as terrible as a slightly-less-prosperous holiday season is to invite the disapproval of the masses—or at least the handfuls of them who aren't locked into voting Republican or Democrat no matter what. We've turned the presidency into an omnipotent office, and we expect that our gifts and government checks will be delivered on time.

But the problem with believing in an all-powerful government is the same as believing in Santa Claus. The logistics just don't work. He wasn't talking about Old Saint Nick, but F.A. Hayek might as well have been when he described the so-called knowledge problem. From high atop the Commerce Department or the North Pole, there's simply no way for one person (or a large bureaucracy) to know what strings to pull and buttons to push. Not even if they have elves to help.

And so Biden is left to give the appearance of doing something while pretty much everyone who actually has knowledge about these things says he's powerless to help.

"What the president's doing isn't going to really hurt. But at the end of the day, it doesn't solve the problem," Steven Ricchiuto, U.S. chief economist at Mizuho Securities, tells Reuters.

"There's no political intervention that's going to get this done, and there may not be a human intervention that gets this done because this issue is now going to last well into next year," Steve Pasierb, the president and CEO of the Toy Association, tells Politico. (In fact, Pasierb's quote appears just four paragraphs after the bit about Biden "rushing to relieve congestion" in the supply chain.)

That's not to say that Biden isn't offering any good ideas. The White House seems to have put enough political pressure on the Port of Los Angeles, where some 60 ships were reportedly waiting offshore last month for the opportunity to unload, that the port will begin operating 24/7 in the near future. It's pretty wild that the port wasn't already doing that—in light of, you know, the 60 ships that are reportedly waiting offshore, and the fact that most major ports around the world already operate around the clock.

The blame there seems to lie at least in sizable part with Biden's union pals—specifically the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents workers at the Port of Los Angeles and others along the west coast. "A long history of toxic labor-management relations, particularly on the West Coast, has led to many of the issues at the heart of US container flow today," writes Peter Tirschwell in The Journal of Commerce, a trade publication. "Huge cost increases, limited ability to automate terminals, chronic avoidable disruption during contract negotiations, and far lower productivity and working hours compared with ports in Asia and elsewhere around the world are at the core of the issue."

As Scott Lincicome, a trade policy expert with the Cato Institute, noted in a recent newsletter published by The Dispatch, the U.S. does not have a single port ranked in the top 50 of the World Bank's Container Port Performance Index. Philadelphia's port ranks highest, at 83rd-best in the world. Los Angeles ranks 328th.

Automation could be a part of the solution, but of course the unions hate that idea. In 2019, the longshoremen's union secured an agreement that would keep automated terminals out of the Port of Los Angeles for at least six more years. So mark your calendars for Christmas 2025.

Biden has spent a good portion of this year trying to sell Congress on his proposed infrastructure plan, which would include a proposed $16 billion for upgrading ports. But without concessions from unions, those upgrades might turn out to be less impressive than they otherwise could be.

But even if Biden could do away with those labor issues simply by laying a finger aside his nose (or leaning on his labor union allies), it's pretty unlikely that the fixes would be felt in the next two months. Even shifting to 24/7 operations at the port, which requires hiring more workers (which is tough to do right now), is not going to occur overnight. There are myriad other issues at warehouses, in the trucking industry, and elsewhere. Some are functions of the pandemic, while others are longstanding issues exacerbated by the pandemic. None will be resolved quickly, and government intervention is likely to make things worse, not better.

The miracle of the modern holiday shopping season is, as it turns out, not that one all-powerful dude delivers millions of gifts in a single night. It's that thousands of people working millions of hours move mountains of goods around the planet for weeks and months before December 25, so everything can be in the right places at the right times and in adequate supply. All without one person being in charge of the whole thing.

That also means there's not one person who can fix it all when there are problems. The Biden administration should focus on the long term by figuring out what regulations should be cut and what government policies (like counterproductive tariffs) can be scrapped to let ports operate more efficiently. That should be the task assigned to John D. Porcari, a former deputy secretary of transportation, who was tapped in August to be the administration's point person for the supply chain issues. Unfortunately, "Porcari's primary recourse has been to call meetings with companies at different steps along the shipping process and encourage them to extend their hours and share information about obstacles," according to Politico.

That's not the role of government, so no wonder months of phone calls and speeches have seemingly accomplished nothing. Meanwhile, retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco, and Home Depot are chartering their own cargo ships and sending them to smaller ports where there are fewer delays, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. It's those kinds of innovative, figure-it-out-as-we-go approaches that will save the holiday season, not top-down orders from the White House.

We don't elect a president to be America's gift-giver in chief, and anyone old enough to vote for president should be aware that Santa Claus isn't real.

I have a relative that is one of those "moving mountains around the globe" for the holiday rush.  He will work an average of 12-14 hour days starting around 11/1 through 12/25.  And Joe Biden didn't order him to.

 

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Dems Try To Pass Off $10,000 IRS Reporting Threshold as Merely Going After the 1 Percent

https://reason.com/2021/10/19/dems-try-to-pass-off-10000-irs-reporting-threshold-as-merely-going-after-the-1-percent/

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As telegraphed last week, Democrats on Capitol Hill, facing loud criticism, have today upped the proposed new IRS reporting threshold on bank accounts from $600 in combined annual transactions to $10,000, according to the Washington Post.

Negotiators on the controversial proposal, which is being tucked into the multi-trillion-dollar social spending bill that Democrats will attempt to push through with a party-line majority, also say that wage income will be exempted, though how financial institutions (which are the entities being tasked with notifying the IRS) make that determination is unclear, as is much about the whole application of the American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda. "Exactly which accounts should be subject to the new rules has been the subject of a fierce debate," the Post notes. Federal benefits such as Social Security checks will also reportedly be exempted.

President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), and far too many overcredulous news organizations have portrayed this expansion of federal financial surveillance as (in the Post's lead-paragraph description) a "proposal to crack down on wealthy tax cheats."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Oregon), in a prepared statement for today's threshold-change, asserted that "the main reason Republicans have latched on to this issue as the one to lie about every day is because they know their tax agenda is a political loser," and that "the American people overwhelmingly want to ensure mega-corporations and billionaires pay their fair share, so Republicans have largely given up on their tired-trickle down arguments."

But the people most likely to have their transactions newly calculated for the IRS each year are not millionaires who scatter their holdings across 100 different $10,000 accounts, but rather freelancers, small business owners, immigrants, and anyone paid/gifted banked cash exceeding four months' worth of minimum wage work in New York. If I paid my 13-year-old $100 a week to babysit my 6-year-old, and she turned around and spent all that money at Brandy Melville, her bank may be obliged to report her deposit/withdrawal sums at the end of the year.

I say "may" because, again, the details of this are being hashed out behind closed doors.

The Biden administration has expressed exasperation at the pushback—"This is about making sure the top 1 percent can't evade $160 billion per year in taxes," Treasury Department spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna complained to the New York Times last week—but a look at Treasury's own wishlist-verbiage makes it obvious that this measure is designed to boost compliance among the lower 99 percent:

Requiring comprehensive information reporting on the inflows and outflows of financial accounts will increase the visibility of gross receipts and deductible expenses to the IRS. Increased visibility of business income will enhance the effectiveness of IRS enforcement measures and encourage voluntary compliance.

This proposal would create a comprehensive financial account information reporting regime. Financial institutions would report data on financial accounts in an information return. The annual return will report gross inflows and outflows with a breakdown for physical cash, transactions with a foreign account, and transfers to and from another account with the same owner. This requirement would apply to all business and personal accounts from financial institutions, including bank, loan, and investment accounts, with the exception of accounts below a low de minimis gross flow threshold of $600 or fair market value of $600.

Other accounts with characteristics similar to financial institution accounts will be covered under this information reporting regime. In particular, payment settlement entities would collect Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) and file a revised Form 1099-K expanded to all payee accounts (subject to the same de minimis threshold), reporting not only gross receipts but also gross purchases, physical cash, as well as payments to and from foreign accounts, and transfer inflows and outflows.

Similar reporting requirements would apply to crypto asset exchanges and custodians. Separately, reporting requirements would apply in cases in which taxpayers buy crypto assets from one broker and then transfer the crypto assets to another broker, and businesses that receive crypto assets in transactions with a fair market value of more than $10,000 would have to report such transactions.

Emphases mine. Raise your hand if you qualify for the dragnet.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board rightly worries, banks (as well as all other financial institutions) "would bear the cost of reporting each of more than 124 million U.S. accounts, which might require new software and additional staff. Customers could count on these costs showing up in higher user fees." When the IRS deputized foreign financial institutions to cough up information about their U.S. clients abroad a decade ago, millions of Americans were kicked out of their accounts.

The IRS itself acknowledges that "the United States enjoys a relatively high and stable voluntary tax compliance rate." But in order to maintain the laughable fiction that "the cost of the Build Back Better Agenda is $0," our already-intrusive, Fourth Amendment-busting federal access into personal financial affairs has to be vastly expanded into a—their words!—"comprehensive financial account information reporting regime." One that no doubt will have less-than-ironclad data security.

Those who value their financial privacy, and are not rich enough to afford the kinds of professional tax-minimization services this enforcement measure will fail to curb, are advised to keep their transactions in cash. If the Biden administration gets its way, they might not have any choice.

Cash, gold and buy seeds.  For you and your family's future.

 

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Biden's Nominee for Comptroller Wants To Put an 'End to Banking as We Know It'

https://reason.com/2021/10/28/bidens-nominee-for-comptroller-wants-to-put-an-end-to-banking-as-we-know-it/

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For years, progressives mocked anyone who warned that the Democratic Party's move leftward would produce government officials who might push actual socialist policies once in office. I'll admit that for a variety of reasons I never found this extreme version of the slippery slope argument convincing. Yes, both sides have embraced big government policies, and the recent "America First" approach embraced by Republicans in recent years should alarm us. Still, with the Biden administration's nomination of Cornell University Law School professor Saule Omarova to become Comptroller of the Currency, I wonder if I was too fast to dismiss the possibility.

Consider Omarova's academic work. The Wall Street Journal notes that she would like to put an "'end to banking' as we know it," in part by transferring private banking functions exclusively to the Federal Reserve, where accounts would "fully replace" private bank deposits. Under her plan, the Journal continues, "The Fed would control 'systemically important prices' for fuel, food, raw materials, metals, natural resources, home prices and wages" after the Fed is transformed into what she calls "the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a modern economy.'"

If confirmed, she would have an ability to regulate "systemically important" risks as a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Her words and deeds require scrutiny. However, true to the form of some contemporary progressives, Omarova accuses those who highlight this part of her agenda of misogyny, xenophobia, and racism, as she is "a woman, an immigrant, and a minority." But I can assure her that this motivation is not what drives me, as a woman and an immigrant myself.

What disturbs me is Omarova's belief that fixing the flaws of the financial sector requires nothing resembling ridding the system of cronyism or the perverse incentives created by too-big-to-fail policies, but instead a massive—and indeed unprecedented in the United States—expansion of political control over the private economy.

If you think her ideas sound a little like they were designed in the USSR, you would be onto something. In 1989, Omarova graduated from Moscow State University on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. Now, being born and raised in a particular country doesn't necessarily mean that you embrace its beliefs. I come from France, where there's still an active communist party and where the left and the right fight to see who can be furthest to the left of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). Yet I never wanted to transform the United States into France. In fact, I spend most of my waking moments trying to prevent such a tragedy.

Not Omarova, who genuinely seems to believe the USSR had better policies than the USA. For instance, she tweeted, "Until I came to the U.S., I couldn't imagine that things like gender pay gap still existed in today's world. Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there.'" She later clarified: "I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people's salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!"

Setting aside her revisionist history of a regime that killed tens of millions of people, those of you who have read my column know that it's a sign of great ignorance to claim that because the United States doesn't have a federal paid-leave mandate, most American workers have no paid leave. The truth is that this country has a vast and expanding network of companies that provide ample fringe benefits without being required by government to do so. Included among these benefits is paid leave. It covers some 60 percent of workers and is flexible, accommodating, and often more generous than the plans now being considered in Congress.

Omarova displays no less ignorance when she talks about the so-called "gender pay gap." There's now a bipartisan recognition that when measured properly, the U.S. pay gap is small. As Harvard economist Claudia Goldin's research shows, the remaining gap isn't the result of discrimination against women, but it's the product of mothers wanting more flexible and often less time-consuming professions.

This column only scratches the surface of Omarova's radical policies and misguided praise for her former country with its defunct and tyrannical economic system. It makes her nomination puzzling when it comes from a president elected for being a moderate. It certainly lends ammunition to those who have warned of a slippery slope toward socialism.

Mr. Biden must have put forward this nomination to placate the far, far left progressive socialists in the Democratic party.    And it would be a disaster for the American economy, and therefore the American people, should she be confirmed and her socialists policies allowed to take root.

 

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The Constitution Thwarts Joe Biden

https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/10/the-constitution-thwarts-joe-biden/

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It is a glorious day in America: President Joe Biden has suffered an ignominious defeat.

In the near term, it is important to defeat President Biden because he is Biden. In the long term, it is important to defeat President Biden because he is president.

Biden had hoped to get his big spending bills through Congress before doodling off to Rome for the G-20 meeting and then on to Glasgow for the big UN climate conference. Congress has proved admirably disagreeable, at least for the moment.

 

Enjoy the moment.

Like so many presidents before him, Biden conflates the prospects of the nation and its system of government with the prospects of his political agenda. Speaking in Connecticut a couple of weeks ago, he said it was necessary for Congress to act on his agenda in order that he might show the Russian and Chinese strongmen, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, that democracies can get things done. But Congress has just proved that it can get important things done, and one of those important things is telling the president: “No.” Or, “No, not quite,” or “No, not now.”

It has happened to better men than Joe Biden.

In the days before Congress’s self-respect was eclipsed by its self-importance, George Washington sent the Senate a note saying that he would be at the chamber “at half-past eleven tomorrow,” with tomorrow underlined for emphasis, to discuss a certain Indian treaty. President Washington did indeed show up, and the Senate told him — wait. The Senate was not ready to consider the treaty and referred it to committee. President Washington, the senators said with all due respect, could come back when they were ready. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Washington never did return, instead conducting his business with Congress in writing from that point forward, as his successors generally have.

It was a little thing, but the senators knew what they were doing: Washington hated to be kept waiting — his relationship with Alexander Hamilton had been severely strained by the younger man’s once having failed to drop everything and attend to him immediately — and the Senate wanted to let Washington know that he was not a species of king, that Congress and the president were equals at least, and that the republican spirit of the young nation would be ill-served by having the president summon and command the Senate.

Biden is no George Washington, to say the least.

And Biden does not have the status in the United States that Xi has in China or Putin has in Russia. And that would be the case even if he were a much greater man than he is, because the American president is not meant to be a figure such as Xi or Putin. We are a nation of laws, and to be governed by the law is to be governed by lawmakers. Matters of taxing and spending involve congressional powers rather than presidential ones, and they are the especial domain of the House of Representatives. President Biden can dream up a deadline and underline it, and lawmakers can — bless their pointy little heads! — ignore him.

Yeah,  good call by Congress.  Biden is not a King.

 

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'Joe was not only wide awake, but on fire!' White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy reacts to footage showing the President 'nodding off' during COP26 conference

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10156345/Gina-McCarthy-Biden-not-just-wide-awake-really-fire.html

Kinda reminds me of "Baghdad Bob" from the Gulf War......

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The President doesn't have influence on gas prices?  The very people who during the Obama Administration where gas prices were up for so long said that the President doesn't control oil prices and who were silent when President Trump opened up drilling in the US and encouraged the US to become more energy-independent resulting in record low pump prices - are now begging President Biden to help.

While he's considering shutting down a major supply line in Michigan. 

I don't think he can be this bad for the country by accident......

https://nypost.com/2021/11/08/11-senate-dems-urge-biden-to-ease-soaring-gas-prices/

Among the senators who signed were Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

This call for action comes after the White House admitted during a press briefing Monday that the president is considering shutting down the L5 pipeline from Michigan to Canada. Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admitted Monday that the Army Corps of Engineers is “preparing an environmental impact to look through this.”

“This irresponsible action will hurt farmers, businesses, and families,” the letter says. “President Biden has already done enough to weaken America’s energy security and international alliances, and the consequences of terminating Line 5 would only heighten these growing challenges.”

Politico reported Thursday that the Department of Energy has opened an “ongoing discussion” about the impact Line 5 would have on energy markets.

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy met with environmental groups on the matter last month where an attendee suggested a decision could occur following a vote on the trillion-dollar Build Back Better Act.

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15 minutes ago, DanteEstonia said:

The planet is cooking. Your gas prices can go to Hell. 

Tell us all about your own personal independence from oil and gasoline products, Dante.

 

13 minutes ago, DanteEstonia said:

If you are concerned about gas prices, here's something that can help-

https://www.tesla.com

 

 

Tesla machines are overpriced junk.  And there is not the charging infrastructure in my neck of the woods to make such a limited type of vehicle a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine.

 

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2 hours ago, Muda69 said:

And there is not the charging infrastructure in my neck of the woods to make such a limited type of vehicle a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine.

Do you own a house?

2 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Tell us all about your own personal independence from oil and gasoline products, Dante.

In 2010, my family bought shares of a company that made electric cars. The rest is history. 

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9 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

Do you own a house?

Yes, but it's an older home with only 100amp service and the breaker box is full.  Upgrading to 200 amp service or adding a subpanel is outside our budget,  as is the cost of a Tesla or another electric car itself.

9 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

In 2010, my family bought shares of a company that made electric cars. The rest is history. 

So?

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