Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

Posts tagged “Fumduckery

And next to emerge from the clown car…

Nick Baumann at Mother Jones writes about the latest GOP panty-sniffing exercise. It seems limited government means government limited to policing women – and other undesirables:

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

….The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.

(Via)

Hey, remember when it was government tyranny to have IRS agents enforce healthcare reform?


While we’re drawing parallels

As I’m too busy (read: lazy) to do much posting, and I love a bit of snark, I thought to share a post from commenter El Cid over at Balloon Juice on the latest news from Winconsin. Parallels between Scott Walker and authoritarians like the recently ousted Hosni Mubarak are not new, but I think El Cid provides us the opportunity to make a particularly good one, that is sure to curl the lips of you dirty effing blame-america-first hippies:

That Hugo Chavez sure is an evil authoritarian for getting the parliament to give him emergency decree powers.

He’s a terrible enemy of democracy, and the US needs to keep funneling money to fund the opposition to make sure this awful authoritarianism doesn’t spread to other countries in the hemisphere.

He was given this power by his lockstep ruling bloc of the national assembly, who act simply as his toadies so that Chavez can carry out his radical goals unfettered. And now he will have 18 months to lock in whatever laws he and his preferred legislature want so as to keep the next legislature from undoing these fait accompli.

Chavez used the pathetic excuse of massive floods displacing almost 150,000 people to ram through acts such as providing housing to flood victims. As a dangerous precedent, before even getting his new powers, he used the excuse of the most severe drought in a century to forcibly regulate hydro-electric power generation and use.

Critics say that next will come measures designed to disempower and gut the opposition in the legislature, whose numbers don’t make a majority but are a rivaling minority. After all, Chavez cynically pushed this through before the next assembly session, when the minority opposition will have up to 40% of seats.

The assembly passed sections allowing the Supreme Court to review the decrees and the citizens to revoke any decree via referendum if 5% of voters petition it.

In this country we would simply never accept such authoritarian measures used to push through executive acts in a rushed manner so as to disempower the minority opposition to oppose them.

Here, in a country which appreciates the principles of democracy, our leaders would never use the mere majority of the legislature to ram through laws giving the executive vast powers or to weaken opposition forces throughout a state or nation. No one would even think it possible for one of our leaders tocompletely ignore the objections of a minority holding up to 4 out of every 10 seats.

Our politicians would wisely reserve the use of emergency powers for responses to minor budget deficit issues, and would apply them to such common-sense purposes as removing rights to collective bargaining, or to remove elected officials by executive order, or to immediately award profitable taxpayer-funded contracts to hand-chosen private interests without a fair and open bidding process.

America needs to act, and act quickly, before Chavez’ manipulative authoritarianism can spread to any other nation with leaders hungry to grab such concentrated power.


Three-ring circus

I haven’t the heart these days to write much about politics. I’m trying to preserve what little joy and hope remains in me. I may find welcome respite when I take up a new job in March after a really tough year and a bit of underemployment (woo, yay!). That being said I have found it fascinating that contrary to “jobs jobs jobs” the focus of the US House of Reps. has been on making sure women know their place. Quelle surprise!


Just wonderful

I went away for three days to train in development work, and returned full of vim…  Until I caught sight of an article about the latest fumduckery it appears my government plans to subject us to.

‘I would love to see tax reductions,” David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, “but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.” Oh no? Then how come he’s planning the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory?

If you’ve heard nothing of it, you’re in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d’etat is taking place.

Like the dismantling of the NHS and the sale of public forests, no one voted for this measure, as it wasn’t in the manifestos. While Cameron insists that he occupies the centre ground of British politics, that he shares our burdens and feels our pain, he has quietly been plotting with banks and businesses to engineer the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle to the ultra-rich that this country has seen in a century. The latest heist has been explained to me by the former tax inspector, now a Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks and current senior tax staff who can’t be named. Here’s how it works.

At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.

Foreign means anywhere. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it gets here. The other is Switzerland. The exemption applies solely to “large and medium companies”: it is not available for smaller firms. The government says it expects “large financial services companies to make the greatest use of the exemption regime”. The main beneficiaries, in other words, will be the banks.

But that’s not the end of it. While big business will be exempt from tax on its foreign branch earnings, it will, amazingly, still be able to claim the expense of funding its foreign branches against tax it pays in the UK. No other country does this. The new measures will, as we already know, accompany a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax: from 28% to 24% by 2014. This, a Treasury minister has boasted, will be the lowest rate “of any major western economy”. By the time this government is done, we’ll be lucky if the banks and corporations pay anything at all. In the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron said: “What I want is tax revenue from the banks into the exchequer, so we can help rebuild this economy.” He’s doing just the opposite.

My mood has officially returned to miserable.

 


They deal in answers, but ask no questions

Just read an excellent, excellent post on arguments equating abortion with slavery.

If you do take the time to understand the intertwined history of abortion and slavery, it becomes painfully difficult to assert that abortion is wrong.  Because then you must defend the slaveholder who wanted the enslaved woman to birth that child so that he could enslave them both (even as he probably used religion and morality, rather than economics and labor, as his excuse and defense for why one shouldn’t turn to abortion).  Who would be willing to fault the enslaved woman who aborted her fetus because she didn’t want that child to be a slave?  Who would be willing to fault the enslaved woman who aborted her fetus because she physically could not bear the burden of labor and pregnancy?  Who would be willing to fault the enslaved woman who aborted her fetus as a punishment to the man who raped her, barely fed her, barely clothed her, denied her religion, denied her liberty, and whipped her when she worked too slowly, made a mistake, or attempted to flee?  Who would be willing to fault the enslaved woman who aborted her fetus to protect her life and to save the evils of her life from those of her child?  To include the history of enslaved women in the history of slavery and then compare that history to abortion is not easy.

It’s all too easy when you have no interest in the experience of a whole swathe of your co-citizens beyond how useful it is as a cudgel with which to beat your political opponents.


Clowns

Good to see the Republicans are focused on job creation and fixing the US economy…

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly:

Last week, after a rather pointless vote to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans announced their second major initiative: the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Nick Bauman at Mother Jones breaks down the misogyny:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents wouldn’t be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.

Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.

No doubt that the failure of this bill to pass the senate will be demagogued to the max in the districts of its proponents. Keeping the base riled up and the campaign funds coming in. I would love to be able to write that Smith and the co-sponsors of this bill have beaten their careers with an iron rod; but alas.


At least we have a royal wedding to look forward to

So the Chancellor wanted to take credit for improved growth predictions last November, but now it has been revealed that the British economy shrunk by 0.5% in the last quarter of 2010 (zero growth if you account for the weather) he’s changed his tune:

These are obviously disappointing numbers, but the ONS has made it very clear that the fall in GDP was driven by the terrible weather in December.

I think Osborne mentions the weather about 15 times during his interview with the BBC. However, highlighting the fact that the UK was brass monkeys completely elides the reaction of the private sector to public sector cuts and anticipated tax increases. I find it interesting that the Chancellor still appears confident that the private sector will pick up the slack as public sector cuts continue apace.