Thought Experiment 5/26/15

If our federal tax system had a voluntary box for contributions above income tax due, and if the box allowed for contributions to be earmarked for any of eight major federal budget “needs”:
1]  debt reduction
2]  defense and national security
3]  medicaid
4]  highway, dam, and port maintenance
5]  national parks
6] VA
7] ag subsidies
8] health subsidies through ACA
9] Returned Directly to the State Treasury of Your Choice__________________________
10] Existing specific federal budget item of your choice_______
Would you check off for any?  $50?  $500?  $5000?
Which functions do you think would draw the most contributions?
Which the least?
Assuming the earmarks would be honored, would Congress immediately offset the predicted earmarks in the following year’s budget?  Would that be good, in that voters would have changed budget priorities to directly suit themselves, or bad, in that Congress would just waste the money?
Would it make a difference to you if the contribution were tax deductible in the following year?  I exclude the possibility of it becoming a tax credit as that would defeat this mind experiment. But see below.

In the alternate mind experiment, in which one can choose to contribute one’s tax payment to selected budget items, which items do you think would be funded?

—–

I will post this at PL.  The reactions there should be – uh- different.

38 Responses

  1. Assuming the earmarks would be honored

    No.

    would Congress immediately offset the predicted earmarks in the following year’s budget?

    Yes, and then double count it as deficit reduction. Also, see #1.

    Would that be good, in that voters would have changed budget priorities to directly suit themselves,

    Nothing would change. There would be no “honoring,” it would be offset and Congress would willfully lie. To believe otherwise goes against all evidence to date.

    or bad, in that Congress would just waste the money?

    Congress would waste it, we know this to be inevitable.

    Would it make a difference to you if the contribution were tax deductible in the following year?

    Allowing an addict the resources to supply their addiction does not help the addict in anyway.

    Like

    • Mark:

      Would you check off for any?

      Absolutely not. There is no way I would volunteer to pay more than the ridiculously discriminatory amount that I already have to pay.

      Which functions do you think would draw the most contributions?

      Welfare programs.

      Which the least?

      AG subsidies.

      Assuming the earmarks would be honored, would Congress immediately offset the predicted earmarks in the following year’s budget?

      Yes.

      Would that be good, in that voters would have changed budget priorities to directly suit themselves, or bad, in that Congress would just waste the money?

      If Congress immediately offset the earmarks, which it would, then voters will not have changed budget priorities at all.

      Would it make a difference to you if the contribution were tax deductible in the following year?

      If it appeared likely that D’s were going to take office and raise taxes the following year, yes, although current levels of interest rates would matter as well.

      In the alternate mind experiment, in which one can choose to contribute one’s tax payment to selected budget items, which items do you think would be funded?

      Assuming you are asking what I think most people will do, not what I would do, then I think national defense, infrastructure, and the VA would probably be more well funded than currently. Welfare subsidies (ACA, medicaid) would be less well funded. AG subsidies would disappear.

      Like

  2. I am very close to you in sentiment. I cannot imagine a Congress that would honor the earmark, which is why I included the “assumption”, for purpose of the mind game.

    I see the possibility that revealing how people “voted” with their voluntary contributions might be illuminating.

    Like

  3. McWing: Are you OK?

    Like

  4. I’m fine, thank you for asking. Why do you ask though?

    Like

  5. when you are making your choices:

    New data from AHRQ: Approximately one-fourth of U.S. health care expenses are incurred by 1 percent of the U.S. population, and half of expenses are incurred by 5 percent of the population. In contrast, half of the U.S. population incurs only 3 percent of total health care expenses.

    http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb190-Hospital-Stays-Super-Utilizers-Payer-2012.jsp

    Like

  6. It’s a real shame. for a host of reasons. but namely that we didn’t discuss this at all during health reform.

    Like

    • nova:

      It’s a real shame. for a host of reasons. but namely that we didn’t discuss this at all during health reform.

      That was surely by design. The cost of health care was a handy excuse, not an actual reason, for the kind of health care reform desired by the left.

      Like

  7. would love a legal opinion here, did Jonathan Gruber lie in his amicus briefs? if so, is there any legal consequence to that?

    http://www.americancommitment.org/content/government-tells-gruber-lie-supreme-court

    Like

  8. McWing: I thought you live in Houston. Am I wrong?

    Glad all is well with you, nonetheless.

    Like

  9. Oh, yes, ok. We’re fine here, just soggy. Thanks!

    Like

  10. -1 McWing. missed opportunity.

    Han. everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?
    Voice: We’re sending a squad up.
    Han Solo: Uh, uh… negative, negative.

    Like

  11. Heh.

    I’m just buying time while I lock down the radiation leak.

    Like

  12. Would you check off for any?

    No way. I pay enough already

    Which functions do you think would draw the most contributions?

    Debt reduction

    Which the least?

    AG subsidies.

    Assuming the earmarks would be honored, would Congress immediately offset the predicted earmarks in the following year’s budget?

    Do you mean they would assume that additional revenue and raise spending to the new assumed level? If so, then they will add up the additional revenue in perpetuity and spend it all next year.

    Would that be good, in that voters would have changed budget priorities to directly suit themselves, or bad, in that Congress would just waste the money?

    I have no illusion that we have any say in the budget. Most spending is mandatory.

    Would it make a difference to you if the contribution were tax deductible in the following year?

    Treated like prepaid taxes? Or a deduction? Prepaid taxes, yes, just another deduction, no.

    In the alternate mind experiment, in which one can choose to contribute one’s tax payment to selected budget items, which items do you think would be funded?

    VA, medicaid

    Like

  13. “Would you check off for any? $50? $500? $5000?
    Which functions do you think would draw the most contributions?
    Which the least?”

    No
    Deficit reduction
    10] Existing specific federal budget item of your choice______ (specifically foreign aid).

    Like

  14. I’m sure that there’s a government program or a law somewhere that can fix this:

    “Another beachgoer died while digging a hole in the sand. Why does this keep happening?”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/07/25/another-beachgoer-died-while-digging-a-hole-in-the-sand-why-does-this-keep-happening/?tid=trending_strip_6

    The answer as to why seems obvious to me. People are stupid and/or believe that bad things won’t happen to them.

    Like

  15. Bernie Sanders quote linked in PL:

    ““Ninety-nine percent of all new income generated today goes to the top 1 percent. Top one-tenth of 1 percent owns as much as wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Does anybody think that that is the kind of economy this country should have? Do we think it’s moral? So to my mind, if you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, you know what, we’ve got to transfer that back if we’re going to have a vibrant middle class. And you do that in a lot of ways. Certainly one way is tax policy.””

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/05/26/bernie-sanders-calls-for-downward-transfer-of-wealth-of-top-one-percent/

    There’s nothing in the first two talking points/factoids quoted that directly leads to Sanders assumption that a “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent” has occurred.

    My making more money doesn’t inherently make you poorer.

    Like

    • jnc:

      There’s nothing in the first two talking points/factoids quoted that directly leads to Sanders assumption that a “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent” has occurred.

      The zero-sum premises of the left dictate that it must be so.

      Like

  16. The income inequality argument completely built on covetousness.

    And it’s a know fact that as tax rates go up, compliance increases.

    Like

  17. The National Parks. They are chronically underfunded and such a minor piece of the budget that they could use triple the money and it would never be missed. I never voluntarily pay more taxes than I have to. Maryland has little charity boxes at the end of its form which I never check.

    Like

  18. “My making more money doesn’t inherently make you poorer.”

    it does if you define poorer in relative, rather than absolute terms. but there’s no reason to do that.

    Like

  19. why would i go to the beach to dig a hole. that’s manual labor. the stuff you avoid on vacation.

    Like

    • why would i go to the beach to dig a hole

      I’m with you. If you’ve got too much energy on a beach go jogging or build a sandcastle or something but digging a hole is just a make-work project.

      Good rules to follow:

      Never eat anything bigger than your head.
      Never dig a hole deeper than your neck.

      As much as you guys love to mock over-regulation, this sort of incident is exactly why OSHA has tons and tons of rules on shoring trenches.

      Like

  20. I just find the progressive lament hilarious:

    “Why does this keep happening?””

    Clearly more regulation of beach activities is needed.

    Like

  21. As much as you guys love to mock over-regulation, this sort of incident is exactly why OSHA has tons and tons of rules on shoring trenches.

    State function (should it’s citizens desire it), not a Federal one.

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  22. State function (should it’s citizens desire it), not a Federal one.

    At least you admit that workplace safety is a valid governmental responsibility.

    Like

  23. I have never denied that a State’s citizens can decide which functions they want their state government to do.

    Why would you think I would deny State resident’s their freedom to regulate (or not)?

    Like

  24. i don’t think anyone doesn’t think that. it’s just that what constitutes workplace and/or public safety is a stretch.

    Like

  25. Plenty of people on the left know, KNOW that us righties are Somalia wannabees.

    Like

    • George, see http://constitution.findlaw.com/article3/annotation15.html

      where the Lottawanna case from the mid 19th C. is quoted:

      ”One thing, however, is unquestionable; the Constitution must have referred to a system of law coextensive with, and operating uniformly in, the whole country. It certainly could not have been the intention to place the rules and limits of maritime law under the disposal and regulation of the several States, as that would have defeated the uniformity and consistency at which the Constitution aimed on all subjects of a commercial character affecting the intercourse of the States with each other or with foreign states.” 754

      ”It cannot be supposed that the framers of the Constitution contemplated that the law should forever remain unalterable. Congress undoubtedly has authority under the commercial power, if no other, to introduce such changes as are likely to be needed.”

      Congress’ power over the coastline is BIG. But it does permit states “latitude”. In fact, it reversed the Supremes, who said the feds owned all coastal and offshore rights in the first Tidelands oil cases in the late 40s. Congress said the states own three miles out except for tx, which owns 9 mi. out, recognizing the annexation documents.

      TX does take care of its beaches better than other states and has an open beach law, to boot.

      Federal Maritime and Admiralty law is the reason we have to pay for the levees in New Orleans. It is why the Corps of Engineers has to approve dam projects. And it goes back to before the founding, so it is difficult to deal with when you disagree with it.

      Like

  26. Her victory or defeat will not change the trajectory of the country one bit.

    Like

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