Tuesday 5/20/2014 Open Thread

I didn’t see a notice about Brent being away, but in the interest of comment management here’s a new open thread for today.

Open Thread – 10/26/2013

Worth a note:

“Federal Prosecutors, in a Policy Shift, Cite Warrantless Wiretaps as Evidence
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: October 26, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department for the first time has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional. ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/us/federal-prosecutors-in-a-policy-shift-cite-warrantless-wiretaps-as-evidence.html?_r=0

Open Thread – 4/16/2013

Open Thread since MR is MIA.

Katrina vanden Heuvel has a good piece on whistleblowers.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-dont-confuse-truth-tellers-with-traitors/2013/04/15/3c8e7016-a5e3-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html

I found the linked piece with the original My Lai articles interesting as well.

http://pierretristam.com/Bobst/library/wf-200.htm

FY2013 CR & 02/21/2013 Open Thread

New NYT piece with some good info on the next stage of the budget fight, the continuing resolution to fund the government through the rest of FY2013 (i.e. through September 30, 2013).

“Taking steps to avoid a full government shutdown at the end of March, the House Appropriations Committee as soon as next week will introduce legislation to keep the government financed through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, but do nothing to stop the pending cuts.”

“The Senate next week will consider competing Democratic and Republican proposals to stop the automatic cuts. The Democratic plan would institute a 30 percent minimum tax rate on incomes over $1 million, cut farm subsidies, and institute military cuts delayed until most United States troops have returned from Afghanistan. Neither plan is expected to win the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster

Instead, attention will shift to the next deadline, March 27, when financing for the government runs out.

The House bill would maintain financing at presequester levels, $1.043 trillion, with detailed spending instructions for defense programs devised to give the Pentagon more flexibility. But a provision in the spending bill will say that all levels are subject to automatic cuts to be meted out by the White House Budget Office.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/us/politics/gop-resisting-obama-on-tax-increase.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&gwh=E1189D5B5E182F1909E62B46AA43A452&ref=politics

If the House is really going to let the baseline be set at pre-sequester levels for the CR, this could constitute a cave for the Republicans. I.e. the sequester was actually in effect for about 1 month tops and now spending is going to be held flat at the old levels.

Update: Good piece by Karl Rove on the various options. I agree with his proposal:

“My own recommendation is that House Republicans should pass a continuing resolution next week to fund the government for the balance of the fiscal year at the lower level dictated by the sequester—with language granting the executive branch the flexibility to move funds from less vital activities to more important ones.”

http://www.rove.com/articles/450

President’s Day Open Thread – 02/18/2013

Open thread for links, etc.

New York considers passing a law making previous employment condition a basis for a discrimination lawsuit when an applicant is denied a job. What could go wrong?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/nyregion/for-many-being-out-of-work-is-chief-obstacle-to-finding-it.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

 

 

Washington Post Ignore Button

This may be of interest here:

Ignore a commenter

A number of our commenters have asked us to install an ignore button, which would allow a reader to ignore comments from another particular reader (you can’t ignore comments from badged Washington Post staffers). You can now do this directly from a comment thread. Hover over a reader’s comment and you’ll see the text “ignore user” in the bottom right corner of the comment. Click that and ALL comments from that reader will disappear from that (and any other) thread you read.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ask-the-post/wp/2012/12/05/changes-to-washington-post-comments/

Last Call for Twinkies

“Hostess Brands Says It Will Liquidate”

By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED
 

Friday 11/9/2012 Open Thread

Since it appears that Brent is still on the left coast, I figured I would do an open thread for today.

First up, the drug war ramifications of the election.

Mexico says marijuana legalization in U.S. could change anti-drug strategies

Should this be true, it’s a major vindication of the ballot initiative process as a way to end run around the two parties on specific issues.

Tax Law Changes

Now that the election is over, it’s time to turn to more important matters, namely avoiding being stuck with the bill.

I’m going to start compiling a list of links to the various tax law changes that are currently scheduled to take effect in 2013, both from the potential expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the implementation of the new Obamacare taxes. Comments on tax planning strategies are welcome.

We’ll start with wikipedia:

  • In 2008–2012, the tax rate on qualified dividends and long term capital gains is 0% for those in the 10% and 15% income tax brackets.
  • After 2012, dividends will be taxed at the taxpayer’s ordinary income tax rate, regardless of his or her tax bracket.
  • After 2012, the long-term capital gains tax rate will be 20% (10% for taxpayers in the 15% tax bracket).
  • After 2012, the qualified five-year 18% capital gains rate (8% for taxpayers in the 15% tax bracket) will be reinstated.

Wikipedia – Capital Gains

Marginal rate tables under three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Tax cuts under the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all

Rate Single Filers Married Joint Filers Head of Household Filers
10% $0 to $8,950 $0 to $17,900 $0 to $12,750
15% $8,950 to $36,250 $17,900 to $72,500 $12,750 to $48,600
25% $36,250 to $87,850 $72,500 to $146,400 $48,600 to $125,450
28% $87,850 to $183,250 $146,400 to $223,050 $125,450 to $203,150
33% $183,250 to $398,350 $223,050 to $398,350 $203,150 to $398,350
35% $398,350 and up $398,350 and up $398,350 and up

Scenario 2: Tax brackets under the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for all

Rate Single Filers Married Joint Filers Head of Household Filers
15% $0 to $36,250 $0 to $60,550 $0 to $48,600
28% $36,250 to $87,850 $60,550 to $146,400 $48,600 to $125,450
31% $87,850 to $183,250 $146,400 to $223,050 $125,450 to $203,150
36% $183,250 to $398,350 $223,050 to $398,350 $203,150 to $398,350
39.60% $398,350 and up $398,350 and up $398,350 and up

Scenario 3: Tax brackets under the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income

Rate Single Filers Married Joint Filers Head of Household Filers
10% $0 to $8,950 $0 to $17,900 $0 to $12,750
15% $8,950 to $36,250 $17,900 to $72,500 $12,750 to $48,600
25% $36,250 to $87,850 $72,500 to $146,400 $48,600 to $125,450
28% $87,850 to $183,250 $146,400 to $223,050 $125,450 to $203,150
33% $183,250 to $203,600 $223,050 to $247,000 $203,150 to $227,300
36% $203,600 to $398,350 $247,000 to $398,350 $227,300 to $398,350
39.60% $398,350 and up $398,350 and up $398,350 and up

Forbes Tax Table
Obamacare taxes:

Main individual ones are these:

A 3.8% surtax on “investment income” when your adjusted gross income is more than $200,000 ($250,000 for joint-filers). What is “investment income?” Dividends, interest, rent, capital gains, annuities, house sales, partnerships, etc. Taxes on dividends will rise from 15% to 18.8%–if Congress extends the Bush tax cuts. If Congress does not extend the Bush tax cuts, taxes on dividends will rise from 15% to 43.8%

A 0.9% surtax on Medicare taxes for those making $200,000 or more ($250,000 joint). You already pay Medicare tax of 1.45%, and your employer pays another 1.45% for you (unless you’re self-employed, in which case you pay the whole 2.9% yourself). Next year, your Medicare bill will be 2.35%.

Yahoo Finance

Business Insider

longinvestmentadvisory.com

Anyone know of any I missed?

Post Romney Options

To start the Romney campaign postmortems a little early, I’ll throw this out:

Romney was a horrible candidate for small government conservatives because everything he targeted in the budget for cuts was either insignificant symbolism (PBS) or what a majority of people consider a core government function (FEMA). That coupled with holding entitlements sacrosanct and increasing defense made his plans implausible to begin with.

No where in a Romney campaign speech was the fact that the average senior takes out three times as much as they have paid in to the entitlement system (here meaning Medicare & Social Security combined) and that is unsustainable. This campaign was not about making tough budget choices.

How Lifetime Benefits and Contributions Point the Way Toward Reforming Our Senior Entitlement Programs

However, the Republicans do have a candidate available to make this argument, and it’s Chris Christie. This piece from the NYTimes magazine is worth a reread:

“How Chris Christie Did His Homework
Mark Peterson for The New York Times
By MATT BAI
Published: February 24, 2011”

How Chris Christie Did His Homework

If anyone can sell entitlment reform, he can:

“Christie, it turns out, has a preternatural gift for making the complex seem deceptively simple. Last month I saw him hold forth at a town-hall meeting in Chesilhurst, a South Jersey borough of about 1,600. Chesilhurst is about half African-American, and I sensed more curiosity than enthusiasm among the racially mixed crowd as it flowed into the little community-center gymnasium. An unusually large number of folding chairs were empty. About 20 minutes after the program was supposed to start, there came over the loudspeakers the kind of melodramatic instrumental that might introduce a local newscast, or maybe an Atlantic City magic show, and in came Christie, taking his position in the center of the crowd. The theme of the week was pension-and-benefits reform, and in his introductory remarks, Christie explained the inefficiency in the state’s health care costs not by wielding a stack of damning statistics, as some politicians might, but by relating a story.

When he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told the audience, he got to choose from about 100 health-insurance plans, ranging from cheap to quite expensive. But as soon as he became governor, the “benefits lady” told him he had only three state plans from which to choose, Goldilocks-style; one was great, one was modestly generous and one was rather miserly. And any of the three would cost him exactly 1.5 percent of his salary.

“ ‘You’re telling me,’ ” Christie said he told the woman, feigning befuddlement, “ ‘that no matter which one I pick, the good one or the O.K. one or the bad one, I’m going to pay 1½ percent of my salary?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’

“And I said, ‘Then everyone picks the really good one, right?’ And she said, ‘Ninety-six percent of state employees pick the really good one.’

“Which led me to have two reactions,” Christie told the crowd. “First, bring those other 4 percent to me! Because when I have to start laying people off, they’re the first ones!” His audience burst into near hysterics. “And the second reaction was, of course I would choose the best plan,” Christie said, “and so would you.

“Now listen, I don’t think this is groundbreaking stuff,” Christie added. “I don’t think this means that instead of being governor, you know, I should be at NASA, working on the space shuttle. I’m no genius. Just seems to me that if you give people an option to get something for nothing, they’ll take it.” Scanning the nodding faces around me, it seemed there wasn’t a person in the gymnasium, at that point, who wouldn’t have voted to make state workers and teachers pay more for the better plan.”

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