Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tax Deductions For Earthquakes Are Erased From The Tax Code-- But Not Tax Deductions For Hurricanes (Or Private Jets)


I don't have a private jet; never did. But... I sort of did. I was the president of a division of TimeWarner and the company had private jets. All I had to do was call and say I need a jet and I could fly anywhere I wanted. You knowhow many time I did that? Zero, never once. That's because it's incredibly expensive and a horrifying waste of money that could have been spent on helping break out artists (for example). But a few times I was going to New York or L.A. and someone would invite me along for a ride on their jet. Very convenient and comfortable, etc. But I was never tempted... not even a little. I found it an outrageous waste of resources in fact.

The Republicans' decision to give private jet owners a tax break should piss off even Trump's most loyal supporters (who aren't stoned out of their minds on Oxy). Christal Hayes reported the story for Newsweek. "The new Senate tax bill will give those who own or lease private planes breaks on the amount they pay to companies for maintenance, storage, fueling and even when they want to hire pilots and a crew onboard. The proposal is tucked in the middle of the controversial bill's latest version, dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House approved the bill Thursday and it's now headed to the Senate." Forbes there were 11,261 private planes registered in the United States as of 2012. There are probably a lot more now. The provision was sponsored by the home state senators for the private jet company NetJets-- Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Raise your hand if you think a humongous tax should be placed on private jet usage instead.

God knows what kind of crap we'll going to discover in coming days as we examine Ryan's rax scam more closely. I liked the coverage the L.A. Times gave the bill yesterday: In Orange County, fear and loathing for the GOP's "Screw California" tax bill by Mark Barabak. Short version: O.C. Republican voters are out for blood. Two of the GOP congressmembers in Southern California had the smarts to figure out a YES vote was political suicide-- Issa and Rohabacher, who have problems of their own-- but Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Steve Knight are now dead men congressmembers walking.
Chris Keena feels obliged to explain: He really is a Republican-- honest!-- before launching his critique of the Republican tax bill that just passed the House.

“I don’t believe in trickle-down theory,” said the 70-year-old retired attorney from Irvine. “The money they save-- I’ve seen it in business-- the money they save at the top, they keep at the top. It doesn’t trickle down.

“I hate to sound like a radical,” he went on, “and I guess it doesn’t go with being a Republican, but it’s a reality. There are a lot of people struggling here. The image is everyone is fat and happy. They’re not. They’re not.”

The sweeping tax-cut package, which passed Thursday with overwhelming support from California’s GOP House members, seems almost singularly designed to punish the state and its Democratic legion of Trump tormentors.

Eliminating most of the deduction for state and local taxes would be a hefty blow to millions of Californians. The same for a proposed cap on deducting property taxes and mortgage interest-- write-offs that make the purchase of that charming $750,000 “starter home” a bit more attainable, if no less insane.

It goes on.

Repealing tax incentives that help pay for low-cost housing would almost surely exacerbate a desperate housing shortage, which is already stifling job growth.

And in a move that seems just plain spiteful, the bill would take away the deduction for uninsured personal losses from wildfire and earthquakes, two of California’s great tribulations, while preserving it for hurricane victims.

“It may be a tax cut for Wisconsin and Kansas and Iowa. But it is not a tax-cut bill for individual taxpayers in California,” said Carolyn Cavecche, head of the Orange County Taxpayers Assn., which is not exactly a hotbed of Marxist sentiments.

With scant room to spare, GOP House leaders needed almost the entire 14-member California Republican delegation to move their tax plan forward. All save three-- Tom McClintock, Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher-- voted yes.

That carries no small risk, especially here in Orange County, where lawmakers high on the Democratic target list, including Issa and Rohrabacher, are caught between constituents losing their cherished deductions and party chiefs demanding fealty.

Mimi Walters, a second-term congresswoman from Irvine, was another in that bind.

Her district, extending roughly from Anaheim Hills south to Mission Viejo, is one of the most affluent in California, and taxpayers there are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the state and local tax deductions, as well as the write-off for mortgage interest.

Some, like Jim Nowakowski, are convinced the big cut in corporate taxes will bring more jobs and, as advocates promise, greater prosperity all around.

“If I had money sitting offshore and could bring it back at a lower tax rate and hire another 30, 40 people, grow my plant, I’d do that in an instant,” said Nowakowski, 75, who owns a business that cleans and repairs costumes for Disneyland.

Losing some deductions would be worth the trade-off, said the Tustin resident, especially if it made Sacramento think harder about spending. “Maybe they don’t have so many damn taxes on people,” he said.

But in two days of conversation around the district, many more viewed the tax bill as an unwarranted giveaway to the rich, paid for by those already struggling to stay afloat.

And it wasn’t just partisan Democrats.

Scott Tullius, 47, who calls himself a libertarian-leaning independent, said deducting thousands of dollars in mortgage interest on his Lake Forest home boosts the tax refund he relies on each year.

“With three kids”-- ages 6 to 16-- “there’s things that wouldn’t get done without it,” said Tullius, who works for Irvine’s Office of Emergency Management. “For the working-class person, we’re just making it by week to week, month to month.”

Oldrich Kolar, who runs a Tustin law firm, questioned the haste of pushing through tax legislation just so Republicans can say they did so once the calendar turns to the election year 2018.

By the time it gets around to final passage-- should the legislation make it that far-- “I just hope … we’ve had enough debate, a conscious, smart debate, so we’re not just trying to make a political statement, we’re not just trying to make a timing statement,” said the 53-year-old Republican and self-described member of “the top 1% to 2%.”

Walters said she supported the bill after being assured changes would be made once House lawmakers hash out their differences with the Senate, which is weighing its own version of a tax-cut bill. That, of course, assumes the Senate is kinder to California-- no sure bet-- or doesn’t kill the effort entirely, leaving those like Walters on a sawed-off limb.

Back in the 1980s, lawmakers decided to stuff the country’s nuclear waste in a big hole in the Nevada desert.

The backroom deal, which eliminated sites in Texas and Washington state from consideration, was greased by the fact no one from Nevada was around to object.

The proposed dump at Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles outside Las Vegas, immediately sparked political warfare and remains stalled all these years later. But the treachery is still renowned as the “Screw Nevada Bill.”

The Republican tax legislation, as it stands, could carry the same blunt appellation as regards California.

Woe to those defending it in an already tough political climate: Voter indignation is not something you can just bury in a desert hole.
Sam Jammal is the non-millionaire progressive running to win the Democratic nomination to take on Ryan rubber stamp Ed Royce. He told us that "Ed doesn't fit nor care to represent our community anymore. No one seeking to represent us would vote for a bill that punishes us for being Californians. He offered no amendments to improve the bill and voted yes on something that attacks our community. Ed is better off retiring than doing more harm to families here. He has a choice on whether this will be a forced retirement or to go out on his own."

Goal ThermometerKia Hamadanchy who is competing with Republican incumbent Mimi Walters for the CA-45 Orange County seat quickly pointed out that "Mimi’s support for the Republican tax increase is a slap in the face to just about everybody in our district, from graduate students at UC Irvine to retirees in South Orange County. What’s even worse is that two of Mimi’s crazy right-wing colleagues in Orange County, Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher voted against this bill. What does it say that two of the worst Republicans around wouldn’t even vote to raise taxes on their constituents? I think Mimi better start updating her resume, because she is going to be looking for a new job next November."

Laura Oatman is the progressive candidate running for the seat Rohrabacher hold (CA-48, coastal Orange County). She wasn't fooled by Rohrabacher's vote against Ryan's tax scam. "On the heels of last week’s report in Roll Call that 2 of the top 10 most vulnerable House incumbents were right here in Orange County, with Darrell Issa at the top of the list and Dana Rohrabacher in 5th, it’s no surprise that Issa & Rohrabacher would part ways with the GOP and vote against this tax plan that would raise taxes on millions of middle-class families to provide tax breaks to millionaires. This plan would limit mortgage interest deductions to $500,000-- down from the present limit of $1.1 million-- and could be particularly tough on many of Rohrabacher’s wealthy constituents. Don’t for one minute think they’ve seen the light though. The reality is, they have zero political capital to spend, and knowing that, safely voted against party lines knowing the bill would pass anyways, in a too-little-too-late attempt to show they care. Really, they only care about hanging onto their Congressional seats for all they’re worth."

Katie Hill, the progressive candidate and top opponent to Steve Knight in CA-25, cut a succinct and plain English video she sent to voters in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley. It sums up the California situation perfectly. I suggest you watch it:

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At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sherood Brown has demonstrated with his pork bill sponsorship that he's no liberal. this needs to be remembered any time that DINO hypocrite opens his corporate cash-chewing mouth.

Still think the Democratic Party is worth the effort to change it?

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's worth repeating here that the only reason the democraps from top to bottom (almost) are "against" this bill ONLY because they can be. You should remember where they all get their campaign money from. Also remember that whenever a really bad idea that the money really, REALLY wants doesn't pass immediately, it always does eventually, and more often BY the democraps. GLBA, CFMA, ACA to name just 3 YOOOOGE bills that have ass-raped the 99%. I'll remind skeptics who cannot think that since ACA passed, my premiums have doubled; my coverage has decreased; and my out-of-pockets have quadrupled. That's a pretty good ass-raping in my book.

Anyone who believes that the Pelosi/scummer led democrap caucus is truly against tax cuts for billionaires and corporations that pay them billions is an idiot. It's just that it can pass without any of them voting for it. Manchin may vote yea anyway... he's that big of a douchenozzle.


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