Oversight

Congressman Richard Neal (D, MA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, has demanded the IRS turn over some years of President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns.  He centered his demand thusly:

“Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials,” Mr Neal said.

That’s an interesting argument. If it’s coequality that creates the oversight duty, then the coequal Executive Branch has an identical duty to conduct oversight of House (and Senate) Committees and members.

Hmm….

Nice Ideas, But….

There are some moves afoot in the House Ways and Means Committee to revamp Americans’ retirement savings accounts.  A couple of them include

increasing the flexibility associated with retirement accounts. If approved, individuals would be allowed to stash money into IRA accounts beyond the current age limit of 70½. It would also delay when individuals are required to begin taking required minimum distributions to 72, from 70½.

These are moves in the right direction, but they seem to proceed from a false premise, and some unanswered—unaddressed, even—questions.  One question is why there should be any age limit (or any other limit) on saving money into IRA (or other retirement) accounts.  Another question also is age-related: why there should be any age after which distributions from retirement accounts must be taken.

Protection

Facebook’s MFWIC Mark Zuckerberg wants the Federal government to regulate the industry in which Facebook plays such a significant role. As cited by The Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg claims that

such intervention is vital to protect both the welfare of users and the fundamental values of an open internet.

He closed his op-ed, originally published in WaPo and the Irish news outlet Independent with this gem:

People shouldn’t have to rely on individual companies addressing these issues by themselves….

Take It or Leave Us

Here is one of the final steps in Brussels’ studied refusal to deal in good faith with Great Britain’s leaving the EU in all the long “negotiations.”  With the Brits’ departure now set for 12 April, the EU’s Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, Michel Barnier, has issued the EU’s ultimatum:

  • The possibility of a successful “meaningful vote” on the withdrawal agreement in the next few days. “The only way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is and will be through a positive majority. We should continue to make this point in the public debate,” Barnier said.

There’ll Be Blowback

But it’ll be badly misplaced.  President Donald Trump is moving to stop further direct aid to the Caravan Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras over those nations’ failure to control those caravans by putting to actual use that aid—which was intended to support improved economies, the living conditions within those economies, and training to deal with gangs and the drug trade.

[T]he State Department…notified Congress that it would look to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to the trio of nations, which have been home to some of the migrant caravans that have marched through Mexico to the US. border.

Yet Another Veterans Administration Failure

Here is another failure of the VA to take care of our veterans as they are charged to do, and as the VA’s motto promises they’ll do.  Here is another casual dishonor of that promise [emphasis added].

More than 1,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients in Kansas didn’t get proper follow-up care after initial colonoscopies last year, a problem that was addressed only after a whistleblower repeatedly reported it, according to a government watchdog.
The watchdog found patients didn’t get follow-up screenings on time and when they did, often didn’t get the results in a timely manner because of [a string of excuses].

A Thought on Medicare for All

University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Professor and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute, Robert Pollin, had a thought on this.

Of course, so do I.

Pollin opened his tract with this:

All Americans would be able to get care from their chosen providers without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copayments.

No, we’ve already seen the lie in this. We experienced the broken, falsely presented promise with the sales job on Obamacare and the oft-repeated lie that if we liked our doctor, we could keep him and the associated lie of lower premiums.

Pied-à-Terre Tax

New York City wants one, and The Wall Street Journal, among a host of other folks, think it’s a terrible idea.

The idea is what the politicians are calling a pied-à-terre tax—which is French for “give me your money, fat cat.”

I’m not sure I agree with the WSJ.  I see the pied-à-terre tax as a vast boon to New Yorkers, and to others.

a Journal analysis this week suggested it could crash New York’s luxury property market.

Delusions of Average

Some folks think an annual income of a half million dollars leaves them…average…and strapped. The tweeted image of an example of this delusion is below.  CNBC represents this as a real couple.

You can read the CNBC article linked to in the tweet here, but the image and many of the comments in the tweet’s thread are instructive by themselves.

Morgan Housel offered a couple:

@morganhousel
So $36K in 401k contributions should be added to “what’s left over,” along with $18K in charity contributions (not an expense either).

Control

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D, CA) wants the Federal government to pay a significant fraction of public school teachers’ salaries.

What a terrible idea.

The Federal government paying a significant fraction of public school teachers’ salaries means Federal government control of our public schools. Those schools are in enough trouble; we don’t need the Feds getting in the way, also.

Aside from that, this is just another Progressive-Democratic Party attempt to grab our money, this time to deny it to our heirs.  Again.