A Progressive-Democrat Governor and a Surtax

New Jersey’s Progressive-Democrat Governor Phil Murphy once promised to let the State’s 2.5% surtax on businesses with incomes greater than $1 million expire and then, by implication, to leave it alone. He did the first part, and it did expire. But it turns out he dissembled on the second part.

Mr Murphy and his [Progressive-]Democratic Legislature are scrambling for money even though tax revenue has increased 35% over the past five years—faster than inflation.

Mr Murphy now wants to re-impose it on income above $10 million, retroactively to the start of this year.

Progressive-Democrats are so addicted to taxing Americans and our businesses that their promises to lower taxes or to leave alone existing taxes are worthless. Which calls into question the value of any other of their promises. Indeed, their addiction is so powerful that they’re not capable even of saying the words “cut spending,” much less actually doing so.

Maybe Murphy’s renewed surtax will hit only the wealthiest businesses, many based in other states, hard enough to persuade those in New Jersey to relocate to more business—and average American—friendly locations and persuade those based in other States to reduce or forgo doing business in New Jersey.

There’s a Hint There

The farm bill just passed out of the House Agriculture Committee contains a provision barring the Secretary of Agriculture from increasing, on his own alleged authority, SNAP spending above the amounts provided for in the legislation:

[c]orrects egregious Executive branch overreach and disallows future unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily increasing or decimating SNAP benefits.

Austin Scott (R, GA):

The Farm Bill includes protective language that prevents extreme changes to SNAP benefits without Congressional input and continues the cost-neutral status that the TFP [Thrifty Food Plan] has maintained for over 40 years.

The Progressive-Democrat Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack claimed, though, that

the proposal would amount to a roughly $27 billion cut to SNAP[.]

This is the AgSec’s confession that he fully intended to spend—on his own and without any Congressional spending authority to do so—at least those $27 billion above his authorized level. He’s not alone in this. Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo (D, CO):

…it is necessary that we go back to the negotiating table and remove this provision[.]

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D, MI):

It…does not have the votes to pass on the House floor. And certainly not in the Senate[.]

This is the budgeting and spending paradigm of the Progressive-Democratic Party: Congressional appropriations and allocations are mere suggestions, and they are to be disregarded whenever inconvenient to Party. After all, it’s only your and my money they’re spending.

There’s an election coming up. Maybe us average Americans should vote our tax dollars.

Terminology…and a Solution

Two questions sit before Congress over the coming year, as posed (correctly IMNSHO) by The Wall Street Journal in its headline and lede:

Republicans’ $4 Trillion Question: Should They Pay for Extending Trump Tax Cuts?

And

Republicans want to extend the Trump-era tax cuts that lapse after 2025. A big point of debate now: should they cover any or all of the $4 trillion cost—and how?

The terminology confusion is illustrated by the WSJ‘s change in wording from “pay for” in its headline to “cover” in its lede.

It’s long been my contention that it doesn’t cost the government anything to not get what doesn’t belong to it in the first place; there’s nothing for which government need pay. On the other hand, there’s the real world imbalance between tax collections and spending when the latter exceeds the former, as any grade schooler understands when he wants to spend more than his allowance will cover, whether he’s saved fractions of his allowance against an upcoming large expenditure or he’s spending as he gets. And, yes, the analogy is that direct.

There’s also the real world, empirically demonstrated, fact that within broad limits, the more money left in the hands of us average Americans and our businesses—the nation’s private economy—the more economic activity, now including government spending, there is overall, and from that increase, revenues to government, those tax collections, increase even in the face of reduced tax rates. The broad limit is the minimum of tax collections—the allowances we grant the government—needed to cover the constitutionally mandated spending requirements of paying the government’s debts, providing for an adequate national defense, and paying for the constitutionally defined items constituting the general Welfare.

Given the government’s current spending levels, that increased economic activity-driven increase in revenues to government won’t cover all of the government’s spending. That spending includes vast amounts of welfare spending. In the early days of our republic, we couldn’t afford any welfare spending, to the point that then-Congressman James Madison made a constitutional argument against helping Haitian refugees in the aftermath of an earthquake. From the Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 3rd Congress, 1st Session:

Mr Madison wished to relieve the sufferers, but was afraid of establishing a dangerous precedent, which might hereafter be perverted to the countenance of purposes very different from those of charity.  He acknowledged, for his own part, that he could not undertake to lay his finger on that article in the Federal Constitution which granted a right of Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

The inability to identify the Article remains today, but that notwithstanding, our republic’s weal has improved to the point that we can, as a nation, afford a measure of welfare for our citizens (and for other nations, but that’s for another discussion). But not too much. The external threats to our nation have grown immensely, and so has the cost of our defending ourselves against them. Profligacy in spending, especially after WWII, has so far exceeded tax collections that our national debt has exploded, and the need to pay that down and then off, also has grown commensurately.

Spending outside those three constitutional mandates needs to be greatly cut back. There are three types of that extra spending that come to mind out of the myriad of them. These are Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and infrastructure.

I’ve written before about those first two; I’ll only summarize here: privatize Social Security and Medicare, which will be deucedly expensive in the transition, but that cost will only get worse with delay—and doing nothing will itself result in a 25% cut in Social Security payout, anyway, within the next 10 years, and an even more severe cut in Medicaid, if after a longer delay. Medicaid transfers to each of the several States should be converted to block transfers on an annually declining basis until the block grants have bee eliminated altogether. Medicaid is after all, and as it should be, a State-run program.

Regarding infrastructure, all Federal transfers to the States should be on a matching basis, with the States required to make the first and then sustained moves: no money should flow from Federal coffers to a State until the State has let contracts with the builders; ground has been broken; and concrete, publicly measurable and assessable progress has been made in the building. The match itself should be no more than 50% of what the State has spent and subsequently spends in accordance with its contracted schedule, and those subsequent Federal transfers should flow only after the State has spent its own citizens’ tax remittances on the State’s contracted schedule.

None of that is possible, though, without clearing up that terminology confusion. As long as politicians think tax monies remitted to government are owed to and are the property of government, they’ll spend and tax without limit.

Some Progressive-Democrats…

…are beginning to rue the consequences of their Party’s no borders policies. But only a couple seem willing to say so out loud. The Chicago City Council’s Budget and Government Operations Committee voted 20-8 to move Progressive-Democrat Mayor Brandon Johnson’s wish for $70 million for illegal alien support to the Council floor for debate and voting up. (Aside: is there political featherbedding here? 28 Council members on the Budget Committee out of 50 members on the whole Council.)

Progressive-Democrat 29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro is one of only two of those eight willing to demur from this vocally.

We are not taking care of our own. We have all but forgotten the residents on the West Side and South Side.

The 9th Ward’s Progressive-Democrat Alderman Anthony Beale is the other one choosing to speak up.

Here we are begging for more money when we don’t have money for the people here. We don’t have money for after school programs. We don’t have money to help our kids get off the street. Yet, we would just blow money left and right. That’s a fundamental problem.

Wolf pups in sheep’s clothing, bleating in the wilderness.

Timid is as Timid Does

Progressive-Democrat President Joe Biden is upset that Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked, again and extensively, Ukraine’s power infrastructure. He said, through his National Security Council’s Spokesperson Adrienne Watson,

This bombardment—part of a series of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure— is a terrible reminder of Vladimir Putin’s efforts to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people and plunge them into darkness[.]

Here is our President yapping like a porch dog from the safety of his NSC porch, along with (to mix metaphors) furiously wagging his finger at the barbarian.

While doing precisely nothing material to help the Ukrainians.

Biden is, for instance, holding up transfer of badly needed air defense systems, including Patriot and Stinger, while only “soon” will F-16s start arriving in Ukrainian inventory. Biden has chosen to do nothing regarding delivery of drone and anti-drone systems to Ukraine, forcing them to use those expensive Patriots they do have on far cheaper inbound drowns and missiles. Biden has chosen to do nothing regarding paying for the transfers he has deigned authorize, the lack of which pay-fors are at the core of Republican objections to further expenditures in favor of Ukraine.