Archive for the ‘Taxes and spending’ Category

WSJ: Bed tax in states such as Georgia is ‘fraud’

Note to Georgia Republicans: Not everyone on the right is convinced that saying “But, the hospitals asked us to tax, er, fee them!” justifies the Medicaid bed tax, er, assessment fee passed two years ago and possibly up for renewal in next year’s legislative session.

In fact, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal suggests this bed tax, er, assessment fee is ripe for elimination if President Obama and Congress are serious about even modest reforms to entitlement programs. From an editorial today:

A deal also ought to end the long-running “bed tax” scam in which states charge hospitals a fee to increase health-care spending and thus their federal matching rate. Then they launder some of the money back to the hospitals to offset the fee. This is real waste, fraud and abuse, not the talking-point version.

Who in the General Assembly will carry the bill to renew the tax, er, fee and explain why it’s not a “scam” that’s “real waste, fraud and abuse, not the talking-point …

Continue reading WSJ: Bed tax in states such as Georgia is ‘fraud’ »

Obama’s idea of compromise: All take, no give

I admit that I haven’t been paying too much attention to the certified vote totals from each state in the presidential election, but how did I miss the news that President Obama won 100 percent of the votes in every single state (not just select Philadelphia precincts)?

That’s the only explanation I can conjure for his reported “offer” on the fiscal cliff, via the New York Times:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from …

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Sorting out the ‘we’ in Medicaid expansionists’ claims

When someone tells me I can get something of value for “free,” I raise an eyebrow. When that “free” thing is coming from the government — and worth billions — I reach for my wallet.

So it goes with the question of whether Georgia should opt into Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

In upholding most of the health reform law this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court did allow one concession to the states that sued to overturn it. The court ruled Washington could not threaten to take away states’ existing Medicaid funding if they declined to expand Medicaid. Each state must now decide whether to take part in the expansion and make anyone earning 138 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in August said he would decline the offer on two grounds. First, the state can’t afford its share of the expansion’s cost. Second, Deal doesn’t believe a heavily indebted Washington will uphold its end of the bargain, possibly putting the …

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Obama gets it right on EU airline tax

For those of you who say I never write anything complimentary about President Obama: He done good this time. From The Hill:

President Obama has signed into law a bill that requires U.S. airlines be excluded from European carbon emissions fees.

Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president’s commitment to fighting climate change in his second term and urged him to veto it. Obama quietly signed it Tuesday over their objections.

The European Union has been trying since I was living in Brussels to tax any airline, regardless of where it’s based, for the entirety of any flight that enters EU airspace, regardless of how little time the flight actually spends in EU airspace. So, a flight from Los Angeles to London would be taxed for the entire length of the trip, even though only a fraction of it was spent in EU skies.

I don’t think it diminishes what Obama did here to add: He really had no choice. Allowing another government to tax our businesses in this …

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A question for those who say expanding Medicaid is a no-brainer

Liberal think tanks and columnists have been cranking out the arguments about why a state like Georgia would be foolish to reject Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. The expansion, which was made optional for states in the Supreme Court’s June ruling upholding the bulk of the law, would cost Georgia an estimated $2.5 billion over 10 years, according to state officials. Gov. Nathan Deal has said our state will not participate, but Obamacare supporters are trying to pressure him to change his mind.

Proponents of the expansion say hospitals and doctors in the state would receive an additional $33 billion in federal funds during that time frame. To hear them tell it, this is tantamount to finding $33 billion in between the couch cushions; they never mention whose pockets it’s falling from.

“The economics of this are very strongly in favor of adopting the expansion,” said John Holahan, study co-author and director of health policy research at the Urban Institute, in a recent AJC …

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What’s Obama thinking with tax hikes on the rich?

Thanksgiving is over, and the fiscal cliff is back on the table. Here in Georgia, Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s public feud with tax-pledge champion Grover Norquist made headlines and ramped up speculation about which Georgia Republican(s) might challenge our senior senator when he’s up for re-election in 2014.

But if there’s going to be a deal on taxes and spending before we start going over the cliff in January, our newly re-elected president will play the most prominent role. I’ve previously written about how the GOP-led House might try to maneuver with Obama. Now Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economist and former adviser to both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, uses an op-ed in the New York Times to imagine how the president’s internal debate might be going from two perspectives: the committed liberal his critics contend he is, and the pragmatic moderate his supporters believe him to be.

The entire article is interesting and worth a read, but I’m going to highlight one section that isn’t …

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Some questions for those pursuing a new Falcons stadium

Gov. Nathan Deal recently said “there’s got to be a little further explanation to the public, and probably to the members of the General Assembly,” as to why tax dollars should be used to replace the Georgia Dome before its 25th birthday. He’s right.

That explanation must come from the Georgia World Congress Authority, the state agency that runs the Dome, and/or the Atlanta Falcons, the loudest voice calling for the Dome’s replacement with a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium. About $300 million of that cost would be paid by Atlanta hotel/motel tax revenues, but only if legislators and Deal agree to raise the authority’s bonding limit. The Falcons and the NFL would cover the rest.

I’m hardly naive about the ability of powerful people to get what they want, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank no doubt qualifies as just such a person. So does Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who backs the project. And I’m hardly a supporter of ditching the Dome, as I’ve written

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And you wonder why voters rejected the T-SPLOST

If you want to see a microcosm of the reason metro Atlanta voters didn’t trust our transportation planners enough to approve the $7.2 billion T-SPLOST tax, I recommend this news from the AJC:

The state Transportation Board is poised to declare the Downtown Connector a gateway to the state, and to help fund a makeover to pretty up some of the high-profile bridges that pass over it.

The first two are the Peachtree Street bridges that pass over the Connector and back, in Downtown and Midtown.

“This lets the traveling public know the city of Atlanta is the capital city,” said DOT board president Johnny Floyd. “We want to showcase it and make sure it looks good.”

The makeover, according to the Midtown Alliance, will include colored under-lighting for night time and the words “Peachtree Street” in lights, as well as sculptured fences and sidewalks on the surface level over the I-85/I-75 interchange.

The Department of Transportation’s board approved the expense on Thursday. DOT will …

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How the GOP can turn Obama’s ‘I won’ attitude against him

So far, President Obama and Speaker John Boehner aren’t negotiating a way to rein in budget deficits in private this time. They’re negotiating in the press, and Obama is taking the hardest line.

While Boehner has signaled a willingness to increase tax revenue by limiting and eliminating deductions rather than by raising tax rates, Obama says his idea of compromise is to do both. He wants $1.6 trillion in new revenues over the next decade, which is double what he and Boehner nearly agreed to do during the 2011 debt-ceiling talks.

Virtually all of this new revenue would come from high earners: individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000. Raising their tax rates and capping their itemized deductions is estimated to bring in more than $1.43 trillion. The “Buffett Rule” would tack on another $47 billion, bringing the tab to $1.48 trillion for those at the top of what’s already the most progressive tax system in the industrialized world.

Obama is so …

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Poll Position: How to avoid the fiscal cliff?

The election is over, but there is real work to be done in Washington before President Obama even begins his second term. On Jan. 1, about seven and a half weeks from now, we take a flying leap over the fiscal cliff unless Obama and Congress can strike a deal to avoid it. Oh, and the debt ceiling will probably have to be raised again before the end of 2012, too.

How should Obama and Congress steer us away from the fiscal cliff? (Please vote for one tax option and one spending option)

  • Raise tax rates (53 Votes)
  • Cut spending across the board, cap future increases (48 Votes)
  • Reform entitlements to slow spending growth (46 Votes)
  • Close tax loopholes (45 Votes)
  • Focus on defense, other discretionary spending (39 Votes)
  • Do nothing; bring on the fiscal cliff! (19 Votes)
  • Be revenue-neutral, spark growth to raise revenue (18 Votes)
  • Create a VAT or other new tax (4 Votes)

Total Voters: 163

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This time, Obama is inheriting a mess from himself. The …

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