Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

White House threatens veto of bipartisan small businesses tax cut bill

It’s actually for research and experimentation, and small businesses.

Investors Business Daily reports on the story.

Excerpt:

The White House move this week to torpedo a deal between House Republicans and Senate Democrats to extend dozens of expiring tax breaks suggests that the executive action legalizing 5 million unauthorized immigrants may have been no fluke: Compromise appears to be near the bottom of President Obama’s agenda for his last two years in office.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the Republican wave election that capsized Democrats’ Senate majority, Obama is tugging his party further left, which could make it harder for the GOP to govern effectively. A shift away from the center might seem counterintuitive, but it’s consistent with the Democrats’ post-mortem election analysis that put the blame on the party’s failure to focus enough on its economic agenda.

The White House’s veto threat, which apparently surprised dealmakers, was “really pretty stunning” considering that soon-to-be-demoted Majority Leader Harry Reid was its quarterback, said Chris Krueger, political analyst at Guggenheim Partners’ Washington Research Group.

In blowing apart the deal, estimated to cost $440 billion over 10 years, the White House lined up behind liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who attacked it as “a massive handout to big corporations” that asks “working families to pick up the tab.”

The Obama administration used the same justification in explaining its threat to veto the bill if it reached the president’s desk: “It would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families.”

The centerpiece of the deal is a $160 billion provision to make permanent and expand a research and experimentation tax credit, an idea that the administration has supported. The next two biggest pieces, both about $73 billion over 10 years, would make permanent the American Opportunity tuition tax credit and an allowance for small businesses to write off capital investments permanently.

Individuals would be able permanently to deduct sales taxes instead of income taxes, important for residents of states like Florida and Texas, at a cost of $34 billion. Controversial wind production taxes would be extended but phased out over two years, costing $20 billion.

Other smaller pieces include extending a financial-crisis related provision to shield the value of written-down mortgage principal from taxation; making permanent an expanded deduction for users of mass transit; and making permanent tax-free charitable contributions from tax-protected retirement accounts.

That last point about being able to give away your retirement plan tax-free is huge for me, because that’s what I planned to do with my 401K when I retire, since it doesn’t look like I am going to ever get married. If that tax break on charitable deductions from retirement accounts is ever revoked, it would be bad news for the apologists and Christian scholars I donate to. But it’s in keeping with the leftist idea that individuals like me are only good for earning money, but it takes a big secular government to know how to spend it. They have other plans for my money, like free abortions, IVF and sex changes. Yay, big government!

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

The biggest driver of income inequality is single motherhood

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Indian economist Aparna Mathur, whose work I’ve featured here before, writes about it in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

The fabric of our society is changing. In 1980, approximately 78 percent of families with children were headed by married parents. In 2012, married parents headed only 66 percent of families with children. In a new report, Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman explore the role of family structure with new data and analysis, and document how this retreat from marriage is not simply a social and cultural phenomenon. It has important economic implications for, amongst others, men’s labor force participation rates, children’s high school dropout rates and teen pregnancy rates. Since these factors are highly correlated with economic opportunity and the ability to move up the income ladder, this suggests that income inequality and economic mobility across generations are critically influenced by people’s decisions and attitudes towards marriage. Understanding the role of family structure is therefore key to understanding the big economic challenges of our time.

[…]Wilcox and Lerman document how the shift away from marriage and traditional family structures has had important consequences for family incomes, and has been correlated with rising family-income inequality and declines in men’s labor force participation rates. Using data from the Current Population Survey, the authors find that between 1980 and 2012, median family income rose 30 percent for married parent families, For unmarried parents, family incomes rose only 14 percent.

These differential patterns of changes in family income have exacerbated family-income inequality. Since unmarried parent families generally expand the ranks of low-income families, while high-income, high-education adults increasingly marry partners from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, inequality trends are worsened. Comparing the 90th percentile families to the 10th percentile families in 2012, the top 10 percent had incomes that were more than 11 times higher than the bottom 10 percent. However, if we restrict the sample to married families with children, the ratio drops to nearly 7, suggesting that within married families, income inequality is less stark. The authors estimate that approximately 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality between 1979 and 2012 is associated with changes in family structure. Other research, studying the period 1968-2000, finds that the changing family structure, accounted for 11 percent of the rise widening of the income gap between the bottom and top deciles.

Another interesting observation relates to the trends in employment participation by men. The Wilcox-Lerman study finds that for married fathers, employment and participation rates have remained consistently higher than for married men with no children and unmarried men with no children. The authors speculate that between 1980 and 2008, about 51 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates can be associated with the retreat from marriage.

And why is single motherhood so ascendant today? Well, part of it is the loss of morality caused by secularism. If there is no God, then there is no way we ought to be, so let’s just do whatever makes us feel good, and pass the bill to the taxpayers. That only works, though, if we elect politicians who want taxpayers who are responsible to pay for the ones who are irresponsible.

So have we done that? Yes – Robert Rector explains in The Daily Signal.

He writes:

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

When the War on Poverty began, only a single welfare program—Aid to Families with Dependent Children —assisted single parents.

Today, dozens of programs provide benefits to families with children, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Women, Infants and Children food program, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, child nutrition programs, public housing and Section 8 housing, and Medicaid.

Although married couples with children can also receive aid through these programs, the overwhelming majority of assistance to families with children goes to single-parent households.

The burgeoning welfare state has promoted single parenthood in two ways. First, means-tested welfare programs such as those described above financially enable single parenthood. It is difficult for single mothers with a high school degree or less to support children without the aid of another parent.

Means-tested welfare programs substantially reduce this difficulty by providing extensive support to single parents. Welfare thereby reduces the financial need for marriage. Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, less-educated mothers have increasingly become married to the welfare state and to the U.S. taxpayer rather than to the fathers of their children.

As means-tested benefits expanded, welfare began to serve as a substitute for a husband in the home, and low-income marriage began to disappear. As husbands left the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, which generated a need for more welfare.

A second major problem is that the means-tested welfare system actively penalizes low-income parents who do marry. All means-tested welfare programs are designed so that a family’s benefits are reduced as earnings rise. In practice, this means that, if a low-income single mother marries an employed father, her welfare benefits will generally be substantially reduced. The mother can maximize welfare by remaining unmarried and keeping the father’s income “off the books.”

For example, a single mother with two children who earns $15,000 per year would generally receive around $5,200 per year of food stamp benefits. However, if she marries a father with the same earnings level, her food stamps would be cut to zero.

So you see, the thing the left complains about the most is actually the thing they do the most to cause. They are all about taxpayer-funded welfare programs and growing government to make more and more people dependent. They are causing the income inequality and then complaining about what they cause.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , ,

NHS appeals decision allowing midwives to conscientiously object to performing abortions

What happens when you let a secular government take over health care provisioning?

Here is a story from the BBC about the state-run health care system in the UK.

Excerpt:

The UK’s highest court will hear legal arguments on whether midwives have a right to refuse to take any part in abortion procedures on moral grounds.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde appealed to the Supreme Court after judges in Scotland said Roman Catholic midwives had a right to conscientious objection.

[…]Five judges in London will hear the case. A ruling is expected next year.

Ms Doogan, from Garrowhill in Glasgow, and Mrs Wood, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

[…]This landmark case tests the balance between those whose religious beliefs do not allow them to play any part whatsoever in abortion, and the health authorities’ duty under the law to enable women to have an abortion. Many Christian groups back the midwives’ position.

The midwives’ counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the court in the women’s earlier successful appeal that the law was clear that the right to conscientious objection contained in the Abortion Act was intended to apply to the whole team whose involvement was necessary to achieve the procedure.

If the Supreme Court upholds the midwives’ earlier successful appeal, it could set a legal precedent, allowing other midwives who object to abortion to take the same stance.

The Royal College of Midwives and the women’s charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service have both warned that any such ruling could have severe implications for the care of women choosing to terminate their pregnancy.

The BPAS is the largest abortion provider in the UK. I blogged before about their leader, Ann Furedi, who supports sex-selection abortions. I thought then that sex-selection abortions was the worst thing about abortion, but now I see that she would actually force her moral views on other people, compelling them by the power of government to act against their beliefs. There is something deep inside me that just recoils from making a person do something that they think is morally wrong. But I guess pro-abortion people don’t share my concern.

When I blogged before about these two midwives when they won their appeal case, I wrote this:

If the health care system were private, then it would be easy for midwives to find another company to work for that did not violate their consciences. But when the government runs the whole health care system, where are you supposed to go? They are a monopoly and they make the rules. Yet another reasons for Christians to vote for smaller government. In a free market, if you don’t want to buy something from one store, you can go to another store. There is competition. But where are these nurses supposed to go? They are midwives, and the government and the courts make the rules in a government-run health care system.

This is why we need to keep the government OUT of health care. When you work for a government monopoly, and they want you to do something that you don’t want to do, you have two choices – do what they want or leave the country. If the only health care system is government-run, then if you want to practice health care, you have to leave. That seems unfair to me.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video: Obamacare architect admits deceiving the public was needed to get it passed

CNS News reports.

Excerpt:

A key architect of Obamacare has been caught openly boasting about taking advantage of, what he calls, “the stupidity of the American voter.”

MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber spoke at a panel on October 17 on the political hurdles Obamacare faced in 2009-10. The video was unearthed and posted on Youtube by American Commitment.

Gruber was instrumental in crafting the legislation that was signed into law in March 2010.

In the midst of his explanation, Gruber bragged about the multiple deceptions the Obama White House perpetrated on the American people:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk related subsidies, if you had a law which made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass.”

This is a jaw dropping disclosure of the political lengths those in the Obama Administration were willing to go to avoid the hard truths about their signature legislative achievement.

This story is in the news, but this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Gruber.

Last November, I wrote about an interview with Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber said this:

“We currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you’re sick, if you’ve been sick, if you are going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance,” Gruber told host Chuck Todd. “The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners, who’ve been paying their artificially low price because of this discrimination, now will have to pay more in return. And that, by my estimate is about 4 million people. In return, we’ll have a fixed system where over 30 million people will now, for the first time, be able to access fairly priced and guaranteed health insurance.”

So if I’m a man who chooses not to use drugs, I am a genetic winner, and I need to pay more to cover the substance abuse treatment coverage for those genetic losers who do choose to use drugs. If I’m a man, who doesn’t want to be a woman, I have to pay more in insurance to cover the sex-change surgery of men who do want to be women. If I’m a man who marries and has kids, I have to pay for the IVF of the career feminists who never marry and wait until they are 40 and want suddenly want IVF. And so on.

So according to Gruber, this law was about redistributing wealth from the beginning.

Imagine Obamacare applied to auto insurance. It would be like paying more for your auto insurance on a low-risk SUV to cover people who drive expensive motorcycles, which are more risky. You aren’t subject to high risk, but your must pay for those who are. That was the whole point of the law. And eventually, more mandatory coverages will be added for politically correct treatments like IVF, breast enlargements and sex changes, as is done in other socialized health care systems in the UK (breast enlargements, IVF) and some provinces in Canada (sex changes).

Think about that when the insurance premiums for Obamacare exchange plans finally get published and the premium are much higher. They. Knew.

UPDATE: The Daily Caller reports that University of Pennsylvania has now pulled the video but the one I linked to above is still live.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Midterm election: more American women choosing not to depend on government

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, age 29

From National Review.

Excerpt:

A funny thing happened in the “war on women” — Mia Love and Joni Ernst won, Wendy Davis and Sandra Fluke lost. The representative who will be the youngest woman ever to have served in Congress, Elise Stefanik, is a Republican who won a formerly Democratic seat — not in Oklahoma or Texas but in New York. Senator-elect Ernst is a 21-year veteran of the Army Reserve and National Guard who served overseas during the Iraq war; Representative-elect Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants who came to the United States fleeing the Tonton Macoutes, is a former city councilman and mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah.

The difference could not be more dramatic: The Democrats’ vision of an American woman’s life was best expressed in the Obama campaign’s insipid “Julia” cartoons, in which a faceless, featureless woman at every crossroads in her life turns to the federal government, as personified by Barack Obama, for succor and support. From negotiating a salary to managing her pregnancy, Julia cannot do anything for herself — at every turn, she is reminded that she enjoys political patronage “under President Obama,” in the campaign’s psychosexually fraught and insistently reiterated phrase. So much for the Democrats. And the Republican women of 2014? They helped fight wars and made new lives for themselves on foreign shores. They were women who ran for office on policy platforms, not on their uteruses.

[…]Do women aspire to a life like Julia’s, or to one more like that of Lieutenant Colonel Joni Ernst? Would you rather be a sanctimonious sack of woe, like Wendy Davis, or a happy warrior, like Mia Love? Would you rather vote for a party that speaks to you as a citizen, family member, entrepreneur, taxpayer, etc. — or one that insists you owe it not only your vote but your obedience simply because you have a certain configuration of chromosomes or a certain surname?

It is one of life’s little ironies that it is the feminists and the party of so-called women’s issues who in the 21st century still have not quite figured out that women are individuals, and that there is more to them than the sum of their parts.

If there is any issue that the left thinks is important for women, it’s the issue of abortion. You might expect that candidates who made a big deal of being pro-life would have lost in the mid-term elections. But Joni Ernst, Elise Stefanik and Mia Love are all pro-life. It looks like the War on Women rhetoric backfired. Maybe all it takes is for the GOP to put up more women candidates who have real, interesting lives. Maybe women would rather have an awesome life, an awesome marriage, and awesome kids instead of having abortions and being dependent on government. What if women voters were more attracted to the idea of achieving things on their own and forming relationships with real people?

Republican women are awesome.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

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