Obama spin zone: local edition

January 4, 2011

I received an email from my employer (an organization of devout statists)  this morning about the new, reduced Social Security tax withholding rate. The part that struck me read:

On December 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

As if everyone was all smiles, bluebirds sang in the trees, and unicorns pranced outside the West Wing. The President was just so happy to cut taxes for his overtaxed people!

Yeah, right. This really should have read…

“…signed into law as bile rose in his throat and over the screams of progressive Democrats in Congress and his Socialist base in a deal with Republicans (who had kicked his and his allies’ butts in the most recent election) to avoid the largest tax increase in US history and thown the economy into a second recession, all because his party’s congressional leadership were too stupid to do this when they had the chance.”

But, I guess they forgot that part. How odd.


I love my hometown…

November 1, 2009

…But there are times I want to nuke Sacramento from orbit. Usually (and in this case) it’s because of some boneheaded move by the State government.  What did they do this time? Oh, nothing, really, except decide to take an extra ten-percent from our paychecks in the middle of a recession:

Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners — holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.

Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers’ annual tax bills won’t change.

Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.

But with rising gas costs, depressed home prices and double-digit unemployment, the state’s added reach into residents’ regular paycheck isn’t sitting well with many.

“The state’s suddenly slapping people upside the head,” said Mack Reed, 50, of Silver Lake. “It’s appalling how brash that is.”

Brittney McKaig, 23, of Santa Ana said she expects the additional withholding to affect her holiday spending.

“Coming into the holidays, we’re getting squeezed anyway,” she said. “We’re not getting Christmas bonuses and other perks we used to get. So it all falls back on spending. The $40 gift will become a $20 gift.”

Sheer genius. We’re now over a year into a severe recession, and this Christmas is when the stores will really feel the pinch. The money the state takes will be unavailable to retailers big and small, who will thus have less money with which to pay for new employees or keep current ones. California’s real unemployment rate tops 17% at least, and many people rely on part-time seasonal retail jobs to help them make it, so every job counts. The last thing you want to do is divert money to non-productive expenses, such as a blueberry commission.

“But at least it’s not a tax!”

What a farce. In California, all tax increases have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the legislature, something that’s hard to get since the Republicans have just enough votes to hold the line.  We are already one of the most highly-taxed states in the Union, so any increases are very unpopular right now.  So the legislature and the Franchise Tax Board get around this by calling it a “loan.”

When Tiquon and Little Dog take a forced “loan” from a South-Central liquor store, it’s called “robbery” or “extortion.” But when Sacramento does it to the whole state, it’s okay, it’s just a loan.

You can call it what you want, Governor, but a tax is a tax.

But wait,” you say, “they promise to pay it back!”

Would you like to buy the Golden Gate Bridge, too? First, this is an interest-free loan. Whatever money you “loan” to California will be worth less when you get it back, because inflation isn’t accounted for. You are permanently losing money. The state gets the benefit of the current value, you have less when you get it back, ergo that forced exaction of value from our money is a tax.

Oh, and remember those IOUs from earlier this year when the state was running out of money? For years now, the government has not been able to accurately project revenues, consistently overestimating them. What makes anyone think they can get it right this time? How will you feel if (more likely “when”) your involuntary loan is repaid with an interest-free IOU?

Sacramento’s irresponsibility and unwillingness to face reality is appalling. These are people we elected to run the state for the best interests of all, yet they continually mortgage our future and dig an ever deeper fiscal hole, refusing to make the admittedly harsh spending and tax cuts needed to begin to restore California to financial health. Instead they pander to the public employees unions ( the prison guards, for example) and other left-wing single-interest groups that live off the taxpayer and in turn are big donors to legislators’ election campaigns. So they kick the can down the road, pretend that “this time, we’ve fixed the problem” and hope that no one remembers the next time it happens.

California’s political culture is sick, and its public servants instead constitute a ruling class. This is not a democratic republic: thanks to safe seats and special-interest donors, our state government is instead a self-perpetuating oligarchy of professional politicians. This farce with accelerated withholding is just another example of how out of touch with the average Californians the Mandarins of the Golden Dome have become.

If California is to have any Hope, it’s time for a major Change.

(hat tip: Hot Air)

LINKS: Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard calls it outright theft. McQ puts it this way: “California – ‘We Need The Money More Than You.'” Sister Toldjah and Right Wing News.


California con job

July 24, 2009

Earlier this week, my beloved state of Madness California reached a budget deal that ostensibly closed for this year the 26 billion dollar deficit — you know, the one that the last budget deal was supposed to close. (But I digress). Amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth about cutting programs that we were foolish to fund to such an extent in the first place, our Governor emphasized that this deal was reached without raising taxes. If there’s one thing Arnie likes, it’s being popular, and the crushing defeat of four tax-raising ballot measures in the last special election by 2-1 margins drive home to him just what the popular (and populist) position would be. So, read his flexing biceps: No. New. Taxes.

Bull. Angry

Rather than raise taxes, the state will simply take more in withholding:

The plan also raises $4 billion in part by accelerating personal and corporate income tax withholdings and increasing income tax withholding schedules by 10 percent.

Get that? Rather than raise the tax rate, they’re simply going to take your money at the current rates, only faster. No problem, right? Hypnotized

In case you’re still boggled by the “We’re going to take more of your money without raising taxes” magic trick, let me list some of the problems:

  • In the end, we’re still left with less on payday. That’s bad at any time, but to do so when so many state and local workers are facing pay cuts is adding insult to injury. It’s already tough to get by; this will make it worse for many, many people.
  • Corporations will be left with less money to pay workers and hire new employees. With a state unemployment rate hitting 11%, that’s just insanity. You can expect the exodus of businesses from California to accelerate, not slow.
  • Because the state is taking this money via accelerated withholding, they will quite likely owe more in refunds next year. This is, in the end, an interest-free loan on our part.  Trouble is, the money they’re taking now is being used now to cover shortfalls. Where will the money come from for those even-greater refunds? Anyone whose memory stretches back to just last winter will remember that the state was having trouble meeting refund requirements even then. Typical of Sacramento, the state apparently prays expects the recession to end soon, bringing with it a flood of new revenues to cover their continued profligacy.

And Minerva will descend from our state seal to do a pole-dance in the capitol rotunda, too.

Remember this next election day.