About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Huckabee's Income Tax Day Message

Click here to hear Governor Mike Huckabee's summary presentation of the best plan I know of to replace the federal income tax.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

NY's Subsidies To Amazon For High Taxes & Cost Of Living Leads To Cancellation of HQ2 Project

In the Fall of 2018 Amazon completed its yearlong competitive search of more than 200 cities to find a second U.S. headquarters.  The final result was that there would be two second headquarters because Amazon could not find any one location in the U.S. with enough qualified technical talent to meet their needs – a sorry enough story in & of itself. 
Long Island City in Queens NY & the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, VA were Amazon's preferred locations with each city expected to realize an increase of 25,000 high paying jobs as the total $5 billion Amazon investment in the two locations progressed.  The plan was for Amazon to build @ least four million square feet of office space @ each location.
In order to secure their half of the HQ2 project NY state & NYC offered up to $3 billion combined total in pot sweetening incentives to Amazon in one form of subsidy or another.  For their part Virginia kicked in a substantial amount but quite a bit less than NY: $573 million in cash grants & infrastructure improvements.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo & NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio could not have been more excited about the prospects of the Amazon HQ2 project.  But socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), whose congressional district #14 includes the eastern part of the Bronx & portions of north-central Queens, but not Long Island City where the HQ2 project was to be located, considered the deal one of the biggest giveaways in state history & thought that Amazon was taking advantage of the governor's & mayor's eagerness to spend other people's money saying that the $3 billion could be put to better use for middle class people currently living in NYC rather than $150,000 per year computer scientists brought in from who knows where in the future.
On February 14 Amazon cancelled its plan to build HQ2 in NYC. 
Although AOC & her political supporters like NY State Senator & Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, an Amazon HQ2 opponent whose district includes Long Island City & who was appointed to the board that would have had to approve parts of the deal, were victorious in squelching the NYC Amazon HQ2 project the idea of adding 25,000 jobs to the area had the support of two thirds of registered voters surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute last month.  Even before the results of the Siena survey were known the Jobs Creators Network installed the following billboard in Times Square on February 20:
click on image to enlarge
I received a very discerning comment from a subscriber that pointed out that NYC has a tremendous advantage in large "people talent, services, & infrastructure" over just about every place that competed for HQ2 except DC.  If not for that advantage Amazon "would have gone to Podunk town in Rural America & forgot NYC & DC with their big city problems."
But Cuomo & de Blasio did not trust the intelligentsia, education, or sophistication of the legal residents of NYC enough to think Amazon would not go to Podunk without the pot sweetening incentives the state & city offered.  Both men wanted HQ2 & that is why they offered the $3 billion in incentives to attract Amazon.  In this regard socialist AOC has more faith in her fellow New Yorkers than the longtime establishment Democrats do.
The above point became evident when Cuomo admitted "that high costs & taxes in NY contributed to the Empire State's package (to Amazon) being more generous than Virginia's" or dare I say Podunk's.  In fact NY politicians spent $10 billion last year – more than any other state – on business incentives.
Governor Cuomo has been a vociferous opponent of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act ever since it was signed into law on December 22, 2017 mostly because NY has the highest state & local tax (SALT) deduction & the new income tax law limits the federal SALT deduction to $10,000, meaning those New Yorkers who pay very high state & local taxes to NY are still paying that same amount but now are paying more federal taxes because of the limited SALT deduction.  Cuomo has blamed the SALT deduction cap for the state's revenue decline that produced NY's $2.3 billion budget shortfall & has called it the driving force for high income people leaving the state for places like Florida which, unlike NY, does not have an estate tax.  See table below for comparison of states with the highest & lowest SALT deductions.
click on table to enlarge
Cuomo says that someone in the highest income tax bracket living in NYC paid a combined federal-state-city income tax rate of 45% prior to the 2017 income tax law overhaul & that the rate increased to 50.4% in 2018 because of the changes to the SALT deduction.
Wealthy taxpayers in the high SALT deduction states in the above table have been using the SALT deduction for decades to lower their federal income tax bills which makes a bad, read high or expensive, state & local tax burden more tolerable.  The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 gives taxpayers of high SALT deduction states a much better chance to do something about high taxes other than complain or deduct them on their federal income tax returns.
SALT deductions on federal income tax returns have been one of the largest tax breaks that Democrat controlled states like NY have benefitted from for decades.  It is not the new income tax law that is driving people out of NY but the combination of the limitation of the SALT deduction & the high taxes & cost of living in NY state & city.  It is the profligate state & local government spending that must be brought under control - not just in NY but also NJ, CT, MD, CA et al. that is subsidized by all the other states who do not have large state & local taxes.
The following Gallup study table shows that the state tax burden is linked to people's desire to leave their state.  This study also reveals what Cuomo & de Blasio knew about Amazon – that people would be reluctant to come to NY with its high taxes & cost of living.
States Whose Residents Are Least Likely, and Most Likely, to Want to Leave, 2015
Reference Post:  SALT Deduction Quiz

Thursday, March 28, 2019

North Carolina Patriots Help Influence Senator's Vote

Along with fellow Republican senators Susan Collins (ME) & Lisa Murkowski (AK) North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis was one of the first three Republican senators to say he would vote with all Democrats against President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency because Congress refused to spend $5.7 billion to construct a wall along 234 miles of our southwest border.
Since I expected this of Tillis, as well as Collins & Murkowski, I was very surprised when Senator Tillis's name was not on the list of the twelve Republican senators who voted to terminate Trump's Declaration of National Emergency: Alexander – TN, Blunt – MO, Collins – ME, Lee – UT, Moran – KS, Murkowski – AK, Paul – KY, Portman – OH, Romney – UT, Rubio – FL, Toomey – PA, & Wicker – MS.
Earlier this month I was briefed on the Tillis matter by very dear friends & charter members of RTE who had invited Carol & me to their house in NC.  Tillis is up for reelection in 2020 along with 21 other Republican incumbent senators versus 12 Democrat incumbent senators.  NC is a competitive state.
Below is our friend's letter to Senator Tillis on the subject.

Dear Senator Tillis,


Your recent decision to vote with Democrats and against your Party concerning the President's Emergency Funding for the border wall is truly a huge disappointment!  The situation at the border is certainly an emergency. I know this with first hand knowledge from relatives who live near the border in Texas and Arizona.


( Why is it that Democrats have no problem sticking together? )


You are an embarrassment to your state and discredit your own political party!


I will remember your decision at Primary time and encourage everyone I know in the Old North State to do likewise.


Very truly yours,

A concerned voter


Our NC friends also had received the following response to their above letter from Senator Tillis that they shared with us. 


Dear NC Resident:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about President Trump's National Emergency Declaration. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, on February 15, 2019, President Trump issued a national emergency declaration in order to provide the rest of the funds he had previously requested through Congress to secure the southern border.
Let me be clear: I strongly agree with President Trump that there is a humanitarian and drug crisis at our border. It's unfortunate that some elected officials are denying this reality, because the numbers do not lie. Every year, hundreds of undocumented immigrants die trying to cross our border, and tens of thousands of Americans die from heroin-related overdoses, the vast majority of which is smuggled from the southern border.
That is why I have repeatedly supported and voted in favor of President Trump's plans to secure our borders and reform our nation's broken immigration system. In fact, last Congress I worked directly with President Trump and my Senate colleagues to introduce legislation based on President Trump's border security plan. This bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, included $25 billion for border security including walls, barriers, and other infrastructure. However, this legislation did not ultimately gain the support needed from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to become law. I wholeheartedly share President Trump's frustration that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have continually blocked the reasonable and good faith efforts to secure our borders and I stand with him in his efforts to protect the American people.
Due to Congressional obstruction, I understand why President Trump took the step of making a national emergency declaration, which would provide about $8 billion for border security infrastructure.
Please know that my concern with the emergency declaration has nothing to do with the President's goal of securing the border, but it is about maintaining Congress' power of the purse and preventing a future president from exploiting this precedent for their own agenda.
For example, in recent weeks, we have heard from two prominent elected officials who entertained the notion of removing walls and physical barriers, effectively opening up our borders. If we had a president who shared their views, they could also declare a national emergency, and use those same funds, originally appropriated by Congress for other purposes, to literally tear down border security infrastructure that already exists.
I applaud President Trump's efforts and determination to deliver on the promises he made to the American people and I will continue to work with him on ways to provide for billions of dollars in additional funding to finally secure our border and protect the American people. I know we can get it done.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about other important issues.
Thom Tillis, U.S. Senator
Now our friends were surprised to hear that Carol & I agreed with much of Tillis's above response.
The part we disagreed with is "preventing a future president from exploiting this precedent for their own agenda."  We think that any future Democrat president would declare a national emergency for any purpose whatsoever regardless of any precedent Trump's border wall funding sets.  The cat is out of the bag.
Nevertheless Tillis made a speech on the Senate floor & wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post saying "Republicans need to realize that this will lead inevitably to regret when  Democrats once again controls the White House, cites the precedent set by Trump, & declares his or her own national emergency to advance a policy that couldn't gain congressional approval."  So Tillis really believes this.
But on March 15, one day after the Senate voted 59 to 41 to support the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration, our NC friends received notice from Senator Tillis that he had reversed course & voted against the disapproval resolution.  Our friends sent Carol & me the following message of explanation from Tillis.

Dear NC Resident:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about President Trump's National Emergency Declaration.  I want to give you an update on the vote that occurred in the Senate yesterday.

I voted with President Trump and against the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration.

From the beginning, I agreed with President Trump that there is a crisis at our southern border and have always supported his desire to build new infrastructure and barriers.

The concerns I raised about declaring a National Emergency to secure border wall funding were never about what President Trump is trying to accomplish but rather with setting a precedent that a future Democratic president would exploit to bypass Congress to implement policies well outside the mainstream.

Over the past several weeks, I've met with the Vice President and senior White House staff to build consensus on amending the National Emergencies Act.  I'm incredibly encouraged by the historic commitment from the President to restore proper balance between the executive and legislative branches.

While the Trump Administration is working in good-faith with Congress to amend the National Emergencies Act,  I was very disappointed that Democratic leaders have outright rejected attempts to do so, in addition to calling the dire situation at the southern border a 'manufactured crisis.'

In the coming weeks, I'll continue to work with the White House and my Republican colleagues on a long-term solution, and I hope some of my Democratic colleagues will join us.

All the best,

Thom Tillis, U.S. Senator

In his Senate floor speech given as part of the lead up to the Senate vote on the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration Senator Tillis said that he had "received a lot of feedback" on his initial decision to vote with the Democrats to negate Trump's declaration.

After receiving the above unsolicited update from Senator Tillis our NC friends summed it up best when they wrote to me "Well it looks like I am on the Senator's mailing list now!  My letter must have made an impact."

I'll say it made an impact – along with all the other feedback the senator received. 

In this series of events Tillis did not write canned boiler plate letters like we have all received from politicians.  He also did not cave after listening to his constituents in a blatant attempt just to get reelected but rather offered a reasonable explanation of why he changed his vote after consulting with the Vice President to address his concerns.

The work & persistence shown by two patriots in NC are an example of what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he responded to Elizabeth Powell's question @ the end of the Constitutional Convention about what sort of government the delegates of the Convention had created on September 17, 1787 – "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."