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December 12, 2017

Feds Collect Record Taxes, but Still Run $202 Billion Deficit

CNSNews.com's editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey reports on the Treasury Department's latest Monthly Statement, writing:

"The federal government collected record total tax revenues of $443,715,000,000 in the first two months of fiscal 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 through the end of November), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.

"Despite these record tax revenues, the federal government still ran a deficit of $201,761,000,000 for those same two months.

"That is because the government spent $645,476,000,000 in October and November."

Jeffrey added:

"Prior to this year, the $432,362,820,000 in total taxes (in constant 2018 dollars) that the federal government collected in the first two months of fiscal 2016 was the greatest amount of taxes the federal government had ever collected in the first two months of a fiscal year."

The Treasury Monthly statement for FY 2018 through November 30, 2017, can be found here.

He included the following graphic, which appeared in the Treasury Department report"

  

In commenting on the "year-end debt dilemma," the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget concludes:

"The national debt is at a post-war record high and rising unsustainably. Fixing the debt will take a bipartisan effort to slow spending growth and increase revenues. The first step, however, is to agree not to make the existing fiscal situation worse.

"These unprecedented fiscal challenges present an opportunity for policymakers to come together and restore fiscal sustainability. Doing so is critical to securing both our fiscal and economic futures, and it will increase the resources and flexibility needed to address other critical priorities."

Growls readers concerned about responsible federal budgeting are encouraged to engage their members of Congress. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Be sure to ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 11, 2017

First Subsidized Housing, Then Subsidized Internet Service

The Arlington Sun Gazette reported today that "(r)esidents of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s Arlington Mill Residences would receive free wireless Internet courtesy the Arlington taxpayers, under a proposal slated for County Board consideration on Dec. 16."

Here are the details, according to the Sun Gazette:

"County staff are asking for authorization to spend $95,400 in funds to provide free Internet service to the 122 committed-affordable units in the complex, located just north of Columbia Pike.

“For many of these low-income households, who make on average $40,000 before tax, the $45-$75 per month cost for a good high-speed Internet connection is unaffordable,” said Nina Janopaul, president and CEO of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

"The entire effort will cost about $140,000, with the remainder coming from outside contributions. Funding will support a pilot program that might expand to other low-income communities across the county."

The item is scheduled to be on the Arlington County Board's so-called consent agenda on Saturday, December 16, 2017 (Consent Agenda Item 18). Following is the 'summary' from the County Manager's 14-page report to the County Board:

A new initiative, Arlington Digital Inclusion, supported by the Department of Technology Services (DTS) and Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD), will leverage the County’s existing dark fiber assets (ConnectArlington) to provide free broadband internet connectivity to tenants of the Arlington Mill Residences for a period of three years. Currently, there are 122 committed affordable units (CAFs) at Arlington Mill Residences and 159 children are currently residing at the development. About half of all households (61) do not currently subscribe to an Internet/data service. This program would provide free, in-unit high-speed Wi-Fi access to every unit. It would also help alleviate the cost of Internet/data service (which can range from $50-$75/month) for those households currently paying for the service. This initiative is the result of the collaboration between DTS, CPHD, APAH, and other partners to be selected by APAH.

In addition, the Manager provides the following 'fiscal impact' statement in his report:

"The allocation of $95,400 to APAH will be fully funded by the FY 2019 Columbia Pike TIF base budget. In addition, APS will realize some savings. APS currently has a program called MiFi which provides personal devices and associated wireless service to students who would not otherwise have access, and therefore could not utilize digital learning resources. This initiative will eliminate the need for APS MiFi to provide such personal devices and associated wireless services to students residing at Arlington Mills Residence, saving APS on average $100 per device and $16.95 per month for service fees, as well as ensuring both students and other residents have access to higher bandwidth service."

Ah, the generosity of the County Board, the County Manager, and county staff? I venture they would be nowhere near as generous if that $95,000 was coming out of their payroll benefits.

Growls readers concerned about the fiscal soundness of so-called subsidized housing are encouraged to engage the Arlington County Board. Take a couple of minutes to make your views known to the Board. Remember, construction doesn't start until next summer. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 08, 2017

Arlington is One of Top 5 Richest Counties in America

CNSNews.com's Terry Jeffrey reported yesterday, "The five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are all suburbs of Washington, D.C.. . . ."

Specifically, he reported:

"According to the American Community Survey's new five-year estimates (2012-2016), the five richest counties in the country are: Loudoun County, Va., where the median household income was $125,672; Falls Church City, Va., where it was $115,244; Fairfax County, Va., where it was $114,329; Howard County, Md., where it was $113,800; and Arlington County, Va., where it was $108,706."

Jeffrey pointed out that Arlington's median household income "was 96.5 percent greater than the national median."

He included the following chart showing the 20 richest counties in the United States:

In case you wondered about the inclusion of Falls Church, for example, he pointed out, "The Census Bureau treats independents cities—such as Falls Church City, Va., and Fairfax City, Va.—as counties, which is why they are included on the list."

In addition, he reported, "The nationwide median household income in 2012-2016, according to the Census Bureau, was $55,322. That means that the income in the nation's four richest counties—Loudoun, Falls Church City, Fairfax County, and Howard County—were all more than double the national median."

Many of the reader comments are worth reading. There are currently 613. Here's another link to the article.

For more information about CNSNews.com, click here.

December 06, 2017

A Thought about Taxation

“When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it.”

~ The New York Times, in a 1909 editorial opposing the very first income tax

HT Walter E. Williams' Collection of Quotations.

December 05, 2017

Navy Squanders Billions While Congreess Fiddles

Natalie Johnson of the Washington Free Beacon reported today the "U.S. Navy Squandered $4 Billion Due to Congressional Failure to Pass Budget," saying that taxpayer money is lost "due to inefficiencies caused by continuing resolutions."

Specifically, she reports:

"The U.S. Navy has wasted roughly $4 billion in taxpayer money over the past six years due to the repeated failure by Congress to pass a budget that fully funds the military, the secretary of the service said Monday.

"Since 2011, we have put $4 billion in a trashcan, poured lighter fluid on top of it, and burned it," Sec. Richard Spencer said in remarks at the U.S. Naval Institute's Defense Forum in Washington.

"It's enough money that it can buy us the additional capacity and capability that we need. Instead, that $4 billion of taxpayer money has been lost because of inefficiencies [caused by] continuing resolutions," he added.

"Spencer said the Navy could have otherwise used the wasted funds to purchase a squadron of F-35 fighter jets, two Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers, 3,000 harpoon missiles, or 2,000 tactical Tomahawk missiles.

"Congress has forced the military to operate under stopgap spending bills for the past eight years to avert government shutdowns amid partisan divisions. The temporary budgets freeze defense funding, forcing the Defense Department to shuffle funds from modernization and hiring to support current missions."

Johnson concludes her report, writing:

"Echoing sentiments from senior defense officials, Spencer said stopgap resolutions and budget constraints have been the "most harmful impediment" to rebuilding service readiness and achieving modernization.

"Funding issues born of the Budget Control Act and continuing resolutions have taken a toll on readiness, maintenance sites, and have also cost us time and resources that we cannot buy back," he said. "Urgency is the battle cry."

Growls readers concerned about responsible federal budgeting are encouraged to engage their members of Congress. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Be sure to ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 04, 2017

Differences Between Senate and House Tax Reform Bills

Most taxpayers know by now, as reported by Fox News on Saturday, "The U.S. Senate voted just before 2 a.m. ET Saturday to pass a sweeping tax overhaul worth roughly $1.4 trillion, putting the Trump White House a big step closer to its first major legislative victory – and many Americans closer to a tax cut . . .The vote was 51-49, with Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee the only member of the GOP to side with the Democrats in opposition."

And, here, the accounting firm, KPMG,  identifies today the House conferees, In addition, KPMG links to a Congressional Research Report (CRS) for "Senate Rules Restricting the Content of Conference Reports."

So, what are some of the differences between the House and Senate versions of tax reform legislation?  On Saturday, the Tax Foundation's Jared Walczak provided an analysis of "Important Differences Between the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills Heading into Conference," at their Tax Policy Blog. His introduction:

"After the Senate’s vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the early hours of Saturday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters that while he was not predicting that the conference committee with the House would be “a piece of cake,” he was confident that the chambers could reconcile their differences. He cited efforts to “pre-conference” the bill by adopting key House priorities. For instance: “We’ve moved our initial thinking on this in the direction of the House bill, for example the property tax deduction, in order to get the bills closer together than they were.”

"That will be important. When the chambers pass different versions of a bill, conferees are appointed by both the House and the Senate to produce a “conference report” that is satisfactory to the majority of conferees from each chamber. (More on this later, after the table.) The closer the two sides are going into conference, the easier the resulting process.

"The good news for proponents of the bill is that McConnell is right: the Senate bill moved in the House’s direction on several important issues, and was already identical on key points. Both move to chained CPI. Both retain the state and local tax property tax deduction, capped at $10,000. After a floor amendment adopted last night in the Senate, both expand 529 college savings accounts to apply to some primary and secondary education expenses. Both feature a 20 percent corporate rate. That does not mean, however, that the two versions are identical."

He then provides a helpful side-by-side comparison of various provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill, staring with the individual income tax rates and brackets. For example, the House version has four brackets while the Senate version has seven  brackets.

Meanwhile, our friends at the National Taxpayers Union issued a press release on Saturday applauding Senate passage of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," saying that while not perfect." bill, "it is a phenomenal improver over the status quo."

The WSJ's Washington Wire explains today "How Senate Republicans Passed the Tax Bill (behind the WSJ's paywall, however).

Growls readers concerned about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are encouraged to engage their members of Congress. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Be sure to ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 03, 2017

A Thought about Work

"To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted."

~ Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures (1791)

HT Founder's Quote Database, The Patriot Post.

December 02, 2017

County Board to Rely on Rabbits to Pay for Metro?

According to an online story in Thursday's Arlington Sun Gazette, "Cue the Dusty Springfield soundtrack: It appears Arlington leaders are a’wishing and a’hoping that the federal and/or state governments will ride to the rescue in support of additional funding for the beleaguered Metro system."

The Sun Gazette explains:

"The Arlington County Board’s fiscal 2019 budget guidance to County Manager Mark Schwartz, adopted Nov. 28, calls for no additional local-taxpayer funding to the transit agency’s operating budget for the next fiscal year beyond a 3-percent rate of growth agreed to earlier.

"That’s contained in the first sub-paragraph related to Metro spending that is part of the guidance. The second assumes that increases for capital spending beyond that growth rate “will come from a new state or regional source.”

"Exactly how that rabbit will be pulled out of the hat was not explained, and may be a false hope: state leaders have shown only limited interest in helping localities with Metro funding, and the Trump administration is not proving itself a champion of public transit.

"In the current fiscal year – July 2017 to June 2018 – the Arlington government will funnel about $70 million in cash to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. About half of that funding comes directly from taxpayers, the other half from state and regional sources. Total fiscal 2018 funding to the Metro system from Arlington was up 25 percent from a year before.

"County Board members earlier this year added three-quarters of a penny to the real estate tax rate to provide more funds to the Metro system, an increase that added roughly $56 to the tax bill of the owner of a single-family property."

We stated our position in a January 21, 2017 Growls" "Don't Subsidize Metro, Privatize It!"

If you think the Metro board of directors should evaluate contracting-out the Metro system, please communicate your opinion to the Arlington County Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

NOTE: For information about Dusty Springfield, see her Wikipedia entry. To listen to her 1964 hit Wishin & Hopin, click here

December 01, 2017

A Thought about Patriotism

"Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America."

~ Eric Hoffer,  "First Things, Last Things" (p. 71)

HT Thomas Sowell, "Collection of His Favorite Quotations."