Great News! You’ve just been screwed by NC’s regressive tax “cut”

Okay, first the facts:

RALEIGH — Top Senate Republicans detailed a much-anticipated plan Tuesday to overhaul the state’s tax system by cutting personal and corporate income taxes in exchange for a broader sales tax applied to everything from haircuts to car repairs.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said the forthcoming legislation would trim the personal income tax from the highest 7.75 percent rate to 4.5 percent over three years and cut the corporate income tax from the current 6.9 percent to 6 percent.

The combined local and state sales tax would fall from 6.75 percent to 6.5 percent, but it would apply to hundreds of services currently exempted, including prescription drugs. The food tax would increase from the current 2 percent to the full sales tax rate, more than a three-fold increase.

Doesn’t take a degree in economics to recognize that this is a massive redistribution of wealth from poor and middle income North Carolinians to wealthy ones.  It’s absolutely transparent.  To eliminate the food exemption of all things!  The NC Senate put out a webpage where you can calculate your tax cut, and it seems to me they are just too honest.  I put in a rough estimate of my income along with the other basics, and here’s my result:

tax1

That’s right, a tax “cut” of $1000.  That’s right, my taxes would go up plenty.  Or lets look at the taxes of someone with a a similar family (married, 4 kids) but only earning 35,000 a year.  Surely, they need help.

tax2

And great news!  They get to pay an additional $1000+ in taxes.   Well, alright, then, let’s check out a Republican base voter.  Married, family of 4, $400,000 dollar income.

tax3

$16,000.  Now we’re talking tax cut.  

If there was any question whose side the Republican legislature is on, this should undoubtedly answer it.   Now, in fairness, spreading the sales tax across services as well as goods is actually a smart idea to broaden the tax base and make it more equitable and stable.  But that’s only a good idea if it’s done in such a way to keep it from becoming even more regressive.   Yet, here, it represents an absolutely massive regressive shift in overall tax policy.

Oh, and according to the Q&A despite massive cuts to state revenues it won’t actually hurt anything NC residents count on.  And how does it do this?  Why rhetorical sleight of hand, how else:

That’s the great thing about the Tax Fairness Act – it will protect vital state services like public education, roads and public safety while giving working families more take-home pay. How? By holding the line on government spending. Just keeping what we have and slowing the growth of spending will provide the largest tax cut in state history.

Ohhhhh “holding the line.”  Why didn’t I think of that?  To think, massive tax cuts, but no cut in the quality of education, roads, police, etc., because we’ll hold the line.  I can hardly wait.

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Photo of the day

Great Big Picture gallery of Hurricane Sandy– 6 months later.  Needless to say, still a lot of work to do.

The Jet Star roller coaster is seen in the ocean beside the damaged Casino Pier, left, following Hurricane Sandy, in Seaside Heights, N.J., on April 27. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)

Guns and self defense

Interesting story in the Post about a Georgia woman who successfully defended herself and her two small children with her handgun against a home intruder.  It’s quite a riveting read, but here’s the key bit I wanted to bring up:

The 37-year-old mother emptied her revolver as the national gun debate was reaching its most fevered pitch in the weeks after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Melinda Herman became an instant hero to gun owners facing new restrictions on firearms. [emphasis mine]  While the intruder lay in a hospital, clinging to life, the National Rifle Association tweeted about GA MOM. The 911 tape of Donnie Herman yelling to his terrified wife, “Shoot him! Shoot him again!” played over and over on the news, fueling hours of programming on Fox News and radio call-in shows.

What’s so crazy about this is that nobody is proposing legislation anywhere close to taking Melinda Herman’s gun away!!  Nobody.  Not even close.  For one thing, DC v. Heller was quite clear that at its absolute core, the 2nd amendment protects your right to have a gun in the home for self defense. Thus, even if liberals were hell bent on taking guns away for home defense, they couldn’t.  To me, this just shows how crazy this “debate” is.  Sane people just want to make it harder for bad guys to get guns through expanded background checks, cracking down on straw buyers, and gun tracing– none of which would have affected Melinda Herman at all (I presume she’s not a convicted felon)– but she becomes some symbol for gun rights.  It is absolutely frustrating how amazingly far from reality this debate is taking place (and there’s one side that is pretty, pretty divorced from reality).

Sharing germs

We share utensils, food, you name it with our kids all the time.  I’ve always assumed that we are absolutely sharing bacteria all the time and to think that sharing a fork somehow changes that is ridiculous.  I didn’t realize that members of the public health community had been advising otherwise for years.  Anyway good news (and of little surprise given what I’ve learned about bacteria over the years)– I’m right and they’re wrong.  The NYT story is about cleaning your kids pacifier with your mouth (something I never did– kids weren’t much into binkies, and if it was dirty I didn’t want it in my mouth), but general principles apply:

For years, health officials have told parents not to share utensils with their babies or clean their pacifiers by putting them in their mouths, arguing that the practice spreads harmful germs between parent and child. But new research may turn that thinking on its head.

In a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, scientists report that infants whose parents sucked on their pacifiers to clean them developed fewer allergies than children whose parents typically rinsed or boiled them. They also had lower rates of eczema, fewer signs of asthma and smaller amounts of a type of white blood cell that rises in response to allergies and other disorders.

The findings add to growing evidence that some degree of exposure to germs at an early age benefits children, and that microbial deprivation might backfire, preventing the immune system from developing a tolerance to trivial threats.

The study, carried out in Sweden, could not prove that the pacifiers laden with parents’ saliva were the direct cause of the reduced allergies. The practice may be a marker for parents who are generally more relaxed about shielding their children from dirt and germs, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the research.

That “generally more relaxed about shielding their children from dirt and germs” certainly applies to me.  And ever-increasing evidence suggsts that it is actually good parenting.  The following was my favorite part:

But Dr. Joel Berg, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, said those efforts are misguided, since parents are bound to spread germs simply by kissing their children and being around them. “This notion of not feeding your baby with your spoon or your fork is absurd because if the mom is in close proximity to the baby you can’t prevent that transmission,” he said. “There’s no evidence that you can avoid it. It’s impossible unless you wear a mask or you don’t touch the child, which isn’t realistic.”

I don’t quite want to say that’s just common sense, because I realize common sense can steer you wrong in cases like this, but it seems to be logical based on what we know about bacteria.  Anyway, shared food and utensils will continue in the Greene household.   Though, I should mention that despite our efforts of being lax, all the boys have very mild asthma and they all have hayfever to varying degrees.  In the end, genes will out.

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