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Wasteful Tax Code Spending

Wasteful Tax Code Spending Wasteful Tax Code Spending

At a hearing on reducing the deficit by eliminating wasteful spending in the tax code on Tuesday, Budget Committee Chair, Democrat Patty Murray struck some hard notes in areas ripe for revenue raising. “There’s no good reason that taxpayers currently subsidize millionaires more, when they purchase a second home, or a yacht, than they do middle class families purchasing their first home. And why should a hedge fund manager pay a lower tax rate on his income than a soldier, police officer or a teacher?” Murray added, "My Republican colleagues, in particular, tend to focus on cutting programs the most vulnerable families depend on to get back on their feet. They say spending on food stamps is out of control, and we can’t afford so many education and job training programs, and unemployment benefits are driving up the deficit. Now, there’s no question that we do need to look at government programs carefully, so that we can make fair, responsible cuts that put families and our economy first. But a big source of spending, and one that deserves to be just as closely examined, is expenditures in our tax code. Tax expenditures have grown over the last 20 years to become one of the largest impacts on our deficits and debt. Just this year, the Treasury will lose $1.3 trillion to tax expenditures. That’s more than we’ll spend on either Social Security or Medicare. But here’s a big difference: when we think of entitlements, we typically think of Social Security and Medicare, which keep our promises to seniors, or nutrition assistance, for families who’ve fallen on hard times. These programs allow our country to fulfill its part of the bargain with those who have already done their share, and enable us to give those most in need some relief. For that 70 percent of tax expenditures, the higher your income, the more you benefit.  So the wealthiest households benefit the most, while middle class families receive much smaller benefits, and many of our most vulnerable don’t qualify at all.  The less you need, the more you get. And we all pay for it. In 2012, on average, the top 1 percent of income earners saw their after-tax income increase by nearly $250,000 as a result of tax expenditures.  But middle class families received an average benefit of only about $3,500. Which means that when we talk about big government welfare, maybe we shouldn’t always jump to cut spending for those who are most in need.  Maybe we should think about what we’re spending on those who are least in need. The skewed nature of tax breaks like these has helped drive the amount the wealthiest Americans pay in taxes to historically low levels, as a share of their income.  IRS data show that the effective tax rate for the 400 wealthiest taxpayers has fallen from almost 30 percent in 1995, to only 19.9 percent in 2009.This is less than the rate paid by many middle-class families. And meanwhile, over the same time period, the average income for the 400 wealthiest taxpayers rose five-fold. That’s probably why some tax expenditures are often called back door spending, or special interest earmarks for the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans. Just as we have got to bring down our deficits and debt, we’ve got to make sure we’re educating our workforce for the 21st century. We need to repair our roads, bridges and airways so that businesses can move their people and products efficiently. And we need to invest in research and development so we can continue growing new industries in the United States, rather than ceding those new industries, and the jobs that come with them, to China or India. A recent poll showed that 57 percent of respondents strongly agreed we should eliminate the loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay lower tax rates than the middle class. 58 percent strongly agreed with closing loopholes that allow wealthy Americans and corporations to shift income overseas. And Americans want to see that new revenue used to lower the deficit, and make crucial investments in our future, rather than lowering tax rates for those who are already doing just fine. 

The Dow Jones Industrials Average moved to an all-time intraday and closing high of 14,207.65 during early morning trading on Tuesday.

The Institute for Supply Management reported on Tuesday its survey of purchasing managers - the executives who buy supplies for their companies - rose to 56% in February from 55.2% in January. ISM's new-orders index rose 3.8 points to 58.2%, production moved slightly higher by 0.5 points to 56.9% and employment fell by 0.3 points. Of the 18 industries tracked, 13 reported growth during February, an increase from eight in January.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. home prices rose by 0.7% in January to stretch the year-on-year advance to 9.7% for the largest year-on-year gain since April 2006. CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming said in a statement, "With these gains, the housing market is poised to enter the spring selling season on sound footing." Home prices nationally have shrunk by 26.4%. Delaware and Illinois were the only two states not experiencing year-over-year price gains with Arizona taking the lead with a 20.1% surge. CoreLogic's pending home sales rise forecasts a 0.3% decline in February but a year-on-year gain of 9.7%.


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Mar 5, 2013


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