Let's say, hypothetically, that Bernie Sanders wins the election, and even more hypothetically, pushes through national single-payer health insurance and a corresponding IRC change that employer-provided health insurance is no longer a deduction.  This of course causes massive upheaval in the health insurance industry; but what effect does it have on a typical employer?

(You can ask a similar thought question about the proposal of just giving a handout to every person in the country that should be able to provide basic food and shelter, and simultaneously reducing minimum wage to zero.)

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My father and I self-identify on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  This doesn't preclude reasonable political conversations: "here's how the recent T review was a debacle"; "you clearly aren't a Sanders supporter and Trump is a nut job, so which of the 732 Republican candidates do you support?"  It seems like we agree on the fundamentals of how government should work, just not what the priorities should be.  Fundamentally I feel like mainstream politics comes down on one of three positions as far as finances go:

  1. I think government services are important and they need to be paid for, so I'll concede paying higher taxes for them, even if they serve others.

  2. I think low taxes are important, even if they come at the cost of government services, some of which may benefit me.

  3. If we cut taxes, the magic growth fairies will make there still be revenue so that government services can still happen.

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Tax policy

May. 5th, 2015 07:05 am
Google News decided I needed to read this diatribe pushing Republican tax policies.  They all seem like terrible social policy to me.  I'd think the basic rules should be:

  • Taxes cover the cost of running government

  • People who can afford to pay more should

  • The tax code should be comprehensible by mere mortals

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Hello from home, since I can't go to work because the T isn't running, in turn because the T says that if a third train gets stranded they'll have trouble evacuating people in the dark. My Facebook feed is largely blaming this on a combination of excessive weather and old equipment (a third of the Red Line fleet is 45 years old, with an expected lifetime of 30). Meanwhile, our Republican governor, apparently parroting the Republican line that everything can be fixed with budget cuts, is proposing to cut $14 million from the T's budget. Now, $14 million isn't actually useful capital spending in this context, oddly enough — the newest Blue Line train cars cost $2 million apiece — but if the T needs more spending, how does cutting its budget help? Perhaps more interestingly, our governor was elected in part based on his business credentials, could private business run the T better?

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Oct. 24th, 2010 01:51 pm
There's a ballot question this year to repeal sections 20 through 23 of chapter 40B of the Massachusetts General Laws. The existing law sets up a system where a developer can make a request directly to a town's Zoning Board of Appeals to get a single master permit for building limited-income housing.

What the law actually says )

40B FUD )

Question 2 FUD )

Is 40B effective? )

Is 40B abused? )

Personal revised opinion )
People up on the state ballot initiatives have probably noticed that there's an item on the Massachusetts ballot to end the state income tax. Ignoring details of whether this will actually happen if the measure passes, where does the money come from and where does it go?

At the state level there's a good summary of FY09 spending, totaling $23.2 billion. Almost half of state outlays go to "health and human services", with a huge chunk of that being state-funded health insurance programs. About $1.8 billion supports debt service, about $1 billion goes to the lottery. $6.2 billion goes to "education", of that $4.6 billion is primary and secondary education, $0.6 billion pre-primary, and most of the rest college-level. I can't find a specific line item for "assistance to cities and towns" but there are a number of things in the itemized listing that support that -- $3.9 billion for schools, $0.9 billion from the lottery, and a couple of smaller things. (I cannot immediately find the T in here.)

Information on the revenue side is harder to find, but this report has more comprehensive numbers. This talks about a lot of things, including money the state spends that's not in the budget proper. For FY2008 total revenue was $41.5 billion, of which $22.5 billion is "taxes" (pp. 32-33). (There's some scary-looking discussion of interest rate swaps on pages 65-66.) The table on page 314 finally gets down to the number I'm after: in FY2008 $12.4 billion of state revenue was from income taxes, vs. $4.1 billion from sales and use taxes and $1.5 billion for corporate taxes. At the end of the day, then, this is almost exactly 30% of state revenue.

To reiterate what I've said in a couple of contexts, I think the Republican primary is all-but-decided, but the Democratic primary is still an interesting question and I intend to vote in it. I think that's a choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and they do both seem to have content on their Web sites.

Taking a read... )
The City of Somerville Web page has a top-level link to sample ballots. This is useful, largely because I don't seem to have gotten any information in the mail about what the candidates and issues are, and because the ballot has the full text of the initiatives.

What I'm thinking... )

(On 4, 5, and 6, I tend to think the US military is best used defending US home soil from attackers; and given our lack of continuous near-nuclear border spats with Canada and Mexico, we have too much military for our own good. I also think the US shouldn't be meddling in other countries' internal politics or picking sides in foreign civil wars. If NATO or the UN thinks the world/the West is in grave danger, we should support them, but the US recently has been saying "we're too good to play with the other kiddies" even if they're on our side.)
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