People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Roanoke Times Baldly Disingenuous

It's not often I accuse anyone connected with journalism - or more to the point, with newspaper editorials - to be disingenuous. Especially at the Roanoke Times. I view the people working there - at least until today - as being shallow. Simple. Bush league. Neanderthal. But not disingenuous.

But today the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times moved into new territory with this:

A budget surplus that really isn't

News that Virginia ended its fiscal year with $544 million left over [my emphasis] drew predictable responses from Jerry Kilgore and Morgan Griffith. And, just as predictably when the state's finances are the topic, their responses were wrong. (
$544 million "left over." I quickly began to smell a rat - or something just as malodorous - when I read those weasel words. The term the rest of the world uses for money a government has left over after all obligations are met is a surplus. But the Times editorialists can't use the suitable term; it would defeat their argument. So they contort the truth.

But if the money not spent (or "left over"), a portion of which was intended for my grandchildren's college education had the state of Virginia not decided to confiscate it, has a designated purpose, what is it?

All - yes, all - of the supposed $544 million surplus is already spoken for. The state's rainy-day fund, drained by recession and the poor fiscal management of previous governors, gets $437 million, finally restoring it to full health. That's what wise fiscal stewards do: put money aside when times are flush so they'll have it when times are hard.
Now it's my turn to massage terminology. I do it for the sake of clarification though, not obfuscation.

The "rainy-day fund" is an account set up to store - for future use - tax revenue surpluses. It is fed tax dollars that are not earmarked for expenditure. It is intended to warehouse your hard-earned income until a use can be found for it. It is a surplus fund.

In the corporate sector, we refer to this as net income (revenue less expenses).

Some call it profit.

On a personal level, we call this having money left over to put toward a college fund for our grandchildren because we were able to meet our ongoing obligations when it came to food, shelter, and clothing.

The people at the Times know this full well. They simply wish to couch the fact that the state government made a profit off the backs of the hard working people of the commonwealth in officialese by calling that profit a rainy-day fund. They could just as readily have called it the " sequestered until we can figure out how to waste it" fund.

The Roanoke Times' intentional and blatant misrepresentation of this fact is despicable. Shame on them.

AMT - The Rest of the Story

The Roanoke Times, on its op/ed page, comes out in favor of maintaining the Federal alternative minimum tax.
Alternative maximum evasion?

The concept of the alternative minimum tax is simple: Wealthy Americans should not be able to use loopholes to evade paying all federal income taxes.

The 1969 tax was prompted by a Treasury Department study that found 155 taxpayers who made more than $200,000 - more than $1 million in today's dollars - paid no federal income tax in 1967. Unfortunately, the AMT was not adjusted for inflation, so
the complicated tax system is affecting more and more Americans. By the end of the decade, it could affect 20 percent of taxpayers.

The solution to this is blindingly obvious: Index the AMT to inflation and bump up its exemptions so that it once again targets only the wealthiest Americans. (link)
The editorial goes on to link President Bush's name to an effort to abolish the AMT.

What's missing from the editorial - and something I find to be lusciously ironic - is that the alternative minimum tax is hitting the rich in high-tax (read liberal Democrat) states the hardest.

You see, this particular tax is levied on the wealthy (to ensure that they don't find too many tax loopholes and that they pay their "fair share") regardless of the amount of local and state taxes they are paying. So people in Hillary Clinton's New York and Sean Penn's California are screaming bloody murder that citizens in blue states - because of oppressive taxation there - are paying more than their fair share in taxes.

And they're right.

So it's the leftist saviors of humanity who are complaining the loudest about the AMT. They are more than willing to give up some of their valuable free time in order to save the world but don't think for a minute that they intend to fork over what they consider to be more than their fair share in taxes to do it. Starving Africans be damned!

Oh, the irony.

I should mention, by the way, that the reason the President is having a panel reviewing the AMT is because, in addition to its not being indexed to inflation, it also impacts disproportionately on taxpayers who claim large deductions for, among other things, several children. I don't know if I would label that "evasion."

Anyway, that's the rest of the story. Look for the beautiful people in Hollywood and in Manhattan - Kerry voters and Howard Deaniacs all - to savage the Roanoke Times for advocating tax fairness.

I'm going to kick back and enjoy the fun.