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The Sandanista-like wealth redistribution scheme called tax credits for the poor

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 06, 2015 at 15:00:00 PM EDT

CapCon drone Tom Gantert, probably the least accurate person writing about state politics, can't get out of the first paragraph without whiffing on accuracy.

In 2012, the state of Michigan distributed $2.96 billion in assistance to lower income families through what is probably the government's best known welfare program — food stamps.

Ho, ho, ho, this is rich. The entire "article" is about state tax refunds for the poor. Why not loop in food stamps, a federal program, into the mix with a little misdirection. The mendacity of these people is a thing of beauty.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a subsidy ...

No it isn't. It's a tax credit.

... that goes to low-income families with very low levels of wage income. It is intended as a supplement to increase the value of working a part-time or minimum-wage type job.

The money for both programs comes from state taxpayers....

No it doesn't. It comes as a matter of refund on an overpayment of taxes.

... Nearly one-third of Michigan residents who filed a state income tax return in 2012 reported income of less than $16,000. For many at this income level the only reason to file a tax return ...

Stop. Just stop right there. The only reason for anyone who receives a refund to file is to get the refund, which you don't get without filing a tax return.

“Higher or lower welfare spending is an ongoing debate, and fair enough,” said Jack McHugh, the legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an email. “But in both corporate welfare and regular welfare, using the tax code to distribute handouts makes the practice look sneaky, as if the politicians are trying to hide what they’re doing from voters. This murkiness is exploited for political purposes, too, as in the rhetorical mischief surrounding an EITC spending hike proposed by Proposal 1 last spring. Specifically, all the dodgy analyses and assertions characterizing this as ‘a tax cut’ rather than an increase in welfare spending.”

If by dodgy analyses, you mean truthfully explaining how things work. It's almost as if what these people are trying to do is get the right people -- our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect -- to believe that most people who get the EITC get refunds over and above their actual tax bills. And since they're shamelessly dishonest they don't want to just come right out and say that because it would be easy to prove them wrong.

“People can disagree about the value of this and other income redistribution program, but everyone should favor forthright and transparent accounting for them,” McHugh said.

Physician, heal thyself.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

(D)ohn Qui-Hoadley

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 06, 2015 at 12:33:34 PM EDT

Let's all be clear on something, folks. This...

Democratic state Representative Jon Hoadley will introduce legislation in the next week or two (including a proposed amendment to the state constitution) to establish a Michigan redistricting commission.

...has every bit as much a chance of success as it would be to try to drive a semi through a frog's puckered asshole. There is no appetite in our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect for genuine governance or for reforms that would take the power to do anything out of their hands and put it in someone else's. I mean, these people act like no other unit of government -- local, federal or intergalactic -- has any authority to do anything without first getting their approval. They do things not according to logic or facts, but through sheer confidence that they are absolutely, positively correct ... no matter what facts or evidence have to say to the contrary.

I mean, the Arizona case got started only because that Legislature got angry that the people of Arizona wanted to draw districts in a way that didn't let people's job security enter into things. Michigan is no different.

This gets done by ballot proposal. And, it better be a nice, clean non-partisan ballot proposal, or else it'll go down in flames and the opportunity to get this done is dead for a generation.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Different panelists, different result ... what could have changed?

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 06, 2015 at 11:07:25 AM EDT

If you missed Off the Record over the weekend, you can probably go to WKAR's website and stream it. Or you can read Chad Selweski's wrap up and be good with life. Selweski's post does raise an interesting question.

In contrast to the raucous, highly partisan bloggers edition of Public TV’s “Off The Record” in April, the bloggers show this weekend, with a new pair of conservative panelists, was a relatively cozy affair.

Host Tim Skubick replaced the previous GOP representatives, Republican strategist Dennis Lennox and West Michigan Politics blogger Brandon Hall. Lennox said he was traveling in Europe at the time the show was taped and Hall wrote on his Facebook page that he missed the taping due to an emergency urologist appointment.

Let's see ... three months ago, it was a raucous, highly partisan affair. Then Skubick brought in Kathy Hoekstra and Jake Davison to replace Brandon Hall and disgraced fired columnist and walking journalistic ethics violation Dennis Lennox. Things went smoothly and with a lot of collegiality.

Let's all file this away for future reference.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Happy Freedom Boner Day: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Jul 04, 2015 at 10:43:58 AM EDT

I returned to my home the other evening to what sounded like gunfire. I thought maybe I'd been transported to the Middle East or something. Turns out that it was just fireworks the neighbors were setting off. If you live in any community around the state, you know the drill. God bless America and Michigan's hyper-relaxed fireworks law. In this particular case, the sun wasn't yet down. I also do have to note that the house where the people were shooting off fireworks was home to people who nearly set a tree on fire in a previous, very dry year while letting their toddlers run in the streets to watch the pyrotechnics go off.

Another group of neighbors was sitting out on their stoop taking in the evening. They were apparently unenamored of the fireworks, because they loudly referred to my other neighbors as assholes. It was loud enough, at least, for the other neighbors to hear because one of them retorted, "Douchebags."

And thus did we have liberty and union rather than tyranny and faction. God bless us, every oe of us.

The thread .... she's open. 

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Today in history's greatest monsters: Five unelected judges

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 02, 2015 at 10:27:22 AM EDT

Todd Courser wants to wish you a Happy July 4 ... if the Republic survives the next two days.

We are living in the last days...

Over the next 1,300 words, he yanks the rug out from under you if you actually took him at his word over that, because he beseeches everyone to take up political activism on behalf of ... THE GAYS ARE MARRYING WHAT NEXT! It includes this gem..

Our elected officials can take steps to deal with the same sex marriage decision by the unlected Supreme Court, but it will take rare courage to do so. ...

Isn't this guy a lawyer? I assume they had a law class in the law school he attended where it was explained to him why the Supreme Court justices are appointed and ratiied by the Senate rather than elected. I assume someone thought to tell him that this process was written out in the same Constitution he's constantly going on about. Maybe not.

With the Supreme Court now taking the step to grant a new right under the Constitution (with no Constitutional basis to do so), we are now at a spot where it is imperative for our elected legislators to stand up and show some leadership on this very critical issue. It is not courage to stand by this decision by the court; it is agreement, dereliction of duty, or cowardice. Your legislators need to hear from you. Please ask them to take up and pass the three bills I have enrolled (HB 4731, 4732, and 4733). Right now our mayors, clerks, and judges have to conduct marriage ceremonies and as such have to perform same sex marriages. This can and must be stopped!

All you county clerks and mayors out there who officiate same-sex marriages? Cowards in the eyes of Todd Courser. Later on, we find what really bothers him. It's not the whole "gays getting married" thing. It's this...

The Progressive Machine in both parties wants to say these bills are anti-gay; they are not. These bills simply begin the process of divesting marriage out of the clutches of government. ...

God's wrath, brought on not by people ignoring his laws but through the enlargement of bureaucracy. Of course, that would require that you not suspect that Todd Courser is a wee bit full of shit on this.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Taking the opportunity to be as stupid and regressive as is humanly possible

by: Eric B.

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 14:00:00 PM EDT

The Freep's editorial board takes a gander at the Senate plan to fix the roads. Under it all, they see the greasy hand of social engineering.

A road-funding package crafted on the backs of the state's working poor. Under Michigan's Republican leadership, we're heading toward just such a cruel reality.

The state House last month passed a road-funding plan that would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, a modest tax credit of $140 a year that benefits the working poor.

It's not only cruel. It's stupid. Poor people take money and go spend it on stuff. People who have a lot of money take a smaller portion of their money and do that. In an economy structured like ours, spending stimulates demand, which stimulates job growth.

So, it's not only cruel politics, but it's also a drag on our economy ... which, by the way, would mean in the long run less money being spent on gas. So, it means less money to fix the roads than would have been available if they'd left the EITC in place.

And you people still wonder why I refer to it as our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Won't someone think of the heterosexual Christians?

by: Eric B.

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 13:07:58 PM EDT

Here's Mike Shirkey, once again providing a demonstration that confidence and competence are not always the same things. Remember, the last time we spent time with him, he was waving around pieces of wood while shouting at a camera.

Shirkey, asked about the RFRA comments after session, said "you don't have to shout if you're right."

Oh wait, that was buried in the story.

LANSING, MI — A controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill could see action this summer in Michigan's Republican-led Senate following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the state's gay marriage ban.

"I think the states now have the responsibility to step in and make sure they're protecting their citizens," sponsoring Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said Tuesday.

I think Mike Shirkey is confused about something here. Actually, he's confused about a lot of things. But, let's just start with who this is about. Mike Shirkey appears to think that sme sex marriage is about all Mike Shirkey. Someone should tell Mike Shirkey that same sex marriage has nothing to do with Mike Shirkey. If this got cleared up, it would help the rest of us tremendously.

Speaking of sour grapes, Midland's District Court judge has apparently decided that if he can't not marry gay people he's not going to marry anyone

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

MLive's wrongish piece on redistricting

by: Eric B.

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 15:00:00 PM EDT

After the high court ruled the other day that states can change their redistricting through a popular vote, lots of people have talked about doing it here in Michigan. MLive has a piece on it that gets a very important thing wrong. The tenor of the article suggests that to amend the state constitution, that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect would have to pass bills that would then be put on the ballot. That's kind of akin to how the U.S. Constitution is amended, but it is not fully reflective of how amendments to the state constitution can come into existence. Section 2 of Article XII specifically.

But, after 2012, we all knew this anyway. 

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Brandon Dillon writes about his evolution on abortion

by: Eric B.

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 13:42:50 PM EDT

If you're a dude, Brandon Dillon's op-ed in MLive from awhile back that people are sharing today is something you should read. If you wanted to get all deep and shit, it's the story of a man who decides to let go.

I join people across the country who are rethinking the abortion issue and seeing the moral and practical reasons for supporting a woman's ability to choose. In recent weeks, Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democratic congressman from Ohio, announced that he has evolved on the issue and now believes it is better to trust women and their families - not politicians and special interest groups - to make decisions about their own lives.

I think this is a very healthy, good way for men to look at this issue. There's some pressure to see this purely through the prism of womens' rights, and while that is necessary and important, it also misses the point that much of what is about abortion is about whether it is proper for society as a whole to make medical and persoal decisions for anyone ... not just women.

Something that gets overlooked, like always, is that people who have option do a better job once they've made a choice. If those options are not available, if they are forced to act for the sake of conformity, they are not as mentally prepared because they haven't been forced to think anything through. I use myself as an example here. I've been involved in one unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock, have one child, and was better prepared for fatherhood for having discussed every option. 

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Some people who've gone off their nut since Friday

by: Eric B.

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 13:24:18 PM EDT

In the final years of his life, George Wallace came around and begged foregiveness from the people tormented by his bigotry. Will the LGBT version do the same?

Agema, a former West Michigan state representative who is a vocal opponent of gay marriage, wrote in a Facebook post Friday, June 26, that it is "truly sad that 5 men and women in black robes can destroy what our nation has understood since it was founded."

"Now the destruction of the family begins. No nation can long survive when it loses its moral compass," Agema said.

Apparently not.

By the way, Goat Killer apparently needs some help with use of capital letters.

"The court's decision to strike down this law is a new affront to the will of the people of Michigan and other states, as well as the Democratic process through which these laws are passed," Agema wrote.

He continued: "Traditional marriage is a key pillar of the Republican Party platform and we stand behind keeping it that way as opposed to the democrat party. As early as 2013 the RNC confirmed the 5 Core Principles of the party as a resolution and part of that resolution was traditional marriage."

It's good that he reminded everyone that he helped make traditional marriage a critical plank in the Republican Party platform. Without it, people might have been lulled into buying into the rightwing nonsense that it's actually the Democratic Party that is full of bigots because Abe Lincoln was a Republican and Robert Byrd was once a member of the KKK. But, will there be any fallout for an RNC committeeman who can't use proper grammar on Facebook? Magic 8-ball says, "Not bloody likely."

Meanwhile, random holy man Stacy Swimp advises people who aren't Stacy Swimp to quit their jobs rather than perform the duties of their office.

“It would be better to lose your job than to lose your soul,” said Minister Stacy Swimp, a Flint-area pastor and founding member of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian Leaders. Swimp also encouraged pastors to join in the boycott to marry same-sex couples. 

Swimp, we can assume, has very safe and secure employment.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

How about a little redistricting reform to go along with your same-sex marriages?

by: Eric B.

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 11:46:53 AM EDT

Been a rough week to be a conservative. First they lost the Confederate battle flag, then they failed again on Obamacare, then the high court said that the gays can make the foundations of Western Civilization come crashing down. Finally ... this

Opponents of gerrymandering are breathing a sigh of relief today — the Supreme Court has upheld Arizona voters' decision to let an independent commission, rather than their legislature, draw their state's congressional districts.
If I recall, the fact that the Supreme Court was going to rule on this issue was something that was holding back a similar effort in Michigan. That hurdle now cleared, what say we make this a top priority for 2016? And, while we're at it, let's put something before voters that isn't a thinly veiled attempt to tilt the process in favor of Democrats. Let's put something before voters that is party neutral. Doing the other thing, which the Democratic Party seems to have a problem doing, always ends in miserable failure.  
Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Deer and rabbits and moles ... oh my: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Jun 27, 2015 at 10:10:58 AM EDT

I think I'm up to five times gay married since yesterday morning. The first was right after the announcement came down. I went outside to see if the sun was turning the color of blood yet, and was strapped down to a portable hammock I purchased last week and forcibly gay married. The fifth happened this morning when I went to the community garden to get some garlic chives for my avocado baked egg. I've also been hetero marriage divorced three times since yesterday, which is weird because I'm a lifelong bachelor. Also, pretty sure I've figured out how it is that Knight Rider got canceled all those years ago.

Quick update from the brewpub garden: Snap peas are coming on, and I'll be sending in more lettuce an arugula today. But, golly Miss Molly if this job ain't turning me against my fellow mammals. Did I mention the snapping turtle? That makes me laugh, but the deer that chewed off the end of a lily I stole from my artist feels like it was done out of sheer spite and moles keep burrowing under all the beds, doing damage for some reason. If we could talk, I would say to them, "Friend mole, please stay out of the beds that have taken me long hours to plant and nuture," but I'm not so sure they'd listen because they probably lack the cognitive ability to comprehend the English language in all its nuances. God damn things.

For the rest of you, the thread ... she is open. 

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Same sex marriage ban goes down in flames, courtesy SCOTUS

by: Eric B.

Fri Jun 26, 2015 at 10:15:51 AM EDT

This seems like a fine development

WASHINGTON – Delivering the gay rights movement a seminal victory in its march to equality, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning declared Michigan's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, revoking it and others like it across the nation.

Now, instead of being embarassed to live in a country where discrimination is the law of the land, I only have to be embarassed to live in a state whose elected officials fought it to the last.

How much did all this cost the state's taxpayers? Someone might wish to ask. 


Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Some people who are running for office next year: Lon Johnson!

by: Eric B.

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 10:46:29 AM EDT

I'm in the car typing this on my phone, so pardon any autocorrect horrors. Lon Johnson is apparently quitting as MDP chairman this morning so he can launch his campaign to unseat America's least popular Congressperson, Dan Benishek.

 Speak amongst yourselves.

P.S. In the original draft autocorrect had it as Long Johnson. Also, snicker amongst yourselves.

Update! ...  I haven't spoken to Johnson, but this feels like him following Gretchen Driskell's strategy of announcing early to set the field, start fund raising and touring the district. It's smart for her and smart for him, I think. The 1st is geographically a huge district and not really travelable in the worst months of winter.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

This week on Off the Record

by: Eric B.

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 07:29:08 AM EDT

I'm getting ready to leave the house and make the trek down to Lansing. Actually, my friend Steve is driving because I own no car (I do have a license, you insinuating pigs). Taping another "Bloggers" edition. It's me and Tony T. and Jake Davison and Kathy Hoekstra.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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