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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog



It is past time to levy a large excise tax on prescription opiods
Jesse Richman, 9/13/2017

While many of the costs of opiod addiction are borne by the addicts themselves -- costs that range up to and including 183,000 deaths according to CDC estimates for the period from 1999 through 2015 -- these costs also spread to the broader society in terms of treatment expenses, emergency response, crime, lost productivity, and much more. Hence, opiod addiction creates negative externalities for society, which some estimates put at 80 billion dollars. 

A basic principle of the economics of managing negative externalities is that one should seek to make those creating the externality -- those involved in the production and consumption of opiods in this case -- pay for the external costs they are creating through their market transaction.  And one of the easiest ways to do this is to impose a tax upon those transactions.  

There have been some scattered efforts to do so.  For instance Senator...

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Cruz' tax plan -- analysis by Tax Policy Center
Howard Richman, 3/17/2016

Tax Policy Center has put together an analysis of Senator Cruz' tax plan. Here are some quotes from an article about it that appeared in Dow Jones Business News:...

 

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Sarah Hall Ingram may have shared confidential IRS information about conservative groups with White House staff
Howard Richman, 10/9/2013

On June 19, I noted on this blog that frequent White House visitor Sarah Hall Ingram was knee deep in the IRS scandal, which probably meant that White House staff were involved. My suspicions were supported by an e-mail that was revealed by Rep. Darrell Issa while questioning Ms. Ingram at the October 9 hearing of his House Oversight Committee. Watch the above video to see Rep. Issa's discussion with Ms. Ingram.

According to The Daily Caller, this email shows that Sara Hall Ingram shared confidential taxpayer information with White House staff:

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.

Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Issa, in his questioning of Ingram, suggested that there is an alternative explanation of the e-mail. The alternative is that the IRS was abusing the redaction process in order to hide information from Issa's committee.

Issa's committee will be questioning IRS officials in order to discover what lies hidden in the redacted parts of the e-mail. If it turns out that Ingram was revealing confidential taxpayer information, then Hall was clearly violating that information by sharing it with the White House.

For some background, here's what I wrote back in June (Sarah Hall Ingram is being written out of the IRS scandal):...

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Who ordered that targeting of Tea Party groups be resumed in May 2012?
Howard Richman, 6/17/2013

According to May 21 testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, in July 2011 IRS targeting of conservative groups for additional scrutiny was stopped, only to be resumed in May 2012. The initial targeting was blamed upon underlings in the Cincinnati IRS office. But, mysteriously, nobody at the IRS seems to know who ordered that targeting be resumed. Senator Pat Toomey (Republican, PA) questioned Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller about it (see the 2:07 mark):

Toomey: So we're sitting here in May of 2013. At this point, do you know who it is that initiated the policy of establishing these ideological criteria for creating this additional level of screening for applicants for C4 status?

Miller: It happened twice. The second time it happened, I don't think there is clarity on that. The first time I think there's more clarity on that....

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Why the IRS scandal is worse than the others
Howard Richman, 6/16/2013

In today's Baltimore Sun, former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., (Why the IRS scandal is worse than the others) lists several reasons why the IRS scandal is worse than the others, one of which is that the IRS targeted conservative groups:

And the granddaddy of them all: irrefutable evidence the Obama IRS targeted conservative groups for special investigation smack dab in the middle of a tense presidential campaign. And at a time the president and his surrogates were running around the country complaining about the rise of the tea party and other similarly situated organizations.

This was an "in your face" operation: groups associated with the major conservative causes of the day (fiscal restraint, tax reform, marriage, pro-life) all came in for extraordinary (and highly questionable) scrutiny by certain alleged "rogue" personnel within the IRS in Cincinnati, Washington state or both. Only time and future investigation will tell how far up the chain the miscreant trail will lead, but I'm betting this was not simply a basement operation confined to "The River City."

Parenthetically, Ehrlich notes the flippant answer given by IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman when asked about his many trips to the White House:...

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Tax Cut Unreality
Jesse Richman, 12/2/2010

 "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Thomas Paine

It is time for all true fiscal conservatives to come to the aid of their country. 

Some Republicans are trying to sell the myth that the Republican victory in the November 2010 midterm elections was a mandate for the re-enactment of all of the tax Bush cuts.  If the exit poll was right, it was no such thing.  According to the national exit poll, 18 percent of the electorate said they thought the priority of the next Congress should be tax cuts...

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Tea Party's Contract from America endorses tax reform such as the FairTax
Howard Richman, 5/17/2010

The Tea Party Patriot's Contract from America endorses tax reform, such as the FairTax. Here's the relevant plank:

Enact Fundamental Tax Reform

Adopt a simple fair single-rate tax system by scapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words -- the length of the original constitution.

Meanwhile, the FairTax has become an issue in the congressional race, tomorrow, to fill Congressman Murtha's seat. John Kraushaar at Politico.com (FairTax spurs the campaign rhetoric) reports:...

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The FairTax Solution
Howard Richman, 4/12/2010

Every year, Congress makes the personal income tax more complicated and time-consuming. Why not replace our entire tax system with the FairTax, a national sales tax with a prebate? Five huge problems would be solved:...

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    Wikipedia:

  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]