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Ending the Hedge Fund Loophole

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How bad is the federal tax code? One loophole has gotten much deserved attention. Under current law, hedge fund managers classify their bonuses as capital gains and pay only taxes only at a 15 percent rate instead of the current highest personal income tax rate of 35 percent. (Yes, the bonuses are large enough to ensure that the managers are paying the highest rate.) Mind you, the bonuses are not a reward for their capital but for their work.
How much would be saved by closing this loophole? $20 billion over ten years. In fact, if you only closed the loophole for the top 25 hedge fund managers, would raise $4 billion in new revenue, the same amount of taxes collected from 441,000 middle class families.
$20 billion will not close the federal budget gap. But, it is shocking and worse than shocking - and immoral - to maintain such incongruous loopholes while gutting programs that help the poor.
(h/t Center for American Progress)

Mitch McConnell's Casuistry: & That's a Compliment

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Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky came up with a way to avoid the prospective government default should Congress and the White House prove unable to achieve a grand bargain on the budget. His proposal was immediately attacked by some fellow conservatives and this opens what is easily the most interesting divide within today’s Republican Party between the economic ideologues and big business Republicans.

Cong. Ryan on Catholic Social Teaching

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Congressman Paul Ryan, House Budget Chairman, has a post up at Our Sunday Visitor in which he explains how he understands Catholic social teaching and its applicability to the budget he has proposed.

He neglects to mention that the USCCB, which knows rather a lot about social programs, how they work, and whom they help, disagree with his proposed cuts.
Still, Ryan gets points for trying.

I just wish he would read a bit more deeply in the writings of another Ryan, Msgr. John A. Ryan, who is sort of the father of Catholic social teaching in the U.S.

Ryan, the Monsignor, understood the need for government to assist those who have been marginalized by our incredibly dynamic society. He also recognized that unrestrained capitalism was a great danger to the stability of society, which is why he advocated for the very programs that Ryan, the Congressman, is aiming to gut.

GOP Orthodoxy & Idolatry

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In yesterday’s New Republic, Ed Kilgore gave a brief overview of the ways that social conservatives, especially white evangelicals, have joined forces with secular conservatives to support their no-tax agenda. Kilgore’s article is fine so far as it goes and for a fuller explanation of the ways the Christian Right came to baptize laissez-faire economics, you are going to have to buy my biography of Jerry Falwell!

Bachmann - Tax Attorney Indeed

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As part of Michelle Bachmann's effort to present herself as a serious candidate for the presidency, when introducing herself she notes that she was once a tax litigation attorney. The idea is that in her anti-tax crusade, the subject is something she knows about. Visions of her battling the feds to protect average folk from the IRS leap to mind.
Alas, it turns out that, according to the Atlantic, Bachmann did not crusade against the IRS, she worked for the IRS.

I read the article and could not get a singular image out of my mind. When Dorothy and her companions get to Oz and ask to see the Wizard, they are refused until she announces that she is "Dorothy" and she is wearing the ruby slippers and the doorkeeper says, "Ah, well, that's a horse of a different color!"

Defending DREAM ACT

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The Archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore and the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, have established a task force to defend Maryland's recently passed DREAM Act. Under the law, children of undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children and who have attended Maryland schools for three years would be able to pay in-state tuition at Maryland's public universities, instead of the much higher out-of-state tuition they would currently have to pay. Opponents of the measure have acquired enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum in 2012. The new Catholic task force aims to educate Catholics and others about the law and to urge support for the measure.

Dahlkemper on the Morality of the Budget

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Kathy Dahlkemper was one of the pro-life Democrats who lost her bid for re-election last year. She has penned an op-ed at The Hill, which talks about the negative consequences for the pro-life cause were the House GOP budget to be adopted. And, in words that resonate with my post this morning about subsidiarity, she writes, "Red flags should go up when an elected official supports cutting or ending a program that guarantees assistance meeting people’s basic needs and offers no evidence or even explanation describing how these needs will be met. Legislators like Congressman Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner often argue that private charity and philanthropy is all that is required of Christians and faithful citizens. This argument denies the moral imperative in Catholic social teaching to create a just society directed toward the common good."

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