Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama Labor Secretary Appointee Latest to face Taxing Questions – In One Week Polls Begin To Give GOP an Edge!

Hilda Solis , Obama’s choice for Labor Secretary, is the latest in a series of nominees who are facing questions regarding unpaid taxes. Apparently, Sam H. Sayyad, Solis’ husband, had tax liens placed on his business, which were paid off this past Wednesday. The liens, dating back to 1993, were placed on Mr. Sayyad’s business by the county of Los Angeles, and totaled approximately $11,000, a small amount in the greater scheme of things. Solis, is the fourth in a series of appointees who have unpaid taxes in their closets (or in Solis’ case, her husband’s closet). First came Timothy Geithner Treasury Secretary, who erroneously claimed his child’s summer camp expenditures on his taxes. Chucking that up to a simple mistake (and frankly, individuals who trust their accountants normally just sign on the dotted line, so one could give Geithner a pass on that slip-up. Enter Tom Daschle, legendary Speaker of the House who lost his seat and standing while pontificating on the evils of the Bush administration. Apparently, Daschle also had problems with his tax returns, which alone, were possibly not enough to keep him from an appointment, however the connection to lobbyist was culminating in a quick withdrawal of Daschle’s nomination as the Head of Health and Human Services. Daschle was followed by Nancy Killifer, nominee for Chief performance officer – once again, taxes were at issue, or the failure to pay.

There are several questions that come to mind, but first and foremost: “Who is vetting these positions?” After reviewing the lengthy and invasive employment review instituted by the current administration, it boggles the mind that those who are tagged for high level positions, are being passed through without thorough examination. One must also consider that the media has played a pivotal role in bringing these tax questions to light – not the administration. Who then, is responsible for keeping the proverbial egg off of President Obama’s face? It appears as if the President has been apologizing for appointees on a daily basis, when he is not pleading with Congress to act fast on the economic crisis (something which, without tax relief to those who are bearing the brunt of the Fannie/Freddie crisis (thank you Barney Frank), will be doomed to failure. Of course, keeping tabs on Congress at this point, may or may not prevent further revelations regarding tax evading government appointments or current members of Congress.

Which begs the question; Do these high-profile members of the party in power find taxes to be such a minor issue or non-issue, that non-payment isn’t considered abnormal? Most citizens fear the IRS (and their State equivalents) more than any other organization – and make it a point to avoid taxes, penalties, fees and the like by filing early and in concert with a double check by an accounting firm (incurring further costs for the pleasure of paying the Federal Government or the State). In conversations with “average” citizens (i.e. those who are not in the Congress, the Senate, the White House or possible appointee), it is noted that (paraphrasing) “If I didn’t pay taxes, I’d be in jail”. Good point. Now that the focus is on the Party in Charge, and the media is doing its due diligence (about time), the public has lost its initial zeal – President Obama’s job approval rating fell 15 points in one week, while support for the Stimulus Package has dropped to 37%, all of this resulting in a shift in popularity for the minority party as support for the GOP is up 3 points in a week on the Generic Congressional Ballot. In review, taxing Revelations regarding appointments, growing unrest over the “Stimulus Package” and a general drop in popularity in only one week’s time has given a boost to the GOP. With the addition of Michael Steele at the GOP helm, one can only imagine what those numbers may look like in three months should the present trend continue; at the very least, the GOP has been given enough material to wage competitive campaigns in 2010, at the most, 2010 may turn out to be much more interesting that originally anticipated.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Commonwealth and Taxation - Massachusetts Supreme Court to hear Case brought by Retailer against the State - basis: U.S. Constitution Clause

Live Free Or Die, New Hampshire, may no longer be a safe haven for those Massachusetts residents attempting to purchase large ticket items and avoidthe Massachusetts State Sales Tax. A case is now before the Massachusetts Supreme Court involving Connecticut based, Town Fair Tire – the chain who has retail outlets in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has brought suit against the State of Massachusetts under the U.S. Constitution, Article 1 Commerce clause. The clause (Section 9) “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state”, has been viewed by the Courts as applying to those retail outlets that do not have a presence in a particular state (see Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 112 S. Ct. 1904, 119 L. Ed. 2d 91 (1992).) here). Further, depending upon the State, there may be an ability to get around the Commerce Clause, as in New York State’s Law requiring Internet retailers to charge sales tax. brought suit under the Commerce Clause and lost to the State of New York.

Suffice it to say, that where Massachusetts and Taxes are concerned, the States ever increasing deficit will play a factor, and given the ability of the Massachusetts Supreme court to “re-interpret” the Constitution, one cannot see Town Fair Tire prevailing in this instance. Under the current Patrick administration; taxes are being proposed on everything from candy bars (sin tax) to alcolhol, to fuel, in order to shore up the budget.

Given the fact that Massachusetts’ low and middle income residents bear the brunt of the states taxes (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy) one can imagine that no “stone will be left unturned”, to collect any taxes perceived due to the Commonwealth. However, if one were to strictly interpret the clause under the U.S. Constitutions’ Article 1, then the onus of collecting any perceived “taxes due” from Massachusetts residents, who purchase tires over the border in neighboring New Hampshire, would fall to the State of Massachusetts, not the retail outlet.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Steele’s GOP Promise – Analysis - Reaching Out and Winning over Democrats without Compromising Conservative Principals – His Winning Attributes: The

From Wikipedia: Steele Presents award to USNS Comfort Crew

There is a great deal of excitement among grassroots conservatives over the choice of Michael Steele as Republican National Committee Chair – and most media are either missing the point, or ignoring several facets of Steele’s resume and biography that are critical. First, one has to look at the man in total, the fact that he has been involved in Republican politics since Reagan became an inspiration, having ideals similar to his mother’s, hard-working and principled, Steele did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. Reagan’s appeal to those who traditionally voted with the Democrat Party is apparent in Steele, who personally identifies with those constituents and, by virtue of that fact, invites them back into the party.

One major factor of Steele’s biography that has been somewhat absent (while the focus, of course, is the fact that Steele is an African American - truly a moot point), is his Catholicism. Prior to his graduation from John Hopkins (He went onto Georgetown to earn his Law, Degree) Steele, a devout Catholic, graduated from Archbishop Carrol High School in Washington DC, went onto John Hopkins (Where he earned a B.A. in International Relations), and of import, he attended the Augustinian Friars Seminary at Villanova University for 3 years, prior to his enrollment at Georgetown. .

Steele’s resume is impressive in many ways, yet, why would the fact that he is a Catholic be a bigger factor than, say race? A quick study of the Catholic vote in the United States is in order.
Catholics are primarily working class (union) and vote consistently with the Democrat Party (with exceptions), and against the teachings of the Church (especially as it applies to Abortion). In fact, since 1972 the “white” (here we go, media obsession with race again) Catholic vote (numbered at 20-25 million or as high as 30 million, depending upon the source), has had an impact on the General Election, in fact, they have voted consistently for and with the winning party since 1972 (noted by Washington Post). Keeping that in mind, the Catholic Vote was more responsible for the election of George Bush in 2004 than evangelicals. -Why? They identified with Bush, not as a pro-life protestant, but as the “guy in the work shirt standing atop the rubble of the World Trade Center, when compared to the “elite” John Kerry windsurfing off the Cape, Catholics voted with the guy who most closely resembled their own ideals (not political party).

What happened then with John McCain? Perception: (Aided by an all too willing media) – The choice was clear, you either voted for a guy who didn’t know how many houses he owned, or the guy who was a community organizer and talked the talk of the working man (unless of course, he was out of earshot at a fundraiser in San Francisco . (A fact, which, for some reason, did not trickle down to the rank and file). Additionally, the issue of abortion played a minor role until the last moments leading up to the election (and afterward), when some Catholic Priests began to make a little noise about Obama’s support for partial birth abortion.

A few events have taken place within the Vatican and the Church since the last election that may be worthy of note: One of Obama’s first official acts was to repeal the ban on aid for abortions overseas, a move that prompted a Senior Vatican Archbishop, Rino Fisichella, to call the American President “arrogant”. (Outstanding treatment and article here at “Right Pundits”) The fact should not go unnoticed that an Italian Archbishop (Vatican Politics) making such a statement is more impactful than one coming from an American Cardinal in the same building – it is proximity to the Pope. Almost immediately following the lifting of this ban, the Vatican suddenly went tech – with a dedicated, English only, YouTube Cannel. Although Church’s are in danger of losing Tax-Exempt Status should they preach politics from the pulpit; there is no restriction on speaking out against the act of abortion, or any other topic relevant to the Church’s teaching – additionally, the church has every right to excommunicate or otherwise prohibit Catholics who are pro-choice from participating in church sacraments; given the more involved Vatican, one might anticipate that this trend will continue and increase in scope.

Now enter Steele, a devout Catholic, at the helm of the pro-life party, who can identify (through his own life experience) with the working class (otherwise known as: dedicated Democrat votes). Additionally, the more the media screams (there really is no other word for it) “Race”, the more Steele downplays that aspect (we are all American’s regardless of color, ethnicity and/or gender) and focuses instead on the truism that regardless of the aforementioned, most Americans are center right – the problem has been that, since Reagan, no one has bothered to engage those voters, giving them (and the states in which they reside) up for lost.

As an Evangelical, Spanish Catholic, living in Massachusetts, the election of Steele and his statement, “To my friends in the Northeast: get ready, baby. It's time to turn it on, and work to do what we always do well, and that is win. We're gonna win again in the Northeast. made the mantra: "Hope and Change" a reality - for Conservatives. For far too long, Massachusetts (among other states that were considered “too Blue) have been all but ignored by the national party – Massachusetts, especially, should be given a closer look for the following reasons: a) the states electorate is overwhelmingly independent; with both Republicans and Democrats losing members in the past two election cycles, b)those independents have been responsible for putting Republican’s, when and where available, into the statehouse, the US Senate and the Governor seat. Finally, independents will also give Massachusetts 12 electoral college votes to a Republican - as they did with Reagan – twice.

What has been lacking to date for the conservatives in this state? Effective leadership at both the state and national level; which changed this past week with the election of Jennifer Nassour (her plan for the State Party bears a striking resemblance to Steele’s plan for the national party), and Steele’s understanding that the Blue States are “ripe for the picking”, (There are sufficient grassroots activists (read conservatives of all strips and registered independents) already in place that will work for the party, if asked to the dance. They’ve been asked to the dance.

While, The New York Times, is making Steele’s Chair about “Race”, they did not delve into his “appeal” to the “regular folk”, or the Catholic Vote, which may end up reducing the ranks of their pet party. Steele, no stranger to the media, is characterized as having an ”upbeat image” by the Baltimore Sun, immediately taking control by publicly telling Republican Legislatures to "Stick to their Guns" on the Stimulus package, a fact that did not go “unreported”.

How important is Michael Steele to the Republican Party’s image? Just Google the new DNC chair, former Gov. Tim Kaine (who will, be in the same position as RNC's Duncan was – taking orders from Obama, as the party leader). Steele has the ability to run the RNC his way - without the restrictions of a Party Head. One can draw the conclusion, therefore, with this change of pace, the expectations regarding races on all levels in 2010 has changed.

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