Lightbulb Bill Likely Headed for Defeat in House

From the Hill through Instapundit.

It would seem that we may not get to keep our nice incandescent light bulbs after all.

House Democrats on Monday indicated strong opposition to a controversial bill to repeal federal lightbulb standards, which could lead to the defeat of the measure in an expected Tuesday vote.

The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, H.R. 2417 would end federal bulb standards passed in 2007 that Republicans have since held up as a prime example of federal overreach. House Republicans brought up the bill under a suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds of voting members to support it.

That means even though a majority might support it, it is unlikely to be approved Tuesday in light of Democratic opposition.

Suspension votes are generally reserved for non-controversial bills, although this is not the first time Republicans have risked failure by putting a bill on the suspension calendar. In February, for example, the House rejected two bills in this manner — one instructing the Obama administration to seek repayment from the United Nations, and other to extend Patriot Act surveillance authorities.

During Monday’s debate on the lightbulb bill, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and other Republicans said federal standards will have the effect of banning incandescent bulbs next year, since they will be unable to meet energy standards that take effect then. Barton said this is a problem because compact fluorescent bulbs and others than can meet the standards are several times more expensive.

Do  the Democrats really even want to win next year’s elections? The ban on incandescent light bulbs is virtually a symbol of the over-aggressive, intrusive, nanny-state government that most Americans detest. I can’t imagine why they would want to give the Republicans this issue to run on.

By the way, I still hate the squiggly compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Taxing Internet Sales

From the Orange County Register. California Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown just signed a law taxing Internet sales. The  state Board of Equalization (whatever that is) estimates that this measure will raise some $200 million. The California Retailer’s Association is pleased.

California Retailers Association stated:  “We thank Governor Jerry Brown and the leaders in the California State Legislature who have demonstrated their leadership and commitment to California businesses by passing and signing e-fairness into law. Small and large businesses across the state have been held at a major disadvantage by the current law that out-of-state online companies like Amazon.com and Overstock.com have exploited for years. This has cost us jobs and revenues.”

So, how is it working out? Well, it would seem that Amazon.com has decided to end its affiliate advertising program with over 25,000 California websites. In their e-mail, Amazon.com explained why this was necessary.

(The bill) specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

Oh, well. It would seem that the state of California will not be seeing $200 million in revenue coming in. I wish that politicians would get it into their heads that people will try to avoid taxation.

Tax the Rich 2

In the early 1920s the highest tax rate was 73%. In 1921 President Harding appointed Andrew Mellon to be Secretary of the Treasury. Over the next eight years he reduced the top rate to 24%. The result, federal revenue increased from $700 million to over $1 billion. Every year that decade the federal government ran a surplus, hard to believe I know. Unemployment and inflation were at record lows.

It may seem counter-intuitive that lowering tax rates would increase revenue but it is actually easy to understand. In general, people do not like paying taxes. They will often go out of their way to avoid paying taxes by exploiting any loopholes in tax codes, decreasing any activity that is taxed, consuming less of any commodity, or just plain cheating. If tax rates are relatively low, it is not worth the trouble and people go ahead and pay their taxes. If tax rates are relatively high, then people start putting their money in tax shelters.In other words, people don’t just sit still and allow themselves to be taxed. They take action to limit their tax burden as much as possible.

The reason I mention all of this is that there seems to be a movement among the Democrats to raise taxes in order to lower the deficit. They believe that the reason that we are in the fiscal mess we are in is because people, especially the greedy rich, just do not pay enough in taxes. The problem is that raising taxes simply will not produce the bonanza of increased revenue that they expect. Raise taxes on the wealthy and they will send their money abroad, or not invest, or do what it takes to pay as little as they can. I know I am being repetitive, but I cannot seem to pound that concept into Progressives’ heads.

In any event, revenue to the federal government as a percentage of GDP seems to hover at about 19%, regardless of tax rates as shown here and here. And check out this chart here. The US has the honor of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, 13% higher than the OECD average. This is not exactly helping our recovery.