February 18, 2012

A Week of Thoughts

Patrick Laverty

A couple things about this story where the Institute for International Sport can't account for a few hundred thousand dollars that it got from the state in the form of a legislative grant. When Kathy Gregg is calling, chances are that it isn't going to end well for you. Second, if this money was given to them in 2007 for the purpose of erecting a building, why did it take until 2012 for the issues to be discovered? Who was checking on the status of the deal since then? Is the state only paying attention now because of the current fiscal crisis? The Assembly needs to be equally protective of taxpayer money regardless of the financial times.

One of the issues in Providence is that so far, the city hasn't been able to match all the savings and income with what was budgeted. Why was the city allowed to pass a budget on such intangible things like moving the retirees over to Medicare and banking on $7M in additional income from the tax-exempts? This sounds like a little bit of irresponsibility on the side of the budget makers.

I wish Tim Wakefield a happy retirement. He seems like a nice enough guy, but how would I know? Why is it that when professional athletes or celebrities are maligned in the press, we hear, "You don't know the real me" but then when they're praised, the subject of the praise accepts it all?

Why do some people keep claiming that the government can simply force insurance companies to not charge people for birth control? Let's look at this another way. What if the government also decided that it's in the country's best interests to have people eat oranges. So Congress decreed that every American should get one free orange per week. No, Congress isn't going to pay for them, the grocery stores must make them free to their shoppers. Do you really think the grocery store would simply absorb that cost or would they increase the price of everything else to cover the cost of the free oranges?

On to the topic of people like Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney and John Kerry paying very low income tax rates. The reason for this is because these people mainly derive their income from investments. The capital gains tax rate is 15%. So if all of your income is from capital gains, you pay a 15% tax rate, minus other offsets. Is this a bad thing? They're investing in companies and taking risk. Plus, how did they get the money to invest in the first place? Quite often, they did that through regular work, and they invested their income that was already taxed at the top tax income tax rates. So basically, these people earned their money, paid taxes on it, then invested in businesses, reaped the rewards and were taxed a second time on that. Now, many are suggesting that we should tax them at an even higher rate on that second set of taxes? Is that what Sheldon Whitehouse wants to do with his so-called "Buffett Rule"?

Why is it that a few years ago when Bush was in office and gas prices spiked, it was the "Texas Oil Man" and his friends in Texas controlling the market and personally benefitting from it. The day he left office, the price was $1.79. Today, gas prices are around $3.60. Does the person occupying the Oval Office still have much to do with the price of gas or were those Bush detractors actually full of hot air?

This week in the Providence Journal was a story where the former mayor of Central Falls, Thomas Lazieh asked the state's receiver, Robert Flanders to leave. If I'm not mistaken, current Mayor Charles Moreau asked the state to appoint a receiver. I guess it is true that you should be careful of what you ask for.

Also in the Journal was a story that the local hospitals aren't interested in the I-195 land that is now available for sale. I guess this shouldn't be too surprising, as the mayor of Providence has been rattling his saber about getting more property tax or PILOT money out of the hospitals. At this point, they have no idea how that's going to turn out, so if they do have money in reserve, it would make sense to sit on it and see how it turns out. Plus, as mentioned by Buddy Cianci this week, if they were to make a multi-million dollar offer for that land, it's much harder to go back to Providence and claim to not have money for property taxes.

This week, Jack Reed supported a bill that would extend the payroll tax cut but also reduced the amount of time that RI's unemployed can receive benefits by 16 weeks. Why is it that if a Republican supports something like that, they are destroying the working man, but if Jack Reed supports it, not a word is spoken?

Providence is now requiring all of its property owners that receive the homestead exemption to prove that their vehicle(s) are registered in Providence. This makes sense as some around the state have noticed the high incidence of Florida and dealer license plates. Does it really make sense to see so many Florida plates in RI in the middle of winter? Even if they are snowbirds, shouldn't they be in Florida now?

It looks like Providence College student and Maine resident Christine Rousselle might have been on to something with her article about the welfare abuses she witnessed while working at Walmart. New efforts in Maine have cracked down on these abuses and other overpayments of about two million dollars.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about a bill that would essentially put an end to the need for political parties and brought back up the idea that voters could basically sabotage a primary. This week, Ted Nesi suspected that David Segal may have paid pollsters to check his viability for a second run for Congress. If Representative Brien's bill were made law, I could see this as a primary that maybe Republicans would be interested in. It seems that there will be no primary opponent for Republican Brendan Doherty, so why not jump over to the Democratic primary if the choice was between Cicilline and Segal. As damaged and poor a candidate that Cicilline is, for some reason voters still like him. Segal is more of an unknown and he's very much on the liberal side of most issues. When voters are presented with a very young and very liberal option in Segal against a widely respected candidate like Brendan Doherty, the result could end in the Republican's favor. As for Brien's bill, I'll say it again, be careful of what you wish for Dems.

One nice part about finishing my weekly thoughts is that now I can go read the similar article on Nesi's Notes. I usually try to abstain from reading his (who started doing this about the same time as I did) until I'm done, to avoid any heavy borrowing.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I'm about 50/50 with you here, but there's one point you should clarify.

While gasoline prices did go down sharply just before the 2008 presidential election (hmm, I wonder why), they went down from an all-time high of $4.12/gallon in July 2008 (and still haven't gone that high since), then they bounced back, although not nearly as high nor as quickly as from when/ce they'd fallen. Prices now are just about the same as they were in May 2007, and only about 50 cents higher than August 2006.

So who's in the White House might not matter as much as what they do while they're there. Are you suggesting Bush had nothing to do with the precipitous drop in oil prices before the 2008 election?

Posted by: Kerri Hicks at February 18, 2012 11:25 PM

Hi Kerri-

My point there is when we had high gas prices while Bush was in office, it was because he was personally benefitting and was manipulating the prices. But now that we have high gas prices again, there isn't any word about Obama having anything to do with it. Have prices been fluctuating because Bush was controlling it or because of normal economic factors? If the price was being artificially inflated for the benefit of Bush's friends, then why are prices high again when Bush isn't in office? I think that was my general point there.

Posted by: Patrick at February 19, 2012 12:12 AM

Warren is a nice old grandpa type who's a brilliant investor but whose company owes billions in back taxes. Is that permissible under Sheldon's Buffet rule?

Posted by: Max D at February 19, 2012 12:18 AM

Gotcha. Personally, I think Bush (or, by extension, his supporters for his benefit) did work to manipulate oil prices while he was in office, because he was able to. I don't think Obama has the connections to do so. As I said, it's not "the President" who has the power to influence those prices, it's a conservative (especially with the last name "Bush") who does. :-)

Why are prices high again? Typically, oil barons tend toward the conservative side of the aisle, so I predict that oil prices will be as high as they've ever been just before the November elections, as another touchpoint to influence voters. "See how bad the liberal President is? He can't even keep oil prices low!" Of course he can't. He doesn't have the right friends. But I bet he can get a great table in Hollywood. (For what that's worth.)

Posted by: Kerri Hicks at February 19, 2012 9:51 AM

Kerri - You have quite the tinfoil hat on. I'd like to hear your Area 51 theories sometime.

Posted by: Dan at February 19, 2012 2:20 PM

Oil prices are up because Iran is threatening the Strait of Hormuz and just cut oil shipments to several EU countries. If some dictator in the mid-east even sneezes the price of oil jumps.

Where is the media screaming about oil profits from Shell and BP? Nada, zero, zip because the gasoline price increases will be hurting the president's re-election bid. When the cost of goods goes up people who are really hurting will not want to re-elect him.

Posted by: Mark at February 19, 2012 11:07 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.