Rep. Rose DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, wants to tax sugar by the teaspoon. She even introduced a bill, called the SWEET Act, last week.
But don’t worry, it’s for our own good, dontcha know.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced this week the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET Act), which aims to institute a tax of one cent per teaspoon – 4.2 grams – of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or caloric sweetener.
Taxes should NEVER EVER be used to punish or reward behavior, EVER!
On Thursday the IRS released a slew of draft 2014 tax forms. The new draft Form 1040 shows a new surtax line has been created for the payment of the individual mandate surtax – see line 61 of the 1040:
President Obama has repeatedly denied that the surtax is in fact actually a tax. The most prominent example was a heated exchange on ABC’s This Week in Sept. 2009, when George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama with a dictionary:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I – I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax – “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…
OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. [Transcript]
It was always obvious that the penalty for not complying with Obamacare’s individual mandate was just another surtax:
* The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.
* As shown by the newly released draft Form 1040, the surtax is paid as part of normal income tax filing by taxpayers.
* The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare statute.
* Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.
Famously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
The Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance surtax is one of at least seven Obamacare taxes that violate the President’s “firm pledge” not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year. Thorough documentation of Obama’s promise can be found here.
Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.
The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.
Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.
The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.
While those questions remained unresolved, IRS officials signaled plans to destroy tens of thousands of additional electronic records.
“After all media are destroyed, they must not be capable of any reuse or information retrieval,” IRS officials stated in the contract papers.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the IRS scandal, said the committee has broad concerns about the agency’s record-retention practices.
Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group Cause of Action, said rules require the archivist to sign off on the destruction of federal records.
“This solicitation, combined with the failure of the IRS to consult the Archivist about Louis Lerner’s hard drive, should put hesitation into any assumption that consultation with the Archivist is happening and prompt a thorough assessment of record retention at the IRS,” Mr. Epstein said Monday.
IRS officials did not respond to emails and phone calls about the solicitation, including whether the agency’s nonprofit division ever used the computers being destroyed.
Officials also declined to discuss how the IRS preserves records on computers targeted for destruction.
The agency estimates the need to destroy at least 65,464 magnetic tapes, 3,225 hard drives, 5,856 floppy disks and 708 reels, according to procurement records.
About 500,000 pieces of electronic data – including cassette tapes, reels, CDs, hard drives and USB media – have been collected since 2008, according to the IRS solicitation.
“Due to system changes, a significant amount of electronic portable media containing [personally identifiable information] and potentially sensitive but unclassified data such as taxpayer return information is being collected at IRS facilities and locked in secure storage areas awaiting destruction,” officials wrote in a statement of work attached to the solicitation.
The IRS disclosed last week that it relies on contractors to recycle computer equipment. The revelation was made in an affidavit filed in a federal lawsuit in Washington by True the Vote, a conservative group that says it has been scrutinized by the IRS.
Stephen Manning, IRS deputy chief information officer, said in federal court in Washington that officials tried but failed to retrieve Ms. Lerner’s records. He said the agency’s internal computer “help desk” received word on June 13, 2011, that the hard drive on Ms. Lerner’s laptop wasn’t working properly and subsequent efforts to preserve data “were unsuccessful.”
The computer has been wiped clean and recycled, he said, and officials have lost track of it because they don’t keep track of hard drives by serial number.
Ms. Lerner’s computer isn’t the only crash of a hard drive that congressional investigators have encountered in their attempt to reconstruct record trails.
Last week, Republican senators sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero after receiving reports that an Environmental Protection Agency official’s hard drive had crashed just as congressional investigators began looking into questions about the EPA’s review of an Alaska mining project.
Investigators sought computer records of a former EPA official, Phillip North, who later fled the country. More than a year after his retirement, senators said, EPA officials belatedly told the National Archives and Records Administration that they failed to preserve Mr. North’s computer records.
“First the IRS, and now the EPA – these hard-drive crashes seem to be a growing epidemic throughout the administration,” Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. “This ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse is getting ridiculous.”
Just as the IRS tea party targeting scandal was erupting, Lois G. Lerner warned colleagues to “be cautious” about what information they put in emails because it could end up being turned over to Congress, according to an email message released Wednesday.
The 2013 email exchange between Ms. Lerner and fellow employees at the Internal Revenue Service also says that instant message conversations were probably never stored and weren’t checked during open-records requests – even though they also fell under the law requiring electronic records to be stored.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013, message.
She went on to ask whether the instant message communications were stored automatically. When a tech staffer said no but the records could be stored if employees copied them, she replied, “Perfect.”
“Why did it take us this long to get these emails? We’ve been after this for six months,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who raised the emails with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday.
Mr. Jordan said the emails were part of a pattern of Ms. Lerner trying to hide her activities, following on the crash of her computer hard drive two years earlier, which erased thousands of messages.
Mr. Koskinen said he hadn’t seen the email before but questioned the connections Mr. Jordan was drawing.
“I don’t see anything in here where Lois Lerner says, ‘Wow, I got rid of my earlier emails and now I’ve got to check on it,’” the commissioner said.
Ms. Lerner’s email warning to colleagues to be careful about what they said in electronic communications issued less than two weeks after the IRS internal auditor shared a draft report with the agency accusing it of targeting tea party and other conservative groups.
A month after the email, Ms. Lerner would plant a question at a conference to reveal the scandal, just before the inspector general’s report was made public.
Ms. Lerner’s email was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, more than a year after lawmakers sought it as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting.
Republicans said the email shows Ms. Lerner was aware that Congress was investigating the agency and that she was preparing to intentionally hide agency discussions from lawmakers.
Ms. Lerner’s email record has become a major scandal in and of itself after the IRS revealed that her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, causing the agency to lose thousands of her messages.
The IRS tried to recover some of the messages by asking others on the email chain to dig through their mailboxes, but the agency acknowledged that some messages may be permanently lost.
Some Republicans have questioned whether the IRS took enough steps to try to recover the emails from the hard drive in 2011.
The head of the National Archives testified to Congress that the IRS likely broke federal records laws by not storing Ms. Lerner’s emails properly.
IRS policy was to print out emails that constituted official records, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.
Mr. Koskinen testified to Congress that he believed Ms. Lerner had printed out some emails. But Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, told the Politico online magazine that she didn’t know she was required print out emails and therefore did not do so.
On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor released a statement saying that “is not entirely accurate” and blamed a “misunderstanding.”
“During her tenure as director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received,” Mr. Taylor said.
“The facts are that Ms. Lerner did not destroy any records subject to the Federal Records Act, she did not cause the computer assigned to her to fail, and she made every effort to recover the files on the computer,” the lawyer said.