American Elephants


Federal Tax Revenues Are Up 8.2%. Are You Better Off? by The Elephant's Child

Growth in the American economy has largely gone a’glimmering. More businesses are failing than are starting-up. Because the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates artificially low, the stock market has done well as business is able to borrow cheaply. So this is turning out to be a record year for federal tax revenue. Uncle Sam is doing well. Not well enough for the Obama Administration, however.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that the first seven months of fiscal 2014 are  up 8.2 percent to $1.74 trillion, or $132 billion more than a year earlier. So, as night follows day, the Obama administration wants more money. Since Obama is promoting infrastructure (again) as the solution to unemployment, he wants more money from the gas tax. People are driving less (because they are unemployed?) and cars are more fuel-efficient, so naturally they need more money.

The Highway Revenue Act in 1956 mandated a tax of 3¢ per gallon of fuel. Then it was increased to 4¢. The 1982 Transportation Assistance Act boosted it to 9¢, with one cent going to a new Mass Transit Account to support public transport. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act got a rise to 14¢ — with 2.5¢ going to deficit reduction. President Clinton increased the gas tax to 18.4¢ — with all of the increase going to deficit reduction. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 redirected the 1993 increase back to the highway trust fund. The CBO is advising 29¢ which is where it would be if adjusted for inflation. This is, however an election year, and congressmen aren’t going to want to be responsible for raising  your taxes.

However, the Federal Government may be on the verge of lifting a long-standing ban an on the ability of states to charge tolls on Interstate highways. This proposal has been sent to Congress by the Obama administration would remove the prohibition for tolls on existing Interstate highways. Whatever the tax on cars and drivers, it’s way worse for truckers and diesel fuel. (See rising prices for food.)

So there we are. The federal government doesn’t have enough in the Highway Trust Fund to fix all the highways, and Congress has been moving in some money from the General Fund. Or perhaps you will get it all — a higher gas tax, tolls on the Interstates, and a tax on miles driven. Many states already have tolls on some state roads.

Individual income tax receipts are up 3.6% due to higher rates, payroll levies are up 12.2% and corporate income taxes have soared by 14.5% to $156 billion. If we are reminded that corporations don’t really pay taxes, but pass them through to consumers in higher prices for goods and services, it clarifies where the money is coming from.

We would all be a great deal happier if we believed that the government was spending taxpayer money efficiently and thriftily. The federal deficit is down from $488 billion to $301 billion, but it should be much lower five years after the “Great Recession” as Obama likes to call it, ended.



ICE Released 36,000 Criminal Alien Immigrants In 2013 From Detention by The Elephant's Child

Illegal-immigrants

In 2013, the Obama administration released 36,000 criminal illegal aliens from detention into the general United States population.  They were detained awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a report on the group which included aliens convicted of hundreds of serious and violent crimes. CIS documented a sampling of the nearly 88,000 convictions:

  • 193 homicide convictions (including one willful murder of a public official with a gun)
  • 426 sexual assault convictions
  • 303 kidnapping convictions
  • 1,075 aggravated assault convictions
  • 1.260 stolen vehicle convictions
  • 9,187 dangerous drug convictions
  • 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions
  • 303 flight escape convictions

It should be noted that the 36,007 criminal aliens counted here are a different set of cases from the 68,000 releases reported earlier who were cases of alien criminals encountered by ICE officers, usually in jails, but were released in lieu of processing them for immigration removal charges in that year.

The majority of these releases were discretionary or even contrary to the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A small share, fewer than 3,000, were released in accordance with a 2001 Supreme Court decision which prevents ICE from indefinitely detaining certain aliens whose countries will not take them back. Another small number may have been released in exchange for their cooperation with ICE or another law enforcement agency.

The president has asked Congress for permission to reduce detention of immigrants by 10 percent in order to make more use of “experimental alternatives” to detention as part of his budget reduction program. This comes just when ICE’s detention needs are growing. ICE  devotes few resources to aid for victims, except for victims of human trafficking nor is there notification to the public when nearly 100 per day criminal aliens are released.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson will soon release the results of a review of deportation policies “ordered by the president in response to immigrant advocacy group protests. The expectation is that this will expand even more the number and categories of illegals who are effectively exempt from immigration enforcement, and more will be released rather than deported.

There was a story a while back about ICE agents suing the administration for being prevented from following the law, but I don’t know what happened to that case.

ADDENDUM: Obama stresses to his supporters what a major priority amnesty is for him this year. It is known that illegals are likely to vote to support big government and generous welfare, but I’m not sure just how Obama plans to allow them to vote this year. They are not citizens.

 



Wednesday Morning Cute by The Elephant's Child

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The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf. He is named Baku, and he was born on April 29. Baku is the Japanese word for tapir. Baku are also supernatural spirits in Chinese and Japanese folklore who take away children’s nightmares and protect against evil.

Tapirs are most closely related to horses and rhinos, but they are similar in build to pigs. An adult stands more than 3 feet tall and can be 6 to 8 feet in length. An adult has coloration similar to an Oreo cookie with black front and back and a white or grey midsection. The young’s spots help them blend into dappled sunlight and leaf shadow of the forest which protects them from predators.

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The Malaysian tapirs are the largest of the four tapir species. They weigh between 700 and 900 pounds. They are excellent swimmers and spend much of their time in water.They can even use their flexible noses as snorkels!




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