Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 30, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3

B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 30, 2017 OPINION B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 30, 2017 OPINION 
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If only tax simplification were true.

You see, one of the promises of the Republican tax-reform billwas that taxes would become way simpler for the majority ofAmericans to file - that we’d be able to file our taxes on a form 
the size of a postcard - but that isn’t entirely so.

Sure, the standard deduction will almost double, from $6,350 to 

$12,000 for single filers, from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples who file jointly.

That means many lower- and middle-income taxpayers will be able to file their taxessimply.

But for many of us, tax filing will be just as complicated as it has always been - if not 
more so. 

An H&R Block representative told FiveThirtyEight: “While much attention has beengiven to the increase in the standard deduction, many taxpayers will still be required tofile multiple forms and worksheets for various sources of income and credits that aren’tgoing away.”

Well, that’s just great.

The tax code is still incredibly complicated - so complicated that, according to theNational Taxpayers Union, Americans spend 7.64 billion hours and $227.1 billioncomplying with it every year.

Consider: When the income tax became law in 1913, the tax code was 16 pages long.
Now it is nearly 75,000 pages long!

I remember stumbling upon my father’s 1959 income tax return a few years ago - boy,
was filing easy for him that year.

In 1959, the code ran about 15,000 pages - one-fifth its current size.
My dad was a heavy smoker then - who wasn’t? - and was able to deduct every penny hepaid in cigarette taxes.

He was able to deduct every penny he paid in gasoline taxes. If we had such a perknow, the federal government would go even more broke than it is now.

And he was able to deduct every penny he paid in Pennsylvania sales tax , anotherwonderful perk that would save today’s average Pennsylvanian a boatload in federal 
taxes every year.

He took a $600 deduction for each of his two dependents, my sisters Kathy and Krissy

- a lot of dough relative to his income.
And he paid only 2.5 percent of his income toward FICA (then, Social Security; now,
Social Security and Medicare) - one-third of what we pay now.
In any event, despite a fair number of deductions available that year, his tax form wasone sheet of paper printed on both sides. He had no calculator, nor did he need one.
He did a test run in pencil on one copy of the form, then finalized a second in ink and
mailed it in. He always got a refund.

Look, there are many upsides to the Republican tax bill.

Everyone whose taxes are reduced will enjoy that.

Corporations will be flush with capital to invest, thanks to reduced corporate taxesand a repatriation tax that incentivizes U.S.-based companies doing business overseasto bring their profits back to America.

And best of all, job creators will be eager to invest, thanks to an end to complicateddepreciation schedules and the ability to write off 100 percent of their equipmentinvestments in the current tax year.

These and other changes in the Republican tax bill will, I hope, stimulate significanteconomic growth.

But tax filing is not going to get easier.

That’s why I look back fondly to 1959. I didn’t waste hours that year getting hundreds

of receipts in order. I didn’t pay a dime in taxes.
I wasn’t born until 1962. 

Copyright 2017 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s 
Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, bothavailable at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and isnationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column inyour publication or website, contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send commentsto Tom at 



OCCUR IN 2018 

Journalists love yearend recaps, but summarizing the odyssey

that was 2017 might better be left to late-night comedians. So

herewith a Precap of news certain to occur in 2018:

Jan. 1 - President Trump tweets: “Let’s resolve to move forward

in the New Year and make the right decisions for our wonderfulnation and its beautiful people by finally bringing Crooked Hillary to justice!”

Jan. 5 - Amazon abandons the search for a city to host its second headquarters,
opting instead to simply purchase Cleveland.

Jan. 7 - President Trump tweets: “Did Doug Jones really win in Alabama? Let theElectoral College decide!”

Feb. 4 - At the Super Bowl, NFL executives announce plans to prevent head traumaand dizziness among players. The league says team doctors will now issue earplugswhen crowd noise exceeds 150 decibels. 

Feb. 5 - On Time magazine’s list of “Men Mostly Likely to Avoid Sexual MisconductCharges,” first place is shared by “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons and the 
comedian Carrot Top.

Feb. 22 - Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul loses two teeth fighting a customer at HomeDepot for “the last container of Ortho Weed B Gon.”

Mar. 2 - President Trump tweets: “Just turned down an Academy Award. Schedulewon’t allow me to attend March 4 ceremony in Hollywood.”

Apr. 7 - A select committee co-chaired by Senators Feinstein, Sanders and Warrenbacks a mandatory retirement age for elected officials. The panel recommends 105.

Apr. 14 - After “an exhaustive search,” Amazon casts Jim Parsons to replace JeffreyTambor in the series “Transparent.”

May 23 - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarifies thatPresident Trump’s new ban on importing trophy wives does not apply to personsalready living in the U.S.

June 8 - The Boy Scouts of America votes to open its ranks to youngsters whoseparents are Democrats.

July 4 - President Trump wishes the nation a “Merry Christmas,” explaining viaTwitter that having rescued the phrase from extinction he will now use it on allholidays. 

July 10 -The New York Times expands its robust roster of email offerings with“NYT24,” the company’s first hourly newsletter. Times reporters and columnists willanalyze tweets posted by colleagues in the previous 60 minutes.

Aug. 1 - Carrot Top is named host of NBC’s “Today” show.

Aug. 27 - United Airlines says its boarding groups will now have names instead ofnumbers. Group 1 will be “Elite”; Group 2 “Superior”; Group 3 “Mediocre”; Group 4“Deplorable”; Group 5 “Untouchable.”

Sep. 10 - A dozen employees at Google come forward with claims of sexualharassment by the Google Assistant.

Sep. 19 - President Trump tweets: “Television Academy just notified me I’m aunanimous choice for an Emmy. Not interested!”

Oct. 6 - In the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” Kellyanne Conway and JeffSessions, both portrayed by Kate McKinnon, plot with Julian Assange (McKinnon)
to get dirt on Bernie Sanders, played previously by Larry David but handled thisseason by Kate McKinnon.

Nov. 7 - Election results show Democrats regaining a majority in the House.

Nov. 8 - President Trump tweets: “Massive voter fraud by Democrats! Let theElectoral College decide!”

Nov. 22 - President Trump pardons two turkeys, one State Department official, andthree cabinet members. 

Nov. 23 -Donald and Melania Trump tweet: “Warmest wishes to our African 
American friends and neighbors as they celebrate Black Friday.”

Dec. 5 - Refuting @realDonaldTrump, the Nobel Prize committee announces thatPresident Trump will not be receiving an award this year.

Dec. 31 - President Trump tweets: “I invented the term Precap. In 2019 the wallwill be built. Fox & Friends will win the Emmy it deserves. I will release data provingthat Crooked Hillary did not win the popular vote in 2016!” 


A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera. 

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is availableat and © 2017 Peter Funt. Columns distributed 
exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. 


When the national economy is on a roll, history tells us, theAmerican people are happy, content, upbeat and readily creditwhoever the President is at the time for creating an environment inwhich growth, opportunity and job security can thrive.

At the outset of 2018, the unemployment rate is 4.1 per cent (defacto full employment); economic growth is slightly above three percent (well ahead of that of recent years); new jobs are being created at more than 200,000 amonth; consumer spending and confidence has risen above last year’s levels, and the stockmarket breaks records daily (it’s now closing in on 25,000).

And, President Trump’s public approval standing has tumbled to Richard Nixon/Watergatelevels. The poll average compiled by Real Clear Politics, for instance, shows Trump’s approvalrating in the red by anywhere from 17 to 21 points.

By all measurements, the nation’s economic health graph shows a steadily upwardtrajectory, normally a cause for celebration and complimentary acknowledgements that theman in the White House recognized what was necessary and accomplished it.

Trump is understandably frustrated at the lack of credit coming his way for the robusteconomy, but it is largely of his own making.

Because of his pathological need to take to Twitter upon waking every morning to throwout public policy pronouncements, castigate political opponents, and respond caustically toperceived slights, he’s become his own worst enemy.

He seems unable to distinguish between meaningless partisan political sniping whichshould be ignored and issues of greater consequence. He treats them all as if the future of the 
Republic was at stake.

His daily Twitter sideshow has obscured what should be the administration’s mostsignificant accomplishment --- an economic resurgence with solid statistical data to back it 

He has gifted the media with issue after issue with which to question his temperament andhis intellectual ability to cope with the pressures of the office. His tendency to exaggerate orembellish suggests he believes his version of events should be accepted at face value no mattertheir veracity.

To be sure, a sizeable portion of the media openly despises him, pouncing gleefully on anyopportunity to point out his foibles and suggest the American people committed a horrificmistake last year when they chose him to lead the country.

He’s attacked members of his own party in Congress as well as his own Cabinet officers.

These incidents and dozens of others like them generated hours of inane chatter on cableTV talkfests. 

Both he and his supporters insist that Trump is merely sticking to one of his principles: “Ifyou hit me, I’ll hit back harder.”

That may work when you are a high powered real estate developer in New York andelsewhere and everyone you’re dealing with acts in the same manner, but it’s out of place inthe White House and can turn out to be ultimately destructive.

Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton governed during periods of sustained growth and baskedin the admiration of a grateful nation. Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, was driven from officeby his failure to deal effectively with a “misery index” --- a combination of unemploymentand interest rates --- that exceeded 20 per cent. In a 1992 debate with Clinton, President 
George H. W. Bush, asked how the sagging economy had affected he and his family, rambledincoherently and solidified the criticism that he was out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Aside from during times of war, the economy dominates the nation’s political environment(remember, “It’s the economy, stupid,” the Clinton campaign battle cry in 1992) and canmake or break a presidency.

The centerpiece of Trump’s campaign was returning the country to economic dominance.
His unexpected victories in the Rust Belt states was an expression of hope by struggling bluecollar workers that Trump could restore the heady days of 24-hour shifts at the local factory.

To them, “Make America Great Again” was more than a snappy slogan for tee-shirts andball caps --- it was a solemn promise from a presidential candidate that he understood theirdistress. 

Trump has shown no inclination to ease off his itchy Twitter finger and his top staff hasbeen unable to convince him to do so. 

If he doesn’t change his habits, the Administration’s economic recovery and steady growthmessage will continue to be fragmented, muddied by pointless, juvenile arguments overmatters which normally would disappear in a day. 


© Copyright 2017 Carl Golden, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for PublicPolicy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail. 

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