In the U.S., all anyone can talk about is the fiscal cliff. Cliff? Strike that. Media hysteria has elevated it to the fiscal apocalypse. But while Democrats and Republicans talk over each other about raising taxes and cutting spending, no one seems willing to look at what other countries have done to avoid similar situations. In Canada’s Globe and Mail, Professor Jonathan Rhys Kesselman of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University thinks we should look at his country’s experience with the capital income tax. He argues:
Surprisingly overlooked in discourse over how to surmount the “fiscal cliff” are the much more dramatic prospective hikes in tax rates on capital incomes. The top tax rate on long-term capital gains will rise from the current 15 per cent to 20 per cent . . . . the top tax rate on qualified dividends will soar from the current 15 per cent to the new top bracket rate of 39.6 per cent . . . While these changes are a modest part of the cliff’s overall tax hikes, the favorably taxed types of incomes are heavily concentrated among high earners. Thus, relieving the prospective sharp tax increases on capital incomes would blunt the impact of higher rates on top-bracket.
How would this look in practice? You can read Professor Kesselman’s detailed proposal here. The point he makes is that Canada has implemented policies on taxing capital incomes with success: in particular, our neighbor’s “practice of including just 50 per cent of realized capital gains in taxable income – a practice that the U.S. itself had used in earlier years.”
The upshot is that we don’t go over the cliff by implementing tax changes that have benefits for both Democrats and Republicans. “A cliff,” Kesselman writes, “need be not only a place of peril; it can also be a place for enhanced vision – even northerly vistas.” But will the folks in Washington look north?
Clinton cozies up to far-right Israeli foreign minister
Avgidor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, and Vladimir Putin have a lot in common, according to Kevin Bloom of South Africa’s Daily Maverick. And it’s not just the fact that both speak Russian (Lieberman was born in Moldova). No, both are hard-right nationalists with a “penchant for despotism.” The Israeli left has labeled Lieberman “Israel’s Putin.”
And, Bloom writes, while Lieberman is normally shunned in the U.S., he and Hillary Clinton shared the stage at an event in Washington D.C. sponsored by Haim Saban, a powerful Israeli-American media mogul. Lieberman was in typical form, saying “settlements are not an obstacle to peace. The opposite is true.” (He lives in a settlement, by the way.) He added that “Israel has never interfered in the internal domestic politics of any country,” which is true, if you don’t consider Palestine a country.
Clinton (with her eye on a possible presidential run in 2016?) seemed eager not to alienate her Jewish-American constituents. Bloom notes:
Clinton didn’t say anything about Lieberman, of course, but then she didn’t have to. By allowing Israel’s Putin to speak before her, she said everything. And given that the Israelis had repaid the US by doing what the Obama administration wanted it to do least – announcing, in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defence, an expansion of settlements in the West Bank – it was a diplomatic performance worthy of a queen.
Please stay away!
Narendra Modi should not be permitted a visa to visit America, says a group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Modi is the Chief Minister of the western India province of Gujarat; the 25 American lawmakers say his administration has not done enough to investigate the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which over 1,000 people were killed. The letter is more than symbolic, reports The Hindu; it may also be an attempt to delegitimize a politician with aspirations to run for prime minister of the world’s most populous democracy.
“As Mr Modi continues to pursue a potential run for higher office, we believe a change in policy to his request for a visa will only embolden Modi and his government’s efforts to obstruct further investigations and the tandem prosecution that have still to be finished to bring the perpetrators to justice,” wrote the U.S. reps.