Suggested Answers - Second Short Quiz

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Suggested Answers - Second Short Quiz

Post by johnkarls »


Editorial Note = each quarter there are two four-week gaps between meetings and one five-week gap -- we always have a second short quiz when there is a five-week gap.

Question 1

Since American home ownership in 2009 was 67.4% in 2009, was Prof. Mettler disingenuous by including the “tax expenditure” for mortgage-interest as a governmental program in order to proclaim usage of governmental “social programs” as 57%?

Answer 1


Question 2

Does the mortgage-interest income-tax deduction comprise a governmental policy to encourage home ownership? Or does it represent instead the original federal governmental policy that all interest expense should be deductible because of the English (and American colony) history of “debtors’ prisons” with the deduction for all interest being eroded relatively-recently by the failure of banks to protect the interest deduction for credit-card debt and the failure of the auto industry to protect the interest deduction for car loans?

Answer 2

The “debtors prison” history coupled with the relatively-recent failures of the banks to protect credit-card interest and of the auto industry to protect car-loan interest is accurate.

Question 3

Could Prof. Mettler have claimed 100% usage of governmental social programs if she had included governmental “mandates” as well as “tax expenditures” in the concept of federal social programs, since 100% of the population enjoys clean air and clean water as a result of E.P.A. mandates?

Answer 3


Question 4

What is the Alternative Minimum Tax? How is it similar to President Obama’s proposed “Buffet Tax”?

Answer 4

The Alternative Minimum Tax was enacted decades ago to prevent high-income taxpayers from taking full advantage of certain deductions, such as for state and local income and property taxes. For the A.M.T., taxable income is re-computed without those deductions and then slightly lower rates are applied. If the result exceeds the regular income tax then, as suggested by the name of the tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax is imposed instead of the regular income tax.

The “Buffet Tax” is similar because a slightly lower maximum tax rate is applied to all taxable income. Accordingly, high-income taxpayers whose income comprises primarily interest, dividends and capital gains which enjoy much lower maximum tax rates under the normal income-tax regime, are denied the benefit of those lower rates.

Question 5

Is suspending every year or two the Alternative Minimum Tax so it never takes effect, one of the favorite pastimes of Congress as liberals are desperate to prevent its devastating impact on Blue States whose taxpayers take federal income tax deductions for astronomically-high Blue-State income and property taxes, while conservatives refuse to repeal it outright in order to “rub the noses” of liberals in the mess they enacted?

Answer 5


Question 6

Is President Obama’s proposed “Buffet Tax” just another Alternative Minimum Tax to catch taxpayers whose income comprises predominantly interest, dividends and capital gains which are taxed at a fraction of other types of income?

Answer 6


Question 7

Have capital gains, interest and dividends always been taxed at preferential rates, or were they once considered “unearned income” that was taxed at a higher rate than “earned income” such as salaries and wages?

Answer 7

President Kennedy’s historic “tax cut” reduced the top individual tax rate from 91% to 70%. The 1969 Tax Reform Act signed by President Nixon then reduced the top 70% rate on “earned income” to 50%, but left the top 70% rate on “unearned income” intact.

Question 8

Is it really fair to fully tax capital gains and interest? In this regard, isn’t it unfair to use the U.S. dollar as a measuring rod since historically interest is often less than inflation (which means that the interest, in economic terms, is actually negative), and since what appear to be capital gains are in fact losses if inflation is taken into account? In other words, shouldn’t interest and capital gains be indexed for inflation in order to achieve fairness if their preferential rates are removed?

Answer 8

No, it isn’t fair to use the “plummeting dollar” as a measuring rod. Yes, interest and capital gains should be indexed for inflation.

Question 9

Since the 2008 meltdown, have virtually all home mortgages been made possible solely by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the FHA?

Answer 9

Well north of 90% of all U.S. mortgages since the meltdown are due solely to Fannie, Freddie or the FHA.

Question 10

Is this because with all of the dollars that Ben Bernancke and his Federal Reserve have printed (10 times the amount of TARP to keep US banks solvent, guaranteeing all borrowing by the Spanish and Italian governments through 12/31/2011 and guaranteeing all borrowing by ALL European banks (not just Spanish and Italian) through NEXT February 1st -- for details, please see our Six-Degrees-of-Separation E-mail Campaign entitled “TRillions Being Printed To Bail Out Foreign Banks And Governments” resulting from our 12/14/2011 meeting), expected inflation and interest rates in the years ahead would make suicidal any attempt by a private financial institution to make 30-year mortgages which the private financial institution finances with short-term deposits?

Answer 10

Of course!!!

Question 11

Do Q&A 9-10 mean that the fact that any U.S. real estate has a value above zero is wholly dependent on Fannie/Freddie/FHA?

Answer 11

Of course!!!

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