December 14, 2015
By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP
Back in March of this year, we published a piece called “Modern Indentured Servitude” which addressed a suspicious highway bill containing a clause about passport restrictions and IRS liens. HR22: Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or The F.A.S.T. Act, just passed earlier this month.
This is an infrastructure bill that has a provision for delinquent taxpayers which allows the IRS to impose restrictions on their international travel via the State Department.
As discussed in the earlier piece, the threshold is $50,000. That’s when the IRS chimes in and starts going after your papers. That’s not just $50,000 in outstanding taxes… that’s $50,000 in outstanding taxes, fines, and interest combined! Not hard to get to that mark if you’re a small business owner. If the American people are the fish, then the IRS is the fisherman, and FATCA and bills like this are the net.
Moreover, if in fact passports become requisite for domestic travel as well, as is completely plausible under RealID, we will have a serious commerce problem.
Contributor to Forbes, Robert W. Wood, writes: “The idea–introduced several times over the last few years–is a little like requiring you to pay all your outstanding parking tickets to register a vehicle or renew your driver’s license.”
Would it be totally outrageous to think this would also be possible? Does the nation just stand still until government gets its take?
The right to freely travel and the right to property are inherent to the ideas of liberty. You cannot abridge either and expect to still even marginally fall within the scope of a free society. Only one party can hold the right to these two things, which makes the other party only privileged to it. If the state says they have the right to control your goings, then you cannot have that right and you are now only privileged to go wherever you are permitted by the state. If the state says they have the right to your property, then you do not have that right, and you are now only privileged to keep that which the state allows you to keep.
To think you can make certain exceptions to these rights is at best a slippery slope. Can a right be mostly yours? Well, can a statement be partially false and still maintain its truthfulness? Can a woman be “kinda” pregnant? Anyone who says rights aren’t a cut and dry, black and white, issue is a victim of double speak. There is no paradoxical relationship between the state, the individual, and rights.
For an administration that prides itself on “transparency”, what does a highway bill have anything to do with the IRS? Why does the IRS have anything to do with an individual’s right to free travel? Perhaps the fact that this 1,300 page law comes with a $305 BILLION price tag has something to do with it.
Indeed the president who’s been lauded as the one who decreased the deficit is finally showing his hand. How does an administration bring down a deficit while spending through the nose? Between Obamacare and our seemingly endless foreign interventions, the question must be asked: HOW did they manage to pay for all this while not adding a dime to the deficit? Perhaps the shortcomings of this bill will shed some light on the smoke and mirrors game being played.
Believe it or not, while this bill flew though with overwhelming bipartisan support, there was actually opposition on the grounds of fiscal irresponsibility from the democratic side of the isle! Talk about stranger than fiction, right?!
“Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a prominent supporter of increasing transportation spending, said the deals cut to win the bill’s passage caused him to reluctantly vote against it.
“’While this bill includes some good transportation policies, the way we pay for these policies is unsustainable and irresponsible, offering little more than a grab bag of budget gimmicks that will actually increase our deficit in the long run,’ he said.” (Source: ABC News)
The “deals” cut? Unsustainable? Irresponsible? Budget gimmicks? That’s a LOT of heavy language for a couple sentences. But for a democrat to turn down a spending bill on roads is no small thing, so where is he getting all this?
The “Stategery” a.k.a. “Fuzzy Math”
Oh you thought those words were ONLY reserved for the Great W? Think again! (Source: ABC News)
- The majority of transportation funding comes from the trust fund: a $0.184 per gallon tax that has not been raised since 1993. Just to put things in perspective, the oil companies make approximately $0.08 per gallon in profits. So the federal government makes over twice per gallon off a service they don’t provide, condemns the profits of the oil companies to being “too much”, but can’t manage to provide roads and bridges off that margin. In any case, there are talks about raising the federal fuel tax.
- “To make up the shortfall, the bill uses about $70 billion in mostly budget ploys, including one that would move $53 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank’s capital account to the general treasury. It’s counted as new money on paper, but is actually just a transfer of funds from one government account to another, federal budget experts said.” Federal funding looks to be nothing more than a shell game at this point. Appeasing the spreadsheets is not the same as actually balancing the books, and the federal government knows this all too well. Is anyone reading this surprised, though, that the Fed is tied to this?
- “The airline and cruise ship industries complained that their passengers are also being asked to pay for improvements unrelated to their travel. The bill ties customs fees to inflation and uses the increased revenue to offset the bill’s cost.” Am I the only one who finds that last sentence a little perplexing? If the fees are tied to inflation, how does revenue go up? If $5 is the new $1, then you’re not MAKING money. You’re breaking even. If inflation goes up, then the cost for the entire bill goes up, which means these fees aren’t going to offset anything. They would have to exceed the rate of inflation to do so. Not that I’m calling for that, but the math certainly demands it if that last sentence is to make any sense whatsoever.
- “It also directs the sale of 66 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to raise $6.5 billion. The catch is the sales don’t start until 2023 — three years after the transportation bill it helps pay for has expired.” That’s kind of like Obama suspending the debt ceiling until he’s out of office. We’ll just mortgage the future and lay down the assets from 7 years hence as collateral.
- And then there’s the stuff no one knows how it’s going to get paid for. Some of the items in that bill that have yet to find a benefactor are: more than $10 billion over five years for Amtrak and other rail programs, $12 billion for mass transit, and $1 billion for vehicle safety programs. I guess Congress can just shake out the couch for some change to figure that out over the next couple years.
And that my friends is how you apparently keep things deficit neutral or reduce the deficit! It makes perfect sense from a political point of view to drop the hammer on any potential capital flight. Calling in the IRS goon squad is imperative to making this bill… and pretty much any other bill that requires money… work. Taxing and spending are inextricably linked in congress.
But the verbiage that seeks to restrict travel for Americans accruing $50,000 in taxes, fines, and interest was deliberately buried in there. You and I, and a handful of others might be paying attention to this, but I bet not a single congressman read that far into the 1,300 pages to even learn about its existence. After all, the part about passports doesn’t even show up until page 1,113. And the administrative details are once again vague, which gives the State Department and the IRS a tremendous amount of latitude.
Things are getting serious. There are still options out there to protect you, your assets, and your privacy. If the government is willing to leave no rock unturned to violate those three things, wouldn’t it make sense that you would match if not exceed their efforts in protecting them? Let’s talk. Click here to schedule a consultation.