Uppity

So, are McCain’s efforts to paint Obama as an uppity self-centered Negro glory-hound striking home with anyone? The notion that anyone would, for example, cross to the other side of the street in fear if they saw Obama coming seems awfully ridiculous to me. Or am I missing the true thrust of McCain’s attacks?

And, what does it mean that we hear McCain talking a lot more about Obama than vice versa?

Update Some articles from a Google search for “McCain Obama uppity”:

  • Melissa McEwan in the Guardian: “McCain blows the dog whistle.” Apparently I’m not the only one who was reminded of the anti-Harold Ford “bimbo” ad when McCain decided to use Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears:

    It because neither Pratt, nor Malakar, nor Johansson have personas that are the perfect combination of no brains, no talent, and all slut.

    Obama, dog whistles the ad, hitting old racists in the sweet spot, could fuck these white girls – it’s practically a Democratic tradition … JFK, Clinton, heck even Carter lusted in his heart – and we don’t want that, now, do we?

  • Along the same lines: “By using Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in the ad, the McCain campaign has managed to raise the ugly old specter of the uppity black man sexually interested in white women. But people know about these campaign tropes now and are less easily fooled. McCain’s negative ads will speak to those already voting for him, but the increasing negativity of his campaign will alienate the very swing voters he is after.”
  • An editorial opining that the barrage of “Obama is presumptuous” talking points was another way of calling him uppity. “One exceptionally vile element in the history of American race relations is the insistence by some whites that blacks ought to “know their place.” ”
  • Mortgage Brokers on the Brink

    Niki Kelly reports on the imminent termination of the right of hundreds of mortgage brokers to do business in Indiana.

    More than 630 mortgage broker companies could be out of business starting Aug. 6 because of a failure to pass a competency exam, Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced Monday.

    A 2007 law required each mortgage broker office to have a principal manager with three year’s experience and who has passed a state test.

    A mortgage broker is an independent person or company acting as a middleman between borrowers and lenders, sometimes even negotiating with lenders for the best deal a homeowner can get on a loan. Mortgage brokers often help people with credit problems who might have a harder time finding a lender.

    In Indiana, 67 percent of all real estate transactions involve a mortgage broker, Rokita said.

    So far 639 of 950 haven’t taken the test. However, some of that has to do with the downturn in business. The Secretary of State’s office called about 90 brokers and found about 15 of those were no longer in business.

    Indiana (and North Carolina) Primary Day: VOTE!

    It’s primary day in Indiana and North Carolina. Whatever your preference*, get out and vote. It’s good to get in the habit. Here in Lafayette, turn out seemed strong. Until today, I had never waited in line to vote in an Indiana primary. I waited for 3 or 4 minutes at 6:45 a.m. this morning.

    *When I typed that, I recalled Mike Kole, Libertarian, and his practice of going to the polling place, signing the book, and leaving because the primary is stacked in favor of just Republicans and Democrats. That made me think of the Blues Brothers scene:

    Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
    Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western.

    I suppose primaries are kind of like that for any third party.

    My footnote kind of ate up the initial post here. Still, get out and vote.

    Update
    The Lafayette Journal & Courier is doing an election day notebook. As of about 2:45 p.m., about 30,000 people had voted in Tippecanoe County’s primary. I don’t know what the record is/was for the county, but according to the J&C, 1996 had about 22,500 and that was the highest primary turnout from then to now.

    Property tax debates

    Niki Kelly has an article on the property tax debate before the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedures committee. A new wrinkle is the idea of eliminating property taxes on homesteads only – leaving farms and businesses subject to the tax. Self-promoter Eric Miller was there to present his plan which would require jacking up the sales tax to 9.4% or the income tax to 13.5% or some combination thereof. Miller claims the increases would be less, but his numbers aren’t very well defined and don’t seem to add up — see, e.g., an unidentified business tax increase of about $1 billion and “administrative savings.” Under his plan, business share of the tax burden would drop from about 33% currently to about 19.9%.

    Let’s just drop the property tax elimination crap. It’s not going to work. There is no compelling reason for such dramatic increases in other sorts of taxes just to eliminate property taxes. It amounts to a substantial tax shift without a substantial justification. There is a contingent out there who want to threaten to hold their breath until the General Assembly agrees to property tax elimination. Some figure to use such threats as a negotiating stance, hoping to leverage a more favorable outcome. The legislature should tell those folks to go pound sand and shut them out of the debate. If they won’t negotiate in good faith, they shouldn’t have a place at the table. If the General Assembly manages to reduce property taxes enough, the average Hoosier isn’t going to give a hoot for these zealots and, with some luck, they’ll be rightfully marginalized.

    Here is the basic template:
    Step One – Require that all state mandated expenses be paid from the state general fund.
    Step Two – Pare down local government as reasonably necessary and possible.
    Step Three – Consider reinstating the inventory tax.
    Step Four – Raise local income taxes modestly.
    Step Five – Raise sales taxes modestly.
    Step Six – Reduce property taxes.

    Simple, right?

    In addition, the General Assembly should consider seeing whether property tax spikes were far higher in some localities than in others. Targeted action would be appropriate in those cases. For example, if Marion County’s property tax increases were a lot higher than the average county, maybe Marion County’s income tax needs to be raised higher.

    Indiana Health Insurance

    Shari Rudavsky, writing for the Indianapolis Star, has an article on the implementation of the health insurance expansion adopted by the General Assembly last year.

    The state’s new Healthy Indiana Plan is health insurance for low-income adults like Mayes who don’t have other insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid. Participants can choose between two major health insurance providers.

    Basically, it works like this:

    Participants have a health savings account of $1,100. Their contribution to that is based on the size of the participant’s family and the percentage of the income in relation to the federal poverty level. The contribution is something like 4% or $20 per week if your income is around 200% of the poverty level, and it goes down from there. The State funds the remainder.

    Certain kinds of preventative care are covered up to $500 for no cost; after that the care comes out of the savings account.

    Finally, the State buys a basic insurance policy from a commercial provider.

    World of Hurt

    Governor Daniels’ act of freezing Marion County’s tax levy at last year’s rate (anyone know where he got *that* authority?) has left Marion County $52 million short. Faced with similar prospects in Delaware County, Muncie Deputy mayor Phyllis Amburn said:

    “If [taxes are left at the 2006 level], we’re in a world of hurt,” Deputy Mayor Phyllis Amburn said. “We’ll be short on the 2007 budget. That includes contractual wage increases and inflation in utilities and goods.”

    House Republicans have a plan

    The Indiana House Republicans are taking advantage of their minority status by putting forth a plan on property tax relief. You’ll note that the Senate Republicans have not yet followed suit — a minority faction in a chamber simply has a lot more freedom of movement in this kind of situation; they can’t be blamed when nothing actually happens.

    The House Republicans want to keep in place the plan for the State to spend $300 million on property tax relief. That money is expected to come from the sale of slot machine licenses for Indiana’s two horse racing tracks. In addition, the House Republicans propose spending an additional $200 million from the State’s surplus on property tax relief. This would apparently wipe out the State’s surplus. The State would also pay for increases in child welfare levies this year. That would free up about $50 million on the local level.

    Senator Kenley, probably the biggest mover and shaker in the General Assembly on the property tax issue had this to say about a special session:

    “The public wants this thing to be permanently corrected, and I think if you go into special session, expectations are that will happen,” Kenley said. “I think it’s clear that we have a ways to go before we can make permanent changes to alleviate this property-tax problem.”

    With the House Republicans proposing that the State pay for more government obligations, it seems like a good place to repost a comment Brenda left that nicely describes the State/Local interaction on the property tax issue:

    Prior to 2007:

    State: Ok, counties, you must do (and pay for) these 5 things

    Counties: But, but, that will cost us 10 pennies

    State: Ok, not totally fair for your taxpayers, how about we kick in 5 pennies – we’ll call it an exemption

    Counties: ok

    Taxpayers: ok

    ———–

    Cut to 2007

    State: oh, hey, we don’t have very much money. We’re only going to kick in 2 pennies this year.

    Counties: but, but… we still have to do those 5 things, right? And they still cost us 10 pennies.

    State: Whoo hoo, look at us… we have an extra 3 pennies! Aren’t we being smart with taxpayer money!!

    Taxpayers: Uh, wait a second…

    State: What? You taxpayers need to talk to your counties about how much money they’re spending! (We’re running a surplus, we’re running a surplus!)

    Counties: Uh, wait a second…

    Property taxes

    So, how much of the furor over increased property taxes I’ve seen in the Indiana blogosphere has to do with Marion County’s failure to plan ahead?

    For the furor, see:
    here
    here
    here
    here
    here
    here

    However, as Advance Indiana notes, among other things, Marion County apparently failed to pass a County Option Income Tax to offset the elimination of the inventory tax. That’s a pretty big deal, meaning that all of the revenue that used to come from inventory tax payers has now devolved onto other property tax payers in Marion County (and similarly situated counties). It makes me wonder how much of the pain in Marion County could have been avoided with some advance planning. It also makes me wonder how bad things are outside of Marion County. Unless this is a problem counties around Indiana generally have found themselves incapable of dealing with, I’d suggest that Indianapolis Mayor Peterson’s requests for a special session of the General Assembly be declined. That property taxes were going to increase substantially was no mystery during the regular session. The General Assembly took action, albeit well less than perfect action. Now, I figure they’re obligated to let the dust settle and revisit the issue next January.

    Abdul says: “You know it would be nice if someone would put out a news release saying “we’re going to spend less money so Hoosiers can pay less in taxes!” That would be news.”

    That’s easy to say. But, I’d like to first know how much spending has actually increased relative to inflation. My sense is that it’s not much of an increase. I’d also like to know which government services should no longer be provided.

    The primary reasons for the high increases in property taxes recently are: 1) Elimination of the inventory tax – former inventory tax payers are paying less, so other property tax payers, including residential homeowners have to pay more. Counties were given the ability to implement a County Option Income Tax to offset the inventory tax reduction; basically you replace the revenue with income taxes instead of property taxes; 2) Reduction of the homestead credit and property tax relief credit – state subsidies that took the burden off of property taxes. These credits were provided out of a recognition that the state imposed large burdens on local taxes and also imposed significant restrictions on local taxing powers. These subsidies were reduced in an effort to balance the state budget and, effectively shifted the problem to local government and property tax payers; and 3) Changes in assessment rules – years ago, taxpayers brought a lawsuit arguing that the assessment rules unfairly and artificially underassessed some properties and overassessed others. The Supreme Court agreed and required something resembling market values be used for assessments. As a result the relative tax burdens shifted, with the underassessed property owners having to pay more and the overassessed paying less.

    So, generally speaking, the dramatic rise we see in property taxes is less a matter of local government spending gone amok, and more a matter of shifting tax burdens. (You can expect those whose tax burdens went down to keep relatively quiet). Also, in some cases – such as, apparently, Marion County, this already difficult situation was made worse by failure to use available tools, such as the County Option Income Tax.

    Bats Left Throws Right has a much more entertaining explanation of much the same thing.

    [tags]taxation[/tags]

    Riding in the bed of a pickup truck

    Fort Wayne Observed brings us a story from the Evansville Courier Press regarding an opinion from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute on whether law enforcement can ticket occupants of the bed of a pickup truck for failing to use a seat belt.

    The opinion is an interpretation of IC 9-19-10 as amended by HEA 1237-2007 (caution, the online Indiana Code cite has not been amended to reflect the new legislation as of the date I type this.) I don’t think much of the opinion’s reliance on past legislation or past incarnations of the bill or the newly created exceptions as a reason to think pickup bed passengers are exempt from the seat belt law. However, if you read the text of the legislation itself (a novel idea) there is reason for concern. It says:

    Each occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with a safety belt that meets the standards stated in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 (49 CFR 571.208); and is standard equipment installed by the manufacturer; shall have a safety belt properly fastened about the occupant’s body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion.

    (internal subdivisions omitted).

    The jist of this is that if your vehicle has seat belts installed when you get it, you have to use them or risk a ticket. Truck beds don’t generally have seat belts installed. So, if you’re riding back there, I don’t think you have to use a seat belt. You deserve a head injury for being that stupid, but not a ticket.

    Evansville Courier Press on property tax rebates

    Bryan Corbin, writing for the Evansville Courier Press has an article entitled Rebate checks coming soon. The article suggests that the rebate checks may not have merely been a gimmick, rather, the mechanism was necessary because slot license revenues have to come in before the rebates are possible.

    There is also some information on how the rebates will be calculated:

    Exactly how the $300 million in property-tax relief will be divided among 92 counties and applied to individual taxpayers still is being determined.

    The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, the agency charged with that task, declined to comment and referred questions to legislative staff. They in turn cited the legal wording the Legislature passed in the state budget.

    The law says the department will compile the total residential property-tax liability of all counties in the state.

    Then it will divide the $300 million accordingly among the 92 counties and notify county auditors’ offices of new state homestead-credit rates, so that auditors can adjust their computer software. Using that information, auditors will calculate how much of an overage that residential property owners have paid and the amounts of their refunds. County treasurers will then issue the checks, tapping the relief money the state sent.

    “They’re just putting more money into the homestead credit, so the same formula would be used to determine the amount of the refund,” said David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties.