Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fill it to the Rim... With Brim..

Some random thoughts while wondering what the hell ever happened to Brim coffee...

The Taxes Update

Head. Spinning.

More fallout from the House's "surtax" proposal. Another great post by Howard Gleckman at the Tax Vox blog. Here is a sample:

Why take cash compensation that could face a top rate of more than 45 percent when you could easily get more tax-free health insurance? Forget Cadillac plans. Now we’re talking Lamborghini coverage

A micro example of the macro problem - it's entirely possible that high earners will seek to shift their income into non-taxable income or deferred income arrangements - more expensive health employer-provided health insurance is just the most ironic example.

Which leads me to the other big piece of news - CBO head Douglas Elmendorf testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee today and essentially told them that the plan put forth by the House yesterday not only will not control costs, but will raise health care costs due to the public plan proposed, and as a result, they will not be paid for.

So how did he suggest tax reform be paid for? He dropped the bomb:

Asked what provisions should be added, Elmendorf suggested changing the way Medicare reimburses providers to create incentives for reducing costs. He also suggested ending or limiting the tax-free treatment of employer-provided health benefits, calling it a federal "subsidy" that encourages spending on ever-more-expensive health packages.

Of course the problem is the administration is dead set against such a change (it would be a tax raise on people earning <$250K which Obama foolishly promised not to do when a candidate). Senator Baucus blamed the Obama administration for limiting the Senate's options in taking this option off the table.

Some other reactions to the surtax:

Robert Reich likes it.

Nancy Pelosi says the rate is negotiable.

The Baseball Update

Very strange that so many teams are off after a 3 day break, so no Sox game to report on tonight. So here are some random thoughts on some random happenings today:

Ryan Howard fastest to 200 home runs (in terms of games played). As David Pinto pointed out today, in terms of age, he's nothing special. My prediction on lifetime home runs for Howard? 389.

This piece by Allen Barra came out a few days ago, but I can totally get behind the premise. After all, my twitter icon is a doctored '77 Mike Schmidt baseball card.

Finally, if you aren't already checking out Jon Couture's brilliant blog Better Red than Dead blog, well.. what are you waiting for. Best recaps on the web.

The Death Update

Ron Nicolino, 69, of San Francisco. A very interesting gentleman/artist. Some choice bits from the obit:

"And as an artist, Mr. Nicolino achieved international attention for his work with breasts and brassieres, including most notably the "Big Giant Bra Ball" - like a rubber band ball, but bigger and made of undergarments."

"In the mid-1990s, he got the idea to string bras across the Grand Canyon."

"His efforts also included creating a milelong line of sand breasts along Stinson Beach in 1994, with hundreds of volunteers using Size 34C plastic molds.

"When the tide came in, it washed it all away and the sand was smooth again. It was a very nice day," his mother said."

Now if Jeff Koons would adopt a bit of Mr. Nicolino's vision, I could get behind his "art".

Finally, a classic Brim commercial for your enjoyment:

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