Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good news

My sister is pregnant! I'm gonna be a "funny" uncle :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tax day

As I'm sure you can guess, I hate tax day. If I expect a refund, I file right away; if I expect to have to pay, I procrastinate to the last possible day. It's my way of depriving the government of as much interest from my money as possible. Even so I hate writing that check.

This year, I had a federal refund, but state liability (a result of living and working in different states). After I finished my state forms, I found an article on CNN that described how tax day has particular ramifications for same-sex couples.

Some Highlights:
Take two couples where one partner has a taxable income of $20,000 and the other makes $40,000. If they can file their federal taxes jointly, the tax bill would be $8,217.50. Filing separately, the combined bill would be $9,032.50 -- more than $800 higher.

Another disparity comes with the federal government's treatment of employer-provided health insurance, which also affects unmarried heterosexual couples. . . [Someone who gets health insurance through the employee benefits of a same-sex partner] is required to count the company's cost of his partner's benefits as additional income for tax purposes.


It's not just the higher bills that can be frustrating for same-sex taxpayers; it's also the process of filing taxes, particularly in states that offer some joint benefits to gay couples

. . .

In New Jersey and the other states where same-sex unions are formally recognized, couples can file their state taxes jointly, but they must file their federal tax returns as individuals.

That means doing income calculations twice. Many tax programs such as Intuit's TurboTax are set up to deal with that extra math.

Even so, there are more problems:

[C]ouples with children must decide which partner gets to claim them as dependents for tax purposes on federal returns and returns in states that don't recognize same-sex unions. Similarly, couples who own homes together have to sort out how much of the mortgage interest payments each partner gets to use as a deduction, said Lara Schwartz, the Human Rights Campaign legal director.

I've said it before: Gay marriage is not my issue, but I strenuously support the recognition of same-sex partners as "spouses" by the Department of the Treasury (and frankly any other executive department, but the Treasury and the SSA are by far the biggies). Give us that, and you can call it an Icky-Sex-Pervert Union for all I care.

(Yes, I know--the GOP isn't going to do that for me any time soon, so no need to remind me. Don't forget that the Democratic controlled Congress hasn't attempted to amend the tax code in our favor either.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Condi's out

No, not our kind of out.

For someone who had fairly little enthusiasm about the primaries, I am unusually titillated about the Republican VP spot. Anyway, despite reports that Condi Rice was angling for the number 2 position, McCain has said that he was oblivious to any such angling, and Condi said she has no interest in elected office whatsoever. She wants to return to Stanford.

I’m glad.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Condi. Even if you hate her politically, there is much to admire about her. Growing up in the Jim Crow South, she graduated from high school at 16 and went to the University of Denver (not Harvard, but don’t be a hater). She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at age 19. She then worked at the State Department during the Carter Administration. After getting her PhD in international studies, she became a prominent academic and the Provost of Stanford University. Outside of the ivory tower, she is an accomplished pianist and is a huge NFL fan. She is usually considered the most intelligent and poised (if gap toothed) member of the Administration. Plus she can crush your head.

Still I don’t want to see her on a ticket.

She would add little and subtract much. She adds little because she’s a foreign policy/national security specialist. Mac considers that his strong suit. Choosing a foreign policy oriented running mate would send the signal that the McCain administration would care little about the domestic issues that seem to be very important to voters this election. Not a winning strategy. Similarly, she’s not especially conservative socially, another weakness (this time in the eyes of his own party rather than the general electorate) of McCain himself. Finally, some might think a black woman on the ticket would diffuse or even overtake the diversity vote that either Democrat can expect. An attempt to usurp the diversity vote is likely to backfire for Republicans who criticize affirmative actions by claiming to put forth candidates on the basis of qualifications rather than minority status.

What does she subtract? Mostly one thing, but it’s a big one thing: she is VERY closely identified with the Bush Administration. Support for the war notwithstanding, Mac has (wisely) made attempts to distance himself from the current Republican Administration.

So whom should Mac choose? Well, I’m only 25, so it'll probably have to be someone else :) He or she (whom am I kidding? He) should have domestic issue gravitas, most importantly economic expertise, as that is McCain’s admitted weak point. Another asset in a race between a bunch of senators is executive experience—so I’d choose a governor. Finally, I’d choose someone who will placate the right wing screamers who only begrudgingly support McCain. This last criterion is a dangerous one, though. McCain has to find someone closer to the wingnuts than he is, but not so close as to lose the moderates and independents that McCain can draw better than any other Republican.

Sounds like Mitt. At least it doesn’t sound like the Huckster. Barely.