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  • Search Term: Edward A. Zelinsky

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The continuing irrationality of New York’s “Convenience of the Employer” rule

By Edward Zelinsky
On Friday, 17 May 2013, two Metro-North commuter trains collided near Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through the following Tuesday, the Metro-North accident disrupted normal commuter train service between parts of Connecticut and New York City. To cope, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents of the Nutmeg State to work from their homes until rail service could be restored.

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Adopt the Marketplace Fairness Act

By Edward A. Zelinsky
The Marketplace Fairness Act, now being debated in the US Senate, is a rare phenomenon: a bill with strong bi-partisan support and an accurate title. The Act would indeed establish fairness in the marketplace by imposing on out-of-state internet and mail order sellers the same sales tax withholding requirements now imposed only on in-state brick-and-mortar businesses.

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For stronger gun control laws; against the divestiture of gun stocks

By Edward Zelinsky
Even before the events in Newtown, I supported the strengthening of gun control laws. Advocates of gun rights correctly assert the need for better enforcement of existing laws as well as the urgency of confronting the violent nature of our culture. But General McChrystal is also correct. There is no compelling reason for civilians to own or possess high capacity weaponry designed for military missions.

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And the winner is… George W. Bush

By Edward Zelinsky
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is widely understood as a victory for President Obama. However, the long-term story is more complicated than this. The Act in large measure confirms in bi-partisan fashion the tax-cutting priorities of George W. Bush.

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Responsible Wealth should oppose the GST Grandfather Exemption

By Edward Zelinsky
In the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, Congress and President Obama recently agreed that the federal estate tax will be imposed at a 40% rate on estates over $5,000,000. On 11 December 2012, a group of affluent Americans, organized under the banner of Responsible Wealth, had called for a stronger federal estate tax. In particular, Responsible Wealth urged that federal estate taxation begin at a rate of 45% on estates over $4,000,000.

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Limit the estate tax charitable deduction

By Edward Zelinsky
One widely-discussed possibility for reforming the federal income tax is limiting the deduction for charitable contributions. Whether or not Congress amends the Code to restrict the income tax deduction for charitable contributions, Congress should limit the charitable contribution deduction under the federal estate and gift taxes. Such a limit would balance the need for federal revenues with the desirability of encouraging charitable giving.

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Contraception, HSAs and the unnecessary controversy about religious conscience

By Edward Zelinsky
Among the bitter but unnecessary controversies of this election year was the dispute about the federal government’s mandate that employers provide contraception as part of their health care coverage for their employees. Employers religiously opposed to contraception believe this mandate infringes their right of Free Exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Advocates of the contraception mandate characterize it as vital to women’s health and choice.

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George McGovern

By Edward Zelinsky
On 15 November 1969, I was shivering on the Mall in Washington, D.C., surrounded by a band of self-proclaimed Maoists celebrating the prospect of a Viet Cong victory. This was the second “Moratorium” against the Vietnam War. While the first Moratorium in October had a decidedly mainstream flavor, the tone of the November event was markedly different. I was conflicted on that cold November day in Washington. I opposed the Vietnam War, as did the thousands of others standing on the Mall that day.

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The Giving Pledge and private foundations

By Edward Zelinsky
The Giving Pledge, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, has announced that eleven more affluent families have taken the Pledge and have thereby committed to donating at least half of their wealth to charity. Among these new Pledgers is Gordon Moore, a legendary founder of Intel and the father of Moore’s Law which postulates that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles roughly every two years.

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Paul Ryan and the evolution of the vice presidency

By Edward Zelinsky
By selecting Representative Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Governor Romney confirmed the decline of the traditional role of vice presidential candidates as providers of geographic balance. Ryan’s selection reinforces the shift to a more policy-oriented definition of the vice presidency. This shift reflects the nationalization of our culture and politics and the increased importance of the general election debate between vice presidential candidates.

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Public pensions’ unrealistic rate of return assumptions

By Edward Zelinsky
Ten years ago, the financial problems of public employee pensions concerned only specialists in the field. Today, the underfunding of public retirement plans is widely understood to be a major problem of the American polity. Underfinanced public pensions threaten the ability of the states and their localities to provide basic public services while paying the retirement benefits promised to state employees.

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The Likely Failure of Obamacare After ‘National Federation’

By Edward Zelinsky
As virtually all Americans now know, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, sustained the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”). President Obama hailed the Court’s decision as confirming “a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth — no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.” The President and his supporters tell us that PPACA will provide health care coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. From the President’s vantage, the Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius guarantees the desired expansion of health care coverage.

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The growth of the Giving Pledge and the federal estate tax

By Edward Zelinsky
By taking the Giving Pledge, wealthy individuals publicly commit to contribute “the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.” The Pledge was started by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Jr. Recently, twelve more wealthy families signed the Giving Pledge including Elon Musk, a founder of PayPal.

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The Buffett Rule President Obama ignores

By Edward Zelinsky
Like many of us, President Obama is a Warren Buffett fan. Most prominently, the president advocates, as a matter of tax policy, the so-called “Buffett Rule.” This rule responds to Mr. Buffett’s observation that his effective federal income tax rate is lower than the tax rate of Mr. Buffett’s secretary. In President Obama’s formulation, the Buffett Rule calls for taxpayers making at least $1,000,000 annually to pay federal income tax at a 30% bracket.

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Public pensions, private equity, and the mythical 8% return

By Edward Zelinsky
Public pension plans should not invest in private equity deals. These deals lack both transparency and the discipline of market forces. Private equity investments allow elected officials to assume unrealistically high rates of return for public pension plans and to make correspondingly low contributions to such plans. This is a recipe for inadequately funded pensions, an outcome good for neither public employees nor taxpayers.

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Mitt Romney’s IRA

By Edward Zelinsky
On a personal level, I enjoyed the news reports that Governor Romney holds assets worth tens of millions of dollars in his individual retirement account (IRA). These reports confirm a central thesis of The Origins of the Ownership Society, namely, the extent to which defined contribution accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k) accounts, have become central features of American life.

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