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Author: Subject: Infrastructure - what would you propose?

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 1/26/2018 at 10:06 AM
Trump has often thrown out the $1 trillion dollar figure. Just this week I heard him throw out a $1.7 trillion figure.

I've seen engineer types speculate that $1.4-5.2 trillion are needed from any timeframe starting now to the next 20+ years.

The budget request called for $200 billion federal commitment with the balance coming from private funding?

The Democrats in the Senate put forth their proposal last year.

https://www.democrats.senate.gov//files/documents/ABlueprinttoRebuildAmeric asInfrastructure1.24.17.pdf

In the 11 page release, there is hardly a mention of how to pay for it except for "closing tax loopholes corporations and high wealth individuals use" - which I believe is always the source to fund every spending proposal from the left, plus utilization something of an I-Bank where $10 billion federal dollars becomes $100 billion.

So how could either side, left or right, pay for their plan?

A higher gas tax? The federal tax is 18.4 cents on gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel fuel and hasn't been raised for decades. Democrats have generally supported some higher gas taxes while Republicans have generally opposed such. This fall the White House indicated they could favor a gas tax increase.

Higher passenger fees for airports? There is already a collection of fees on airline tickets that funds current spending, to fund new spending these fees would have to rise, perhaps substantially.

Privatize things such as sewer systems, roads, etc. A likely solution from the right will be fought strongly by the left where monthly usage fees and tolls are utilized to pay back private investment into the system.

I don't know. I do believe that the people who benefit from improvements in the system should bear most of the cost...so then those who use gas and diesel, those who fly, those who use certain bridges and have water and sewer coming into their homes.

Do we dare open up the national sales tax debate? A 1% national sales tax could generate close to $100 billion a year. But that genie will never go back in the bottle and surely we'll see other funding programs tap the tax and it would undoubtedly rise through the future. That is a huge slippery slope, unless it is small enough and capped so that the consumer doesn't even realize they are paying it.

Trump has said he thought infrastructure would be easiest of all. I think it will prove to be the most difficult of all as neither side will agree on the funding meaning we end up with a partisan bill that even getting a majority of one side will be a struggle to pass.


 
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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 1/30/2018 at 10:23 AM
This is likely going to be a big issue in the State of the Union tonight. Last week there was a leaked draft of an infrastructure overview, although some believe it was an early working and that current details have been changed or refined.

It was scant on funding details, naturally, as these things tend to be. There are lots of contentious issues with each side's proposal. I don't see how we get there.

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 1/30/2018 at 11:49 PM
For highway infrastructure in each state (state/county roads, bridges), round out that 1/10th of a cent on gas taxes. The average person would pay 1.5 cent extra per fill-up. It would take 1,000 gallons to make $1 in taxes, but think how much gas is sold.
The money would stay in the state and help the worst roads, mostly rural, first.

There are roads, bridges, and dams that still need repair from the Flood Of 94 here in Ga and Fla.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2018 at 06:06 AM
Since the Republicans are in charge, we can just add it to the national debt. The debt only matters when the Democrats hold the presidency, so we have 3 more years where we could run up the national debt without anyone caring about it.

Honestly, with the new tax bill the debt is going to start to skyrocket and I don't expect Republicans to trim the defense budget, which is really the only sector of government where you could redirect funds without major impacts. With the US dollar in free fall it will also likely cost more to service our debt. We should get a short term boost from large US companies bringing money back into the US, but that windfall will be short lived.

As someone who lives in a high tax state who is now going to be punished on my federal taxes, I am not inclined to want to contribute any more tax money that will get redirected to rural states that already take in far more federal dollars than they contribute. Those rural states are free to raise their state gas taxes or whatever they want to fund their own infrastructure projects just like the high tax states do. Obviously we have a new tax plan in place so changing it immediately is not going to happen. Infrastructure is important and in most times it could be something both parties could find common ground on, but billionaires payed a lot of money in campaign contributions to get those lower tax rates and they aren't going to want to give that money back. The states that are the economic machines that fill the federal coffers are already getting their taxes increased under the new tax plan, so unless there is a provision allowing the money to remain in state, you probably won't see support from those states (although currently there is nothing they can do about it as the GOP lead congress and Trump have the votes to continue to screw over California, New York, etc all they want.

So, in short, money will be added to the debt. That is the only place I see it coming from, and in 3 years when we have a Democratic president we can start being concerned with the debt again and maybe we can adjust the tax plan.

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 1/31/2018 at 08:46 AM
2112, are you referring to the deduction change of state and local taxes on your federal return? You don't have to do this, but would you share what that impact is for you to help me understand how the numbers work out?

I think the key to any new taxes would be to keep them small, like Jerry says, although I'm not sure that idea is enough to generate a significant amount.

Here is a good look at what states have been doing with their gas taxes lately. It is going to be difficult for the states that have been raising recently to raise again.
http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/07/2 6/reluctant-states-raise-gas-taxes-to-repair-roads

I would support a small federal increase, perhaps .10 cents. I read something from 2013 that a 10.6 cent raise would increase the average drivers monthly expense by $4.66. In all honesty, it probably needs to be higher than that, but states that just raised their state tax are going to protest. Something to consider into the future, with electric cars expected to become more common at some point, new methods of funding need to be considered. I would also support what I assume would be a highly controversial 1% national sales tax if it were specifically mandated that the funds would exclusively be used to fund infrastructure projects. But nobody is even suggesting that. And I will always support, even a modest, tax on imported goods to fund whatever we want. As an example, 1% of 2.71 trillion of imports in 2016 would raise $27 billion.

If we just put it on the debt, 'we' are going to pay for it anyway, why not just figure out a way to fund it honestly? It doesn't all need to be direct federal funding. If they sell PAB bonds, they can borrow some amount of money from investors and then we're just paying them back the interest. While a favorite target, I've never been a fan to look towards have high income earners pay for more and more. We all benefit and use the systems in question here and should all be contributing. With that said, I think it is important for me to say, I do think high income earners should pay more taxes in general, they should've left 39.6% bracket if they bumped it up to say $750,000 and I would've even supported something like a 45% bracket for those earning over say $3million.

I like the tax cut plan overall, some specific detail changes that haven't been widely known yet aren't great, but I think the economic activity it will produce is significant. None of the estimates calculated the "macroeconomic" effect of the plan and that is the key component to analyze what is going to happen. But really, any forecasts 10 years out are unreliable because so many variables are unpredictable. But, to circle back, I think the higher income earners should've been expected to pay more into the general fund. I don't support tapping them to pay more for specific spending plans.

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 1/31/2018 at 10:24 PM
quote:
Since the Republicans are in charge, we can just add it to the national debt. The debt only matters when the Democrats hold the presidency, so we have 3 more years where we could run up the national debt without anyone caring about it.(Quote)

Well, the Democrats got him nominated, and elected, so why the sour grapes?

(Quote)Honestly, with the new tax bill the debt is going to start to skyrocket and I don't expect Republicans to trim the defense budget, which is really the only sector of government where you could redirect funds without major impacts. With the US dollar in free fall it will also likely cost more to service our debt. We should get a short term boost from large US companies bringing money back into the US, but that windfall will be short lived.(Quote)

Where is the dollar in free-fall?

(Quote)As someone who lives in a high tax state who is now going to be punished on my federal taxes, I am not inclined to want to contribute any more tax money that will get redirected to rural states that already take in far more federal dollars than they contribute. Those rural states are free to raise their state gas taxes or whatever they want to fund their own infrastructure projects just like the high tax states do. Obviously we have a new tax plan in place so changing it immediately is not going to happen. Infrastructure is important and in most times it could be something both parties could find common ground on, but billionaires payed a lot of money in campaign contributions to get those lower tax rates and they aren't going to want to give that money back. The states that are the economic machines that fill the federal coffers are already getting their taxes increased under the new tax plan, so unless there is a provision allowing the money to remain in state, you probably won't see support from those states (although currently there is nothing they can do about it as the GOP lead congress and Trump have the votes to continue to screw over California, New York, etc all they want.(Quote)

The proposal has the money STAYING IN THAT STATE, not going elsewhere. You get the money from gas sales in that state, nowhere else.

Sorry that you live in a state that wants to take back what the tax bill gave to you, but maybe you need to move out of that state and breathe a little easier.

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 1/31/2018 at 10:46 PM
Nebish, it may be a small start, but it would be one hardly felt.
The US has an appetite of around 390 million gallons of gas/diesel daily.
That's about 142.35 billion gallons per year. The 1/10th cent per gallon would add about $142.35 million to the state special funds.
That doesn't sound like much to begin with, but the money being placed in interest bearing savings accounts would build on itself constantly.
I feel that a 1 year buffer would need to be built up to help start things off.
Small, much needed, projects in rural areas would be handled first, such as culvert and bridge repairs on county roads. They may not have a lot of traffic, but heavy farm machinery, including semis carrying food stuffs, travel them every day.
Even $1 million would help farm communities have safe bridges and culverts.
There are still places in south rural Ga where the bridge across a creek that goes over a dirt road is telephone poles covered in cross ties with 4 2X6 planks nailed to the cross ties. You've got less that 12 inches on each side of the bridge to put your tires on. No curbing, no railing, and don't go off the bridge-you'll be in four feet of swampy water. Did I mention that they are also one lane?

 

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Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 2/2/2018 at 12:20 AM
quote:
quote:
Since the Republicans are in charge, we can just add it to the national debt. The debt only matters when the Democrats hold the presidency, so we have 3 more years where we could run up the national debt without anyone caring about it.(Quote)

Well, the Democrats got him nominated, and elected, so why the sour grapes?

(Quote)Honestly, with the new tax bill the debt is going to start to skyrocket and I don't expect Republicans to trim the defense budget, which is really the only sector of government where you could redirect funds without major impacts. With the US dollar in free fall it will also likely cost more to service our debt. We should get a short term boost from large US companies bringing money back into the US, but that windfall will be short lived.(Quote)

Where is the dollar in free-fall?

(Quote)As someone who lives in a high tax state who is now going to be punished on my federal taxes, I am not inclined to want to contribute any more tax money that will get redirected to rural states that already take in far more federal dollars than they contribute. Those rural states are free to raise their state gas taxes or whatever they want to fund their own infrastructure projects just like the high tax states do. Obviously we have a new tax plan in place so changing it immediately is not going to happen. Infrastructure is important and in most times it could be something both parties could find common ground on, but billionaires payed a lot of money in campaign contributions to get those lower tax rates and they aren't going to want to give that money back. The states that are the economic machines that fill the federal coffers are already getting their taxes increased under the new tax plan, so unless there is a provision allowing the money to remain in state, you probably won't see support from those states (although currently there is nothing they can do about it as the GOP lead congress and Trump have the votes to continue to screw over California, New York, etc all they want.(Quote)

The proposal has the money STAYING IN THAT STATE, not going elsewhere. You get the money from gas sales in that state, nowhere else.

Sorry that you live in a state that wants to take back what the tax bill gave to you, but maybe you need to move out of that state and breathe a little easier.


The dollar has lost over 17% against the European currencies in less than a year. I would call that a freefall.

Not sure you can blame the Democrats for getting Trump elected. They certainly stepped on their own feet a lot, but it was mostly Republicans that voted for him, not Democrats.

I am fine living in a high tax state. Actually, there is nowhere on earth I would rather live. I also do quite well for myself, so paying a little more in taxes isn't going to take food off the table, cancel my vacation plans, keep my son from going to whatever college he chooses, etc. In fact, I spoke with my CPA recently and he said despite not being able to write off my state and local taxes, I should come out way ahead with the new tax bill. The majority of my income comes from ownership in several apartment complexes in 3 different states, so I pay a ton of state and local taxes in 3 different states. I also have my own environmental consulting firm. So why am I complaining? It's just a matter of fairness. The coastal "blue" states pay well more into the federal coffers than the "red" rural and southern states, who receive significantly more federal money than they pay into it. I actually have no complaints with that. But the new tax law was specifically designed to punish these "blue" states, who also happen to be higher tax states, by limiting deductions of state and local taxes. If those states weren't contributing taxes at a higher rate both in real dollars and per capita, I would be ok with it. But many of the low tax "red" states like to point their finger at the higher tax states without realizing that those states are subsidizing them already, and now even more so. Once the new individual rates expire in 8 years, those deductions are still going to be gone, but the old tax rates will be back - which is another double wammy. Big business keeps their lower tax rates and their writeoffs for private jets, but upper middle class Californians get the higher tax rates back, without state and local tax deductions, and without getting to write off most business expenses such as mileage and other required work related expenses as they do now.

But hey, the Koch Brothers and Trump family get to save billions on their taxes and the tax bill was written so that THEY get to keep their tax advantages after the individual rates expire for the rest of us, so screw the hard working folks in California, New York and New Jersey who will get to subsidize the rest of the country more than ever.

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 2/2/2018 at 08:57 AM
I like the idea Jerry, in absence of anything else, something like that make sense. I just think in the kind of overall plan they are talking about, we need to raise 100s of billions, not 100s of millions. Atleast at this point. That idea would've been good had we been operating under it for the last couple decades and benefited from the accumulation.

Also agree that any taxes that are part of this should be small enough to not impact consumer/economic behavior.

2112, I'm sure you have read or heard about the idea California has to get around the lower capped SALT deduction - something about paying state taxes in such a way that it qualifies for a federal charitable deduction to offset the loss in SALT deduction. Kind of makes me chuckle a little, never underestimate the lengths anyone will go to save paying taxes. We all do it on one extent or another and it is why raising taxes doesn't always lead to the higher receipts some expect, because people do what they can to avoid it.

[Edited on 2/2/2018 by nebish]

 

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  posted on 2/2/2018 at 12:26 PM
Yes, I saw the proposal, and it won't pass IRS scrutiny, and more importantly the guaranteed court battles. Even if I could take advantage, I probably wouldn't chance it.
 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 2/2/2018 at 07:50 PM
I propose a 1% tax on every stock and bond sold on Wall Street beginning 7/1/18 into perpetuity. Revenue from said tax is pumped directly into a "National Infrastructure Fund" to be spent on replacement, upgrades, modernization etc. on the electrical gird, roads, bridges, broadband access, high speed rail, airports, cyber security, alternative energy projects (solar, wind, Thorium nuclear reactors, geothermal, wave, etc....) and on and on.....

[Edited on 2/3/2018 by Chain]

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 2/2/2018 at 11:52 PM
quote:
I propose a 1% tax on every stock and bond sold on Wall Street beginning 7/1/18 into perpetuity. Revenue from said tax is pumped directly into a "National Infrastructure Fund" to be spent on replacement, upgrades, modernization etc. on the electrical gird, roads, bridges, broadband access, high speed rail, airports, cyber security, alternative energy projects (solar, wind, Thorium nuclear reactors, geothermal, wave, etc....) and on and on.....

[Edited on 2/3/2018 by Chain]


I could get behind that. Counts for 401k and IRA transaction too? Pension fund transactions? That is fine.

I'm not opposed to alternative energy, so long as we are making the stuff here. Build that into your bill and you have my vote!

 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 2/3/2018 at 09:25 AM
quote:
quote:
I propose a 1% tax on every stock and bond sold on Wall Street beginning 7/1/18 into perpetuity. Revenue from said tax is pumped directly into a "National Infrastructure Fund" to be spent on replacement, upgrades, modernization etc. on the electrical gird, roads, bridges, broadband access, high speed rail, airports, cyber security, alternative energy projects (solar, wind, Thorium nuclear reactors, geothermal, wave, etc....) and on and on.....

[Edited on 2/3/2018 by Chain]


I could get behind that. Counts for 401k and IRA transaction too? Pension fund transactions? That is fine.

I'm not opposed to alternative energy, so long as we are making the stuff here. Build that into your bill and you have my vote!


Given such investment vehicles purchase stocks, bonds, etc...They too would be taxed. Part of the rationale for such a tax is that it's an extremely small amount of money per stock or bond. However, given the shear volume of every stock, bond, etc. traded daily on the exchanges, you very quickly amass huge sums of money.

In addition, if it's truly pumped right back into the economy via infrastructure spending, the "multiplier effect", as it's known in economic terms, is truly massive.

I would also, via the United States Treasury, create "Infrastructure Bonds" in a similar way as regular Treasury Bonds. Give me, an investor, an opportunity to invest directly into our national infrastructure by purchasing such bonds with a guaranteed return years into the future. Think War Bonds that financed WWII....Same idea but strictly for infrastructure...

Finally, none of these ideas are fool proof. The biggest problem is see would be politicians trying to raid such funds in order finance pet projects or balance bloated budgets. We could, however, build fail safes into such funds in order to guarantee their intended use.


[Edited on 2/3/2018 by Chain]

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 2/4/2018 at 12:40 AM
In reading on some past wall street tax proposals, or financial transaction taxes, FTTs, it seems like 1% is pretty large. Some of the other progressive ideas have ranged from .003-.5% with estimated revenue figures $300-700 billion, depending on the details and what investor behavior does. Seems like some FTTs in Europe have not delivered the anticipated revenue as investors and traders try to get around the tax.

I could be for it still, although I'm thinking of mutual fund expense ratios are portrayed which are measured in basis points, tenths and hundreds of a percent and investors seek the lowest expenses, hence the rise of ETFs. If investor behavior to save say .3% of expenses influences behavior, surely 1% would have a large impact on how people trade and it may not net the necessary or expected revenue.

I still like the 1-2% national sales tax idea, maybe could generate 100-300 billion a year. This way we all pay for the systems we all use and benefit from. The wealthier people would pay more in tax as they buy more goods and services and generally buy more expensive things.

I just worry, like you, that politicians will want to use the money for something else or once the new tax hits the main vein of consumer spending, it will become a source for other programs with increases.

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/4/2018 at 02:28 PM
quote:
I like the idea Jerry, in absence of anything else, something like that make sense. I just think in the kind of overall plan they are talking about, we need to raise 100s of billions, not 100s of millions. Atleast at this point. That idea would've been good had we been operating under it for the last couple decades and benefited from the accumulation.

Also agree that any taxes that are part of this should be small enough to not impact consumer/economic behavior.

[Edited on 2/2/2018 by nebish]


It's small, but it would be a start. We could also add a 1 cent, not 1%, tax on anything imported.
Many people would then realize just how many items they buy are not made in the US. The tax would be shown at the bottom of the receipt with the number of items purchased that were imported.
That 1 cent per item wouldn't be much per person, but it would build up quite quickly if you think of all the things we buy every day that is imported.
How much stuff does WalMart sell each day that isn't "made in the USA"?
How about ToyRUs or just about any major retailer?

 

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Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 2/4/2018 at 03:16 PM
quote:
quote:
I like the idea Jerry, in absence of anything else, something like that make sense. I just think in the kind of overall plan they are talking about, we need to raise 100s of billions, not 100s of millions. Atleast at this point. That idea would've been good had we been operating under it for the last couple decades and benefited from the accumulation.

Also agree that any taxes that are part of this should be small enough to not impact consumer/economic behavior.

[Edited on 2/2/2018 by nebish]


It's small, but it would be a start. We could also add a 1 cent, not 1%, tax on anything imported.
Many people would then realize just how many items they buy are not made in the US. The tax would be shown at the bottom of the receipt with the number of items purchased that were imported.
That 1 cent per item wouldn't be much per person, but it would build up quite quickly if you think of all the things we buy every day that is imported.
How much stuff does WalMart sell each day that isn't "made in the USA"?
How about ToyRUs or just about any major retailer?


I like the idea of a small tax on anything imported, but what is imported? Is a car made in the USA that has 600 parts made in Canada imported? If you charge 1 cent for each imported iitem for something made predominantly here, seems unfair over charging only 1 cent for an entire car made in Japan.. Yes, I know we are only talking about $6 in my example, but then again Paul Ryan made a big deal about a secretary saving $1.50 a week on her taxes yesterday.

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/4/2018 at 05:28 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
I like the idea Jerry, in absence of anything else, something like that make sense. I just think in the kind of overall plan they are talking about, we need to raise 100s of billions, not 100s of millions. Atleast at this point. That idea would've been good had we been operating under it for the last couple decades and benefited from the accumulation.

Also agree that any taxes that are part of this should be small enough to not impact consumer/economic behavior.

[Edited on 2/2/2018 by nebish]


It's small, but it would be a start. We could also add a 1 cent, not 1%, tax on anything imported.
Many people would then realize just how many items they buy are not made in the US. The tax would be shown at the bottom of the receipt with the number of items purchased that were imported.
That 1 cent per item wouldn't be much per person, but it would build up quite quickly if you think of all the things we buy every day that is imported.
How much stuff does WalMart sell each day that isn't "made in the USA"?
How about ToyRUs or just about any major retailer?


I like the idea of a small tax on anything imported, but what is imported? Is a car made in the USA that has 600 parts made in Canada imported? If you charge 1 cent for each imported item for something made predominantly here, seems unfair over charging only 1 cent for an entire car made in Japan.. Yes, I know we are only talking about $6 in my example, but then again Paul Ryan made a big deal about a secretary saving $1.50 a week on her taxes yesterday.


If it's made here, I wouldn't consider it imported unless the majority of parts were imported.
I build computers and almost nothing in a computer, other than Windows, is made here in the US.
I use a lot of CoolerMaser cases, made in China, motherboards have parts from Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia (DFI, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, AsRock, many others). Memory mostly comes from the US, but also from Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and the EU. Hard drives are made in Singapore, Thailand, and China.
So i would consider that an import even if it's assembled here in the US.
A car, if the body, drive-train, tires, and interior are made in the US I would say it isn't imported, but the added $6.00 woudn't hurt much for the electronics that are installed.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 2/4/2018 at 10:57 PM
I would not think it would be very difficult to integrate the existing country of origin, made/assembled in definitions and labeling into the barcode so the cash register scanner would know. Most warehouses are utilizing bar codes for their shipments as well. Alot of websites will tell you if an item is imported or USA in the description. So I don't think it would be hard for the seller's systems to identify what is imported and what is not.

Larger items, a car, or something like that, obviously there is no barcode, but the assembly location or port of entry information is known and stated on the window stickers, so that too is easily documented in the system.

The FTC has definitions on what qualifies for made in USA vs assembled in USA.

It really shouldn't be hard to craft a system around existing data to track and inform consumers what they are buying. Harder part is getting those in government to accept or strengthen country of origin labeling standards (see the fight against food labeling).

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/5/2018 at 06:43 PM
quote:
I would not think it would be very difficult to integrate the existing country of origin, made/assembled in definitions and labeling into the barcode so the cash register scanner would know. Most warehouses are utilizing bar codes for their shipments as well. Alot of websites will tell you if an item is imported or USA in the description. So I don't think it would be hard for the seller's systems to identify what is imported and what is not.

Larger items, a car, or something like that, obviously there is no barcode, but the assembly location or port of entry information is known and stated on the window stickers, so that too is easily documented in the system.

The FTC has definitions on what qualifies for made in USA vs assembled in USA.

It really shouldn't be hard to craft a system around existing data to track and inform consumers what they are buying. Harder part is getting those in government to accept or strengthen country of origin labeling standards (see the fight against food labeling).


True. A low end tax that could be implemented with existing software, something that the majority of people would never notice, sounds like something we should get people interested in.

 

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