October 18, 2021

Swedes

If You Thought Grover Norquist Was Done with Tom Coburn Just Because He Got Some Republicans to Vote for the Ethanol Tax Credit Repeal, You’d Be Wrong

As we’ve mentioned, the scourge of tax policy pragmatism, Grover Norquist, has been battling anyone that utters a word about raising taxes or eliminating tax credits without corresponding tax cuts. His main nemesis in this battle has been Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who was a member of the Gang of Six until he was determined the gang couldn’t get jack squat accomplished.

Today, a vote was held in the Senate that repealed the tax credits for ethanol, something that Coburn has been advocating strongly to his GOP colleagues. The idea has been floated that many Republicans who signed Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge would be violating said pledge by voting for the repeal, and thus incur the wrath of Grover & Co. Yesterday, Norquist insisted that the vote for the repeal isn’t a pledge violation because Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has an estate tax repeal waiting in the wings that would allow these Republicans to atone for their sins and thus making Coburn a loser again:

“Coburn tried. He failed. I’m sure he’ll try again,” Norquist told The Hill, asserting that Coburn had tried to trick his colleagues into voting for a tax increase. “We checkmated him.”

As we said Coburn did try again and now that the ethanol tax credit repeal has passed, Norquist will be counting on those senators wash away their ‘impure thoughts’ with a vote on DeMint’s amendment and allowing he and ATR to prevail once again, like the Roadrunner over Wile E. Coyote or Ronald Reagan over Communism.

He added that he had commitments from Senate GOP leadership to not agree to a deal with what he calls a net tax increase: higher rates or ending tax expenditures without an offset.

“Coburn’s going to be out in the cold by his lonesome,” Norquist said.

Senate kills off ethanol tax credits in possible break with tax pledge [E2 Wire]
Norquist denies he has lost momentum in tax scrap [On the Money]

If You Ever Attend a Meeting Run by Grover Norquist, Know That Your Coffee and Bagel Consumption Will Be Tracked

Bloomberg has a profile of Americans Tax Refund Founder and spending hatchet-man Grover Norquist out today and if you’re not familiar with the man or his mission, you’d think he was the scariest Swede since snark and sass into otherwise dry debates but others don’t see it that way.

Exhibit 1: Former Senator Alan Simpson, is quoted as saying, “If you are in thrall to Grover Norquist,” the Wyoming Republican who co-led the debt panel said he told the group in February, “this country hasn’t got a prayer.”

Exhibit 2: Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D-MD) assessment:

“Until Republicans are more afraid of the deficit than they are of Grover Norquist, we’re going to have a problem,” said Representative Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee.

And I suppose, if you are a Democrat, a relatively pragmatic Republican or a cancer survivor (or a nonprofit that fights cancer) Grover could be pretty scary. He doesn’t take too kindly to those in the GOP who want to raise taxes or eliminate reductions or credits that aren’t matched with further reductions in taxes. You can just ask Tom Coburn:

Norquist has attacked Senator Tom Coburn, a onetime member of the Gang of Six, because the Oklahoma Republican raised the possibility of eliminating tax breaks. Norquist said if Coburn agreed to a tax increase “he was elected on a lie.”

Now, based on that, you may get the impression that Norquist is simply a bearded Sarah Palin but you’d be wrong. Bloomberg reports that he while he does sit on the board of the NRA, he also is an adviser to GOProud and that his wife is a Kuwaiti-born Muslim.

But what may make Grover so scary-good at holding people’s feet to the fire is his attention to detail. To be a tax and fiscal wonk, you kinda need to be obe made that way but Bloomberg gives us the impression that his wonkiness transcends simple Federal government matters:

Norquist, who peppers his conversation with comic voices, Chekhov quotes and references to the movie “Grease,” is big on numbers. He knows what year his meeting reached an average of 80 people and when it grew to 100. He keeps charts on how much coffee and how many bagels are consumed, and his staff counts the attendees every 15 minutes so he can graph the flow.

So for any aspiring Grovers or Grovettes out there, this is what you’re emulating. Best start with the simple stuff.

No-Tax ‘Zealot’ Norquist Emerges as Barrier to U.S. Debt Deal [Bloomberg]

Grover Norquist Advises Obama on How to Win Texas in 2012, Reaffirms Ability to Get Sassy

As we’ve noted before, you’d be wrong if you thought Ronald Reagan worshipper and ATR President Grover Norquist and his merry band of anti-tax orcs weren’t capable of a pinch of sass:

Obama should focus on winning the electoral votes of Texas. He could highlight his ongoing efforts to destroy the oil and gas industry through taxation and regulation. Also his hostility to the Second Amendment. And spending binges and tax hikes. The small-minded will not see the opportunity for Obama in Texas, but with enough money spent in the state and not frittered away in Virginia and Florida good things can happen for America.

Or a punch of sass.

[via Politico via ATR]

ATR: SAVEGO Is a No-go

If you’re like us, you’re strangely fascinated by the Americans for Tax Reform and their tax intolerant ways. ATR President Grover Norquist and his band of tax annihilating orcs have battled to get as many signatures on their taxpayer protection pledge as possible and will strike down – often through sternly-worded letter – anyone who dares break that pledge.

Because tax and budgetary policy can be a tricky game, sometimes compromises get floated out there so Democrats and Republicans might find common ground. This common ground typically consists of both sides giving a few things up and agreeing to live with a few things that aren’t ideal.

A recent compromise over the debt-ceiling debate known as SAVEGO was recently passed around some budget wonks and ATR is going on record that any taxpayer protection pledgers best not give it a second look:

ATR is warning that Republicans would be violating their Taxpayer Protection Pledge if they sign on to the deal. SAVEGO as proposed would count tax earmarks as “spending” in the tax code. ATR does not view tax breaks as a type of spending and insists that eliminating them must be accompanied by tax cuts.

SAVEGO would put in place a trigger that, if reached, would cause across-the-board spending cuts or slashing tax breaks.

“Support for a net tax increase trigger is a clear Pledge violation,” ATR Tax Policy Director Ryan Ellis told The Hill Thursday. “A vote for this is a vote for automatic net tax increases.”

“The second clause of the Pledge says that signers will oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar-for-dollar by cutting tax rates. The SAVEGO plan is in direct violation of the Pledge,” he added.

Americans for Tax Reform: SAVEGO violates tax pledge [The Hill]

Grover Norquist Knows What It Will Take to Enact Real Tax Reform

Nemesis of all-things-taxation Grover Norquist believes that there can be good changes to our tax system (lower rates, DUH!). But seriously, as Ronald Reagan as his witness, this is really simple,

“A lot of good tax changes are going to require a different president and a different Senate.” So at the very least, you’ll have to wait two years. That’s all. [The Hill]

Did the Georgia Tea Party Call Grover Norquist a Socialist?

Maybe! As you know, Grover Norquist is the President of Americans For Tax Reform and has a staunch record of opposing any legislation – federal or state – that increases taxes and evokes Ronald Reagan (who hated taxes, dontchaknow) in every possible context, no matter how irrelevant. Grover and ATR are willing to get into a tussle (usually by sternly-worded letter) with whomever thinks that raising taxes will amount to anything positive (because that’s impossible). From the Illinois legislature to the American Lung Association to Lance Armstrong, if you give the slightest impression that higher taxes are a good idea, you can expect Grover & Co. to get Viking on your ass.


However, we learned this morning that in ATR’s most recent spat with the Georgia Legislature over that state’s tax overhaul bill, it appears that Grover has been out-Grovered by the Georgia Tea Party. You see, GN has informed the Georgia pols that he won’t give them any shit for supporting HB 387 after opposing their initial efforts.

This however, did not sit well with the GTP (our emphasis):

”One can not just look at the tax rate cut, one has to look at the deductions/exemptions that are slashed and, in many cases, removed in this bill. Taxes will be raised for some and will be cut for others. In other words, this bill re-distributes wealth.

Okay, so…WHOA. Maybe we’re reading too much into this but take a gander at “socialism” and tell us what you think. So far there doesn’t appear to be a response over at ATR but this sort of aggression will likely elicit some sort of a response.

Your morning jolt: Grover Norquist, tea party split on tax overhaul [AJC via Joseph Thorndike]

Senator Tom Coburn Would Like ATR to Back Off a Bit

“Rather than demanding that Senate conservatives violate their consciences and support distortions in the tax code that increase spending and maintain Washington’s power over taxpayer’s lives, your organization should assist our efforts. Calling for the elimination of tax earmarks without qualifications would be a good start,” Coburn wrote. “Continuing to issue blanket defenses of all tax expenditures is a profoundly misguided embrace of progressive, activist government and a strategy for tax complexity, tax deferment, excessive spending and unsustainable deficits.” [The Hill]

Americans for Tax Reform Is Annoyed with the ‘Tax-loving American Lung Association’

Because it’s pretty clear that the American Lung Association’s mission is to ensure everyone is paying higher taxes:

Predictably, the tax-loving American Lung Association is pushing for a massive 75 percent increase in Maine’s cigarette tax. They just think it’s the cat’s meow, curing all diseases while raising a boatload of money for state government to spend on pro-utopia policies.

Of course, that’s not how these things tend to work themselves out. For starters, Maine desperately needs jobs. An excise tax increase of this magnitude certainly will not deliver. Convenience stores count on tobacco products for roughly one-third of their sales. Government driving up the cost of cigarettes won’t help maintain payroll.

That’s because higher taxes will only further fuel migration to New Hampshire, where consumers will be able to save over $12 per carton of cigarettes. New Hampshire also levies no sales or personal income taxes. To have any hope of competing with its neighbor, any talk of tax increases must be completely off the table.

So taxes on cigarettes are off the table while cancer, chemotherapy, pain, suffering and shortened life spans are back on. Got it.

You’d Be Wrong If You Thought Americans for Tax Reform Were a Bunch of Humorless Killjoys

For all we know, ATR was behind the video from earlier today and then we found this from last night:

Great Night for Illinois Taxpayers!

Illinois Democrats were dead-set on raising the state’s personal income tax by a whopping 83 percent. But in a stunning and miraculous turn of events, they decided to go easy on their already mightily-struggling constituents. In a deal reportedly reached tonight, Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leadership decided to with a mere 75 percent income tax increase, coupled with a modest 102 percent cigarette tax hike that will gently nudge countless jobs across state lines and steal a disproportionate amount of impoverished Illinoisans’ income with a wink and a smile.

We like what the author, Josh Culling, did there but the only problem is that he felt it necessary to brief readers with the following, “The above, of course, is laced with sarcasm and disappointment.” OH THANKS! We really thought we were on a “Rahm for Mayor” site for a minute there.

Former Business Journalist Needs Help Becoming the Next Great Forensic Accountant

Welcome to the christ-is-it-next-Wednesday-yet edition of Accounting Career Couch. In today’s edition, a former business journalist is looking to get into forensic accounting. How on Earth can you do that?

Need help with your next career move? Want some advice on an awkward confrontation? Looking for a loophole in your firm’s dress code so you can show off your fantastic gams/guns? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll recommend what to say/wear.

Back to Mikael Blomkvist:

I’m in my earr worked in accounting. I have a B.A. in liberal arts and am currently enrolled in a Masters in Accountancy program. I formerly worked 10+ years as a business journalist, during which I learned a fair amount of basic accounting and financial statement analysis. I especially enjoyed investigative business journalism, which led me to get a PI license and a CFE designation and work as a freelance fraud investigator for several years. But I quickly saw that I needed a CPA license and real-world accounting experience to command decent fees.

Once I get my M.Acc., I’d like to get a job in forensics at a public accounting or consulting firm and starting working toward the CPA. I know exactly what I want to do: forensics, and even more specifically, fraud investigations. I’d rather not toil in entry-level audit and try to worm my way into forensics if I can avoid it.

My questions are myriad. For starters, am I too old to do this? (Yes, I’m a married parent, have paid dues before, don’t mind paying them again as a career-changer.) Where should I apply? Would the Big 4 even be interested, or should I concentrate only on specialized/regional firms? Would I have more luck going the entrepreneurial/sole proprietor route than trying to get a firm to hire me? Will investigate for food. Anything helps, even a smile.

Dear Blomkvist,

Let us just start by saying two things as it relates to the age question: 1) it doesn’t mean shit and 2) it’s irrelevant at this point. Judging by your actions you’ve already made up your mind and you’re just looking for a little confirmation.

Now, then. As far as where you should apply – Big 4 is an option but not a great one. They have forensics practices obviously but getting your foot in the door can be tough as the groups are small and positions are hard to come by. That being said, it won’t hurt to get in touch with the experienced-hire recruiters at the major firms in your area to see if there are openings. You’re certainly a better candidate than someone internal that has no investigative experience and wants to get into forensics for the hell of it. A little pavement pounding could turn up a great opportunity.

That being said, it seems to make more sense to seek out opportunities at boutique or small firms in your city. You will likely get the opportunity to meet the owner(s)/partners of the practice who will probably value your experience as an investigative journalist. Someone like Tracy Coenen would be a good example of an expert that could take you under their wing and show you the ropes (assuming they need someone).

As far as starting hanging your own shingle, it’s an option but you’ll eat what you kill. Are you prepared to live that way? Is your family prepared to live that way? Conversations need to be had. You may be able to lend a hand to other forensics specialists to get your feet wet but it will be a tough sell to land your own clients for quite awhile.

You’ve got the investigator’s instinct and presumably the iron-clad balls that Sam Antar insists are a must and that cannot be taught. These intangibles are extremely valuable and should be a major selling point no matter what path you choose. Skål!

Are RSM McGladrey and McGladrey & Pullen Getting Back Together?

natalie-gulbis-4.jpgMaybe! For those of you looking for any ray of hope of RSM McGladrey and McGladrey & Pullen making nice, consider this your sign.
H&R Block, the parent company of RSM, announced yesterday that they, “[expect] a dispute regarding a subsidiary’s deal with an accounting firm to provide consulting to midsized businesses will be settled soon.”
Block CEO Russ Symth also told us yesterday that while nothing is official he’s pret-tay, pret-tay, prety-tay optimistic that the two firms will be able to kiss and make up:

“We are very optimistic that this is going to be settled within a few weeks,” Block CEO Russ Smyth told investors during a meeting after Block released its second-quarter financial results earlier Tuesday.
He warned, however, that while it appeared the matter would have a good outcome, “We are not across the finish line yet.”

We’ll go on record that we’re rooting for the firms to get back together. Reconciliation makes for a heartwarming story during the holiday season. Especially since we’ve learned that not even an insanely rich celebrity athlete and a Swedish model don’t seem meant to be.
Prior to any official reconciliation between the firms, several questions are worth mentioning: 1) What’s Natalie’s opinion? 2) Is RSM buying M&P a huge rock, a house in Sweden, or performing some other demonstration of materialistic love as part of the reconciliation? 3) How will the make-up sex work? Will M&P even go there? D) See #1.
If you’ve got thoughts on any of these questions or if the RSM/M&P troops have feel like talking about their firms’ chances of making it work, discuss in the comments.
H&R Block Subsidiary Nears Settlement With Auditor [AP via ABC News]
Prior GC Coverage of RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen Drama:
RSM/McGladrey & Pullen: ‘Breaking Up is Like Pushing Over a Coke Machine’
McGladrey & Pullen Might Want to Think This Whole Divorce Thing Over
H&R Block is Not Letting McGladrey & Pullen Leave Until They Talk About This
McGladrey & Pullen Doesn’t Love H&R Block Anymore