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How Inflation Reduction Act can help small businesses

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By Ted James, 
Region 6 South Central Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will lower prescription drug, health care, and energy costs. It will lower the deficit and no one making under $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in taxes. It will also fight climate change. This is a pretty good deal for most of us dealing with our changing climate patterns: scorching temperatures, escalating damaging storms, new monsoon seasons and all the havoc they cause.  If we can slow climate change down, we all win.

Lower healthcare costs are a win, as well, for most, for both families and small businesses. If you are a sole proprietor getting your health insurance from the Affordable Care Act marketplace or have employees who use it, health care costs will go down, by up to $800 per year.  Because the Biden/Harris Administration has been successful in tackling the climate crisis, the IRA will reduce energy bills, saving families (and small businesses) about $500 per year. With just these two measures, we could save about $1300 a year.

But it doesn’t stop there. The IRA will also lower prescription drug costs by capping out of pocket expenses on prescription drugs for people on Medicare at $2,000 per year, cap insulin for Medicare patients at $35 per month and finally allow Medicare to negotiate prices. If you are an older business owner on Medicare, these direct cost savings are for you.

The IRA creates new avenues for small businesses to make profits if they advance in environmental businesses – making and servicing solar panels and wind turbines, retrofitting buildings with energy efficient windows, doors and HVAC units, or entering the supply chain for new electric vehicles, whose components will need to be made in America. And if they want to directly join the climate fight, small businesses can receive a tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of switching over to low-cost solar power – lowering operating costs and protecting against the volatile energy prices. Additionally, small businesses can deduct up to $1.00 per square foot of their business for making high energy efficiency upgrades. The per square foot deduction is boosted if the efficiency upgrades are completed by workers who are a paid a prevailing wage – helping businesses save even more money while providing good paying jobs.

The IRA extends the qualified business income deduction, the pass-through deduction, from 2025 through 2027, providing a 20 percent deduction on business income and extends the popular research and development tax credit and increases how much can be applied to payroll taxes. The R&D credit gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to reduce the taxes they owe based on a formula calculated using expenses they’ve incurred to develop new products. If the new products fight climate change, it’s a double win.

Rural communities, finally, are not left behind. The IRA will help up to 280,000 farmers and ranchers apply conservation to approximately 125 million acres of land, provide relief for distressed USDA borrowers whose agricultural operations are at risk through loan modifications or payments and provide financial assistance to farmers who have experienced past discrimination in USDA lending programs. We need every farmer to contribute to reducing food inflation and feeding the nation and the world.

Together with his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s economic plan is showing that we have the courage to build a future where every American has a fair shot!

Ted James is the Region 6 Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, overseeing SBA programs and services in the states of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas. 

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Fear and loathing in a small Idaho town

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bonners Ferry, Idaho is a small town with a public library, which is always an asset to a community. And the residents are glad it is there. Sadly, there are some folks, though, who believe that books are a threat, rather than an asset, and they have put the continued existence of that library at risk.

A group of Christian activists have lately descended on the community and started showing up at the local library board meetings, guns on their hips, and demanding that the library remove a list of 400 books that they oppose. And despite the board telling them that the library has none of the 400 books they want censored, they just keep disrupting the board meetings.

You might ask why, other than making for some long board meetings, that there is a problem. If they don’t have the books, it’s no harm, no fowl. Well, the company that carries the library’s insurance has informed them that because of the threat of violence from all those folks showing up with guns they will not renew their insurance. Without insurance, they can’t continue to operate. They will have to shut the library down.

While you may not like the word, there is a simple term for folks who use threats of violence to get their way. They are terrorists. Terrorists acting in the name of Christianity. And it looks like they might win.

I have a lifelong love of books. I’ve read thousands of books over the decades. Had a personal library of thousands of books. The accumulated knowledge of billions of people over thousands of years is accumulated in those books. A record of every moral, social and political failure of mankind. We have a roadmap of mistakes we made and need never repeat. There are religious and political terrorists whose agenda is being thwarted by that knowledge, and they want to destroy it.

Those who want to destroy books are far more dangerous than the books they want to suppress. Demanding libraries remove books you do not agree with is removing books others do agree with. We have no right to censor ideas. Let them live or die on their own merits, not through misguided religious crusades. 

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Political spectrum argues about the wrong things

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A friend of mine, obviously on the opposite side of politics from me, has adopted an attitude of apathy toward the recent action on student loans taken by President Biden.

In case you were more worried about the rise in consumer prices on everything and missed it, the president announced a plan to forgive $20,000 in student loans for around 8 million borrowers, providing they meet certain income criteria.

As with just about anything political nowadays, there’s two trains of thought on this — for it or against it.

Some think this is charity, which will put the burden of paying for the plan on all taxpayers, especially those who did not take out any such loans, and those who did and paid them off according to the signed contracts.

The other side of the camp thinks that since the burden of paying loans in a rotten economy is too much, and the amount of loans needing payment is overly large, that this is just the kind of help governments should be giving their constituents.

The arguments put forth by the anti side include personal responsibility, waste of taxpayer dollars, and playing those who paid loans off as fools.

The other side has even gone so far as to use the parable of the loaves and fishes from the Bible as an analogy to prove the anti crowd’s argument to be ridiculous, before just giving up completely and ignoring anyone who hates the idea.

According to White House fact sheets, there exists around $1.6 trillion in student loan debt, and the president’s plan will forgive about $4 billion. The reasoning is that skyrocketing education costs combined with the costs of living in this fine country is terribly burdensome.

I’m in the anti camp, but not for the normal reasons. I’m particularly bothered by the fact that the government has loaned so much money — about 28 percent of what the government spends each year, by way of example, when there is nothing anywhere that gives the federal government the power, authority or even permission to be a banker, loan officer, loan guarantor, or educator.

Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that even allows the government to have anything to do with education at all. The Department of Education was elevated to Cabinet status in 1980, the new kid on the block, so to speak. 

Now, of course, it’s a massive endeavor that comes complete with its own police force (which raided a home in California because of someone thought to have been cheating on student loans).

This money should never have been given out, instead used for other necessities. This renders the idea of whether forgiving loans is good or bad moot.

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Reports released on Uvalde tragedy

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082522 my five cents

By Sen. Robert Nichols
Representing District 3

Sixty-four years ago this month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established NASA and emphasized our commitment to space exploration and manned space flight. NASA later elected to build a new flight-control center outside of Houston, making Texas an essential piece of the space race.

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. ALERRT and House Committee release reports on shooting in Uvalde

This month, both the Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center and the House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting released reports on their assessment of the tragic shooting in Uvalde. Each report highlighted different parts of the overall response. The ALERRT center covered the timeline, a physical assessment, and a tactical assessment. The tactical assessment spoke to their expertise on strategies used during the shooting and different strategies that could have been used in this situation. Their expertise lies in responder training and their report reflected deficiencies in training and execution of that training. To read the report, visit https://alerrt.org/.

The House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting released their report a few weeks after the ALERRT Center’s report. The House report detailed an extensive timeline of the events leading up to the shooting, during the shooting, and after the shooting. They delved into the attacker’s family life and background, the school’s security and facilities, the law enforcement response, and drew several factual conclusions. I commend my colleagues for their important work on this issue and look forward to working with other House and Senate members to develop recommendations moving forward. To read the full report, go to https://house.texas.gov/_media/pdf/committees/reports/87interim/Robb-Elementary-Investigative-Committee-Report.pdf.

2. Suicide hotline number changes to 988

This month, the Federal Communications Commission implemented a change to the national suicide hotline number. Instead of the old 11-digit number, the new number is just three digits and easier to remember. Now, calling 988 will give you resources for immediate mental health emergencies, such as people at risk of suicide and other crises. The hope is that calling 988 for a mental health crisis will become just as instinctive as calling 911 in an emergency. Those who call the hotline will connect directly with a crisis center staffed by trained professionals that offer free and immediate help at any time. The line offers communication options in several languages and is now available. People in distress can also chat with a trained counselor by visiting www.988lifeline.org.

3. Universal Service Fund rates will increase on some phone lines

Beginning August 1, telephone customers will see an increase in monthly bills due to a court ruling that state regulators must fully fund the Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF was created to ensure that Texans in rural areas have access to phone services, which is legally a public necessity. Each telephone customer’s bill has a line item for the USF which has charged a 3.3 percent fee of the cost for intrastate voice service. That percentage is now going up to 24 percent. For many single-line customers, that charge was as low as 30 cents a month. That cost could rise to about $2 per month or more. This change comes after the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the USF, rejected a more modest increase in 2020, which would’ve brought the assessment to 6.4 percent. In 2021, Governor Abbott vetoed a measure aimed at addressing the issue, as well.

4. Tax free weekend for back-to-school

This year’s sales tax holiday weekend for back-to-school was Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7. Texans saved money on tax-free purchases of most clothing, footwear, school supplies, and backpacks during the annual Tax-Free weekend. Qualifying items were purchased in-store or online. The exemption applied to each eligible item sold for less than $100 and there were no limit to the number of qualifying items Texans could buy.

5. Texas Parks and Wildlife accepting drawn hunt permit applications

Texas Parks and Wildlife opened applications for drawn hunt permits for the 2022-2023 hunting season in July. There are almost 10,000 permits in 62 hunt categories. The permits allow drawn hunts on public and private land, including hunts for white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn, turkey, alligator, dove, and some exotic species. An online interactive map shows all drawn hunt opportunities by category or area. All applications, fees, and permit issuances are handled online. Permits are open to resident and non-resident hunters. The first application deadlines are in August. For more information, visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/public_hunt_drawing/.

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Inflation reduction a laughable name for an act

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FromEditorsDesk TonyOn any given day, I’ll get up in the morning, put on coffee that I bought at the store (paying sales tax, of course, as well as corporate taxes and tariffs built into the price). As I putter around the house (the property which is taxed on state and local levels) getting ready, showering (fees and taxes apply on water, sewer and electricity), using numerous items taxed at sale and elsewhere, I’m finally done.

I’ll hop into the car (which I pay taxes on yearly, as well taxes and surcharges as at the sale) and drive (only if I’ve paid the license fee) to the gas station to fill up (paying federal, state and local gasoline taxes, possibly luxury and gas-guzzler taxes, fuel gross receipts tax, and oil and gas assessment taxes).

Depending on the roadwork in the area, I could be paying special assessments for road repairs or taxes for waste management, bridge toll charges, road toll charges, or bike license fees.

When I head to a business, either mine or someone else’s, the taxes could include individual and small business surtaxes, penalties for underpayment of estimated income tax, an alternative minimum tax on income, business taxes and licensing fees, and federal and state corporate income taxes.

Of course, if it’s my business, I’m passing those costs along to the consumer, or if it’s not, the owners are passing that along, so pretty much every tax faced by a business is paid by everybody that makes use of that business.

My paycheck will have federal income tax (sometimes state and local, depending on location), Social Security tax and Medicare tax

If someone from out of state purchases something, they’ll likely pay use taxes.

If I want to take a vacation, I could face paying recreational vehicle taxes, passport fees, air transportation taxes, hotel stay taxes, hunting or fishing license fees, state park permits, watercraft registration and license fees, nature trail permit fees or even yacht and luxury boat taxes.

If I get hurt on vacation, there’s the possibility that on top of medical bills, there’s plastic surgery surcharges or taxes on non-qualified health saving account distributions.

Pets, particularly dogs, require permits and licenses. Jewelry has specific taxes; so do cigarettes (taxed through the roof), alcohol and gifts. Have to pay fees to get married, or if you’re in an area with a pro sports team, stadium taxes (don’t get the large soda and devil dog, or pay taxes on fatty foods and pop).

To own a phone, there’s 911 service taxes, service fees, minimum usage fees, federal, state and local taxes, and usage surcharges.

If I pass away, anything my family inherits is subject to taxes. Lots of taxes.

The Inflation Reduction Act recently passed by the Senate includes more taxes on corporations, “investments” in energy security and climate change, an extension of the subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, and, just for that little bit of icing, 87,000 new IRS agents (with all the trimmings). That all comes from new and better taxes.

On any given day, the average citizen of the country pays more than 100 different types of taxes, and the trend is that the government always needs more.

One of my favorite TV shows in the past decade was “Sleepy Hollow,” dealing with a man from the Revolutionary War being drug into the current era. It was about supernatural events, but hidden there was social commentary.

One quote that had stuck with me was (after the main character bought a cup of coffee and a doughnut), “What’s insane is a 10 percent levy on baked goods. You do realize the Revolutionary War began on less than 2 percent? How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage? We must do something.”

I appreciate that, because I’ve always wondered what the Founding Fathers would say if they were alive at this time.

There are solutions, most of which are at the ballot box, but my guess is that we are the frogs in the old adage, and the pot is boiling. We just don’t notice because the heat was turned up very slow.

Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times and the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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