U.S. needs to simplify tax code

December 15, 2010


Even Rosetta Stone, the language-learning software that promises individuals they’ll soon “dream in French,” would be hard-pressed to translate the language of Washington. The etymology surrounding the tax debate would stymie someone with a Ph.D. in linguistics.

Just following the numbers, not to mention the assertions, is enough to produce blank stares of incomprehension. There is a debate about whether the estate tax should jump from zero to 35 percent, or 55 percent. Some liberal congressional Democrats claim they won’t consider voting for the “compromise” unless it is 55 percent. As The Wall Street Journal noted last weekend, the estate tax was 55 percent in 2001, with a $675,000 exemption. In 2009, the top rate was 45 percent with a $3.5 million exemption. This year it has been zero percent with no exemption.

Republicans and Democrats have attached new spending for pork projects in the tax rate compromise bill. Pork IS the universal language of Congress.

This is fiscal irresponsibility. The reason America has a debt approaching $14 trillion is that government will not live within the means provided to it by people who earn the money.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., exposed the motives of liberals about progressive taxation. During a mini-filibuster against the deal struck by President Obama and the congressional Republican leadership, Sanders said it is “greedy” to oppose a hike in the tax rates. “Greed is like an addiction,” he said, comparing it to heroin and nicotine. Sanders wondered how anyone could be proud to call himself a “multimillionaire?” One might ask how any U.S. senator could be proud to call himself a socialist? Besides, what business is it of government how much anyone legally earns?

According to Sanders’ reasoning, if people resist turning over increasing amounts of their paychecks to government, they are greedy. The left is obsessed with punishing the successful, but even if billionaires and multi-millionaires were taxed at a 100 percent rate, it wouldn’t get close to eliminating the debt. Cutting spending would.

What word might best characterize a government that so misspends our money? Unconstitutional? Irresponsible? Outrageous?

The class warfare game played by the Left leads nowhere. It is foreign to the Constitution and to our history. Every poor person would like the opportunity to become rich, or at least better off. Liberty and opportunity, not government, offer that chance if right choices are made and one develops a moral center.

The Left’s real concern is that too many people might become independent of government and have less “need” of politicians. Most politicians won’t let that happen unless forced to do so by the voters. The November election was a step in the right direction.

President Obama’s latest manipulation of language is his shameless theft of a Republican idea. Last Friday, according to the Washington Post and an official of the administration, President Barack Obama “directed his economic team to begin analyzing options for overhauling the U.S. tax code as part of an effort to trim the long-term deficit.”

“The idea is simplifying the system, hopefully lowering rates, broadening the base,” the president told NPR News.

Wait, I thought the lowered Bush tax rates were a threat to the country?

The tax code has become complicated because Congress uses it to reward or punish companies or causes, which it favors, or opposes, depending upon which way the political wind blows. A simpler, more equitable code with lower rates would benefit taxpayers; the treasury would see tax receipts increase because more people would be paying taxes; there would be more capital available to the private sector for production of goods and services; and businesses could hire more people, who would become taxpayers.

Congressional Republicans should scuttle the deal offered by the president and await reinforcements, arriving next month. They might then get a better deal. And maybe, just maybe, the new members will speak a language the public understands.

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Cal is in full hero worship mode today. He thanks God for rich people, because without them we'd all be living in caves.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

If you get in trouble about your taxes, just write "Rangel Rule" on a piece of paper and send it to the IRS.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

Easy, Mr. Shewmon; they might pull your psychiatric license if you get carried away. Your diagnosis may be partly correct, but there are crazies on both ends of the spectrum who are distorting the debate for the more rational 80%. Cheers, Paul

seriouscat 7 years, 1 month ago

Cal is absolutely right about one thing...cutting spending sure would reign in the debt. So where's the column calling for ending the wars?

Hmmm. Has he written one of those yet?

7 years, 1 month ago

There seems to be a meme here. But I wonder, who is greedier, those who have money or those who lie awake at night inventing ways to take it away from them?

SnakeFist 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, who is more immoral:

"those who have money" = the average worker;

"those who lie awake at night inventing ways to take it away from them" = the greedy, for-profit business owner; or

those who protect the former from the latter = the government.

aa469285 7 years, 1 month ago

Great post. I love how those politicians lie about hypothetical issues, like the size of a tax form. Clearly, it couldn't be the size of a postcard. He clearly meant 8.5 x 11.

Richard Payton 7 years, 1 month ago

Cal wrote, "The class warfare game by the Left leads nowhere." I thought the right played this game far more often than the Left. Remember trickle down in which nothing trickles down unless the tax payer tells them they might benefit to give to a charity so to pay less in taxes.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Remember when companies paid a decent wage, with good benefits, and people worked at the same job for 30 years, raising a family on one income?

gogoplata 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd prefer we get rid of the communist income tax.

gogoplata 7 years, 1 month ago

I call on gay marriage, drug war and faith based initiatives and raise you dropping the federal reserve, and just about every department in the federal government.

Can't compromise on abortion. If live begins at conception, the individual has rights.

libra101 7 years, 1 month ago

Yep, can't compromise on abortion. A woman is either an autonomous being with constitutional rights or she's merely a baby-making machine.

gogoplata 7 years, 1 month ago

You can only make that case if life does not begin at conception. If I believed that life did not begin until birth I would support the right for a woman to choose abortion.

mbulicz 7 years, 1 month ago

Took you three straw men to even draw a response. I wish I had time to hijack every single thread on the LJW site and bring up my pet issues. Sadly, I'm busy working a real job and contributing to society while you're busy complaining that I probably don't.

Your obsession with Obama is hysterical. Why don't you call him up and ask him out already? I'm sure you're his type - you're elitist, you're spineless, and you really love to hear yourself talk.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

"CorkyHundley (anonymous) replies… Remember when people didn't need to take what others make." === Well, Corky, it's been a while. I recall discussions of taxes in the bible and other ancient documents. Some form of tax and welfare has been with us for centuries. The challenge, as this blog suggests, is finding the right balance. The Romans taxed pretty hard at times, but at least gave the workers free bread so they would have the strength to build more roads and water systems. the Egyptians did the same, but paid in beer, bread and onions to keep the sheeple of the day working on monuments and water systems.

Sunny Parker 7 years, 1 month ago

Why do liberals want to take from others who are more successful than them?

SnakeFist 7 years, 1 month ago

Why do conservatives refuse to acknowledge that individual success is not achieved in a vacuum? Those who benefit most from the system, i.e., those who became wealthy because (not in spite) of the system, should pay the most to support their vested interest in the system.

gogoplata 7 years, 1 month ago

Then why do liberals want to take from others less successful than them?

Corey Williams 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I guess "tax and spend" liberals are much better than the "borrow and spend" republicans.

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