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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Maybe it’s time for tax revolt

November 30, 2012

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Congress returned to “work” this week (now there’s a laugh) to complete its lame-duck session before taking another holiday. Spending other people’s money is a taxing experience.

Their task is to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a geological construct of their own making. It doesn’t take a genius to predict both parties will try to do two things: (1) reach an agreement that will allow each side to take some credit and (2) require those who work for a living to pay government more while they come up with phony, or inconsequential spending “cuts.”

Whatever they do, payroll taxes are going up Jan. 1, and new taxes associated with Obamacare will soon follow. It is beyond argument that additional revenue isn’t the solution to the problem of uncontrolled spending.

According to usgovernmentrevenue.com, writer Christopher Chantrill’s “resource on government taxes and receipts in the United States,” “Total revenue at all levels of government in the United States is ‘guesstimated’ to be $5.5 trillion in 2013.” Unfortunately, our projected debt will be $17.5 trillion. Absent reforms, the U.S. Senate Budget Committee predicts the federal government could be $20 trillion in debt by 2016. Clearly, it’s not lack of revenue that is driving the debt; it is lack of spending restraint.

How much more should we subsidize government irresponsibility? If the answer is “not another dime” perhaps the time has come for a taxpayer revolt.

In 1978, the late Howard Jarvis and his wife led a successful drive to put Proposition 13 on the California ballot. The measure, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters, limited rapidly rising property taxes. According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association website, Proposition 13 “has saved Californians $400 billion and allowed millions of Californians to keep their homes.”

What is needed is a leader with the determination of Howard Jarvis who can organize nationally to keep government from constantly pilfering the assets of the productive so politicians can subsidize the unproductive, buy their votes and addict them to entitlements.

As long as taxpayers continue to acquiesce to the politicians in their never-ending search for more revenue, they will keep taking it, all the while attacking “millionaires and billionaires” for not paying their “fair share.”

The tax system in this country is based on willful compliance. It wouldn’t take many “I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore” taxpayers to creatively, but legally, withhold from the government some of the money they earn.

Members of both parties are guilty of not reforming entitlements and failing to put the people first. Their intransigence is robbing future generations of their right to economic independence and economic growth.

America was birthed during a tax revolt. Expecting politicians to fix a problem of their own making rarely succeeds. Maybe it’s time to force the issue by having taxpayers go on strike.

Yes, it sounds impractical and some will say it isn’t doable. But what other avenues are open to wealth creators? The government has become an enormous panhandler, constantly asking for ever-greater amounts of other people’s money. Let’s tell them “no more” at least until we see real spending reform and policies that result in economic growth, which by itself would produce more tax revenue.

Absent members of Congress acting responsibly, does anyone have a better idea? If so, send it to me. I eagerly await all legal and credible suggestions.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.

Comments

Alyosha 1 year, 4 months ago

Cal's premise that "The government has become an enormous panhandler, constantly asking for ever-greater amounts of other people’s money" is simply incorrect, at least as far as current revenue is concerned.

I trust Bruce Bartlett, who worked for Reagan and George H.W. Bush, far more than Cal. Here's how Bartlett puts it: “Let me point out something very important. Federal revenues today, right now, are about 15.8 percent of the GDP. That is way, way below the historical average. If we can just get up to the post-war average, we cut $500 billion a year off the deficit.”

As for congressional Republicans, and many commenters here on LJWorld.com (including the site's publisher), I agree with Barlett when he says: "“We need higher revenues, both to restrain spending and to change the dynamics of the fiscal process…Your idea is so goddamn dogmatic. You’re living in a fantasy world where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas.”

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/former-reagan-economic-official-slams-conservatives-over-taxes-stop-being-so-goddamn-dogmatic/

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh, and knucklehead knights of the right would work...

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Obvious obfuscation of the real issue by Cal. Pernicious pandering to the quixotic queue of those who romanticize revolt against sagacious solutions and timid taxation. Useless ululation from a viscous and vapid (pre) varicator, wooly-headed wishes consisting of xenophobic (e)xcerpts from yucky yes-men to the zero-intelligence zombies of the right.

Finished it for you.

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verity 1 year, 4 months ago

One has to ask the question, why doesn't Mr Thomas lead this revolt he is advocating? Why doesn't he put HIS money where his mouth is? Show us how this can be done legally?

Until he does so, his words mean less than nothing.

I became aware of Mr Thomas some decades ago, probably late 80s, because of an interview with him in a religious magazine that my mother received. Because it "wasn't popular in DC" to be a Christian in those days, he was a stealth Christian. Now it seems that he feels comfortable coming out of the closet, but he's still into the stealth business---stir up others to do the dirty work while he sits back with his cushy life and watches.

(I have tried to find that article online, but have not been successful.)

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voevoda 1 year, 4 months ago

Cal Thomas wrote: "It wouldn’t take many “I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore” taxpayers to creatively, but legally, withhold from the government some of the money they earn." I thought that that was what the ultrarich--Romney, for example--were already doing--how he got his tax bill down to a lower percentage than most wage-earners pay. Taxpayers whose income is too low to be able to itemize deductions or who aren't eligible for deductions beyond, say, mortgage interest or child-dependent don't have a lot of legal ways to withhold more of their money. So is Cal Thomas really trying to encourage law-breaking?

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beatrice 1 year, 4 months ago

Taxes are lower now than they have been for some time. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/us/most-americans-face-lower-tax-burden-than-in-the-80s.html?hp

This tax revolt is akin to conservatives' desire to secede. It isn't grounded in any form of reality, just the perception of being wronged all because their guy lost the election. The Bush tax cuts were not intended to last forever. What part of TEMPORARY do these people not understand?

That said, to pay down the debt, not just lower the deficit, it will take raised revenue and cuts in spending. I am concerned if the first cuts ever mentioned are those in the most need, compared to cuts in other areas, particularly military spending. We need a strong military, but we don't need to spend more than the next 17 nations combined. That is the very definition of excess.

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tange 1 year, 4 months ago

Your lips say "revolt," but your head betrays... re-dolt.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 4 months ago

Anyone who wants to join this revolt better park your car. You are no longer allowed to drive on any street belonging to us taxpayers.

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Briseis 1 year, 4 months ago

Dave Bing is all in with this article.

Bing Said City Workers Feel ‘Entitled,’ Says His Job Second Only To Obama’s November 29, 2012 4:20 PM

He added: “Nobody wants to go backwards, but in order for us to move this city forward we’re going to have to take a step or two backwards — and then, I think, all of us have to participate in the pain that’ s upon us right now.

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/11/29/bing-said-city-workers-feel-entitled-says-his-job-second-only-to-obamas/

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 4 months ago

I agree with you on b.s. bailouts but let's not act like Obamas quantitative easing is not doing the same thing by buying bad debt off banks balance sheets. Obama is just more sneaky with his bailouts then Bush.

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OonlyBonly 1 year, 4 months ago

We do not have a revenue problem, we do have a spending problem.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 4 months ago

I agree the class war is still on by people like you. Statements like "why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer" shows your disdain for successful individuals.
"The longest-running longitudinal study of health, run by George Vaillant, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, found education to be one of the biggest determinants of longevity, along with behavioral factors—excessive drinkers were more likely to die young" US News

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Briseis 1 year, 4 months ago

French Socialist in Mittal Row: We're Just Doing What Obama Does

The French politician who said Indian steel company ArcelorMittal should leave the country has told CNBC that his government is only acting like U.S. President Barack Obama.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/50022833

Krugman would is a wonderful mouth for Obama and be an excellent Mittal Row fella.

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marymo70 1 year, 4 months ago

Could it possibly be we are not being invaded by other countries BECAUSE we have a big military? I know that wasn't the point of your reply but sheesh, put a little thought into what you're trying to say.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/30-4

Class Wars of 2012 by Paul Krugman

"On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.

They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.

snip

(W)hat voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?

The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.

Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.

Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor.

The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what?"

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Agnostick 1 year, 4 months ago

"We lost the election--again. What we need now is a leader of the people that can lead us all into a really, really loud temper tantrum. We're the aging Baby Boomers who demand all the free medical care we've paid into all our lives--but we don't want to pay any more taxes to keep up with rising costs. Let our children and grandchildren fend for us--they can have the bones for themselves."

--what Cal Thomas really wrote!

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beatrice 1 year, 4 months ago

When you consider that no countries are invading our borders, it becomes very clear that our military is bloated beyond belief. We need to cut spending, and that includes military spending. It will not be cuts to entitlements alone, or tax increases alone, that will get us out of our fiscal mess. It will take a combination of both raised revenue and spending cuts.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

They created the "cliff" to force themselves to do something meaningful about the deficit and debt issue, without which they probably wouldn't have.

Payroll taxes will rise because a temporary cut will expire, and since they pay for the big "entitlements", it's a good thing, without which they'd be less sustainable.

His numbers don't support his argument - he neatly compares annual revenue to the complete national debt rather than annual deficits, which are significantly lower. And, even though it's true that we are spending more than we take in in revenue, that doesn't mean the problem is only spending-driven. In fact, a combination of increased revenue and decreased spending is the only sensible way to fix it.

According to somebody who lived in SF for a long time, Prop 13 created all sorts of problems there.

At least he's using the rhetoric of "wealth" creators, instead of "job" creators. But wealth can't be "created". Money simply circulates in the economy. When it goes to one place, it can't go simultaneously to another, so it's rather a zero-sum game in that sense. Wealth can be concentrated in various ways, and our current concentration greatly favors those at the top of the income scale.

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Briseis 1 year, 4 months ago

Half the population pays federal taxes....some revolt that would be.

The other half would feel hurt. Emotionally distraught that the half paying their way is revolting. They would feel so put -upon that they would go as far as spiking the football with comments like how'd the Teaparty... and Bin Laden is dead...

BTW, how's the Brotherhood doing, that Obama, Clinton, and Rice are supporting, in Egypt?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Wow, Cal, that was some really original thinking.

BTW, how'd the Teaparty do in the last election?

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Mike Ford 1 year, 4 months ago

ignore eight years of bush and act as if obama and two elections are the problem.... what denial......

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Gandalf 1 year, 4 months ago

Poor cal, can't rant about making President Obama a one term president. So back to the old stand of wanting to cut retirement benefits on the working class and disabled.

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