Over the past couple months, Americans have battled over the debt ceiling, taxes and entitlements. And what has gotten done? We are borrowing trillions more and leaving the future of our country's spending and debt up to a small group of handpicked elected officials to solve. In my opinion, it simply will not work.
About a month ago, I had a conversation with a conservative leader from Iowa who has a strong voice in Washington, D.C. Some might call it an argument. During the debate over the debt ceiling we kept hearing about loopholes; Democrat leaders kept mentioning this millionaire's private jet loophole. Why on Earth did not one Republican stand up and say, "Take it away?"
I argued that these are the kinds of loopholes that allow Warren Buffet to pay a lesser percentage in taxes than his staff and secretary. As I went on I pressed him saying that Republicans need to seriously look at these loopholes, and decide which ones we can get rid of, then go to the Democrats and offer these up for a reduction in all of the top marginal rates; across the board. I felt as though this would be an idea that would garner bipartisan support.
Every American who earns a paycheck will see more money in the paychecks, most of which will be spent, go right back into the economy and turn over multiple times. This conservative leader I was “arguing” with favored a flat, fair tax structure and argued that if we gave Democrats an inch, they would try to take a mile and it just would not work. At the end of the day he and I respectfully agreed to disagree on my idea.
On Tuesday night I felt vindicated. I was watching a late night news show (I know, I’m a nerd), and the guest was Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. I was ready to fall asleep when he said something that grabbed my attention right away:
“Get rid of the loopholes, lower the tax rates to make us more competitive, so we don't tax our job creators more than our foreign competitors are taxing their companies. That gives us competitiveness, but more importantly, gives businesses certainty, certainty so they know what tax rates are going to be not just today, but in the future, so they have more confidence to hire and invest in the future.”
His argument was essentially the same argument I proposed a few weeks back. Basically, close the loopholes, lower everyone’s taxes, stop letting the lobbyists pick winners and losers in the tax system and give certainty to businesses to help get the economy moving. Most small businesses in America file as individuals, and the individual tax rate is killing many small businesses.
In President Obama’s address to the nation last week on jobs, he mentioned tax reform. I think he is right to bring this up. I hope he follows the idea I posed a month back and Rep. Ryan has brought out these past few days. For too long Democrats have been arguing for raising taxes, and Republicans have been arguing for cutting taxes. Both have made valid arguments at times. But this all or nothing approach both sides have taken has accomplished nothing.
Total reform of the tax system is the right thing to do. In addition to putting more money in the average American’s pocket, it would also give certainty to the business world, which is needed to get our economy moving again. Further, it would take away advantages that certain industries have gained because they have the higher paid or better lobbyist to get their bidding done. (No offense to my friends in the lobby.)
Certain aspects of my Republican party will not like my saying this. This conservative leader a few weeks back certainly did not like it. Maybe I have just became too practical. If our members of Congress are not willing to work together, they need not be there.
I am all for articulating what you want, and drawing a line in the sand. Politics is the art of compromise, and there hasn’t been much lately, which is why Congress' approval rating is under 15 percent.
Congress must stop kicking the can down the road. We deserve for them to get something done, and when it comes to tax reform I not only hope they do, I think it is critical they do. They need to do the right thing for the American people. Can this common sense, simple, fair idea work in Washington? I sure hope so.
You can see Paul Ryan discuss this idea by watching this short video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Aewj_IndN4.