There…I said all the things that almost all politicians hate in one headline. Okay…republicans hate taxes and democrats hate spending cuts, but they all hate stuff like campaign finance reform. And to a greater or lesser degree reforming the tax code, taking a serious swag at balancing the budget and doing away with the lifetime careers for congressmen and senators. As you might expect politicians want no part of it.
Flat Tax. Well maybe not flat exactly but certainly different than what we struggle with today. People really can’t get a handle on equitable tax distribution if all these shelters and deductions obscure the outcome. If your income puts you in the 27% bracket or the 34% bracket then the tax you pay should be about uhmmm…27% or 34%. I don’t think we can institute a single tax bracket for everyone, even though that is itself somewhat progressive. For example, if the single flat tax is 25% and taxpayer A makes $25,000 and taxpayer B else makes $1,000,000, taxpayer B is going to pay a lot more than A, but a 25% tax is going to hurt A more than the bigger tax bill will hurt B. A lot of voters are in favor of tax reform, mostly because they think their taxes will be lower (and conversely someone else will have higher taxes). Tax reform will do a lot to help Americans understand and even agree about a fair tax burden.
Term Limits. Incumbent politicians, unless they’re caught taking money or fooling around usually find it easier to get re-elected than a challenger finds it to get elected the first time. Their office is a platform on which they can reward those who support them and punish those who do not. In Congress, powerful committee chairs are dispensed by seniority. Partisan party policies continue, not because they’re good, but because the familiar officeholders keep getting re-elected. This built in bias for the office holder is contrary to the original “rotation of office” thinking common during the nation’s founding. Politicians don’t like it for obvious reasons.
Campaign Finance. The enormous amount of money spent in election campaigns in the United States propagates the two party system. The tidal wave of money raised and spent by the two dominant parties effectively freezes out third part voices. Corporations and unions are totally connected to the dominant parties and completely focused on promoting their agendas. Spending by political action committee’s makes a farce of the election process. Elections decided because the candidate has the most money to spend is not what the democratic process is envisioned to be. Since the vast majority of politicians holding office today belong to one of the dominant parties it is unlikely they will support real significant reform.
Substantially reducing the amount of money a candidate can spend would promote the ability of candidates representing other points of view to be heard. Corporate and Union participation must be eliminated. The media will be absolutely against this option since it provides fewer opportunities for their profound comment.
Balanced Budget. In theory a balanced budget rule is more of a hindrance than an aid. Why should we have a rule that curtails flexibility in emergencies or limits strategic options for government in general? The problem of course is spending, or more specifically: politicians and spending. Balancing the budget means that annually we will not spend more than we have in revenues. This won’t cure the huge deficit already created by the politicians from both sides, but it would help in making sure it doesn’t get bigger.
It’s hardly a revolutionary idea since almost all the states have some type of legal requirement for budget balancing. A major effect of an enforceable balanced budget amendment will be to shift the politicians focus from finding ways to raise taxes or spend money, to finding ways to live within the budget constraints. Something we haven’t done for a long time.
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