The Agitator #106: Tax change and other folly
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
Mar 04, 2014 | 531 views | 4 4 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Republicans have complained about taxes since before Ronald Reagan lowered them before raising them again. Any Republican running on a platform of a needed tax hike, any Republican breaking his promise of no new taxes is doomed from the start. That’s a fair political debate that the voters should hear before casting their ballot accordingly.

I am in Representative Tom Price’s Sixth Congressional District. He wrote a letter to his constituents dated February 18, 2014. It was written on congressional stationary, and in small print at the bottom it said that “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense. It is provided as a service to constituents.” Actually it was a highly partisan letter that to my way of thinking should have been paid for out of his campaign funds.

In the letter Price laments, as I do, the “millions of hours complying with the tax code while our businesses face the highest tax rates in the industrialized world.” He continues that House Republicans have included tax reform as part of their budget plan in order to “simplify the system, eliminate special interest loopholes, and make America more competitive.” All well and good and makes for a great campaign slogan. Too bad the reality is that it’s more smoke and mirrors, more red meat show and tell with absolutely no substance.

Juxtapose Price’s comments with fellow Republican Dave Camp of Michigan. Only a few days after the release of Price’s letter, Camp published the results of his research and hard work in proposing a new tax code. It would close the special tax breaks that wealthy hedge fund operators get, compress taxes into three categories, eliminate a lot of deductions that are antiquated and supported by special interests, and reduce the complexity of filing a return. The immediate reaction to Camp’s honest proposal, one that deserves consideration, debate, argument, and perhaps a vote, came from House Speaker John Boehner, who when asked about it said, “Blah, blah, blah, blah.”

If that doesn’t tell you how serious Republicans are about streamlining the 70,000 page tax code, you are indeed a hard person to convince. I wondered where Tom Price’s voice of support for Camp was when Camp first came out with his bill. After all, in light of Price’s letter, Camp addressed the very concerns that Price raised. What we got from Price was the voice of silence. If Americans are watching this game being played out, they should know that they have no hope of tax reform. Republicans have a majority in the House and may even gain the senate in November. But don’t expect change. They didn’t do anything when Bush was president and they had both houses, and it won’t happen if they once again have the chance.

In the meanwhile on the state level, the state House successfully passed some bills to provide tax breaks to help luxury jet owners and other business interests. The proponents defend this by saying that it keeps and creates jobs, and other states grant similar largess. I guess if every state did the same, eventually no business would pay taxes in order to remain “competitive.” Delta was once given a fuel tax exemption when they were going through hard times. An argument can be made for it in such cases, but now that they are making nine figure profits, shouldn’t that tax gift be reconsidered? The state stands to lose $150 million with the latest sweetheart presents, but if you follow the money and who gave to whom just before the General Assembly began, you can see how it played out.

And so my fellow readers and taxpayers, be prepared to continue to shell out more money for your tax accountant or lawyer. There is no relief in sight. Be comforted by Price’s letter funded by your hard earned money, and trust him to lead the charge for tax reform as his letter promises. Then wait for his first word of support of the one Republican, Dave Camp, who at least did the work and came up with a proposal that deserves attention. Several tax cycles will pass and you still won’t hear Price utter one peep as long as Boehner considers it blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s the modern definition of leadership, and Price is the leader of it.

Comments
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Ben Twomey
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March 06, 2014
Oliver, the question is "Why do you point out Republican hypocrisy and not Democratic hypocrisy?"

Unless, and I doubt this is the case, you think Democrtic hypocrisy does nto exist.
Oliver G. Halle
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March 05, 2014
Ben, the reason I haven't gone after Democrats on this is becasue they are out of power in the House, and because they haven't made much noise about tax reform. Republicans all run on lower taxes and overhauling the tax code. In light of Tom Price's letter, coupled with a fellow Republican who put something legitmate on the table for consideration, I thought it fair to to use this as an example of their hypocrisy.
EM Buckner
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March 05, 2014
Odds are good Halle will reply to you, Mr. Twomey. But I'll bet he doesn't roundly applaud the Dems when he does so. His point--it seems to me--is that the GOPers like Price (but not like Camp) who issue, at taxpayer expense, empty political bromides as they seek higher office, do not demonstrate any sincere interest in improving the tax code. The Dems have no power in the House right now, but I'm not sure if they did that the GOPers and the Dems would do anything to improve this. That sure as heck doesn't mean it's OK for the Tom Prices of the world to hold forth in full hypocritical mode. --Ed B.
Ben Twomey
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March 05, 2014
Oliver, the problem here is that you are confining your condemnations to the Republicans. Anybody who thinks we will get any tax relief with the Democrats has been living in a coma for the past 5 plus years.

Dems or RINOS are all the same. Stick it to the people.
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