So President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have returned to Washington emboldened by their “clear mandate” from voters. Washington has driven the country $16 trillion into debt, committed to tens of trillions more in unpayable obligations and flung the economy into the sewer. But whatever we do, let’s not just quit spending so much money that we do not have.
The three headless horsemen have carefully read the tea leaves from the election and confidently report that voters simply will not accept cuts in the federal government’s profligate spending unless those cuts are accompanied by massive new taxes that, ultimately, will hit everyone one way or another.
No matter how much money you make, whenever a politician promises he only wants to soak the rich, hold onto your wallet. Those jokers have spent such monstrous amounts of borrowed money with you and me as co-signers that there is no way to clip only the rich to pay it off.
The White House hilariously fretted last week that the uncertainty about sticking the rich kept middle-class shoppers from going hog wild enough on Black Friday. Yet it showed no concern about all the small businesses out there that file as “rich” individuals and are so worried about tax increases that they are not hiring, are laying off people and are reducing the hours of the workers they keep to avoid getting slapped with the new Obamacare tax.
Warren Buffett — a rare wealthy Obama supporter who didn’t make his fortune bouncing a basketball, singing rhymes or playing out fantasy roles in Hollywood movies — has offered various soak-the-rich schemes such as a minimum tax for those earning $1 million or more a year.
One of the really nice things about being the richest man in America is that you certainly can afford to pay higher taxes. Also, a fat tax slap at those mere billionaire up-and-comers on Mr. Buffett’s tail might help keep him on top of the heap a while longer.
But perhaps there is one aspect of the Buffett proposal that is worth considering, and it certainly would be a lot more transparent. One positive change that likely would come from a minimum tax would be the abandonment of thousands of loopholes that riddle the tax code. If you are going to have to pay a certain amount anyway, why waste time and money finding obscure ways to avoid taxes?
Now, many politicians in this town will strenuously resist any such scheme because loopholes in legislation — especially the tax code — are the primary way in which they shake down special interests for campaign cash.
Principled conservatives have long argued that getting rid of the loopholes would clarify and simplify the tax code. Even more important, it would significantly reduce federal bureaucrats’ ability to boss everybody around because the vast majority of tax loopholes are nothing more than pigs under a veil — the veil being some kind of incentive to encourage Americans to behave in an allegedly superior manner.
It really would take all the fun out of being a big wheel in the federal government. Which, of course, is reason alone to do it. But I’m not holding my breath.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com.
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