One of the most important issues in the coming presidential election is tax policy, and this necessitates a closer examination of both candidates' positions. In my estimation, both men receive an F.
President Obama repeatedly has made it known that he seeks to let the George W. Bush tax cuts expire for higher-income Americans, increasing the progressivity of the tax code to take more from those at the top so as to redistribute their wealth. Not satisfied with a top federal income tax rate of 35 percent, the president would allow the rate to increase to at least 39.6 percent, the levy that was in effect under President Clinton.
Challenger Mitt Romney had little to say about tax policy until he was pushed by the right wing of the Republican Party to propose something dramatic -- and he did, a stunning 20 percent across-the-board reduction in current tax rates. When Mr. Romney was pressed to explain how we would pay for this initiative, he proposed limiting deductions, but to date, he has not stated which deductions would be limited or eliminated.
Neither candidate has proposed a fair, simple system of taxation in which the federal income tax would be eliminated in favor of a value-added tax or consumption tax. President Obama never would propose such a system because it would have an impact on his ability to tax the wealthy disproportionately. One can only speculate why Mr. Romney has not proposed such a system.
It is understandable that businesses are refraining from hiring and spending, given that no one knows what tax policy or rates will be in effect beginning next year. Ours is a nation operating on stopgap spending plans. Congress and the president shamefully failed to approve a budget even when the Democrats controlled both Houses.
OREN M. SPIEGLER
Upper Saint Clair, Pa.
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