Sunday, January 25, 2015
Why Don’t Lawmakers Want to Update the Tax Code?
By Ed Feulneron Sun, 25 Jan 2015
Lawmakers in Washington have plenty of work ahead of them this year, so the temptation to punt on everything but the “hot” issues will be strong. Here’s one they should tackle without hesitation: tax reform.
It’s long overdue. One glance at the tax code, and you won’t be surprised to learn it’s been nearly 30 years since it was overhauled. Small wonder, as I noted in a recent column, that we’ve wound up with a Byzantine system of credits, deductions and exemptions, spread across tens of thousands of pages — one that can bewilder even the most seasoned tax preparer.
Complexity, though, is the least of our problems. The rates are simply too high. We’re making it needlessly difficult for Americans to save and invest. That hurts job growth and depresses wages.
Even people who know the rates are too high are often unaware of how much they’re paying to fund the federal government. Thanks to income and payroll tax withholding, and what tax expert Curtis Dubay calls “the hidden costs of corporate, employer payroll and excise taxes,” the full price tag remains something of a mystery to most of us.
The lack of true tax reform affects millions of hardworking Americans. “Families use savings to pay for down payments on homes, education, retirement, unexpected bills, or anything else that they may desire to buy in the future,” Dubay writes in “Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None,” a new policy book from the Heritage Foundation. “High rates discourage them from saving by making spending today more attractive than spending in the future.”
Take the corporate tax rate. To hear some politicians talk about it, it affects only corporations, which are often portrayed as ruthless and greedy. But what is the result of the United States having one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world? Less investment by companies headquartered here and abroad. That translates into fewer jobs and lower wages. The corporate tax rate, like so many others, affects all of us.
It’s not simply a question of lowering rates — as important as that is. It’s crucial that we apply these lower rates to the right tax base. This may sound technical, but it’s really not. What we’re talking about (if we get reform right, that is) is taxing consumption, not investment. The way to encourage savings and investment is to move more toward a traditional flat tax (one rate for all).
Why would this help? Because a flat tax is geared toward a tax base that’s more neutral. That means it doesn’t positively or negatively influence economic decision-making by families, businesses, investors and entrepreneurs. Instead of picking winners and losers, the government gets out of the way of individuals and businesses.
Another benefit to genuine tax reform is that it can help reduce the size of government. Federal spending is on an unsustainable path. Left unchecked, it will grow to levels that threaten the security of families. Tax reform, though, would make it easier to put government on a much-needed diet by making the cost of it more transparent to the American people.
And let’s not overlook one other obvious and very tangible benefit. “According to the Tax Foundation, the economy could grow as much as 15 percent more over 10 years because of tax reform,” Dubay writes. “After those 10 years, the average American family’s wages would be almost 10 percent higher. That would mean an extra $5,000 in the pockets of families making $50,000 per year (roughly the median income in the U.S. today).”
A smaller government. A healthier economy. More savings and investment. When you consider all the benefits of tax reform, the only question for lawmakers is this: When are you going to get started?
President Obama’s refusal to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister comes to Washington in March to address a joint meeting of Congress is a petulant, juvenile snub — one that couldn’t be more badly timed.
The Israeli leader “spat in our face,” an unnamed senior U.S. official told Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “and there will be a price.” An unnamed source “close to Kerry” told the Washington Post the House speech “could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”
That’s gangster talk, aimed at one of America’s closest allies — all because the Israeli leader dared to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s to address Congress on the emerging Iranian nuclear threat without consulting them first.
Too bad. Boehner leads the House. He can invite who he wants. Netanyahu leads his country. He can speak where he likes.
In fact, it’s completely understandable that the prime minister would accept the speaker’s invitation — because the President, who should be happily receiving him, has made a hash of the Washington-Jerusalem relationship.
By Jack Kelly - January 25, 2015
When People magazine asked Michelle Obama last month about her “personal experience” with racism, she cited a 2011 visit to a Target store in Virginia.
“The only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf,” the first lady said. “Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life.”
Why is it “racist” for a short white woman to ask a much taller woman (Ms. Obama is 5 feet, 11 inches) who happens to be black to get a box of detergent for her from a high shelf?
Racism and sexism are nearly as rampant in America today as half a century ago, some liberals suggest. The first lady’s anecdote illustrates how difficult it is to find evidence to support this charge.
The greatest civil rights leader dreamed in 1963 “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Jim Crow was killed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since the 1970s, blacks have been admitted to colleges and universities with grades and test scores below those of other students, been given preference in hiring for many jobs. For decades now, Martin Luther King’s dream has largely been true.
Unthinkable in 1968, improbable in 1988, Americans in 2008 elected a (half) black man president of the United States. But there are those who say the fact that many who voted for Barack Obama have since soured on him proves racism endures.
The growth and impoverishment of the black underclass in cities governed for decades by Democrats is our greatest domestic tragedy. Blaming it on mostly mythical white racism obscures the real causes, prevents solutions.
But if liberals acknowledged the progress that’s been made, more blacks might wonder why all the “help” they’ve gotten from Democrats has done them so little good. So they pretend every year is 1963.
Half a century ago, career opportunities for women pretty much were limited to nursing, teaching, the secretarial pool. Women today are doctors, lawyers, corporate CEOs, generals and admirals.
The pay gap has all but disappeared for women who work in the same fields as men and have done so for just as long. Young women in urban areas earned about 8 percent more than their male peers, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report in 2009.
Holly Lynne, my granddaughter, born Dec. 23, will be able to do pretty much whatever she wants to do and likely will be paid more for doing it than will boys her age.
Workplace equality wouldn’t be on the cusp of achievement were it not for the efforts of early feminists. But feminism died as a civil rights movement when “the sisterhood” embraced President Bill Clinton despite his serial abuse of women.
Hillary Clinton, who got to start at the top because she’s Bill’s wife, is a feminist heroine, despite having orchestrated smear campaigns against the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. So are Elizabeth Warren, who obtained appointment to the faculty of Harvard Law School after claiming, falsely, to be of Native American descent, and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, fired for incompetence by the family firm (she says she was “downsized”).
But the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, the first female Hispanic governor, the first African-American woman to be secretary of state aren’t feminist heroines because they’re Republicans.
To be a feminist today is to be a dishonest shill for Democrats. To deny progress, they push their definition of “sexism” ever further into the realm of absurdity. Lately, feminists in New York City are having hissy fits over “man-spreading,” the tendency of male subway riders to sit with their knees apart.
Nothing in politics is more despicable than sowing race and gender discord for partisan advantage.