I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.–Richard Mourdock
Thanks to President Donald J. Trump for having the Ways and Means Committee to the White House to talk about bipartisan Tax Reform.–Tom Reed (facebook)
The time is now to make real reforms to our broken and dated tax code. I am committed to working in a bipartisan fashion in the House, with the White House, and partners in the Senate to find a consensus on tax reform. Today, we have released a framework of our objectives. Our goal is to create good paying, high-quality jobs while cutting taxes for the middle class.–Tom Reed (facebook)
“It is a great day for America when we put aside our political differences and put Americans first. The Problem Solvers Caucus, in conjunction with Governors Kasich and Hickenlooper demonstrated to our colleagues that only by working together, can we solve America’s problems. Looking forward, we are already working on tax reforms that will remove the shackles from American business and unleash the innovation and optimism that drive America.–Tom Reed 2017 press release
It’s only fair we fight for real healthcare reform by repealing the broken healthcare law, and replacing it with policies that work.–Tom Reed 2015 press release
We stopped the bipartisan talks last week because my goal wasn’t just to get a bipartisan agreement — it was to get a bipartisan result. I didn’t see any way to get one in the current political environment.–Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
What is bipartisan?
- Democrats accepting Republican views?
- Whatever President Trump favors?
- Lower taxes for wealthy Americans?
- Repealing Obamacare?
- Any idea which at least one Democrat favors?
In my opinion, Lamar Alexander is closer to the truth–bipartisan agreement on a bad idea isn’t good enough.
Tom Reed tells us:
Today, Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Kasich (R-OH) spoke with the media about their support for common sense health care solutions to stabilize the health insurance marketplace and lower premiums for American families and businesses. The Members and Governors called on Congress and the President to set aside partisanship to provide relief to the American families, individuals and small businesses suffering in an uncertain marketplace.
Is it good enough to stabilize the health insurance marketplace while continuing to undermine Obamacare in any way possible? I think not, and the Problem Solvers Caucus isn’t close to doing even that.
Once Tom Reed was a deficit hawk. With tax revenue down during the Great Recession, Tom warned of bankruptcy and demanded spending cuts. He repeatedly showed a chart suggesting that deficit spending would go on indefinitely. Today Tom talks of proposed tax reform as if the thought that it would greatly benefit wealthy Americans had never entered his mind. As for deficit spending, Tom no longer mentions that.
Deficit Spending is necessary and inevitable when the economy is depressed. Increased deficit spending when the economy is near full employment to benefit the wealthiest Americans is nuts. Reasonable respect for facts and a sincere concern for the public interest are prerequisites for responsible bipartisanship; Tom Reed has yet to demonstrate that.
Congressman Tom Reed has only campaigned as fiscally conservative. He has (along with Dems and Reps) has always voted for big spending and deficit continuing Omnibus Budgets, continuing resolutions and increased deficit borrowing and debt ceiling increases. These were all pushed thru with GOP and Dem support and approval and with President Barack Obama signing off on until 2017.
There are only a handful of GOP Congressional members and perhaps a few Dem Congressional members who are truly fiscally responsible and conservative.
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Rynstone, I agree–fiscal responsibility is hard to find in Congress. Tom Reed once complained bitterly about deficit spending when it was inevitable due to the Great Recession, but now with his party in power he is silent.
Mr Reed is the master of doubletalk. I recall when he excoriated Obama (the ACA) because the president proposed cutting some high fees charged by Medicare providers. Mr Reed called it “cuts to Medicare” when the fact is no one would be cut from Medicare by the plan.
Now, Mr Reed has voted to make real cuts to Medicare and Medicaid by reducing funding over the next few years. Doubletalk. Mr Reed will have his photo taken with the elderly and the disabled while voting to cut their benefits. Look at his voting record, not his rhetoric.
Is bipartisanship possible? Well, it seems that the only time Mr Reed and the GOP in general are interested in “bipartisanship” is when they don’t have the votes to push through their agenda.Look at the “repeal” Obamacare debacle. No attempt to compromise. It seems duplicitous to me.
The major problem the GOP has is that they remain firmly committed to the 2 core ideas of trickle down economics and deregulation. The idea that giving massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy somehow generates tons of jobs is a nice idea. But the history of Reaganomics and the Bush2 massive tax cuts and deregulation did not lead to an economic paradise, did they? Bush2 gave massive tax cuts to corporations, did that lead to an economic boom and record employment?
I guess folks have short memories.
You cannot have bipartisan solutions when one side is adamant that only cutting taxes to the wealthy will work.
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Joseph, I agree. Tom Reed seems unwilling to even discuss tax reform other than in terms of platitudes–almost everyone except Tom recognizes that GOP tax reform plans favor the wealthy.
Everyone talks a good game on a “game changing” tax reform, including a “Flat Tax” or “Fair Tax” when they are campaigning.
Then when they get elected and they see how much campaign money rolls in from the big CPA firms and the hoard of attorneys who want to keep the massive 74,608 page Federal Tax Code alive to raise huge sums of campaign money, exempt wealthy individuals and corporations who can afford the team of CPA and attorneys from their share and keep the tax code so complex that the Congress uses it for a smoke and mirrors scheme while the IRS officials abuse their power and authority to terrorize citizens and the Presidents and their cabinets to use teh IRS as a political tool.
Simply talking about “tax reform” or “tax cuts” brings out the special interest money on both sides trying to win favors for their industry or their employers. Congress uses this folly to raise donations from all sides in this behind the curtains tax scheme. Both parties are responsible
We simply must abolish the current IRS bureaucracy and current Federal Tax system.
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Rynstone. I agree with your basic premise but not your solution. Real tax reform is just about impossible for a number of reasons. The private financing of political campaigns guarantees that special interests who contribute to candidates will be taken care of. It seems like every special interest has a loophole. Common sense dictates that if Corporation A is giving a congressman a significant donation, that congressman will vote the way Corporation A wants. Thank you, Supreme Court, for Citizens United. The seal of corruption. (Our own Tom Reed votes consistently for the benefit of issues put for by ALEC, as one example).
The solution is not to abolish the IRS or current tax system, however. That only means the government could collect no tax dollars and can do nothing. The USA would collapse. So that is not going to happen.
I have put forth my view before but it is too radical for some folks. To simplify.
We need to phase out ALL deductions and loopholes. Every one. No exception. Over a 10 year period so individuals and businesses can slowly adjust. . Then develop a reasonable tax rate , adjusted for inflation, and progressive. (The richer pay a slightly higher rate; as income rises, the rate rises). In one fell swoop this takes the air out of the lobbyists balloons and assures us of a reasonable fair system, understanding that no system will be perfect. Of course we would need to exempt the very poor from any tax at all.
Why do I believe this? Because in the end the “tax rate” is meaningless. For example, we hear that the top tax rate for corporations is 35%. WOW. that is too high, right? Well, GE and 17 other major companies on the Fortune 500 list paid NO TAXES for at least 8 of the last 10 years. NONE. I paid more taxes than the most profitable corporations on the face of the earth. And most companies pay well below the 35% rate, using loopholes. So, forget about tax rates. It’s the loopholes and deductions, etc. End them to level the playing field.
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I also agree with Rynstone up to his last sentence. Any tax system is subject to adulteration by an irresponsible legislature. We are no worse off with our present law than with another. Fair tax proponents claim that their system is immune to adulteration, but I find that claim silly. I don’t agree with Rynstone that the IRS is a political tool, except possibly as a result of loopholes for political non-profits which complicate our laws.
I also agree at least in part with Joseph. I don’t see how the “no loopholes” provision would be enforced and maintained. Certainly the proposal that the poor would not be taxed depends on some kind of loophole. I think the tax rate should be more than slightly progressive. I certainly don’t think profitable businesses or wealthy individuals should be able to avoid taxation by any means.
Interestingly, while current reform proposals suggest that loopholes would be eliminated, that is far from the truth. As Joseph suggests is inevitable, special interests, real estate interests for example, have their way as always, and that is even before “reform” legislation is enacted.
Today, we hear nothing about the effect of proposed reforms on the deficit, but once enacted loss of revenue is sure to fuel demands to reduce spending on important benefits of taxation–social security, medicare, medical research, etc.
Joseph, I did not say to eliminate federal income tax. (Of course you know there was no federal income tax until what … 1913…. or so) I think a flat tax is the way to go. A person (or company) making 20,000 dollars could pay 13% (rough guestimate) flat tax rate with no other federal with-holdings. A person making 200,000, 1 million, 5 million or any number would also pay the same 13% of tax. He is in essence paying one hell of a lot more in taxes but at the same %.
A Progressive Tax code is no good (and not fair) and will not allow the US to be competitive with other countries. (It would also hurt incentive to earn more)
Current tax code is not “loopholes” it is the tax code. A game that the Congress and the IRS plays created by government to keep them in power and rolling in the money. The bad guys here are not the wealthy people or corporations, it is the elected politicians who cater to them to enrich themselves. (Both Dems and Rep)
This would reduce the size of government and reduce their operating costs.
The federal government continues to take in record amounts of revenues, they simply have a waste & spending problem.
An example is TN. They have no state income tax but are in much better fiscal shape than NY State.
I would recommend reading some of Stephen Moore’s columns and book titled “The End of Prosperity”.
Keeping the tax code complicated makes it easier to hide things from the people and easier to give wealthy donors targeted tax breaks. Time to end the Kabuki Theater and stop the shell game Congress and the IRS plays on everyone.
I would also highly recommend reading the book “Extortion” by Peter Schweizer. This is a must read.
One name Lois Lerner “aka The IRS Political Hit Woman for the Obama Administration Justice Dept.”
Even though in the end the government good ol boys club decided to protect one of their own, anybody who thinks Lois Lerner was not guilty must spend a lot of time reading fairy tales.
The GOP did not push this because they will try and do the same thing. Abolish the IRS with a flat tax and reduce the opportunities for corruption.
Surprising to me, our tax code is more progressive than many others, yet it is relatively ineffective in reducing inequality. Until we fix that with government spending, I would keep taxation as progressive as possible.
Rynstone. Good discussion. The Pew link is a good one for solid financial statistical information and I have bookmarked it. You have a wide variety of issues and I would like you to consider my comments on 2 of them. I will put them in separate posts to allow easier discussion.
First, I am not sure why you claim that TN is in better shape than NY. Both have AA bond ratings according to Moody’s.You seem to connect that with the fact that there is no income tax.Consider that NY has a 4% sales tax and TN has a 7% sales tax (second highest in the country). A sales tax impacts the poor more than the wealthy since they have less disposable income to begin with. Also, as the Pew statistics show, NY receives about 33% of its budget from the federal government, while TN receives 38% of its budget from the feds. So, TN is more highly subsidized. TN also has the third highest population on food stamps, another federal program. So, I am not sure why you would think TN is better off since it depends heavily on federal aid.
Another factor is wages themselves. In NY the median wage is 20.56 per hour, in TN it is 15.77 per hour. Quite a difference. This is because TN is a “right to work” state. Right to work really means “no unions”. It is unionization that is instrumental in helping workers achieve decent wage levels.
I point this out not to argue but to demonstrate that many factors are involved in trying to figure out what any statistical data really means. (For example, it is incredibly more expensive to live in NYC than in Naples, NY, so people really need higher wages just to survive.).
Rynston. Regarding the IRS. The IRS does not make any law. They simply enforce the law. They are police. Without an IRS millions of Americans and all corporations would pay no taxes at all. Who would enforce the tax law? We are at an all time low for auditing returns (less than .8%) which is good news for tax cheats. Imagine what our roads would be like if we had only one NY state trooper for the entire state? The state could save money, but traffic accidents would rise astronomically. So, don’t blame the IRS for tax law. They simply enforce what is on the books.
Which brings me to the Lois Lerner “scandal”. As you may know, the Trump Justice Department just released a statement that , contrary to the wishes of a few in Congress, they have no basis to prosecute Ms. Lerner. She broke no law. That is the Trump justice department, not a Democratic one!
So, what, exactly, did the IRS do in the supposed scandal? Some say they targeted conservative political organizations who were attempting to get tax relief. The answer is YES, they did. The IRS has a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for certain terms that occur in names of organizations seeking 501(4)(C) status. As reported by the conservative press these terms included “tea party”, for example. TRUE! But those terms also included words like “progressive” and “medical marijuana” and”occupy”. In other words, the BOLO included words that might seem to be organizations that are overtly political or issue oriented.
So, you ask, why would the IRS focus on political groups. Is that discriminatory? Yes. Because the PRIMARY purpose, under tax law, of a 501(C)(4) organization is either charitable or educational. In other words, this tax evasion by both the right and left wing organizations is illegal. An organization can engage in limited political activity as long as the PRIMARY purpose of the organization is not political. For example, Planned Parenthood does engage political activity, but the overwhelming primary function of the organization is to provide primary health care for poor women.
Now, let us be honest. Were the Tea Party organizations, many funded by the Kochs’ and others, NOT primarily political? Can anyone with a straight face argue that the Tea Party Patriots are just a “charitable ” group of concerned citizens? Or that a groups that is “Progressive” and seeks to help certain candidates is not political?
So, the IRS did exactly what it is supposed to do. It is supposed to make sure that organizations and individuals use the tax code in the way it is intended to be used. The Lerner “scandal” was only a “scandal” because some members of a political party intentionally clouded the issue and made it appear as a partisan political attack by the Obama administration. There has never been any evidence (as seen by the Trump Justice Dept decision not to prosecute) . It did work as a political ploy by the GOP, but there was never anything there except the IRS doing its job.
I continue to be impressed by your research, your writing abilities, and your thoroughness.
Keep up the good work!