Debate on Taxes Is Meaningless
Republicans are on the wrong side of the current, meaningless tax debate.
Arguing that a 3 or 4 percent increase on income above $250,000 will hurt small businesses and impede job growth is not going to convince very many people that the GOP has any useful ideas either to boost the economy or to begin to scale down the scope of government.
In fact, that sounds pretty foolish — Republicans defending the rich, as usual. Is that the best they’ve got?
This is not the year for small ball. What should be on the table is the entire tax code. Reduce rates, broaden the base, eliminate deductions. A few more dollars from the wealthy will not even begin to close our fiscal gap. In fact, no conceivable level of increased taxes, by itself, would bail us out, even if such an increase wouldn’t tank the economy, which it would.
If there was ever a time to campaign on a complete overhaul of the tax code, this is it. While the president blathers about fairness in an effort to inspire envy during a weak economy, Mitt Romney’s only response, so far, is to claim that increasing taxes on the wealthy will destroy jobs.
Well, maybe. But what is really destroying jobs is one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, the utter failure of government anywhere to plan for anything, and an ever-expanding dependency on welfare. Oh, and an educational system that does not prepare our citizens to work and compete in an increasingly interdependent technological world.
You want a meaningful political debate? That is it.
Pollsters and pundits will say that is too complicated an argument to campaign on. They will say it can’t be explained in 30-second commercials. They will say, basically, that the American public is too stupid to understand it. They may be right, but if they are, conservatives might as well fold their tent now and prepare to become the next Greece or Spain a few years hence.
Our political culture is trapped in regurgitated sound bites, dead ideas and wasted time. The most rational and responsible proposal in years, that of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, was completely ignored by the president who initiated it — Barack Obama — and is rarely mentioned by any Republicans campaigning for anything.
Why is that? Because it impinges on too many special interest groups? Because most Americans would have to sacrifice something? Because, well, gee, it would just be too hard to accomplish politically? Four letter words come to mind.
The president is never going to make the case for either tax or government overhaul. He doesn’t believe in, or apparently even understand, the concepts. He only understands pandering to any constituency he can define, except those that actually drive the economy. It falls to Mr. Romney to make the case for a viable future. He is not going to do it arguing about a single blip in the tax code or defending Bain Capital in sound bites.
He needs to dig out and update Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign notes and videos and conduct a seminar on economics and politics for the next three months. He can get behind Bowles-Simpson as a ready-made, bipartisan plan to begin necessary changes, and he can do it before the president suddenly decides it might be a good idea.
The Republican campaign so far is pathetic. All that is being offered is the opportunity to vote against the president.
While that is enough for a lot of people, it will probably not be enough to win, and is certainly not enough to lay the foundations for the necessary changes that should be made in the very near future.
Can Romney pull it out, and, if he does, will he lead the country on a path back to rationality? We can only hope. In any event, he’s all we’ve got.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at fwolferman@ sbcglobal.net.
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