Apparently the New York Times would like to have a public debate about taxes. The editorial board expresses their despair that none of the presidential candidates talk about taxes. I think that they are completely right that such a debate is necessary. Beyond that it seems that there is hardly anything that we agree about on this subject. When they turn to discussing their views as opposed to the positions and rhetoric of the candidates they start by saying:
Still, going forward, competent governance, let alone achieving great things, will require more revenue, period.
I consider it to be a very safe bet that they mean that on an perpetual basis. As a proponent of fiscal responsibility I could be sold on the idea that we need more revenue for the time being (meaning the next few decades) to help us dig ourselves out of the financial pit we are in (as a result of our spending in the last few decades). But I think that part of the solution will have to include reducing the spending on some government programs this should include increased efficiency in such programs, but wisdom dictates that it also include a reduction in some programs or services.
The editorial board suggests three opportunities that we can address in the necessary tax debate. Of those three, only one really strikes me as a real opportunity rather than empty dialog:
- To create a system that does not disproportionately favor investment income over income from work.
I think we agree that the idea that the Democrats gave lip-service to when they gained the majority of both houses of Congress – paying for new programs with reductions elsewhere or new taxes – is a nice idea. The problem is that it really makes little difference if they do that without also making sure that they are actually paying for existing services as well, rather than allowing for deficit spending where it already exists.
The bias of the New York Times is irrefutable when they make statements such as:
. . . the exorbitant cost of the flat tax would likely be paid by cutting Medicare, Social Security and other bedrock government services.
If Medicare and Social Security are “bedrock government services” then I wonder how our nation survived its first 150 years without those services. Though I may easily be accused of being willing to punish poor people for being poor by cutting these government programs, I promise that I would happily support any such program if we did not have debts in the Trillions and if Congress were not deficit spending to implement the programs. Though I believe that these programs are not necessary for government, I am not one to believe that government can never do any good with such programs. The problem I see is in allowing our federal government to use illusory tricks such as deficit spending that even state governments (let alone private individuals) are not allowed to do. The fact is that if a business operated like the government the leaders of that business would be prosecuted and jailed in a truly just society.
More difficult than tax reform itself may be the search for a candidate with the political courage to speak frankly to the American people about the nation’s budget problems and the leadership skills to solve them.
There is a candidate with the political courage to speak frankly about our budget problems – his name is Ron Paul. They might decide to argue that he lacks the leadership skills to solve the problem but nobody can credibly argue that he lacks the political courage to speak frankly about it. I think that this is a debate we should have. Perhaps the New York Times could start it by hosting a debate or forum in which they could invite Dr. Paul to participate. They could also invite David Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, who is also anything but timid in speaking about this subject. They can invite whoever they want to defend their positions where they obviously differ from these two men, but with their influence the debate would be hard to ignore once they got the ball rolling. We might even get all the candidates talking about it like they should be.