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It’s Time for Real Reform

Control the purse strings.

by
Chris Salcedo

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January 13, 2011 - 12:11 am
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Now that the Congress has had a refresher course on the mutual compact we as Americans rely on as our guide to government, isn’t it about time we get back to first principles? As I watched and listened to our elected leaders make history by the reading of the Constitution in the well of the House, I wondered if the reading was actually sinking in. Just in case our elected leaders caught “religion,” so to speak, and decided to return to the simplified government intended by our nation’s founders, I’d like to offer the new 112th Congress some help in this regard. Think big and return to small government. Start with the economy, please.

The current president fancies himself a big thinker, with big ideas for big change.  Let me throw out an idea that I think will reform our government and rein in the spending that threatens our very nation’s existence. Tax reform must be front and center in this debate. Rumors abound that Mr. Obama may adopt a simplified tax code proposed by his debt commission. The new tax code would lower corporate income taxes, the second highest in the world, and would reduce the number of personal income tax brackets from six to three. The top tax bracket would be 23%, the middle bracket would be 14%, and the low bracket would be 8%. This would be a small start. It’s hardly worthy of such a big thinker like Mr. Obama. I’d suggest a flat tax. Aside from eliminating liberals’ beloved ability to double tax the same income, according to analysis done by the Heritage Foundation, all flat tax proposals have one “loophole” that helps the working poor. Households receive a generous exemption based on family size. For instance, a family of four would not begin to pay tax until its annual income reached more than $30,000.

I’ve always viewed taxes as a device that we the people use to tell our government just how much they can spend. It’s high time Americans started looking at taxes in the same light.

The Congress of the United States would have to be ready to give up control over the people’s money. If, by some miracle of heaven, we find a majority in the Congress that will give up that control, we can begin to save our nation from crushing debt. Once a flat tax was adopted, a balanced budget amendment would also need to be enacted. I’ll leave the legal language to the politicians. But the amendment should restrict the Congress to spending 20% less than the amount of money brought in, through taxes, in the previous budget year. All surpluses would go into a rainy day fund. I will offer one bit of “law language”: THE CONGRESS SHALL NOT SPEND MORE THAN THE ALLOWED AMOUNT DICTATED BY THE BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT. The only exception would be national emergencies. Those emergencies would be certified by the president and a 2/3 majority vote in Congress. The funds would come from the rainy day fund. That fund could also sustain the government when tax revenue fell short for the current fiscal year. In a sustained need for more funds, i.e., war, the Congress could only pass tax increases that were subject to annual renewal. Congressmen and senators must also be made responsible for all money allocated to every section of government. I’ll leave it to the party bosses to assign each lawmaker based on seniority or expertise. But all dollars spent by Congress should be accountable and traceable to a member of Congress.

The people should make it clear to members of Congress that it is we the people who control tax rates, not the Washington ruling class. The American people should no longer have to suffer because of the ill-conceived social experimentation of lawmakers. But who would monitor our elected officials?  Well, it turns out there’s an existing federal agency that would have a lot of time on its hands with the passage of the flat tax.

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