John M. Kunst, Jr.: We need to make tough choices on taxes, revenue |

John M. Kunst, Jr.: We need to make tough choices on taxes, revenue

John M. Kunst, Jr.
Breckenridge and Cincinnati

I recommend Sirota’s column to those who would like some clarity on the differences between traditional Democrats and the left-wing progressives of the party – those who, according to Sirota, are whining about abandoned promises to eliminate the “Bush tax cuts” for those earning over $200,000 a year. Far be it from me to applaud the Democrats for leaving an entire nation in limbo for the past 22 months over what our tax burdens will be starting in 2011. To me, the Democrats refusal to address this specific issue demonstrates beyond any doubt that “change” and “yes we can” were simply ploys to attract votes from a very naïve public.

But, the underpinning’s of Sirota’s beef need in-depth analysis. First, the Bush tax cuts did not cause our economy to stumble. Since the tax cuts reduced the revenue available to Congress to spend, why on earth did the Democrats who were in control of that reduced revenue stream continue to spend and create new, trillion-dollar programs and policies knowing full well that there would not be enough revenue available to pay for their pork, earmarks, Pelosi-like dreams and other shenanigans? Furthermore, the economic collapse was primarily attributable to crooks like Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and Maxine Waters who continued to prop up their primary campaign contributors, Freddie and Fannie, even though non-partisan regulators were warning as early as 2003 that these institutions were going under unless congressional progressives fine-tuned their ill-conceived belief that every American was entitled to own a home even if he couldn’t pay for it.

Sirota argues that Bush economic policy (tax cuts) “unduly expands the national debt.” Baloney! Unchecked spending without a revenue stream creates debt, not the lack of tax revenue. A child with an allowance realizes this when he takes his $5 to the store to buy a new CD and finds that it costs $6. He has a choice: either go out an earn another dollar or go without. It is the latter concept that Democrats, especially progressives, do not understand.

The problem for those of us governed by Congress is a failure on both sides of the aisle to understand a simple concept: the money we make through toil, sweat and effort belongs to us. We earned it. Congress, on the other hand, has long looked at our earnings as belonging to the government who will then determine how much we get to keep. On the bright side, some congressmen have begun to acknowledge this concept over the past six weeks. But, for the past 50 years, their collective thinking has been just the opposite.

Finally, Sirota believes all of our debt can be resolved by “terminating tax cuts that apply to income above $200,000.” It would be a hopeless task to either justify or refute the broad spectrum of biased data available to support and or undermine this argument. I will say with confidence that today’s $200K is probably the equivalent of $50K in the early ’90s when the “tax the rich” argument was used to prey upon the envy and resentment of all the employed union members who were working hard but felt under-compensated when their incomes were compared to the millions earned by 2 percent of the population. Currently, however, most wage earners have a sufficient level of sophistication to understand that private wealth can create private sector jobs, and could do so promptly, if wealthy folks knew what the government has in mind insofar as confiscating their wealth after the November elections. With that in mind, let me put this “tax the rich” solution into its proper perspective: Do the unemployed parents who are about to lose their home really give a hoot if the “rich” get hit with another 10 percent raise in taxes if that 10 percent could be used in the private sector to create real, life-time jobs that these parents and the other four million unemployed could fill?

The solution is not to tax the rich unless there is a real commitment to control spending and eliminate wasteful spending that benefits far too few to be justified. Where is the politician, Republican or Democrat, who will stand up and say we will need more revenue to reduce our carelessly accumulated debt but we will also eliminate these specific, wasteful agencies/programs (that’s right, name them) that will be phased out over the next two years because they serve no useful purpose. Tough choices. Do we have tough candidates to make it happen?

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