There’s been a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the recently passed tax bill. And let’s be brutally honest right up front… partisan hackery was involved all the way through. Even if the Republicans had come up with something that really made life grand for the middle- and lower-classes, the Democrats still would have declared the sky is falling if the rich also gained some small coincidental benefit. The Democrats weren’t going to give any bill a fair shot, so don’t insult me by claiming they would.
Also, let me be clear that I do NOT approve of the manner in which this bill was passed. The secrecy was repugnant and spineless. But at the same time, let’s be brutally honest again… if the Republicans had been open the Democrats would have tried to shoot it down unceasingly, so in a grudging sense I understand why they did that.
Ok, since this is a Centrist site, and I strive to be a independent and neutral as possible, let’s take a look at some of the more significant aspects. I will approach each individually. Please note that I am only highlighting a handful of key points. There are many more points, and my silence on those should not be misconstrued as either approval or rejection.
Permanent Tax Cuts for “The Rich”, Temporary Tax Cuts for Everyone Else
I am all for people getting to keep more of their own money. It has long been my opinion that we do not have, and have never had, a revenue problem. We have a spending problem (which this bill doesn’t address… cowards, but I digress). Hence, I’m all for the idea of tax cuts, but why the disparity in term? Why does one group get a permanent cut while another group gets a temporary cut? That’s not right. It’s the disparity between groups that bothers me. And the sunset is far enough out that when it catches up and people realize what was done to them, most of those responsible will be long gone from Congress. How insidious.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act Individual Mandate
I am not only just ok with this, I wholly approve of it. From the very beginning of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) I have never been comfortable with the individual mandate. Just as a matter of principle it’s morally wrong. A person should not be assessed a penalty for not doing something that they are technically not legally required to do. Period. It doesn’t matter how much the thing may benefit, it’s still wrong. If the benefit is so important, and is so significant, then be intellectually honest and make the thing… in this case healthcare… flat-out mandatory. If that means amending the Constitution, so be it. Get to work.
Effects on State and Local Taxes (Deductions)
Ummm… why are taxes tax-deductable to begin with? That makes no sense whatsoever. It’s just playing a shell game with tax money, and it artificially shields local leaders from the natural consequences of their spending decisions. No, local and state leaders should be held fully accountable for their spending and taxing decisions, and that only comes from the people bearing the full brunt of said decisions. If your property taxes are too high, for example, then you need to either call your local and state leaders on the carpet for it, or shut up and accept it (by re-electing them).
Of course, all of these items are just more reasons in a long list of reasons for why I favor a true flat tax. In my over two decades of advocating a true flat tax, I have heard many small concerns that I believe would be worked out within a short time, and only one legitimate long-term consequences that had to do with business and investment, but it wasn’t enough to convince me to change my conclusion. The overall benefits would still far outweigh that one negative aspect.