Election 2010: Money On Our Minds

27 Oct

‘Tis the season to vote, and for those of you that know me well, you know it’s impossible for me to remain silent during an election.  As a first time non-absentee Colorado voter in a long time, I have been bombarded with television adds, billboards, yard signs, and people knocking on my door telling me who to vote for.  Despite party affiliation, they are all screaming the same thing: “No more taxes!”  With the economy the way it is, it seems to be obvious why- we don’t want to give up part of our hard earned paychecks.  In fact, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the federal budget and taxes are considered to be the 2nd most important issues to voters this year just after jobs and the economy.  It is clear that us voters have money on our minds.

Money is such a big deal this election that social issues seem to have been put on the back burner, and the new Tea Party agenda, which takes its name from the famous Boston protest against taxes in 1773, has taken the lead in television airtime and political debates.  Even the most liberal candidates are doing what they can to separate themselves from affiliation with the White House’s supposed tax increases, although in reality, 1/3 of Obama’s stimulus bill was in the form of tax cuts.

But are tax cuts really the answer?  Conservatives nation-wide are calling for a permanent extension of Bush-Era tax cuts, including relief for the upper class, which would add over $4 trillion to the already growing deficit.  Liberals are calling for extending Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax cuts, which decreased income taxes by $400 a year for individuals and would add about $3 trillion to the deficit if renewed.  In Colorado, some of the most controversial amendments on the ballot are also major tax cuts.  Amendment 60 would significantly reduce property taxes paid to school districts, fire and police protection, roads, parks, water and sewer systems, and libraries.  Amendment 61 would restrict borrowing in addition to decreasing taxes making it difficult for the state to invest in roads, prisons, schools, and clean water, and for Colorado to pay unemployment benefits.  Finally, Amendment 101 would reduce state income tax and eliminate taxes and fees on vehicle purchases and registrations and telecommunication services, again drastically reducing much needed money for education, in addition to health care and programs that aid the lower class, the elderly, and disabled people.

Tax cuts, proposed nationally and in Colorado, not only add to the deficit by doing away with the very money that helps pay it off, but they also come at the high price of sacrificing our education, safety, and recreation.  The Committee for Responsible Federal Budget argues that we should be doing the exact opposite- increasing spending in areas, such as education and public investment, which produce the highest economic returns and increasing taxes in order to help pay off debt and lower additional spending on debt interest rate payments.

Now, I am currently a substitute teacher, so I dislike the government picking at my already scarce paychecks just as much as the next person, but tax cuts, especially the proposed tax cuts in this election, are just not cutting the debt.  So, when you vote on November 2nd, while the words “no more taxes!” may seem unbearably appealing, think about what no taxes really mean and if we Americans can truly afford it.

Sources:

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “In Search of Fiscal Responsibility: Ten Questions to Ask the Candidates.” 20 October, 2010. <http://crfb.org/&gt;.

Cooper, Michael. “From Obama, The Tax Cut Nobody Heard Of.” The New York Times. 19 October, 2010.

State 0f Colorado 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet.

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3 Responses to “Election 2010: Money On Our Minds”

  1. marina October 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Psh. I don’t agree with this. Tax cuts fo life!

  2. Tuula October 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Well argued, Cameron. Tax cuts seem kind of like a payday loan. Short term benefit for exponential long-term costs. Let’s hope a few people actually think about this stuff and VOTE this election!

    • Andy Maier November 4, 2010 at 9:50 am #

      Most politicians simplify arguments dichotomies and taxes is the best example. Due to long standing entitlements for which various congresses have ignored long-term needs and an unmanageable budget deficit, we honestly can’t afford tax cuts in many areas. Credits for investment (R&D, expansion, job creation) make much more sense. The most important aspect of our budget that continues to go undiscussed and unaddressed is inefficient government. For good non-profits they target a 90% efficiency of cash – only 10% for overhead (operations, marketing, distribution, etc.). When we consider social welfare programs they are only 30% efficient – 70% of the tax dollars we spend goes into operations – inefficient bureaucracies. This pattern is repeated in the education programs across the country due largely to unmanageable retirement and health care obligations. The national healthcare program sponsored by Obama and the one previously proposed by the Clintons are failures for this reason, among others. I like the idea of a national healthcare program but what was passed is a ridiculous mess that neither solves the budget problems in education and government nor does it use market forces to establish real prices for people or employers.

      Politicians by and large care about one thing – their own egos which is dependent upon re-election. The populous can’t handle the painful truth of our deficit and entitlement obligation so no politicians that speak the truth ever get elected. The USA is in the throes of an economic China Syndrome meltdown.

      Simply because some people are work hard, are clever, and lucky making more money doesn’t mean they should pay more taxes throughout their lifetime on income, investments, and then again when they die. 5% of tax payers pay 95% of the income tax already at disproportionate rates (45%). The only tax that makes sense is a flat tax with zero deductions (besides dependents) and income tax exemptions for families below a certain threshold (lower income ~$45k). The obstacle here are lawyers, accountants, and real-estate agencies.

      solution:
      1. never touch soc security for other programs (lockbox)
      2. flat tax as outlined
      3. schedule to pay down deficit – including renegotiating/forcing China to trade their currency openly
      4. a national healthcare program that integrates medicare/medicaid, available to the unemployed/underemployed/self-employed using market pricing. This probably requires eliminating business paid insurance
      5. Develop efficient service delivery from government which will result in less state employees
      6. Target educational and healthcare monies strategically – WIC, smart start, etc. are underutilized the perpetually unemployed can’t afford jobs b/c daycare is too expensive.
      7. Education programs should reflect our knowledge on childhood development including track programs (lower socio-economic children regress during long summer vacations b/c they lack any enrichment), foreign language instruction, novel mathmatics instruction, and creative problem solving all before middle school at which point education can then revert to our current traditional, highly rigid model. We should rebuild an emphasis on trades
      8. We need to take dramatic measures to rebuild some manufacturing capability in addition to other stable low-skill jobs to build a stable base for the less privileged.
      9. Judgements by the court system should be returned to the legislature for clarification – courts do not have the authority to pass laws.

      These are the tenants of pragmatic libertarians that I’ve created – join the revolution.

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