The Republicans Need to Get Real about Tax Reform

 

The Republican presidential candidates have been releasing tax plans and they have been analyzed by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. It turns out that most of these plans lose revenue over a ten-year period even on a so-called dynamic scoring basis where the stimulatory effects of the plan are taken into effect.  Such callous disregard for the huge annual deficits we are now running, and our huge accumulated national debt, is totally unacceptable especially from the political party which bills itself as being fiscally responsible.
CaptureThe left-leaning New York Times points this out yesterday in its lead editorial, “Why the Republican Tax Plans Won’t Work.”  According to the NYT:

  • Tax Revenues will need to increase by 40% over the next 10 years just to keep federal spending even with inflation and population growth.
  • Further additional revenues will be needed to pay for health care for the elderly, transportation systems, climate change and likely increased interest payments on the national debt.
  • Thus taxes will have to go up and can only be imposed realistically on the wealthy who have had the biggest income gains in recent years.
  • Democratic presidential candidates do propose tax cuts but only for low- and middle-income Americans.
  • Democrats are calling for new taxes on financial transactions.
  • Democrats also propose to raise wages, support higher minimum wages, support unions and expand profit-sharing and employee ownership.

This is the program the Democrats will be pushing if they win the presidency next year. It has some attractive features but the likely overall outcome will be increased deficit spending, a rapidly increasing debt and a continued stagnant economy.
Meaningful tax and regulatory reform will both be needed to get the economy growing faster than the 2% average of the past six years.  Any credible tax reform program simply must be at least revenue neutral so that, combined with spending restraint, it will put our national debt on a downward path.

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The Second Republican Presidential Debate

 

Although I am a registered Independent, I lean strongly conservative on fiscal and economic issues. I hope the Republican Party ends up with a nominee who can make a compelling case for fundamental reform.
CaptureHere is my take on last night’s debate and the current state of the race.

  • Rand Paul. He stands up strongly for the Tenth Amendment (State’s Rights) but he is much too isolationist to take over after eight years of Obama.
  • Mike Huckabee. His social conservatism appeals to evangelicals but he has a weak grasp of economic and fiscal issues.
  • Marco Rubio. He is certainly a gifted political communicator. He is able to talk tough while also appearing moderate and reasonable at the same time. But some of his policy ideas are gimmicky.
  • Ted Cruz. He claims to be a true conservative because he won’t compromise on his basic principles, even if they lead to government shutdown. As such he is much too radical for my taste.
  • Ben Carson. I don’t see what his attraction is outside of a compelling personal story. His grasp of issues is quite weak.
  • Donald Trump. Leading in the polls, he is the wild card for the 2016 election cycle. As much as he disgusts me, his performance is improving. He has pledged to support the eventual party nominee, and not run as an independent. He also hurled fewer insults in the second debate than in the first.
  • Jeb Bush. Policy-wise, with his detailed tax plan and generally moderate views, he is outstanding. But it’s not clear that he can overcome the populist, anti-elite mood of the electorate.
  • Scott Walker. His outstanding record in Wisconsin gave him an early boost. But he hasn’t made the transition to national policy issues very well.
  • Carly Fiorina. She expresses herself in a crisp manner and has a good, general grasp of the issues. She’s rising in this campaign but still has a long way to go.
  • John Kasich. He has a superb background as a former Congressman and now as a very successful two term governor of Ohio. He expresses compassion for ordinary people. He deserves to climb in the polls but will he?
  • Chris Christie. He’s tough talking but his record in New Jersey isn’t that great. His obesity and reputation as a bully are turnoffs for me.

In short, I don’t want Trump to be the Republican nominee but who is going to emerge from the pack to defeat him? It isn’t clear if anyone will be able to do this.