February 5, 2012
Bruce Bartlett is the author of The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform - Why We Need It and What It Will Take (Simon & Schuster) The tax code is like a garden. Without regular attention, it grows weeds that will soon overwhelm the plants and flowers. Unfortunately, no serious weeding has been done to the tax code since 1986. There is a desperate need to pull the weeds, cut away the brush, and rethink some of the plantings to restore order, beauty, and functionality. At its core, the purpose of any tax system is to raise the revenue needed to pay the government's bills.
January 31, 2012
By Steve Frank President Obama's State of the Union address was widely regarded as the opening salvo of his reelection bid and an attempt to frame the general election debate, which, channeling public anger at Washington and Wall Street, promises to be the most populist in decades. Ever since December, when Obama delivered another much-discussed address in Osawatomie, Kan., I've been brushing up on Progressive Era rhetoric to prepare for the election campaign. Because, as the president's choice of location highlighted, we've been here before.
January 30, 2012 |
Once upon a time, small ball was not Barack Obama's game. Last week, it was the essence of his State of the Union address. The visionary of 2008 - purveyor of hope and change, healer of the Earth, tamer of rising seas - offered an hour of little things: tax-code tweaks to encourage this or that (manufacturing being the flavor of the day), little watchdog agencies to round up Wall Street miscreants and Chinese DVD pirates, and even a presidential demand "that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. " Under penalty of what?
January 2, 2012
Republicans vs. facts Recently Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) claimed, "If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does. " That comment was quickly clarified by a press secretary, who said, "His remarks on the Senate floor were not intended to be a factual statement. " Newt Gingrich, in an NBC interview regarding a budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.), said, "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.
December 28, 2011
Tax reform is like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it, though all agree that the U.S. tax system is a mess, full of complexity and obscure breaks for special interests, and in need of repair. A functioning tax system has three goals. First, it has to be simple enough to administer. Second, it has to be fair to taxpayers with widely varying incomes. Third, and perhaps most important, it has to collect sufficient revenue for government operations.
November 28, 2011 |
Democrats are unanimous in charging that the debt-reduction supercommittee collapsed because Republicans refused to raise taxes. Apparently, Republicans are in the thrall of one Grover Norquist, the antitax campaigner, whom Sen. John Kerry called "the 13th member of this committee without being there. " Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helpfully suggested that "maybe they should impeach Grover Norquist. " With that, Norquist officially replaces the Koch brothers as the great malevolent manipulator who controls the republic by pulling unseen strings on behalf of the plutocracy.
November 9, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - Capitol Hill Republicans say the GOP members of a deficit-reduction supercommittee are showing flexibility on revenue increases as the panel heads closer to its Thanksgiving deadline. GOP aides said Tuesday that a plan floated by Republicans, including Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, would sharply limit the total amount of tax deductions and credits that a person could claim, in exchange for significantly lower income tax rates. At the same time, Republicans are willing to accept a $300 billion net increase in individual income tax revenues.
November 9, 2011
THE CLOCK starts now for Mayor Nutter to finish what he started. Here are some of the priorities he says he'll pursue in his second term: EDUCATION: This is the big challenge and a bigger headache. In the wake of the scandals surrounding former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, Nutter has taken a more active role at the state-controlled school district. He wants to continue pushing to improve high school graduation rates and college attainment. He says he won't try to regain local control of the district.
November 4, 2011
YESTERDAY, City Council passed two bills that will dramatically change the business landscape in Philadelphia. These are game-changing laws that finally begin dismantling the punishing tax structure that for decades has been renowned for its contempt for business start-ups and Philadelphia-based companies. One bill, by Bill Green and Maria Quinones-Sanchez, will relieve the business-privilege-tax burden for small, city-based businesses, which have long paid more than their fair share compared with those headquartered outside the city.
November 4, 2011 |
PHILADELPHIA is now open for business. That's the message City Council hopes to send via yesterday's unanimous votes for two bills to significantly change the city's business-tax structure. For years Council griped that city-based businesses are at a competitive disadvantage because they're charged a gross-receipts tax even if they lose money. Meanwhile, chain stores, like Wal-Mart, pay zip because they're not headquartered in the city. But soon all businesses can expect some tax relief with the passage of a bill, introduced by Council members Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Bill Green, that would exempt the first $100,000 from the gross-receipts and net-income portions of the business- privilege tax. "It's the largest single tax reform in a single bill, in a single act in tax history," Green said.