Beyond The Impasse

Although Congress is apparently deadlocked, all members of Congress do agree on one thing.  Someone else should pay for it.  The far right wants the poor to pay… by cutting their benefits, access to insurance and various other assistance.  The left wants the richest to pay, and those in the middle want anyone else but the middle class to pay.  Those who are more affluent are tired of paying the largest share of taxes, and they want tax cuts.  Various industries want tax subsidies, and when one industry gets a lower tax bill than another, that is indeed a goody, regardless of the rationale. The same is true of tax breaks for individuals, for whatever reason.

This is likely the road to disaster, because what gets paid for will be decided by the votes bought on the extremes.  Despite paying the lowest tax rates in almost a century, the upper one percent will fight and bribe anyone they can, legally, of course, through contributions, to keep unrealistically low tax rates low, and to lower them more, if possible.

 The poorest Americans will vote where they can for programs that often provide better benefits than those enjoyed by the working poor holding down two jobs or more.  Those in the middle, if recent events are any indication, will get more and more upset at stagnant wages and higher costs of living and are likely to throw their lot in with the one percent… which will only maintain or increase the current deficit and make the increasing numbers of the poor and working poor angrier and angrier.

Corporations and businesses under pressure to post or increase profits will continue to lobby against any program or law that adds costs to their doing business and will likely press for anything to keep labor costs low, which is why they keep hiring part-timers and oppose the ACA.  The problem there is that the corporate tax rate is so riddled with loopholes that a huge percentage of large businesses don’t pay anything near the statutory rate.  In fact, the U.S. has just about the highest corporate tax rate on the books… and close to the lowest actual tax revenue, thanks to the loopholes.

Pretty much everyone in Congress seems to ask, publicly at least, “How will we pay for what we’ve done and want to do?”  But beyond that, nothing gets done on reducing long-term federal spending because each side insists that its programs are sacrosanct and its constituents are already paying too much in the way of taxes.

Right now, of course, the Republicans are blaming the President, just as two terms ago the Democrats were blaming the previous President.  What both parties publicly ignore and what the public somehow seems to forget is that the President can’t authorize or appropriate anything.  That’s up to Congress.  No one else.

Years ago, the Supreme Court declared that the President must spend what Congress orders spent… and the Administration must collect the taxes legislated by the Congress, or not collect them if Congress has legislated tax breaks.  This mess is Congress’ doing, not President Bush’s and not President Obama’s… and a good first step toward fixing it would be to recognize just that.   

3 thoughts on “Beyond The Impasse”

  1. Dave says:

    Your premise that everyone want’s “someone else to pay” feels a little too easy. It’s what everyone says … but consider the caricature of the “latte sipping liberal elite”. These are people, comfortably in the upper middle class: who pay far more in taxes than they receive in benefits and yet strongly support government programs that support the general welfare of the nation. These are not people wanting “other people” to pay: it is they who will pay.

    1. There are those who are indeed willing to pay; I’m one of them, although I’m sometimes far from happy with the allocation of tax funds. But in percentage terms, that group, which once was likely a grudging majority,continues to decline as government programs and spending increase and as economic conditions worsen for a growing percentage of the population.

  2. Steve says:

    That grudging majority is declining due to a ridiculously complicated and unfair tax system and a loss of trust in the government to spend wisely.

    If I felt that the next guy, rich or poor, was paying “their share” rather than making use of myriad, obscure loopholes for the rich, or claiming ridiculous credits for the poor, I would pay less grudgingly.

    If I felt that congress would just spend within the budget, whether I agreed with the budget or not, I would pay less grudgingly.

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