Heard on Crosstalk 2007-04-16
Host: Ingrid Schlueter
Guest: Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist is the President of Americans for Tax Reform, a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at the federal, state and local levels. Under a Republican controlled House and Senate, the U.S. saw federal tax cuts each of the last six years. During the 12 years the Republicans led the House, they passed a tax cut each year. Some were vetoed by Bill Clinton but during the six years with Bush, a tax cut was passed every single year. Not a single tax increase passed the House or the Senate in the last 13 years. Now with a Democratic controlled House and Senate, this amazing record has come to a screeching halt. In fact, Norquist noted that the House and Senate are busy forging a budget that presumes to be the largest tax increase in the history of America, amounting to 2 trillion over the next 10 years. The unfortunate reality to all of this is that the tax cuts enacted during the Bush years will lapse in 2010. Also discussed was the alternative minimum tax, local taxes, the possibility of having the government figure out your taxes for you, and the concept of a single rate tax.
Rather than pumping tons of money into a bureaucracy (of the public school), it seems like it would make sense to just give parents a check in the form of an education scholarship, which they can choose to use at the school of their choosing, the school that they think would provide the best education for their child.
Then they could send them to a private school if they wanted too, and not simply be paying tax dollars to fund their neighbor's public school education.
I think this is a great idea! I'm not sure why I hadn't heard of it before...
This is a terrible idea! Vote against it, please!
They would simply do your taxes for you and send you a bill each year.
Sure, it might be "convenient". But at what cost??!
The government would need to know everything about your finances that you currently know, if they are able to accurately do your taxes. You would lose a lot of your privacy. They would know exactly how you spend your money in almost all areas of your life. It would be like inviting the tax man into your family to stay with you and watch every move you make.
What's more, if you have a disagreement about your taxes, guess whose favor it's likely to end up leaning. The government's! Can you imagine having to go up against the federal government if you think they overcharged you on your taxes?
Apparently, this kind of tax system is already being used in a couple Eastern countries.
Why is this?
What a great idea! Wonderful! I like it!
Basically the idea is that the government's expenditures become publically visible and accessible (on the Web) to anyone who's interested.
Just think of all the dishonesty and corruption that could help eliminate! Sunlight has a way of washing away that kind of stuff. If you have to do everything in broad daylight, it's harder to get away with deception.
All the government's checks, contracts, credit card payments, etc. become public knowledge.
You can no longer get away with saying "There's just not enough money to fund __" while meanwhile overspending in some other area.
Because anyone with some spare time -- a reporter looking for a scandal, a high school kid, a mother, whoever -- can go through and look at the expenses and look for duplicitousness, wasteful spending, etc.
If the taxpayer/voter thinks there is overspending in area A that would be better spent on more important area B, then they can call the politician out on this issue and ask that the money be reallocated rather than continue to be wasted on A.
(Ingrid told story of how a referendum was brought up to build some super-expensive new school, but the voters looked at the bill critically and shot it down. They sent the message, "Spend our money on things we need not on things you simply want. We don't want to be paying off the dept for this thing we don't need for the next 50 years...".)
They make it sound as if it's their #1 priority, but in reality it must be their lowest priority if the only way they would consider giving more money to it is if you the taxpayer provided the money. In fact, it means that everything else was more important, higher priority -- that's why everything else was able to be adequately funded -- but they didn't feel it necessary to take money away from these other things and put it towards the thing they claim is supposedly "important" to them...
(See also: transparency, above)
How? By writing letters to the editor, calling up your local talk radio program, simply discussing issues with your friends and those you come into contact with. In so doing, you can help inform others and perhaps help others to vote for the right people.
Yes, it does seem at times like "what's even the point in voting, if these are the only choices I have to choose from...". But, as our guest pointed out, that's like a kid pouting and saying "Fine, I'm leaving!" when he doesn't get his way.