Republicans' "No Child Left Un-Indebted" Initiative
This Sunday's NY Times Magazine has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but this dialog with Deborah Solomon and Connie Mack, in a section of the magazine entitled Taxing Issues, was priceless, in addition to going to the heart of what I find so reprehensible about our current fiscal problems in this nation. Connie Mack, for those of you who don't follow this sort of thing Mack was one of the lead honchos on Bush's tax-reform panel. A republican and a retired U.S. Senator, he had these wonderful tidbits to share with all of us (note: my comments within the following are bracketed, [ ], and boldfaced):
Indeed, he is still calling for tax cuts. He would like to eliminate the estate tax permanently.
I think there is a likelihood that Congress will deal with that issue before this term comes to an end. I would vote to eliminate, as we refer to it, the death tax. I think it's an unfair tax.
Really? I think it's a perfect tax. The idea behind it was to allow people to postpone paying taxes until they die, at which point they presumably no longer care. Why do you call it unfair?
Well, let's say, if you are in the farming business and you have the desire to pass this farm on to your children. The problem is that when your parents die, you have to come up with cash to pay the estate tax. One thing you don't have is cash. You've got plenty of land. So I just don't believe it's a fair tax.
That strikes me as a red herring. The issue is not really small farms, but zillion-dollar estates made up of stocks and bonds.
I don't know what the percentage breakdown is. I still go back to the same notion that these individuals who have accumulated these resources have paid taxes on them many times in their life, and then to say, when you die, now you pay more taxes on it? There is a limit.
[Given his role with "tax reform" I'm hard pressed to believe that Mack isn't familiar with the percentage breakdown on this. Those affected by the "Estate Tax", or in the words of spinmeisters who love to mislead the average Jane and Joe, the "Death Tax", amount to less than 5% of the overall population. Those affected have overwhelmingly benefited from tax breaks in the course of their amassing their wealth - especially now with the tax breaks that Bush has put in place for income specifically tied to stocks and bonds - and people who inherit farms, etc., are hardly the representative population affected by this tax. Of course Connie Mack's progeny would likely have to grapple with this tax were it still in place, as would be the case for the vast majority of our politicians - they don't mention that.]
Well, the U.S. government has to get money from somewhere. As a two-term former Republican senator from Florida, where do you suggest we get money from?
The money to run this country.
We'll borrow it.
[That's right, he said we'll borrow - not scrimp and save, but rather put ourselves in a position where we're beholden to other nations for the money we need. Of course scrimping and saving means we have to increase taxes, and God forbid we do that. It's just simply better to borrow what we need ... uh huh.]
I never understand where all this money comes from.
When the president says we need another $200 billion for Katrina repairs, does he just go and borrow it from the Saudis?
In a sense, we do. Maybe the Chinese.
[We borrow from the Chinese - awesome. The one full-fledged and notable communist country on the planet (yes, there are others, but please ...), and we're going to go to it with our hats out for a loan. Wild - he actually admits this, I mean I must be totally not understanding something here.]
Is that fair to our children? If we keep borrowing at this level, won't the Arabs or the Chinese eventually own this country?
I am not worried about that. We are a huge country producing enormous assets day in and day out. We have great strength, and we have always adjusted to difficulties that faced us, and we will continue to do so.
[Wow, I mean this is where the crux of the "No Child Left Un-Indebted" program comes from. We're a great country with enormous assets and great strength (i.e. if we don't get what we want we threaten to kick some butt with that oversized military the Republicans have come to be so fond of over-using), and the heck with having to actually pay for our adventures or whatever, we can just borrow the money and defer the cost of whatever we're borrowing for into the future. I remember when it was the Democrats who were the ones accused of being fiscally irresponsible - if I used Connie Mack's guide to how to "fiscally manage a country" for my personal life, I'd be living off of credit cards and loans, and then handing the bill over to my daughter.]