A Modest Tax Proposal

The present debt-ceiling crisis reminds us of the political power of the power to tax.

The Republicans hope to curry favor with the electorate by resisting all new taxes. They're OK with closing some loopholes - some - but they apparently are not going to budge on new taxes.

The President is just as adamant that there must be new taxes, but only on "the rich." They can afford to "pay a little bit more."

The Republicans hope their no-new-taxes posture will capture the wind of the electorate and fill their sails for 2012. The President is desperate to keep his left happy, and new taxes on the rich is a sure way to help.

The rich are, of course, a minority of the voting public, so taxing them seems to liberal politicians a safe bet. To conservative politicians taxing the rich to sustain the entitlements of everyone else is not an acceptable agenda item.

The power to tax is played like a trump card by politicians from both parties, who insist on taxes or promise not to raise them depending on how the political winds are blowing.

Personally, I favor a constitutional amendment which makes it illegal to tax one sector of the population - eg, the rich - without at the same time taxing everyone, or to grant tax breaks to one sector without granting breaks to all. Such a law would make it harder to use the threat of taxation or the promise not to tax as a political ploy to gain the favor of one sector of the electorate against others.

If, as a candidate, you promise no new taxes to the "middle class," then you must promise no new taxes to all taxpayers. If you intend to raise taxes but "only on the rich," then you must raise taxes on everyone else as well.

We need some ways to take some political tools out of the hands of our politicians, so that they might begin thinking less about what is likely to carry the day for their party and themselves and more about what will be in the interest of the nation as a whole.

This modest proposal is no panacea for all that ails government at this time, but it would perhaps slow the growth of government entitlements - and refocus political rhetoric - if everyone, and not just the rich, had to chip in for them.

Additional related texts: Romans 13.1-4; 1 Timothy 2.1-8

A conversation starter: "Why should politicians be allowed to tax selectively to support programs the are intended to benefit all Americans?"

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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