Economy & Budget

The Big Question: Should Republicans push a 'fair tax' ?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Should the Republican Party support the "fair tax"? Why or why not?

Some background reading here.


Why a consumer financial protection agency will hurt consumers

Consider this: Your car breaks down and you don’t have enough money to fix it. You have no other way to get to work. What do you do?
Maybe you can’t imagine this scenario, because you have money in a savings account. Or, a credit card. Or, a family member or friend to help you. But, millions of Americans don’t have a financial safety net. They can’t get a credit card. They don’t have friends to turn to for a small loan. They don’t have family members ready to help them out of an unexpected situation.  
These are the people who will suffer most if Congress passes financial reform legislation that would create a massive, new federal government agency—the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)—to regulate consumer financial products.  What consumers need is greater—not less—access to realistic and regulated financial options.


Tax Day is here again (Rep. Paul Broun)

As Americans file their income taxes today, many are forced to face a painful reality.  The average income has decreased 3.2 percent, and business owners continue to reduce their payroll because they can’t afford to pay their employees and the federal government.  There is no doubt that our tax code is unfair, inefficient, and lacks provisions to promote real, economic growth.

In 1930, the U.S. tax code was a hefty 500 pages long.  Today, it is nine times the length of the King James Bible.  These 45,000 pages are full of provisions that all too often produce negative results.  It has also gradually created a system in which half of the population bears almost 100% of the federal tax load.

Unfortunately, this Congress has abused the power of the purse and continues to seize any new opportunity to tax and spend.  There is a better way.  Some states have provided a blueprint of which economic policies work and which do not.  States like Texas and Florida, which enjoy lower taxes and as a result, more incentives and opportunities for economic growth fare much better than others.  States like California, Michigan, and New York, which have large state governments and high taxes, are currently facing big unemployment numbers and even bigger debts.


Immigration and your taxes (Rep. Lamar Smith)

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been talking about giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Tax Day seems like a good time to examine the impact that such a policy would have on your wallet.

Start with education. Using the average annual American public school elementary and secondary education costs, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated that the total cost of K-12 education for illegal immigrant minors and the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants is $28.6 billion a year.

Then there’s health care. If illegal immigrants are covered in the health care bill (there is not a strong verification mechanism to ensure they won’t get benefits), it would increase the bill’s costs between $10-$30 billion. Of course, it won’t matter if illegal immigrants receive amnesty since the new law requires health care coverage for everyone.


The 2007 solution (Sen. George LeMieux)

During my time in the Senate, I have seen what many other Americans have seen – our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path.  Our national debt stands at over $12.8 trillion.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates the President’s budget proposal for 2011 will add nearly $10 trillion in additional debt over the next ten years.
Our problem is one of overspending, and we must find solutions to bring our budget into balance.  Across the country, states make tough decisions to balance their budgets every year, yet tough decisions are delayed year after year at the federal level.  While the federal government’s problem is daunting, we owe it to future generations to solve our debt problem so their quality of life is not diminished because of our inability to make hard choices.


Sensibly limiting spending (Rep. Joe Pitts)

Speaking in Dallas this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a stern warning about the fiscal direction of our government: “Unless we as a nation demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, in the longer run we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth.”

Bernanke further argues that a credible plan to reduce long-term deficits could help boost the economy. Stabilizing the federal budget would enhance investor’s confidence in the United States thereby reducing interest rates we pay on the national debt and attracting business investment.


The Big Question: Will the U.S. have to raise middle-class taxes?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Will the United States have to eventually raise taxes on the middle class to pay down the national debt?


Value-added tax wrong medicine for ailing economy (Rep. Leonard Lance)

If President Obama is serious about working with Congress to reduce federal spending and put our Nation on a glide path toward fiscal discipline, he must reject a European-style value-added tax (VAT) that was recently suggested by his senior White House economic adviser Paul Volcker.  
Just last week, I led the effort with a group of House Republicans in sending a letter to the President expressing our opposition to a VAT.
We took this action in a direct response to press reports that Mr. Volcker suggested instituting a European-style value-added tax here in the United States in order to bring federal deficits under control. We strenuously oppose this approach.


Clueless in Washington (Dan Varroney)

The sluggish American economy has been at the forefront of the public’s fears for two years. It is well known that we’re in tough times, which is why comments from White House adviser Lawrence Summers on This Week this past Sunday are troubling. Do the President and his team understand what the rest of us have known for over a year?

“We’re in a very different place than we were a year ago. … Now, the progress in job creation has started. We expect that it will accelerate. But we’ve got to do more … We’re in no position to rest, or to be complacent, just because of this jobs report. … We’ve got to focus particularly on small business. If you’ll look at the data, the situation with large businesses is serious. But the situation with small business is devastating. … My expectation would be that the trend is going to be upward. … The first quarter [is] hardly satisfactory, but it is running somewhat ahead of what the administration was forecasting, because our forecasts were conservative. And I’d expect continued progress in job creation.” 

Larry, we’re in the same place we were a year ago: Record unemployment. Stagnant Growth. Little optimism. And we are not seeing meaningful job creation. Let’s look at the Department of Labor’s job report for March. Plenty of counting jobs, but not jobs people can count on.
The nation added 162,000 jobs in March, 48,000 of which were census jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.7 percent for the third month in a row, largely because more people entered the work force.

The St. Petersburg Times estimates 292,000 jobs need to be created each month until 2015 to reach the pre-recession unemployment rate of 4.9%. We’re far off this pace, but we must get there. To begin, America’s small business owners deserve to be heard and represented in Washington. The $17.5 billion HIRE Act the President signed into law in March is his second failed attempt to boost the economy. Let’s look the two main provisions, one good, one bad:

  • Delayed Payroll tax relief: A boon for tax accountants, but will do little to spur hiring. Here’s why:, to qualify, the hire must be unemployed for two months; must remain on the payroll for one year; and must submit a signed form attesting all conditions have been met to the IRS. Then, the employee can seek out the tax relief – but only relief from a portion of all payroll taxes – likely not seeing any benefit for two years from now, at the earliest. Not now, when it is needed.
  • A sliver of hope. Allowing firms to fully expense new equipment purchases is a wise move. Exactly why American Solutions included it in the Jobs Here, Jobs Now, Jobs First plan we unveiled in July 2009.

The President has also suggested temporary capital gains relief to a portion of small employers. Temporary tax relief is like offering everyone in one section of a baseball stadium a discount on two hour sun block, while everyone else burns. We need instead across the board and permanent tax relief.

These are band-aids when the economy needs a tourniquet. On Thursday, American Solutions will hold its fifth Real Jobs Summit. We were meeting with Small Business owners in December 2009 at the same time President Obama was holding a White House Summit refusing to include some of the nation’s top employers – small firms. Along with our General Chairman Newt Gingrich, American Solutions has visited Ohio, Mississippi, California and Florida, and on Thursday we will be in Louisiana. At each stop small business owners have been perfectly clear: Get out of our way and stop making it so hard to succeed.
Here’s the plan written by Small Business Owners, for Small Business Owners:

  • An immediate two year 50% reduction in payroll taxes for every worker and every business.
  • Lower the corporate income tax to 12.5%, match China’s capital gains rate of zero to draw new investment into the United States and stop jobs from going overseas, abolish the capital gains tax, and permanently abolish the death tax.
  • Implement a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget to stop Congress from spending money we don’t have.

We’re urging candidates throughout the country, from both parties, to take up our plan and demand the interests of small businesses are represented in Washington.

We hope you’re listening, Larry.