A lot depends on how you look at things. Republicans maintain that rolling back tax breaks for the top of the top tax bracket would be “raising taxes.” On the other hand, proposals to revamp the tax code emanating from the President’s Council on Tax Reform are not seen in the same light.
For example, if homeowners lost their mortgage interest deduction wouldn’t that increase their tax burden? There are specifics relating to the size of mortgages and the localities in which property is located, but such parameters hardly represent a simplification of the tax code, one of the council’s mandates. At a time when real estate is one of the few robust forces driving the economy, on what level does this proposal conform to any logical construct?
Likewise if local and state taxes were no longer deductible wouldn’t this increase taxes for residents in states dependent upon such revenues to provide services and maintain their infrastructure? As the Congress seeks to shift the burden for entitlements to the states, at what point do budgetary abstractions on the federal level meet the concrete realities faced by states and localities?
And then there’s the proposal to limit the deductions businesses may claim for contributions to employee health benefits. Weren’t such deductions meant to encourage business to undertake the task of providing health coverage? And wouldn’t elimination or curtailment of these deductions impose an untenable burden on many employers and result in greater numbers of un- or under-insured? In this double-edged proposal, health insurance over $5000 provided by an employer would represent income to employees thus increasing their tax burden.
Likewise, those special tax-free savings accounts would have little value for middle income families. How many of them could afford to sock away substantial funds each year to guard against future calamities? Only higher-income taxpayers would be able to take advantage of such opportunities because they have and would continue to have more disposable income.
And why exactly was this task force charged with a mandate to be “revenue neutral’? Would it be such a terrible thing to seek additional revenue streams instead of curtailing programs designed to help ordinary Americans even as their tax dollars are poured into the war effort and reconstruction in Iraq? And why, with all the other advantages corporations derive from this administration’s policies, would it make sense to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 33%?
Something just doesn’t add up nor do many of the proposals comport with what most Americans have come to expect from their government. I guess it isn’t news, but it bears repeating that this administration has worked to enhance the fortunes of the “haves and have mores”, those folks President Bush claims as his base, while weakening labor and the middle class. In both of these sectors people are being asked to: shoulder more of the tax burden, enjoy fewer protections in terms of wages and health care, and accept complete domination by the twin forces of government and corporate America.
All of us would like a simpler tax code, but most of us want a tax code that is also fair, one that derives enough revenue to meet the country’s needs without subjugating the middle class and its workforce.

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