TAXES –  NEVER  ENOUGH FOR POLITICIANS

A classic Bogart film is Key Largo, with an all-star case including Lionel Barrymore as James Temple, owner of a small hotel, Lauren Bacall as his daughter, Bogart as Frank McCloud, a WWII veteran visiting the Temples, father and widow of  a comrade who died in battle.  Edward G. Robinson is  Johnny Rocco, a mobster who, with a number of hoods invades the hotel, holding all captive while he plans to escape to Cuba.
Temple is trying to understand what drives Rocco. This dialog occurs:
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t.
That last line pretty much sums up the attitude of most of our politicians.
The United States has collected more tax revenues that at any time in our history.
And still it is not enough.
Thomas Sowell famously said:
“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”
How to get elected and re- elected? The politicians figured that out long ago.  Give voters “entitlements,” a/k/a “goodies.”
George Bernard Shaw put it succinctly:
“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” 
The economist, Walter Williams, spelled it out:
“People who pay little or no income taxes become natural constituents for big-spending politicians. After all, if you pay no income taxes, what do you care if income taxes are raised? Also, you won’t be enthusiastic about tax cuts; you’ll see them as a threat to your handouts.”
Politicians have perfected legalized bribery.
Rationalizations
Politicians don’t call it legalized bribery. No, they call it “redistribution” and offer patently fallacious rationalizations.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”Hillary Clinton, 2014.
“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Barack Obama, 2012.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody.”Elizabeth Warren, 2012.
Look who’s talking – a career politician, a community organizer and a Harvard professor who got her job claiming to be native American.
In the link, Paul Joseph asked what they knew:
“…of the struggles of men and women who conceive, assemble, organize, conceptualize and sell ideas and then generate the capital necessary to take the first step to build a business, hire employees, send goods to market, innovate and move their businesses and the wealth of its employees forward”?
He elaborated:
“[Henry]Ford’s story is not unique to anyone who understands how America was built by enterprising individuals, … Individuals with ideas, the guts to risk everything, and the drive to bring people together around their ideas, sufficient to build an industry and create enviable wealth.
…Yes, individuals work hard for their paychecks. They labor to assemble products, bring goods to market, fill consumer needs and build an economy. …It was not a collective that drove Ford Motor Company or Apple or Microsoft, but more often than not one man or woman with an idea and a willingness to take a risk to see their dream come true.

And who pays for the roads they drive to work on, the schools their children attend, the police and fire protection they enjoy and all the other benefits enjoyed by all other Americans? Well, if you can believe the IRS, for a large part they can pat themselves on the back for that too. Surprised, Mrs. Warren? Shocked Mr. Obama? Stunned, Mrs. Clinton? The very top 10% of all wage earners pay 71% of all federal taxes, thank you very much. …

So who did build those roads? Or said another way: who really did pay for those roads to be built?

It is a sad fact that the entire ruling elite of the democratic party has not only gotten it precisely wrong, but that they get a free pass from a media with a social agenda that parallels their twisted views uniformly.”  [Emphasis added.]

Facts don’t stop politicians. Earlier this year, Obama said,
“If we can’t ask from society’s lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show.”
In other words, success is a matter of chance; hard work and intelligence are irrelevant.
Unfair, Unfair! – Really?
How does the Left sell what is blatant bribery? How do they diminish the efforts of hard working people. Simple: Cry “Unfair, Unfair” – the Left’s constant mantra.
As noted, the facts refute that. The top 1% of earners pay almost 40% of federal income taxes, the top 10% of earners pay 70%, the top 50% pay 97%. and 47% pay no federal taxes.
The top 5% pay a larger share of US income taxes than the bottom 95% combined. http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/taxpaperjune2012.pdf  
If that is unfair, it is unfair to the “rich.”
But there is something even more basic. The Left does what it does best; pitting one segment of the electorate against the other and claiming the Left will make things right for whomever is cast as the victim in a  particular instance.
Here the Left set up  “the rich” and “the poor” but never acknowledge that those categories are not static; the beauty of America is that people move in and out of those categories. 
We are also told that poverty has worsened despite more than $22 trillion spent on the “War on Poverty.” Obscured is the fact that it takes periodic re-definitions of poverty to reach that conclusion.  Poverty today includes people who own cars, have air conditioning, TVs, and the latest gadgets. In the 50s, what is now poverty would have been middle class.
This captioned photo, which circulated on the internet, makes a point.
People do move in and out of the categories. Star Parker has cited Brookings Institute scholar Ron Haskins. Haskins has said there are three rules for not being poor in America: “complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 and get married before having a baby….Based on an analysis of census data, people who followed all three of these rules had only a 2 percent chance of being in poverty and a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class.” http://www.urbancure.org/mbarticle.asp?id=690&t=Who-is-a-real-Black
Meanwhile, bemoaning “the poor” and demonizing “the rich,” Hillary is on her way to more than 1 billion dollars for her presidential campaign, with $795 million raised through August
and Obama has spent more than $79 million on vacation travel.
A Reminder 
Politicians conveniently forget: There is no such thing as Government money. It is our money.
Government can only ‘give’ what it has taken from taxpayers. ‘Take’ is what Government does through the IRS Tax Code. Want to check that out?  Good luck. It runs 74,608 pages!
And yet ‘take’ as the Government does so abundantly,  year by year we go deeper into debt. If the Republic is to survive, there must be tax reform.
Tax Reform
Oh yes, we are more than ready.
Flat Tax; Federal Sales Tax
Two reforms which have been proposed are the Flat Tax and the Federal Sales Tax.
Flat Tax adherents want no deductions.  I think that is neither fair nor practicable. [E.g., too many people have dependency on the mortgage interest deduction] And I believe that deductions can provide incentives to improvements. [Incentive Changes below.]
The Federal Sales Tax plan has attraction, as it taxes consumption. My fear: knowing politicians,  a Federal Sales Tax will become an addition to, not a substitute for, income tax.
I believe meaningful reform must be to the present system rather than a totally new approach.
What follows is taken in large part from Donald Trump’s plan announced last year.
He has since modified it.
Lower Tax Rates
Taxes must be reduced. Two iconic presidents,  John F. Kennedy  and Ronald Reagan, both recognized the paradoxical truth that cutting taxes raises revenue. Lower taxes spur economic growth and result in more tax revenue.
Features
·  No income tax for single people who earn less than $25,000, or married couples who jointly earn less than $50,000.
·  The income tax code will be collapsed from seven brackets to four. Depending on income, taxpayers will pay 0 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent in taxes.
·   Lower business and corporate taxes, with no business of any size paying more than 15 percent of its income on taxes.
·  Elimination of the “death tax”.
·  Certain deductions and loopholes to be reduced or eliminated, including the “carried interest” tax break for hedge-fund managers.
·  A one-time 10 percent tax will be imposed on the profits of American corporations earned abroad, with the hope it will entice companies to choose to bring business and jobs back home.
.  No alternative minimum tax.  Mortgage and charity deductions remain.
One analysis concludes that the corporate income tax reductions and reforms will  provide 4.5 percentage points of GDP growth out of the 6.9 percent total predicted under a higher-rate assumption; under lower-rate assumption, an additional 1.3 percent is added to long-run GDP.
[Compare “Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016…”]  www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth
Incentive Changes: 
I would tweak the charitable deductions to allow dollar for dollar rather than the current limited deductions. Incentive to give to charity,  a good for society.
I would add certain deductions to implement the repeal of the ACA [Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare until all the problems became exposed.]
. Dollar for dollar deduction for health care insurance coupled with lifting the ban on insurance companies competing across state lines. Young people, who now go without insurance in the mistaken belief that they will not need it until they are older, would have an incentive to obtain it- a good for society when they otherwise would show up for ‘free’ Emergency Room care.
. Dollar for dollar deduction for medical expenses including non-prescription remedies.  Incentive for people to take care of themselves, a good for society.
Dollar for dollar tax deduction for education expenses coupled with gradual elimination of the Department of Education.  [Despite billions spent, school performance has worsened since its creation.]
Incentive for people to educate themselves, a good for society
Four Necessary Corollaries
Reduce Spending
Trillions can be saved and our Republic enhanced by, among other things:  cutting contributions to the United Nations and reducing foreign aid; ending illegal immigration; eliminating the Department of Education; ending Obamacare; curbing the EPA; reforming welfare; reducing the government bureaucracy; and eliminating waste in government programs.
Balanced Budget
Legislation to require a Balanced Budget is necessary to aid our representatives in focusing on the essentials, not accommodating special interests.
Line Item veto 
A line item veto will reduce the opportunities for the legislature to tie a special interest provision to an otherwise beneficial bill, threatening a ‘shut down’ if not accepted. We have seen that scenario increasingly in recent years.
Term Limits– mindful of Thomas Sowell’s words “… politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two….”, term limits are necessary to remove the temptation to ‘give’ entitlements to ensure re-election.
Suggestion: 1 term for the Senate, 2 terms for the House.
CONCLUSION
In 2012, this calculation circulated on the internet:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Current outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Total budget cuts: $385
The kicker- if 8 zeroes were added to those numbers, one would have Barack Obama’s economic plan. The numbers could not be sustained by a family and cannot be sustained by our Government. Since 2012, the situation has worsened.
The Democrats’ solution: more taxes
Johnny Rocco to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no ever-increasing “More.”
The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much. … Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15. 
– Ronald Reagan

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018