Say no to Norquist pledge

Friday, November 30, 2012
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One of the fundamental responsibilities of Congress is to set tax policy, and over the years the Republicans in that body have abdicated their responsibility and put themselves in a box by signing anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge.

It was always a fantasy to think that the federal government could function without ever raising taxes. And now, with the country deep in debt and on the edge of the “fiscal cliff,” reality is starting to sink in. A small number of GOP lawmakers, including local Rep. Chris Gibson, are renouncing the pledge. That’s not the same, or as good, as publicly recognizing the need for a tax increase, but it’s better than the old, simple-minded resistance.

In fact, Gibson says he still opposes raising tax rates for individuals and calls for closing loopholes and limiting some deductions in the tax code. That was what Mitt Romney was pushing in the election (although with no specifics), and doing so would indeed raise more revenue.

But not nearly enough, at least without savaging needed programs like Medicaid and Social Security. Or without drastically reducing or eliminating tax breaks such as the deduction for mortgage interest and state and local taxes, which would be a big hit on the middle class. And, with Norquist’s pledge, loophole closing and deduction limiting wouldn’t help much because any new revenue would have to be offset by a reduction in tax rates.

Norquist, predictably, is also in favor of making the Bush-era tax cuts permanent. President Obama won the election on a promise to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year, but to raise taxes on higher-income earners.

If Republicans hold fast to their pledge, the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, raising taxes not just for the wealthy but also for the middle class (around $2,200) — the last thing they or the struggling economy need.

But that’s just one of the undesirable consequences, including across-the-board spending cuts, that would result from laws that Obama and the Republicans have negotiated over the last two years to reduce the deficit and the debt. Collectively, they are known as “the fiscal cliff.”

What the country needs is what it has always needed: a comprehensive, balanced, bipartisan deal that will contain spending over the long term while providing sufficient tax revenues. It’s called fiscal responsibility, and Republicans used to be in favor of it. That would be a pledge worth signing.

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November 30, 2012
7:37 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Then maybe we should cut spending. Maybe we should stop in-state college rates for illegal aliens, maybe we should actually enforce our immigration laws and deport them. Maybe we should have a voucher program for our schools and reduce the billions wasted on state pensions, after all the kids are not learning much in public schools anyway.

November 30, 2012
7:49 a.m.
1963 says...

It's high time to return to the Clinton-era tax rates. From today's NYTimes:

"...most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes — federal, state and local — than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.

"Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85 percent of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980."

November 30, 2012
8:32 a.m.
gina99 says...

No amount of tax increases will keep up with Obama's spending. He has added over one trillion a year to our deficit. More shovel ready jobs and Solyndra schemes will cure everything-no? Not surprised to read this after the hilarious increase Federal gas taxes editorial. The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. Even the evil job creators.

November 30, 2012
12:39 p.m.
fjcjr says...

Anything political from the NYT is suspect. They are far from objective in their coverage of political issues.

November 30, 2012
3:17 p.m.
ronzo says...

And how does any one propose that the unbudgeted debt created by two wars still going on will get paid? Other than by our unborn future Americans?

December 1, 2012
1:51 p.m.
muggy says...

We don't have a taxing problem. We have a spending problem. Few people realize that the Obama Stimulus package, designed as an emergency, one-shot stimulus to the economy, has been embedded in annual federal spending. It raised the baseline spending of the federal government by $800+ billion dollars ($1.2 trillion dollars with interest). Thus, Obama has raised our debt by about $5 trillion dollars since he took office.

Obama doesn't want to solve the "fiscal cliff." He wants chaos. He relishes civil unrest. As Rahm Emanuel once stated, "never let a crisis go to waste." Obama wants the crisis in order to shove through his totalitarian tendencies.

Do you know that a couple days ago, Obama agreed to private discussions with Boehner? Both Boehner and Obama agreed to keep their conversations from the public in order to try to accomplish a deal. Then the President's people leaked the substance of those initial negotiations.

This President is not negotiating in good faith. I do not trust him.

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