The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Ownership Soci.... ahhhh, forget it.

It's nothing short of awe-inspiring to watch the GOP rack up unprecedented deficits and pay for them by, uhhh.... cutting trillions from government revenue. It's going to be ten times worse than the hangover from Reagan and Bush I's endless party. At least they had the decency to acknowledge reality from time to time.

President Bush's tax advisory commission indicated today that it would not propose replacing the income tax with a national sales tax or a value-added tax but would recommend modifications in the popular tax deductions for mortgage interest and employer-provided health insurance.

The commission, scheduled to make its recommendations to the president by Nov. 1 on how to change the tax system, did not take votes and did not address ticklish details, but its consensus on many important issues was clear.

"We're getting focused on the income tax as a base," said the panel's chairman, Connie Mack, a former Republican senator from Florida.

Many prominent conservatives have argued over the years that the income tax is a drag on the economy and should be scrapped in favor of what is called a consumption tax - a tax based not on what people earn but on what they spend.

But the commission members concluded that consumption taxes like the value-added tax used in European countries had more drawbacks than advantages.

Various proposals for a flat tax - an income tax with everyone paying the same rate - are still under consideration, Jeffrey F. Kupfer, the commission's executive director, said. They are to be discussed at a meeting next week.

At its last meeting in July, the commission agreed to recommend abolishing the alternative minimum tax for individual, a step that would cost the federal government $1.2 trillion in lost revenue over 10 years.

With a mandate to develop an overall proposal for changing the tax system that is revenue neutral - meaning it neither raises nor lowers total tax receipts - the commission must find enough revenue to offset the amount now generated by the alternative minimum tax.

That is mainly what led to an examination of ways to modify the deductions for mortgage interest and health insurance, two of the largest tax breaks now available to individuals. Together, these two deductions will cost the Treasury about $250 billion this year, with the benefits going disproportionately to the most affluent taxpayers.

Surely China will be willing to offer us some debt write-offs. They've been really nice about extending credit so far.