Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

March 4, 2014

Reidin’, rightin’ and ’rithmetic: Issues underscore U.S. problems

— — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gave a speech on the Senate floor last week where he said this about the disastrous implementation of the Affordable Care Act: “Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”

This abjectly stupid remark ignores the problems millions of the people Harry Reid serves as majority leader have encountered at the hands of this Democrat-created nightmare, some of them with life-threatening consequences.

Some say he really was alluding to claims made in ads paid for by the Koch brothers, about which he specifically commented shortly after that major gaffe, claiming the Kochs are trying to “buy America” through Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) started by David Koch and Richard Fink.

He believes that the Koch brothers are the single greatest threat to liberty, “spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling Americans that Obamacare is bad for them.”

However, Koch Industries donated less than $3 million in the 2012 election cycle, earning 77th place on the top donor list of OpenSecrets.org. Americans for Prosperity is reported to have spent $40 million, but does not appear on the top donor list.

Top donor organizations ahead of Koch Industries include: the National Education Association, No. 5 at $14.7 million; the United Auto Workers, No. 8 at $13.3 million; the American Federation of State/County/Municipal Employees, No. 10 at $11.4 million; the AFL-CIO, No. 14 at $9 million; and the Service Employees International Union, No. 18 at $6.6 million. Ten more labor unions beat Koch Industries in spending. Organized labor is “buying America” to a much larger extent than Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity combined.

Harry Reid misleads us on political spending, and lied to us during the 2012 campaign about Mitt Romney having paid no taxes for 10 years. He epitomizes the sordid aspects of partisan politics, and simply cannot be believed.

• • •

On May 5, 2010, Latino students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., turned out to celebrate their Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo.

When some American students showed up at school wearing American-flag shirts, school officials ordered the American students to turn their shirts inside-out or go home, to avoid a repeat of the unrest that had occurred during past observances of this date.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld the action of school officials.

So, when students from Mexico attending American schools want to flaunt their Mexican-ness in the face of the American students by waving Mexican flags on a Mexican holiday, and some American students decide to show their patriotism by wearing American flag shirts, the school authorities believe that the American students are wrong, and the Mexican students are right, and a federal court agrees with them.

Disgusting!

Whacky, radical rulings like this one have earned the court the nickname, “The “9th Circus.” The Mexican students should not be allowed to stir up sentiments by waving a foreign flag around to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. If they prefer Mexico to the U.S., perhaps they should just go back.

• • •

Congressman Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has produced a tax reform plan based upon three years of hearings and discussions with bipartisan groups.

Hardly anyone who pays taxes will argue against reforming this overly complex system. The last round was in 1986, and at that time the tax code was more than 26,000 pages. Thirty years later, the tax system is a incoherent mess that negatively affects prosperity, job creation and investment, and is regulated by a tax code that has nearly tripled in size to roughly 75,000 pages.

Each year the tax code gets further complicated with more special interest loopholes, credits and carve-outs.

Rep. Camp would make several changes to the code, like eliminating loopholes, reducing tax rates, whittling down the current seven tax brackets to three, and lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the highest in the industrialized world, to 25 percent.

In those 75,000 pages are goodies for numerous interests, and they will scream bloody murder if their special goody is on the chopping block. The Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore notes that we can “expect the White House to lambast this plan as a ‘tax cut for the rich,’ but the evidence from history shows that lower tax rates are usually associated with higher overall tax receipts and more taxes paid by the rich. In the 1980s after two rounds of Reagan tax rate reductions, income tax receipts doubled, and the share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent rose as the economy expanded.”

This plan simplifies the tax code by allowing millions of tax filers a larger standard deduction, meaning they don’t need to itemize and can use the EZ form. For those who do itemize, the mortgage and charity deductions remain.

While the Camp plan isn’t perfect, and produced quite a few knee-jerk criticisms, it has many advantages, and is certainly a good start toward finally transforming the current tax code into something that is sensible and easy to understand. Let’s hope Congress has the courage to follow through.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
Editorials
Poll

What was your favorite subject in school? After voting, go to facebook.com/bdtonline to comment.

English
History
Math
Science
Phys ed
Other
     View Results