What makes the presidential campaigns interesting, especially the year in advance of the political conventions, is that some really good ideas can emerge from all the ballyhoo and bravura as the candidates hit the stump. We will say, however, that every person must pay particular attention in order to recognize the quality ideas, compared with some ideas which look good on paper, but in reality, just will not work.
In this year, we must rely upon the Republican candidates to make the most of these distinctive presentations, since at present there are no substantial Democratic challengers to the sitting president. A first term president does not throw out ideas like this, since there usually are not many challengers within his party, and anyway, he must “act presidential” and does not have the time for this.
If a Republican was a sitting president, it would be the Democrats who would have to throw out the innovative ideas.
You want an example?
Here’s one. It comes from Republican candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor and Democratic appointee as ambassador to China under President Obama.
Governor Huntsman’s idea that caught our attention was an innovative one, something that has been brought up before, but something that got little buy-in. This candidate for president suggests that the United States strip its tax code of all loopholes and deductions.
Wow! That’s a big change!
Go up against all the stakeholders who now benefit from the thousands of loopholes in the tax code! Think of the opposition such a suggestion will draw. But think, too, of the clarity of this proposal, one that gets down to the basics, and suggests, in effect, that this country start over on writing its tax laws. Accountants and lawyers will have a field day fighting this proposal, for it really would simplify tax matters and could spoil the way CPAs and attorneys currently make their living.
What has happened, as Governor Huntsman explains, is that the current tax code has become nothing less than a Bible of Special Interests. There are carefully-carved exemptions here, deductions there, and exclusions abounding, so that therefore the tax code becomes nothing shy of means for some people to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
In effect, it means that paying taxes is unfair to a majority of the people, benefitting only those who are able to influence legislation. You know what that means: these well-off people make contributions to politicians to insure that their interests are protected.
Governor Huntsman is on sound ground, taking part of his idea from another Republican candidate, Ron Paul. The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission to reduce the deficit and lower corporate and individual tax rates, and took on such standard exemptions. But that is only the beginning of the loopholes.
These loopholes are numerous, and many see them as their “right” after they have been in practice for years. But in reality, they hurt the average taxpayers tremendously in higher taxes, and taxes that are spread unfairly.
Perhaps other candidates can put forth other innovative ideas such as Governor Huntsman has done. That’s the benefit of having presidential campaigns, of getting new ideas on the table.
Government is never perfect. But there is no doubt that the tax policy of this country is out of whack, as Governor Huntsman points out, and needs reining in and changing to make our country stronger.