"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A couple things you’re not being told

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

With all the political garbage talk going on these days about tax cuts, we voters – the people who pay those taxes – are being promised impossible things while hard facts are being ignored. The kindest, most gentle way of putting it is we are being led to tax slaughter while being lied to. Even if your favorite politician sounds so reasonable and factual, there are things he’s not telling you. So, I’ll take up two of the major omissions right here. Believe me, the list doesn’t end with just these two.

When politicians talk about “rewriting the tax code” or “eliminating deductions” or “reworking tax rules” or “prioritizing tax breaks” you should be scared. Very, very scared. The last time a major tinkering of our federal tax laws was done, it was overseen by Oregon GOPer Sen. Bob Packwood. He of the “lady problems” who soon thereafter was told to go home by his peers.

Here’s the first landmine. During the 1980′s process, we middle-income taxpayers got screwed and the big guys made out just fine, thank you very much. No matter who wins this election – from president on down – you can bet the farm it’ll happen again. The reason is simple. When tax rewriting begins, you and I are way under-represented at the table. Almost ignored. But the big guys – the ones with the well-paid lobby folks ever-present on Capitol Hill – those guys have front row seats and unlimited expense accounts with which to peddle some well-compensated Gucci influence.

Since you and I won’t be attending, who’ll speak for us? Who’ll make the case that our precious homeowner exemption is more important than some international company not having to pay taxes on a corporate jet? Who’ll speak up for you when the cutting turns to second home exemptions for RVs against someone’s luxury tax exemption for a 60 foot yacht? And that child tax credit. Will that survive a “K” Street onslaught by the briefcasers when they want to eliminate it in favor of another tax goodie for the international jet set?

If you don’t think that kind of horse-trading campaign contributor pressure is not exerted to the maximum against individual citizen interest, you must think Little Big Horn was just “a failure to communicate.” The big guys have an army – a well-paid army – to speak for them. Since you won’t be there, who’ll speak for you?

Then, there’s omitted tax cut fact number two. Let’s suppose – just for giggles – we all get the 20% federal income tax reductions being promised to we middle-classers. Whoopee! Yowser!!! Way to go!!! We’re off to the BMW dealer, check in hand.

Better wait up there, “ultimate driving machine breath.” You haven’t heard from your friends in the state capitol who set budgets and write the laws regarding levies and collecting taxes. You haven’t heard from your friendly county commission that shares the same legal responsibility.

If your state legislators and your county commissioners find themselves not receiving those absolutely necessary federal dollars – the ones you don’t pay anymore – what do you think the next step is? Can you say “tax increase?” Maybe “BIG tax increase?” Because your legislature and your county commission have responsibilities required by law to provide certain public services. It’s not a matter of “IF they’ve got the money.” No. It’s a matter of they HAVE to and they have absolute authority to reach into your pocket to do so. And, believe me, they will. I don’t care what you’re being told between now and election day. In many ways, they have no choice.

Oh, and don’t forget those other taxing folks in your neighborhood. The sewer districts, road districts, school districts, water districts, mosquito abatement districts, etc.. The ones getting fewer federal dollars, too.

Take the county, state and federal taxes you and I pay right now. Put them all in a big purple bag. Every dollar in the bag has been paid because each governmental level has lawful responsibilities or budgeted demands it must cover. So, let’s say, the feds put in 20% less – that 20% tax credit you’re being promised. Well, what has to be paid for by law still has to be paid for. By law. Who’s going to make up that missing 20%? You know. The 20% you didn’t pay?

Yep. Since the demands are still there, it’s us. You and me.
“But wait,” you say. “The answer is to knock off some of the things we pay for – those things that aren’t necessary. We just get ‘em to cut out those unnecessary things until income and outgo are the same. Ha! Gotcha, Rainey.”

Oh yeah? Go back up the column and reread reopening the tax code. Then think about this. Are you going to cut my “necessary” program or your “necessary” program? What if our “necessaries” aren’t the same? What about the other guys “necessaries?” And more important, who’s going to speak for you?

Remember, those corporations and those billionaires have that well-shod army of lobbyists. The ones with the healthy expense accounts who have nothing more to do with their well-paid time than represent the big guys. The situation here is exactly like the first scenario. Who speaks loudest? Where do all those major political contributions come from? Where is the most influence? Who speaks for you against the horde of professional political influence peddlers? And who decides the “necessaries?”

The answer is they get the beefsteak and we get the bones. And we pay for that beefsteak they get. Happened just that way in the 80′s.
So, in case number one, the problem is when you open the tax code for changes, which changes and for whom? And, in case number two, the problem with tax cuts or increases is how big and for whom? In both cases, it’s Pandora’s box all over again.

Oh. And one more thing. Fees. Now, there are legal definitions of fees and taxes. One is not the other. But to we who pay the bills, it makes damned little difference because it’s dollars. Either way. We pay. And – in addition to the above on taxes – you can expect to pay more and larger fees on many things. You can take that to the bank. When a taxing entity has hit the roof on its legal limit to raise taxes, the next alternative is fees.

So when someone tells you their magic math can produce huge tax cuts while still paying the bills, it’s snake oil of the worst kind, my friend. The government giveth and the government taketh away. When you put your hand in your pocket to feel that wonderful tax cut saving – IF you get it – yours won’t be the only hand in there. That’s a promise!

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