I love this. The old fashioned 20th Century statism just drips from the attached piece. Vanessa Williamson, fellow at Brookings, arguably the most prestigious statist think tank in Washington, is afraid that people will actually like the idea of closing loop holes in the tax code. She recognizes correctly that if the tax code is simplified, if things are made more simple and more efficient, the government won’t be able to take as much from the citizenry. That is precisely of course why we need to simplify the tax code. But in the tired statist fashion of another era she argues that what people really want is a “progressive” tax code and that corporate taxes aren’t high enough even though they are the highest in the world. Think about that. Our corporate rates are higher than Sweden or France. No wonder companies seek alternatives to doing their books in the USA. The leadership of these companies would be derelict if they didn’t.
The fear fundamentally for people like Ms. Williamson is that one day the actual inflow of funds to Washington will decrease. That one day people will wise up and insist that they keep more of their money for their families and their communities instead of sending it off to the black hole which is DC. If people do this the folks at Brookings are in a world of hurt. They won’t be able to spend your money on the things they want to spend it on.
The first hint at the authors’ politics comes when they single out particular beneficiaries of the corporate tax break largesse: “Hollywood” and “wind-energy producers,” both business sectors associated with the Democratic Party. Anti-Hollywood rhetoric has been a mainstay for Christian conservatives for decades, of course, and sustainable energy has been pilloried on the right at least since Reagan took the solar panels off the White House roof. On the subject of breaks for oil companies, worth an estimated $4 billion a year, the authors remain silent.
As we see just from this paragraph the beef is mostly with the style of the piece Ms. Williamson is critiquing. She can sense that people (who are now far better educated than even 10 years ago, and not just in the traditional sense) are getting hip to government and that the rising statist tide many in the statist camp had hoped for with Obama is now solidly ebbing.
As for the the oil tax breaks – they aren’t specific to oil for the most part. The breaks come from depletion (which is specific to oil and mining) and the depreciation of equipment. But theses companies are only keeping money they invested, which created jobs, and all sorts of other economic activity. Tax “breaks” don’t “cost” anything. (They can still be crony however.) I’d rather have a company which invested in something productive keep its money.
But that’s not cool with the planners. They want control. They want to manipulate the economy. God forbid private enterprise show the way. Particularly private enterprise which does not fit into their agenda.
And as for the “silence” on the oil and mining tax breaks I’ll bet that if one looks closely at the tax simplification proposal this area of the code would be cleaned up too. But the issue is a diversionary tactic anyway (one which we have allowed to gain our attention) to bring up the Koch boogeyman yet again.
Ms. Williamson’s real fear is that everyday people will insist on lowering their tax burdens. That people will begin to ask why they must pay so much to the central planners. Because if that happens things will in fact change. And the folks at Brookings, being the statist conservatives that they are (they like to think of themselves as “progressive” of course) don’t want REAL change. The don’t want a middle class tax revolt. The statists want money to spend.