Stories are piling up today that the “deadline” for tax reform is slipping. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that the timeline has gone from “highly aggressive” to “not realistic.” It’s increasingly looking like fixing the IRS’s intrusive system of legalized theft will go down much as “repeal and replace” of Obamacare did–another self-inflicted wound by inept, squabbling Republicans in Congress.
This really shouldn’t be that hard.
The most obvious problem with the tax code is its sheer size. The most obvious solution is simple: a new, much shorter tax code to replace the old one. But now we’re being told that tax reform can only come in a multi-phased process, after healthcare reform (also multi-phased, of course). This means it won’t be in time to matter for those of us who in 2017 already see our paychecks pillaged through the process euphemistically referred to as “withholding.”
Republicans need to get it together.
The current tax code is a monstrosity. It is an over 70,000-page monument to special interests, social engineering, and outright corruption. Getting into the specifics is irrelevant, because specifics are the problem. Congress should determine new (much lower) individual and corporate rates, and no more deductions. The whole code should be readable in three minutes or less. Put it all on one page (OK, maybe two). Anyone who can read and do basic arithmetic should be able to easily do their own taxes.
That’s it. It’s time to stop staring over the edge and just jump off the cliff into the water below. The GOP majority leadership must take bold, disruptive action. We are long past the time for half-measures. When the Democrats had the White House and Congress, Pelosi rammed through Obamacare without a hint of hesitation. Say what you will about the Democrat hypocrisy and Pelosi’s economic illiteracy, they enjoy wielding power and steamrolling the opposition.
Of course, there are plenty of Republicans who are also at fault in the tax debacle. They invoke the Founding Fathers in public, decry big government, then go off and sneak a few goodies into the code for big donors and other favored groups. The only way to stop this is to refuse them the space in the code to hide their shenanigans. Brevity is not just better for the code; it is essential.
We don’t need a slightly tweaked tax code. We need a completely fresh start on taxes. This is a task for a battle-axe, not a scalpel, and if Paul Ryan and company won’t grab on and take a swing, we need to keep on the pressure until someone steps up to do it.