We could try to unravel the federal tax overhaul for you. Having done that, we could attempt to translate Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity.
Einstein’s Theory of Happiness is far easier to digest. It says in part that “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
When it comes to taxes, there is constant restlessness ... not to mention disagreement, discontent and rancor of the bitterest sort.
West Virginia’s three Republican congressmen — David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins — say they like the overhaul for these reasons:
The current tax code is too confusing and benefits only the wealthy and politically connected. The overhaul is the best deal for the middle class and small employers. It will grow the economy, encourage job creation and raise take-home pay.
Across the Potomac River, Gov. Larry Hogan wants the General Assembly to protect our state’s residents whose taxes will go up because of it. He said, “Our goal will be to leave all of that money in the pockets of hardworking Marylanders.”
State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller told legislators the tax overhaul “is going to cause us fits” (which they were going to have, anyway).
Congressional Republicans passed the overhaul, and Hogan is a Republican. There are a number of other Republicans who don’t like it. Miller and other Democrats are virtually unanimous in despising it.
Democrat House MInority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi called it “Armageddon” and said “This is the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress.”
That’s a reach even for Pelosi, who at times can be a tad on the melodramatic side.
The Fugitive Slave Act, the Alien and Sedition Act, Public Law 503 (which authorized the interment of Japanese, German and Italian Americans during World War II), the Indian Removal Act (see “Trail of Tears”) and the Corwin Amendment (passed before the start of the Civil War, it would have given constitutional protection to slavery everywhere it was legal at the time and was ratified by Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois and Rhode Island and representatives of the Restored Government of Virginia — which a year later became the state of West Virginia) and some other less-infamous acts of Congress were far more egregious than the tax overhaul.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s upcoming analysis of the overhaul will surely say that some people will get a break on their taxes, but others will not. As Miller’s Law says, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
The overhaul reduces America’s corporate income tax from 35 percent in the top bracket (the highest among developed countries) to a flat rate of 21 percent.
Conservatives say this will allow corporations to increase wages and hire more workers. They see it as an incentive to keep business in the United States instead of outsourcing it to countries where taxes are lower. Liberals say corporations will neither hire more workers nor give pay raises, but keep the money for themselves and their shareholders.
Both will be right to a certain degree, but more than 100 companies — including AT&T, Comcast, American Airlines, Boeing and numerous banks — already are giving bonuses to employees, raising minimum wages and planning new investments. Walmart gave bonuses and pay raises, but closed 63 Sam’s Clubs.
Practitioners of “the politics of guilt and envy” seem to live in mortal fear that one person will have too much, while someone else won’t have enough. They give the impression that success should be punished, while failure should be rewarded — or at least subsidized (which probably is one reason there is so much of it).
Their favorite targets are “the rich,” who “should pay their fair share.” The IRS says the top one percent of income-owners pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes and the top five percent pay 60 percent. Bleed them dry and tax away any tangible incentives to succeed, and see what happens next.
Those who “have too much” may have worked hard and earned it, while those who “don’t have enough” may never have done anything productive.
However, some who “have too much” might never have lifted a finger (and practice “the politics of MINE! MINE! MINE!”), but some who “don’t have enough” have struggled and tried as hard as they can, but can’t get anywhere. Greed is part of the problem, but so is the lack of opportunity.
When it comes to taxes or anything else political, there is too much “I’m right and you’re not only wrong, but stupid” and not enough “Let’s both take a rational look at this and see what we can do.”
That won’t change any time soon. It can be said about many politicians (and pundits) that if it weren’t for their ability to woo the ideologues among us, nobody would ever know they exist.
Becoming proficient in this arena takes little in the way of hard work, talent or brains.
The ability to compromise and achieve worthwhile results requires far more intelligence and skill.