Thursday, December 2, 2010

Congress and the Tax Disaster Waiting to Happen

Washington has been a bastion of self-serving ineptitude for many a year now, but I think it's fairly safe to say that never has it been so pronounced as it is at the current moment. I think that there are a few contributing factors, but number one might just be the fact that no matter how far you scratch a current representative or senator, you will not reach even a scintilla of a principled core. In even the recent past, say 20 years ago, it seemed as if every member had at least one pet issue on which they were unwilling to bend. The current crop of legislators display a devotion to one thing only: their office and the sinecures that come with it.

The reason I bring up the characteristics of our representatives in Washington is because it seems as if now is a possibly linchpin moment for the history of our country. We are in still in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns the US has endured, one that doesn't seem to have an end in sight. In fact, it's a very good possibility that we may never be the same prosperous nation we have been since the end of World War II. With this in mind, it seems now is the time for a dramatic change in the direction our country, especially in the way we manage our national finances. Yet, there doesn't seem to be one person in Washington that is talking about the situation we face. Yes there has been some rather ineffectual chest beating about cutting programs here and raising taxes there, but nothing in the way of an overall plan. Instead we have a group of politicians who are ignoring the situation at hand either through ignorance or political calculation.

I think the current inactivity with the Bush Tax Cuts is an excellent encapsulation of all the problems I have pointed out above. We have a problem that's been facing us for years, yet nothing has been done prior to the point which we are now faced with. No one really understands what the inevitable means because no one has bothered to really figure it out. So now in the 11th hour, we have politicians scrambling to either take cover or trying use this issue for political purposes, making hay of this issue for their reelection campaigns two years away, one month after having just been elected, or more likely, reelected. No one has any semblance of an overall plan. Instead, what's most likely to be instituted is an ad hoc series of legislative Band Aids that will resolve nothing in the long term but will allow those in Washington to kick the issue further down the road. This will leave individual Americans and, especially, small businesses without the ability to make financial decisions with an eye on what they can expect in the future. Even past decisions aren't safe as there is talk of instituting provisions that might actually be retroactive.

In short, Americans need to know what they can expect from our government. Yes, we'd all like to have our political visions instituted, but short of that we'd at least like to know what to expect so that we are not left scrambling each year end to figure out what we'll have to come up with to pay Uncle Sam.

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