I’ve read some good news on taxes today. At least, I think it’s good news.
First, Senator Evan Bayh (D) wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed critizing the omnibus spending bill that’s currently working it’s way through the Senate.
The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.
The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year’s levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across a broad swath of issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but America is neither.
Drafted last year, the bill did not pass due to Congress’s long-standing budgetary dysfunction and the frustrating delays it yields in our appropriations work. Since then, economic and fiscal circumstances have changed dramatically, which is why the Senate should go back to the drawing board. The economic downturn requires new policies, not more of the same.
The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet — and Washington should too.
The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year’s unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won’t be wasted.
Senator Bayh voted for the “stimulus” package, so I’m not sure how seriously to take these criticisms. Still, it is refreshing to see a Democrat criticizing a spending bill.
Secondly, Senators are starting to rebel over some of Obama’s tax hikes.
The resistance from Mr. Obama’s own party — focusing on a single element of the president’s tax plans — could foreshadow broader troubles for the rest of his proposed tax increases.
Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), the Senate’s top tax writer as chairman of the Finance Committee, told Mr. Geithner he was especially concerned about paying for expanded health coverage with a deductions curb that “has nothing to do with health care.” He added: “I’m wondering about the viability of that provision.”
Charitable organizations are also worried. Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy said Wednesday that Mr. Obama’s proposals to limit deductions and raise rates, if applied in 2006, would have reduced giving by nearly $4 billion, or 2.1%.
“I’d like to think that people give out of the goodness of their heart, but that tax deduction helps to loosen up the heartstrings,” Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley said Tuesday during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
And, let’s give credit to Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (D). She makes a great point:
Another Democrat, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, questioned why the administration wouldn’t look for savings in the tax code through a comprehensive overhaul. “Why not look at a broader approach to tax policy, [rather] than coming in with this proposed change to marginal rates?” Ms. Cantwell said.
This is certainly an unusual post. When was the last time I praised two Democrat senators in one post? Maybe there is something to Obama’s hope & change rhetoric after all.