Tag Archives: tax cuts

Infrastructure reconstruction? Sure, but how?

I am inclined to support Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. He wants to spend more than a trillion bucks to remake our roads, highways, bridges, airports and rail lines.

The Republican president sounds like a big-spending Democrat with this bold notion. To which I say, bring it on!

Here’s the deal, however. How are we going to pay for this?

The president and his Republican congressional allies have just pushed through a big tax cut that slashes corporate income taxes and helps many Americans at the top of the income ladder. Corporate leaders are kicking back those tax savings to their employees, which is a good thing.

The tax cut is going to explode the federal budget deficit, not to mention add tremendously to our $20 trillion national debt.

What price will we pay to finance this huge infrastructure plan that has come forth from the president? Are we going to sacrifice more in social programs? Will there be cuts in Medicare, Social Security?

I don’t expect the defense establishment to pay for this infrastructure plan. Trump proclaims his love and admiration for the military. As do I. This is another area of agreement I have with the president.

I’ve already mentioned here that I consider myself to be a deficit hawk. President Barack Obama and Congress managed to pare down the annual deficit during Obama’s two terms. His successor, Trump, now is on the cusp of exploding it yet again.

Cutting taxes while at the same time spending more than $1 trillion to rebuild our infrastructure in my mind just doesn’t compute to anything other than adding billions and billions to the annual deficit.

I would like to support the infrastructure improvements. It’s the potential consequence of this massive expense that gives me pause.

These projects don’t pay for themselves

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to cut taxes — notably for the wealthiest Americans — is getting considerable play in conservative media and political circles.

The president thinks he’s on to something. He has pitched what his team has called the most sweeping “tax reform” package in U.S. history.

Now …

Let’s get real for a moment.

* The president also wants to enact a few big projects. He has proposed spending an additional $54 billion next year alone on the Department of Defense. He contends the military is depleted and, of course, blames the previous administration for all but rendering us defenseless against our enemies.

* He also wants to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges and airports. The price tag for that? A cool $1.2 trillion. This is a project worth doing, given the sorry state of our highways and airports. I’m still baffled as to how this plays among fiscal conservatives who (a) voted for Trump in 2016 and (b) say they dislike spending money the government doesn’t have in the bank.

* The president also wants to build that “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border. The price tag varies on this matter, but I’ll go with the bigger number that’s been floated: $25 billion. I do not believe the wall will be built. Nor should it be built. Still, the president insists that it will and he no longer is saying at every campaign-style rally that “Mexico will pay for it.”

These things do not pay for themselves. Thus, Americans across the land need to ask themselves: Are we willing to step up to shoulder the cost of all these projects or are we going to ignore the reality that the money must come from each of us?

The tax cut mantra has become standard Republican Party policy. President Reagan famously sought to cut taxes while “rebuilding” the military. He railed against President Carter’s budget deficits, only to preside over a skyrocketing deficit during his two terms in office. President George H.W. Bush challenged us to “read my lips” while vowing at the GOP convention in 1988 to never raise taxes; which helped get him elected. He then raised taxes — wisely, in my view — and it cost him votes among his conservative GOP base in 1992. President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, then went to war with international terrorists after the 9/11 attacks; the deficits exploded.

A new Republican president is now proposing another massive tax cut while at the same time seeking to do big things. With what, Mr. President? Where’s the money coming from?

I hate the wall idea. If the president wants to stem illegal immigration, then invest more money in better enforcement along both of our lengthy borders — north and south — and at ports of entry along all three coasts.

The defense buildup doesn’t need to cost nearly what Trump is proposing. Our military remains the strongest in the world.

Infrastructure improvement makes sense, but it’s going to cost Americans a lot of money to get it done.

Are we going to fall for the GOP tax-cut dodge because we don’t want to pay for the things we insist that government do for us? Or are we going to understand that our government requires us to spend a bit of our money to make it work?

Sullivan threw out the bait; I took it

Michael Quinn Sullivan runs an outfit called Empower Texans. He sent out a mailer to Texas Senate District 31 residents which contained a bit of red meat of which I took a bite.

It implied that state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, opposes a Senate bill that would provide $4.6 billion in tax relief for Texans. Dumb me. I fell for it.

Seliger called this morning to remind me that he voted for Senate Bill 1, but simply declined to sign on as a sponsor of the bill.

The antipathy between Seliger and Sullivan is as strong as ever. Indeed, I happen to stand with Seliger in his distaste and distrust of Sullivan, who sees himself as a kingmaker, seeking to elect legislators and statewide officials who agree with his brand of ultraconservatism.

I also happen to agree with those who believe the state should hold off on tax cuts until it takes care of some essential needs, such as infrastructure improvement and restoring money to public education.

Lesson learned: Read everything that Michael Quinn Sullivan sends out — carefully.

 

Ex-mayor sounds cautious tone in Texas Senate

Kevin Eltife is demonstrating that reason still exists inside the Texas Senate.

He’s a former Tyler mayor who’s served in the Legislature for a decade. While many of his colleagues — perhaps most of them — want to cut taxes, Eltife is sounding a note of caution and restraint.

Let’s take care of some business, Eltife asks. Sure. Why not?

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/03/analysis-tax-cutting-frenzy-and-call-restraint/

As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey notes: “This is a peculiar time in Texas: The state government has more money than its lawmakers are willing to spend. Political respect for a constitutional cap on growth of the state budget is high, as is the appetite for property tax cuts — especially among Republicans.”

Eltife is a Republican, but he remains part of what’s been called the “establishment wing” of his party. He has a few allies in the Senate. One of them is Kel Seliger, a fellow Republican, from Amarillo. The two men joined the Senate at the same time and have been trying to take a more moderate course in a body commanded by the more conservative wing of their party, starting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“Everybody wants a tax cut,” Eltife said in an interview with the Texas Tribune. “I want one. I just think it’s more conservative to meet your obligations first.”

Those obligations include, say, public education, highway infrastructure and an assortment of other items that have gone begging back when money was tight and demand was high. Now it appears the reverse is true.

As Ramsey wrote of Eltife: “He wants the meat and potatoes before dessert. Most of his colleagues, however, have their eyes on the pies.”

 

Tax cuts pushed off GOP table

Tax cuts used to be the mantra of the Republican Party.

No more, or so it seems. Cutting taxes now appears to be the bane of the Grand Old Party. Why? Some states that have cut taxes too much now face the dreaded “d” word, budget deficits that are blowing apart any effort to do something constructive for constituents.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/republicans-shift-away-from-tax-cutting-mania-111359.html?hp=t1

Meanwhile, at the federal level we’re seeing the deficit shrinking as the federal government has reduced spending while holding the line — for now — on tax revenue.

“We have to stop being one-trick ponies,” said California Rep. John Campbell, a member of the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee and the No. 4 Republican on the House Budget Committee.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who once served in the U.S. Senate, might be in serious trouble this election year because he’s pushed too hard for tax cuts that have cost the state too much revenue to pay for certain things — such as, oh, road maintenance and public education.

As Politico reports, the tax cuts that once were the mainstay of a party dominated by Ronald Reagan are MIA in the current political discussion. GOP candidates are talking about the Affordable Care Act and terrorism. Tax cuts? Forget about it.

Well, rest assured that Democrats will remind voters of the danger of cutting too much. They’ll be talking enough for both political parties right up until Election Day.