But I like principles, not procedures, and I've been thinking about what I want out of my candidate. To me, taxes are the central issue. Tax philosophy reveals a lot about a candidate. So here is what I've decided is important to me:
- The rate of participation in the income tax should go up. I think that every wage earner should pay something. Currently, only 51 percent of wage earners pay an income tax. (I am not considering Social Security-related withholding.) We live in a beautiful country, and it is indeed a privilege to support our Republic. The amount could be minimal, even $25, but the message it sends is that our country has value to every single person.
- The tax code is not the place to pick winners and losers. No loopholes, no magical deductions or tax credits. Do those things away from the tax code if you need to offer incentives or loan guarantees. I would even be willing to give up the mortgage tax deduction here--no need to favor homeowners over renters.
That's it. Everyone pays a little, and we are taxed cleanly.
Amazingly, the tax code has remarkably little effect on the amount collected, which hovers around 18% of GDP. The only way to raise more money is to raise the GDP, otherwise known as "growing the economy."
Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the "who is rich" and "I want mine" questions that we lose sight of the first question we should ask: what is the purpose of the tax code? Presently the tax code is a tool to separate winners and losers and to provide incentives for certain behaviors. I am looking for someone who recognizes that streamlining the tax code would be a first and enormous step in easing the regulatory burden on small and mid-size businesses.
I don't have a candidate yet--not sure if I ever will!--but I wanted to share my primary criteria for evaluating all of the candidates.
P.S. On a related note, Darryl Issa (who is rapidly becoming my favorite Congressman) released a report today on the regulatory "tsunami" that businesses and all of America have been subjected to. Haven't had time to read it yet.