Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Economists Look to Democratic Control for Serious Tax ReformBruce Bartlett has explained why "gridlock" in government -- resulting from each party having sufficient power to block the other's unilateral proposals -- is a good thing...
Economists at an October 7 tax reform forum at the National Press Club in Washington said that because GOP leadership in Washington has belied its “smaller government” rhetoric, consideration of fundamental revenue changes necessary to address serious fiscal challenges will likely take place when Democrats are in charge.
At a roundtable discussion on whether the tax reform debate should be broadened to address overall government financing, panelists from the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, two groups with strong conservative ties, criticized Republican leadership for increasing the size of government....
U.S. Comptroller General David Walker warned that restraining spending or increasing taxes to take care of the fiscal burden is simply a matter of timing.
“If you don’t do it now, you’re going to do it later,” Walker said.
The “basic fundamental problem,” said Bill Bixby of the Concord Coalition, “is that we’re not raising enough revenue to pay for the commitments.”
According to panelist Bill Niskanen, chair of the Cato Institute, the debate over increasing revenues to address long-term fiscal challenges should not take place until 2007, “when Democrats control one house of Congress, or 2009, when they’re very likely to be elected president.”
Those are the only circumstances under which Democrats will acknowledge there is a problem in Social Security and Medicare, he said.
“I think the current Bush administration is one of the worst administrations in my adult lifetime,” Niskanen said...
Panelist Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, agreed that GOP leaders have not stuck to their fiscally conservative roots, and he was pessimistic there would be fundamental reform anytime soon.
“Having complete Republican control has not been a good thing,” he said ... [Tax Analysts]
The only people who really oppose gridlock are political scientists and party activists, who decry it as a barrier to "getting things done."...
The problem is that getting things done is usually a bad thing. All of our nation's entitlement programs, for example, were enacted when one party controlled all the elected bodies of the federal government. Social Security came under Franklin Roosevelt and a Democratic Congress in the 1930s, Medicare under Lyndon Johnson and a Democratic Congress in the 1960s, and now a prescription-drug entitlement under George Bush and a Republican Congress.
Our grandchildren's grandchildren will be paying higher taxes for this latest elderly vote-buying scheme when everyone who supported it is long dead.