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Money In Politics

It was reported a couple of weeks ago by various outlets, most notably those in Obama’s amen corner, that a large number of Americans were unaware that Obama’s tax policies had put up 8 dollars a week back into people’s pockets. In the same span of time, the left wing, led by Obama, has set up a constant cry about corporate and special interest group spending during the current election cycle. Ignoring for a moment the irony of the darling of the trial lawyers and the bankers and now the auto industry complaining about special interest money, let’s address their chimerical concern. Let’s talk about money and politics.

The left would have you believe that money, especially in politics, is the root of all evil. In reality, they believe that only right-wing money is bad. They raise no hue and cry over Soros, or AFSCME, or SEIU spending. But their real concern, they say, is that somehow the right wing is “stealing” the elections, by taking contributions from “furriners” and businessmen, attempting to subvert the truth, justice, and the American way that flows from the pure humanitarian hearts of the left.

The money that is really a problem in politics is tax money. And the solution to money in politics is to make the tax policies of the government, whether federal, state, or local, completely transparent. The laws are public, anyone can go read the IRS code, if they’re sufficiently masochistic. The same goes for those of you who live in states that tax income. The number of taxing bodies is equally public. In the county I live in, twice a year they send me a notice containing a list of everyone who makes a claim on the money I earn. With a little, or a lot, of work, one can figure out a fair amount of the byzantine regulations of the property tax structure.

But the three largest taxes, federal income, state income, and property taxes, do their work almost invisibly to the average person. Ask someone about their taxes, and most of the time the answer comes back in terms of what happened on April 15th. I got x amount back, I had to pay x amount in. Very rarely do people discuss taxes in an absolute manner. They talk about withholding, and adjust their W-2s, and debate reductions in the marginal rates, but rarely does anyone look at their total tax bill.

So I thought about it, and I have developed a two-pronged solution to the problem of taxation and money in politics.

The first part of my solution is to eliminate withholding Make it illegal for any taxing entity, on any level, to withhold money from income based on a future tax obligation. The way it stands now, withholding is mandatory, and under-withholding is a regulatory offense that can incur penalties. Armed with that, the taxing authorities extort early payments on a debt that has yet to be determined, and they enjoy the use of your money interest-free. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that withholding desensitizes the taxpayer to the actual cost of government policies. We accept the depredations on our paychecks as a necessary concomitant of employment.

The solution to that problem is to require people to fend for themselves. Make withholding illegal, and require people to pay their taxes in one fell swoop, on or before April 15th. Make every single taxpayer write a check once a year. And this would apply to all levels. Two or three checks, for the total amount of taxes. And there is no reason this shouldn’t apply to social security and medicare/medicaid taxes, as well.

At the same time, make escrow accounts for property taxes illegal. Make the property owner responsible, once a year, for writing a check to the county to pay all taxes. And if one really wanted to be responsible, eliminate the bundling of taxing bodies on the property tax bill. Make the taxpayer write a check to each of the, in my area, 27 separate taxing bodies. Make this tax payment due once a year, on or before April 15th.

The second part of my solution would be to move election day to April 16th. Or, if you prefer, make tax payment day November 1st and leave election day as is. The key would be to tie tax payment day to election day. How many career politicians would be left, after writing increasingly large checks?

The left is concerned with where campaign money comes from. I think the really critical question is where does taxpayer money go. Withholding allows too many unscrupulous politicians a way to hide their raids on our pocketbooks. Eliminating withholding taxes would certainly bring a level of transparency that is sorely needed. And nobody’s against transparency in political spending, are they?

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