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OPINION

JOHN BRUMMETT: Fairness and expediency

By John Brummett

This article was published November 26, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

The old progressive notion of American income taxes--still viable though modern conservatives simply will not hear of it--is that the income tax is the fairest tax of all because, absent rate increases, you only pay more if you come into more.

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lohr52 says... November 26, 2017 at 7:32 a.m.

JB asked the correct question in the middle of the column. Should the IRS be used to force certain behavior?
Should health care be a tax issue? If you are overweight, pay an extra tax? Never go to the gym? Pay an extra tax? Can employers force behavior since they are required to pay for health insurance? Can I get a tax credit for an eight minute mile?
The IRS code is filled with carrot and stick rules. Lots of credits and penalties to encourage and discourage behavior. Why not eliminate all and just collect the money in a transparent way?

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PopulistMom says... November 26, 2017 at 7:56 a.m.

The carrot and stick behavior can be very good for us. I am all in favor of everybody having to have health insurance. The 401(k) and other retirement and college savings plans are good for us. I used to doubt the importance of the mortgage deduction, but it forces us to buy homes and give us a sense of stability and forced savings. Children need homes and parents who stay together, and the mortgage deduction operates as a carrot and stick to accomplish the greater good. We also should move toward some form of deduction or credit for health clubs and weight watchers etc. We've also need to police food additives and fund more research on obesity. Physical education in the schools should be mandatory every year. The country should embark on a PSA campaign against sugar to rival the anti-tobacco campaigns of yesteryear. With that, I am off to the gym.

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RBear says... November 26, 2017 at 8:50 a.m.

Brummett ends this column with a great view on how to move our nation forward to help benefit all. Republicans have spent over 7 years attacking the ACA, primarily because it was a creation of Obama and Democrats (McConnell even prided himself in wanting to make sure Obama was a one term president). But all along, instead of coming up with an alternative plan for helping improve our health care system they did nothing of the like.
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Now, they are trying to reform taxes by taking away a LOT of deductions to provide benefit to the wealthy and corporations. As we have discovered, to meet their requirement of reconciliation they have targeted the individual mandate that was originally designed to help stabilize the coverage market. Once again, no alternative but as they have proven over the past decade they really don't care.
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Our tax system is a means to offer incentives for improved economic behavior. 401Ks were put in place to encourage Americans to save for retirement. 529s were put in place so parents could save for their children's education. Deducting the cost of student loans gave those graduates some relief while starting their careers. Not everyone takes these, but having them as opportunities helps improve our nation overall.
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Taking the individual mandate away without a reasonable replacement for health care coverage is like taking someone hostage to extract a bigger reward. There really is no long-term plan by Republicans. There's just a bunch of hacks to get a few rewards for the wealthy.

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lohr52 says... November 26, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

So the answer is to have the federal government make rules in all aspects of your day to day life. Reward the actions you like and punish those you believe do not contribute to the common good. Strong central government vs weak central government. Jefferson and Adams strongly disagreed on this and their friendship suffered for decades. I think Jefferson was correct.

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TimberTopper says... November 26, 2017 at 12:55 p.m.

lohr52, in todays world as complicated as it is, There probably is no such thing as a weak centralized government. Today, it just wouldn't work. So there's no reason to waste one's time thinking about how wonderful it "might" be cause it wouldn't be wonderful. It would be one hell of a mess! The smart thing to do is NOT cut taxes. If we are collecting too much in taxes, then the excess can be paid on the federal deficit. Seems like before the Republicans got into power this time they were concerned about the size of the federal debt. And here we go again, Bush 43 cut taxes, federal debt increased, and here is 45 wanting to do the same. You know, in a lot of ways the American people are dumb as hell!

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PopulistMom says... November 26, 2017 at 3:19 p.m.

lohr,

The trick to good government is to regulate the things which need to be regulated without imposing an onerous burden on businesses. Some of the Departments could be downsized and some regulations lessened. One thing I hear from business owners is that there is too much paperwork associated with the ACA. The EPA was working well, but then Trump happened. Some things such as the use of cancer causing chemicals needs to be better regulated. I don't agree with stripping the regulations off the financial industry. One thing which bothers me the most is the effect of Citizens United and the use of dark money in campaigns. When we vote, we should know who is placing the ads. Also, in parts of the country where the populace is less educated, the voters are less discerning when it comes to separating fact from fiction.

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lohr52 says... November 26, 2017 at 3:59 p.m.

i agree we cannot go back but that does not mean the central government must make more and more decisions. A progressive tax system is fair. The rates should be debatable. I like dogs. I believe they add to the quality of life. Should my dog food purchases be deductible? If so, you are subsidizing my love of dogs. Is that fair? Is it a fair use of our tax system?

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carpenterretired says... November 26, 2017 at 9:29 p.m.

Bingo to TimberTopper , but the old question for one fellow ,does the dog bark?

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TimberTopper says... November 27, 2017 at 5:04 a.m.

lohr52, no to your dog food deduction, and hopefully we have no one in public life that would even propose that. PopMom, brings up a very valid point regarding money in politics. In my humble opinion, corporations are not people as ruled by the SCOTUS. While they are owned in shares by people, they should not have the same rights as people. People die, people feel, people think, and corporations do none of those things and probably more. Romney, was and is bad wrong in his statement!

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PopulistMom says... November 27, 2017 at 6:15 a.m.

Lohr,

You make a valid point when you suggest that you do not want a deduction for everything. I do think the mortgage deduction has produced a country in which people own their homes, which in turn produces more savings and probably more stability in home life. I also know that the 401(k) program has caused many of us to save for our futures. Obesity is a problem which does need addressing. So many people in America have lost control.

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