Monday, February 25, 2008

Proposed Legislation on the Tax Code, More from the Senator

When the Senator came Wednesday, he also discussed various elements of the new stimulus package, Social Security, and tax code. I want to highlight some of what he said, most of which I found encouraging.

Stimulus Package

In the past month, the Congress worked to pass a stimulus package in the hopes of avoiding an economic recession. He was proud of the bipartisan effort that went into getting the bill passed, and of what the package did. He like that the plan helped individuals and families with a rebate, and it helped business by allowing faster write-offs of new equipment purchases. The spending by families and investments by businesses should spur growth in the economy. While I am not as big of a fan of the package passed because it did not make the 2003 tax cuts permanent, I always appreciate the government cutting taxes.

Social Security

He explained that the plans President Bush had of allowing individuals to retain a portion of their Social Security had been sidetracked early in the president's first term. The senator believes, though, that the only long-term solution to save Social Security is to allow people to invest a portion of their Social Security withholdings in a private account like an IRA or 401(k). By allowing them to invest the funds, they can grow and actually build a retirement instead of relying on the present Social Security system, which does not invest any funds at present. He basically described a plan similar to the one I described here. I was very encouraged to hear what he had to say.

Tax Reform

The Senator definitely favors tax reform, but not overnight. He sponsored a bill that would dissolve the present tax code by 2010, with the understanding that it had to be rebuilt by that time. He recalled the effect that sudden changes in the tax code in the 80's had on the Savings and Loans industry (it was wiped out) and how it contributed to the recession of 1991. He favors a consumption tax (like the FairTax) because it allows individuals to decide whether or not they want to pay the tax instead of making it compulsory. I definitely appreciated his take on how to properly implement tax changes, and I look forward to seeing what else comes out of Washington in the next few months and years.

I really appreciated the senator's visit to our small town. He had not met my wife before, so it was good to introduce him to the new parts of my family, and to let my wife see why I supported him even though he was not the candidate we first supported when he ran for Senate. He is a good man, not so full of himself as many politicians. He had engaging answers, and regularly referred to the problems in Washington as something "we" need to change, instead of "they" (he knows he is there and shares in the blame, he explained). I hope he remains in Washington and gets more accomplished for now. If he decides to run for governor in the next election, though, I can't say I wouldn't support him.

-- Robert


Melissa said...

I like the faster write offs, but not the checks that will be going out. I really think that the rebates are going to backfire.

And social security is such a nightmare, it's hard to even find a place to start. But we'll talk about that on Thursday, I'm sure.

Again, you are so lucky to have such an accessible senator. I live in AUSTIN, in a hugely republican area (it gets lonely) and they never come by. I think these guys take their support for granted.

Robert said...

Well, this senator never came to this town during his election, though he passed through. This was considered a Democrat district back then, so he may have felt there would be no audience. Your senator might think the same of Austin. It's interesting that Austin is so Republican with a college town there, but then Athens is pretty Republican with a college town there.

If you want access to a politician, though, the most effective way to get that is to be involved in the party or the campaigns. Being part of the machine grants far more access than screaming that the machine is broken (not saying you're doing that). The reason I know the governor, the senator, and have quick chats with the lieutenant governor is because I'm involved. That's the best way to get what you want from your politicians, at least in the form of them hearing your voice.

Julie Pippert said...

Robert, Austin isn't Republican in and of itself, but it is ringed by extremely conservative small towns that are. Californians flooded the region beginning in the 90s and oddly enough, they must have been part of some Eastward HO! movement of the only members of the GOP in CA.


Like I said our congressman comes here regularly and is very accessible. Previously my guy was John Kerry and he was also very accessible.

It doesn't occur to me that our elected officials wouldn't be. How stunningly sucky that some are.

But perhaps I am arrogant and assume my officials not only want to but will see and talk to me.

I think the rebates are not going to help.

Robert said...

I think the rebates are a foolish and insulting idea to most taxpayers, and won't help anything terribly much. The only reason I like them is that I prefer to pay less taxes.

I can completely understand the nuisance a less-than-accessible politician can be. For instance, when I moved to town here, I lived next door to man representing us in the State House, and he has never once set foot on my property, let alone come over to say welcome or even hello.

Do you think it's because I had his opponent's side in my yard? I didn't have it there right away, though, so that's no excuse. Of course, he did know I was a Republican (since I had been the treasurer for the party before going back to grad school), but still, is politics any reason to be completely unneighborly? My father and I regularly joke that we're still waiting for our thank you letter from him, since after his defeat (yes, I helped beat him) he was given a fat-cat job with the US Representative at a much higher pay grade to essentially attend local functions on his behalf. The former state senator at least speaks to me, and he lives on the other side of my neighborhood. Yes, I helped beat him, too. The former representative does speak to me out in public (which is where the former state senator does), but mostly because he would look rude not doing it. The candidate who ran the second time does not speak to me or my family in public. Sorry, I digressed quite a bit. In short, I've seen plenty of inaccessible politicians. Even our school board here does not allow the public to speak in their meetings with first making an appointment to do so, and the board members are not allowed to react to comments from the "gallery" (which is a nice way of saying they can ignore people and blame it on their rules).

Lotta said...

Great work.