My New York Post column today launches from the S&P report:
Well, looky here: Hard on the heels of the House’s passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s bold “path to prosperity” budget — and just in time for the big debate over raising the nation’s $14 trillion debt ceiling in order to keep borrowing money we don’t have to keep funding “entitlement” programs we can no longer afford in their present forms — along comes the credit-rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, with a bracing dose of reality therapy…
nless Congress and the White House stop the fiscal shenanigans and get serious about cutting both the deficit (the year-to-year shortfall, now over $1 trillion) and the national debt (above $14 trillion and soaring), the “full faith and credit” of the United States is in danger of becoming an international joke.
Surely, tax reform must be a part of the coming-to-grips-with-reality process:
Liberal appeals to a “higher morality” that somehow dictates we must beggar ourselves in expiation for real or imaginary past sins ought to be given exactly zero weight in the national conversation that the S&P warning demands.
One way to get a grip — unemotionally, intellectually — on the problem doesn’t even involve spending. According to IRS figures, nearly half of filers pay no income tax at all, while the top 5 percent pay nearly 60 percent of the total income-tax burden. This must stop.
It is not healthy for our democracy to have half the population with its hand out and no skin in the game. Necessary and proper taxes ought to be the patriotic duty of every citizen.
And the whole tax code is obscenely complex. If we can’t move to the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax (a national sales tax replacing the income tax), then we need something to make the thousands of pages of IRS rules comprehensible and fair. When the tax-compliance industry employs more people than Wal-Mart, UPS, McDonald’s, IBM and Citigroup combined, there has simply got to be a better way.
As Glenn Reynolds likes to say (quoting Li’l Abner):