Category Archives: Debt and deficits

Stealing from our grandkids

tax, taxes, debt, deficitsBy Steve Brawner

Be warned: Elected officials in Washington will try to buy your vote with your grandchildren’s money.

If recent history is any guide, they’ll do that by cutting  taxes without cutting spending by at least the same amount, increasing the national debt. And a big reason why they would do it is because they cannot seem to do anything else. After failing to repeal Obamacare, they think they’ve got to do something.

The details of the proposal released by President Trump and congressional Republicans Sept. 27 are still vague. But among the highlights are, it would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, the highest being 35 percent instead of the current 39.6 percent. Congress would have the option of creating a fourth, higher tax bracket for the wealthy. (Don’t hold your breath.) To offset some of the lost revenue, it would repeal many itemized deductions. (Lots of lobbyists will fight this one.) It also would end the estate tax and reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Continue reading Stealing from our grandkids

Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

By Steve Brawner

Are you the type whose beliefs don’t always fit neatly into a conservative or liberal label, but “moderate” sounds too mushy and none of the other “isms” fit?

Or what if one of those labels does fit, but you’re worried about the overall state of American politics, where it’s all about today’s winners and losers? Meanwhile, negative consequences are passed down to our children and grandchildren whenever possible because, hey, they don’t vote.

If any of that describes you, may I suggest calling yourself a “future generationist”? Continue reading Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy

Bennett, infrastructure, highways
Scott Bennett is director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

By Steve Brawner

President Trump has talked about spending up to $1 trillion on highways and other infrastructure projects, but most of what would be spent in Arkansas wouldn’t come from Uncle Sam.

Instead, it would be up to Scott Bennett, and others like him, to find the money elsewhere – mostly from Arkansas taxpayers and drivers.

Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, met at the White House Aug. 31 with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and other state transportation directors.

“One of their guiding principles is leveraging private investment. … They’re looking for $200 million projects where you put together all the state, local and private investment you can, and you’re still $20 million short. Those are the projects that they want to fund,” Bennett said.

“Devolution” and public-private partnerships

The idea of pushing projects down to the state level is known as “devolution,” and it’s something Republicans talk about, though sometimes quietly. “Public-private partnerships,” where private companies perform traditionally public services, is also a trendy idea sometimes embraced by both parties. Toll roads are often operated by private companies, and so are prisons. Continue reading When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy

Tax reform storms

tax, taxes, debt, deficitsBy Steve Brawner

This column was going to argue that Hurricane Harvey federal recovery aid should be funded through spending cuts elsewhere or through a special tax rather than increased deficit spending. Then a Houston-based Facebook friend pleaded for a cease-fire to all Harvey-related political talk, particularly by those of us sitting high and dry.

Point taken. Harvey is the only story that matters right now, but this week that story is about rescue, relief and resilience.

So we’ll fill this space on the opinion page with something else until a discussion about how to fund the recovery is more appropriate.

President Trump’s tax speech

President Trump Wednesday kicked off his legislative effort to reform the nation’s tax laws. In a speech at Springfield, Missouri, he outlined his goals broadly: a simpler, more competitive tax code; lower taxes for businesses and the middle class; and bringing corporate profits back from overseas.

Republicans know they must pass something big, considering voters have given them control over everything. When Democrats were similarly situated in 2009-10, they passed Obamacare. But Republicans have already whiffed on that.

Continue reading Tax reform storms