StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

Tax reform

Posted by Clint Stretch

When we were first married, my wife, Beth, occasionally looked at all the tools in my workshop and asked, “Why do you need so many of the same thing?”  I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.  

In my defense, such as it is, I can say I added fewer tools to my workshop than Congress has added to the tax code over the same time.  But like Washington, I have a lot of trouble taking anything out of the system.  Old tools are like old friends; it is just plain hard to let go of them. 
When Congress turns to tax reform, it should ask two questions about each rule it considers reforming or repealing.  First, what would we do if we were designing an income tax where none existed before?  And, second, given the system we have, what would a fair transition to a reformed code look like? 

Posted by Clint Stretch
I took my great-nephews to the fair in Page County, Virginia Fair last month.  The carnie games reminded me of D.C.  “Step right up! Win a prize!”  Of course, even the 7 year-old knew the odds of winning were low, and the prize likely would disappoint. 
We’ve heard a lot of “Step right up for tax reform! Win a fairer, simpler, and more pro-growth tax code!”  But like the carny games, winning is not so easy. But right now, let’s focus on the big prize – a “fairer, simpler, more pro-growth” tax code.  
Posted by Clint Stretch

I am indebted to Stan for much good advice and many kindnesses over a long career and today for chance to express a few thoughts on the tax reform.   

In retrospect, I learned a few things about tax reform as a kid in my dad’s workshop that might be good to recall at this point in the debate.  I would tend to start something with only a general idea of where I was headed.  He’d put a hand on my shoulder and say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.”  With time, I came to realize that those nine words carried many meanings.  They came in an encouraging tone while saying -- 

  • Have  a clear and realistic goal
  • Be careful – don’t hurt yourself or others
  • Use the tools properly
  • Don’t rush – measure twice; cut once

And, having had kids of my own in the workshop, I know these rules also meant: “Don’t distract me from what really has to get done, if you are just fooling around.”

Posted by Stan Collender

One of the last things the House did last week before leaving Washington for five weeks was to spend time and energy defining legislative masturbation.

At least that's the inescapable conclusion when you read H.R. 6169, the "Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012."

That bill, which passed 232-189, supposedly would set up a fast-track process for tax reform by requiring the House Ways and Means Committee to report a bill by April 30, 2013. The full House would then be required to vote on whatever the committee approved within a month.

This was total nonsense and an absolute waste of the House's time and taxpayer money. Even if H.R. 6169 were considered and passed by the Senate (which the leadership knew would never happen), there's no way that a comprehensive tax reform bill will be adopted that quickly in the House or, as the House-passed legislation requires, that a final bill will be sent to the White House by the end of the summer 2013.

Posted by Stan Collender

As my column from today's Roll Call explains, if you've been thinking that everything will be settled in the lame duck session of Congress that's ahead, think again...and again...and again. Would you believe that nothing will be settled?

Expect Less, Not More, in Lame-Duck Session

By Stan Collender
Roll Call Contributing Writer
April 17, 2012, Midnight

I’m always surprised that federal budget watchers learn so little from even the very recent past.

After almost two years of continuing expectations that the next budget-related opportunity is going to result in the “big deal,” we should all know and admit by now that when it comes to federal spending, revenues, the deficit and the national debt, dreams hardly ever come true.

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