Everybody hates taxes, right? At least until they think about what we actually buy with them. Who wants to pay tolls on every road she drives, or to pay private school tuition for every child she can afford to educate? Think of the large numbers of the sick and helpless members of our community that private charity would be unable to assist – and as for things like Obamacare, no taxes means we wouldn’t even have the government backing up that emergency room care conservatives like to put forward as an antidote to the uninsured status of so many Americans – despite its inefficiency and expense. It’s our taxes that pay for the regulatory agencies that make sure that our foods and medicines are safe. As long as taxes provide a relatively efficient way for us to buy these and other services we collectively consume while permitting us to retain enough income to meet our needs, reasonable people understand that paying our fair share is the right thing to do.
Which must mean Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3) and Sam Graves (R-6) have to be exempted from the company of reasonable people. Luetkemeyer and Graves have signed on to a bill, the the Tax Code Termination Act, which was put forward by demonstrably boneheaded Republican, Bob Goodlatte:
Last week, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the Tax Code Termination Act, which would abolish the entire federal tax code in 2018, with exceptions for Social Security and Medicare taxes – and replace it with, well, nothing. Goodlatte’s bill does offer some vague principles that should guide Congress in enacting a replacement tax system, but it does nothing to actually replace the massive amount of federal revenues it will eliminate.
In addition to cutting off about 60 percent of federal revenues, the bill includes an unconstitutional provision providing that the end of the tax code cannot be delayed except by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. The Constitution does not permit a past Congress to tie the hands of a future Congress, so this provision making it functionally impossible for future congresses to delay the end of most federal revenue is unconstitutional.
Actually, Luektemeyer and Graves aren’t all by their lonesome among members of the Missouri delegation in their support of this bit of pandering – Billy Long (R-7) signed on to the legislation when it was first introduced in 2011. As an aside, I can’t resist noting the frequency with which so many of those far-right constitutional warriors (Goodlatte, for instance, thinks Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are unconstitutional) run afoul of the constitution.
When Goodlatte introduced the bill for the first time in 2011, he described his motivation as an effort to force action on tax reform: “Congress won’t reach a consensus on such a contentious issue unless it is forced to do so.” I’ve got a few words for anyone who endorses governing by virtue of a figurative gun to the head and the words “fiscal cliff” and “sequester” figure among them. Giving the GOP one more hostage to their absurd ideology ought to scare anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to force quick action on complicated issues. As TPMDC Brian Beutler asks, “So what happens if there’s no consensus on tax reform by the end of 2015 [i.e., the cut-off date proposed by the original 2011 bill]?”
I would shudder to think of the consequences if I weren’t sure that nobody would permit such idiocy to advance. Except for a few of the worst loons in the House of Representatives, nobody who is sane cuts off their nose to spite their face. Right? … Right? Of course, for Missourians the real (and embarrassing) question is why three of the worst loons in the House were sent there from Missouri?