tax reform

NYT: A Revised Contract for America, Minus ‘With’ and Newt

By Bernie Becker

WASHINGTON — Sixteen years after the Contract With America, say hello to the Contract From America.

On Wednesday, some members of the Tea Party movement released a legislative agenda they want elected officials to follow. The 10 planks of the Contract from America — heavy on fiscal restraint and limited government, light on social issues — were chosen through an online ballot and unveiled the day before a round of Tea Party protests scheduled to be held across the country on April 15, Tax Day.

The contract, to use its own language, asks candidates to agree to: 1) protect the Constitution; 2) reject cap-and-trade regulation of climate-warming gases; 3) demand a balanced budget; 4) enact fundamental tax reform; 5) restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington; 6) end runaway government spending; 7) defund, repeal and replace government-run health care; 8) pass an “all-of-the-above” energy policy (referring, in part, to the exploration of domestic energy reserves); 9) stop the pork; and 10) stop the tax hikes.

The announcement of the list came after a seven-week contest that organizers said attracted more than 450,000 votes.

Continue read at the New York Times

Grassroots Activists Help Launch Historic “Contract from America”

Download a hardcopy of the official press release here.

On April 15th, hundreds of local Tea Party and limited government groups around the country will join together to announce the launch of the “Contract from America,” a grassroots legislative blueprint for 2010 and beyond. Originally proposed by Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party activist and National Coordinator for the initiative’s chief organizing group Tea Party Patriots, this project is intended to present a different kind of agenda for our federal lawmakers: unlike the Contract with America introduced in the 1990s, everyday citizens proposed and voted on every plank of the Contract from America.

Grassroots activists from across the country visited the website to choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 action items that committed Americans from all walks of life proposed. The top ten issues comprise the final Contract. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result is not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. After garnering nearly half a million votes in less than two months, the Contract from America has now been finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

And the top ten are…

1. Protect the Constitution
2. Reject Cap & Trade
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
6. End Runaway Government Spending
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
9. Stop the Pork
10. Stop the Tax Hikes

We are proud to join with millions of Tea Party activists across the country to announce the arrival of the Contract from America and the exit of elected officials who continue to ignore calls for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally-limited government, and free markets.

Thank You American Patriots!

Tea Parties Brew Notable Ideas

By Kyle Wingfield

If there is a Party of No, it’s not the tea party.

A week from today, Tax Day, tea partiers will again stage rallies nationwide to protest overgrown government. Last year’s huge April 15 crowds and the momentum they kept up established the loosely organized groups as a political fixture.

But tea partiers next week won’t simply tell Washington what not to do. They’ll present an affirmative plan: a 10-point Contract From America.

This platform has been months, scores of ideas and hundreds of thousands of online votes in the making. Candidates who want tea party support will commit to the ideas chosen from 21 finalists.

There are many good policies among those 21, but a shorter list is wise. In that spirit, here are five of the planks I support.

Note that I intentionally excluded constitutional amendments from my list. A two-thirds vote is required in both the U.S. House and Senate for a potential amendment to be sent to the states for approval. I think such a majority is unlikely in the next two years.

That’s also why I’ve left out the option for market-based health reform. Repealing the newly passed health law and replacing it with a better one is a worthy idea, but it’s not going to happen while Barack Obama is president. I’m going with ideas that are doable, and soon:

1. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform. Other items would keep the Bush tax cuts in place and require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. I’d rather overhaul the tax code entirely.

This idea calls for adopting “a fair and simple single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.”

A single rate — aka the flat tax — would stop the progressive code’s punishment of success. The word limit is key, too: It would slash special-interest carve-outs and loopholes, which reward lobbying power and create inefficiencies.

2. End Runaway Government Spending. This plank would limit spending increases to the rates of inflation and population growth, or roughly 5 percent to 6 percent a year.

History shows that federal revenues are consistently around 18 percent of the economy. Unchecked spending, by both major parties, is what creates budget deficits.

Continue reading at the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Enact Fundamental Tax Reform

Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution.

SUMMARY

The current tax system is a perverse combination of class warfare and special interest gimmicks. With more than 70,000 pages of law and regulation, it is an anchor weighing down the American economy. High tax rates, corrupt loopholes, and pervasive double taxation of saving and investment are a recipe for reducing American competitiveness. To make America more prosperous, the internal revenue code should be replaced by a flat tax or a sales tax, both of which are based on the notion that laws should apply equally to all people. Moreover, people are rewarded for creating jobs and wealth with real tax reform, rather than rewarded for having more lawyers, lobbyists, and accountants. Real tax reform also means a low tax rate to make America a vibrant competitor in the global economy.

But it is also important to identify what is not real tax reform. Under no circumstances should politicians be allowed to adopt a new tax – such as a European-style value-added tax – without first completely repealing all income taxes. Politicians should not be allowed to pull a bait-and-switch that will finance a much bigger burden of government. Politicians have been swapping loopholes for campaign cash since the income tax was created in 1913. It’s time to end the scam.

~ Dan Mitchell, Ph.D. Cato Institute

FairTax, Flat Tax, and the Need for Fundamental Tax Reform

Our nation faces many important issues, of which the Contract from America will offer a handful of actionable solutions that can reasonably and immediately be addressed by those who seek to represent Americans in Congress.

For many Americans, the need for fundamental tax reform is front and center. They recognize our tax system has evolved into an unfair punitive government mechanism to redistribute wealth and serve special interests.

Many interesting ideas, including the FairTax and the flat tax, have been offered as potential solutions to our broken tax system. At first glance, some of these ideas reflect competing interests. However, the common goal and first priority of those interests should be to raise the profile of the need for fundamental tax reform, sustain a national dialogue on the issue, and allow various solutions to compete with one another in the marketplace of ideas. Those ideas will rise and fall based on the merits, with the very best ideas naturally rising to the top.

Importantly, FairTax is a founding coalition partner of the Contract from America. Based on survey responses, comments on the orignal Contract from America site, and discussions with Neal Boortz and Ken Hoagland, we agreed to unite behind the notion of fundamental tax reform broadly and deal with the FairTax / flat tax debate once fundamental tax reform is squarely on the national agenda.

What about all of the support for the FairTax during the early stages of the Contract from America initiative? Why isn’t the FairTax or the flat tax specifically mentioned in the current choices on the Contract from America?

When this effort began, the original website made clear that the early stages of the process would be used to generate ideas and engage in debate. Visitors could vote on ideas and advance issues important to them in ways that were virtually unrestricted.

For example, highly engaged activists often returned to the site over and over to promote and support their favorite ideas. While some had the support of well-organized efforts, others (that were often just as compelling) were buried under mountains of political discourse.

In addition, the process offered a four month window of opportunity to introduce and debate ideas. Those that were introduced early in the process had a significant advantage over those that were introduced in the final weeks. With few exceptions, specific ideas introduced early received more votes.

The most important part of the early stage of the process was to identify the issues that truly resonated with Americans and the need for fundamental tax reform was identified as one such issue. With regard to the specific proposals of FairTax and the flat tax (not to mention other compelling proposals), we concluded that to choose one over the other at this early stage will only serve to divide rather than unite us on a critical issue impacting every single American.

In the end, there are hundreds of important issues and only the Constitution is well-suited to address them all in a manner consistent with the values of the Founding Fathers.

Americans will continue to weigh in on the issues important to them and the Contract from America will become a stronger, more refined document as a result.

Reform is a process. The Contract from America is part of that process. It cannot possibly be all things to all people, but it can help refocus the national debate, and offer a tool to hold elected officials more accountable in 2010 and beyond.