In 2008 Barrack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. To some conservatives on the far right this was an affront to their senses. They lashed out with some claiming he was not qualified for the Presidency because he was not born in the United States. They also flooded the Internet with claims that he was a secret Muslim and not committed to American values. Factions in Congress made it clear they would not support the policies of the new President and their constituents cheered when they voted against the bills he offered.
In 2016 Donald Trump won a surprise upset over Hillary Clinton and became the 45th President of the United States. Immediately those on the left began a campaign to oppose his Presidency. Former candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders called on his supporters to resist Trump. Congressional leader in the Democrat Party made it clear they would obstruct anything Trump proposed and began to delay even the most insignificant of Presidential appointees.
I don’t want this to sound like I am making excuses for some of the behavior and comments by President Trump. They are as confounding to me as to anyone else. My point in all of this is we are a divided nation and things are getting worse instead of better. Neither side in this political struggle seems ready to back off and find a way to live together. If you have read this blog you will know that I have repeatedly called for Republicans and Democrats to find ways to compromise and enact legislation that will benefit the country. You cannot have it all your way.
The failure of the healthcare bill in the Senate is a classic opportunity. Bernie Sanders has indicated he will introduce a “Single Payer” system when Congress returns after the August recess. I think that he knows that is a non-starter for just about every Republican and a number of Democrats. But it will fuel the anger of his hard left supporters and encourage them to further resist any efforts by the current administration. Sen. Schumer, the Democrat Leader in the Senate, has indicated that he would welcome a chance to sit down with Republicans on healthcare and Majority Leader McConnell has said that he thinks that might be a way to move forward. There are many things that both sides agree on in ObamaCare and both sides know that there are some serious problems with the legislation. It begs for a bipartisan fix.
In my opinion any fix should be done with the intent of garnering 370 votes in the House and 85 votes in the Senate. Then neither party can claim they wrote the bill. Both sides will have to join together in claiming responsibility and neither can use it as a weapon in future campaigns. It would be a bill that benefitted the American people and not one that just satisfies the hard liners on both sides.
Tax reform is another issue that needs to have a bipartisan effort. Our last effort on reforming the tax code was over 30 years ago. Over the years the code had become cumbersome and fails a lot of people. The corporate rate of 35% is among the highest in the industrialized world and President Obama called for a reduction. President Trump has suggested it be reduced to 15% but that might be a bridge to far. A compromise would be in the 22% neighborhood. Republicans want to reduce the number of brackets and reduce the top bracket of 39%. Any attempt at reforming the tax code should attempt to be revenue neutral and so if you are going to reduce the tax brackets then you have to eliminate deductions that benefit the people that have the most income. I have called for an elimination of the mortgage interest deduction since it is people with higher incomes that use it the most. I would also eliminate the deduction for state and local income taxes since those benefit high earners as well. By doing this you can reduce the top rate but still ensure that those with higher incomes are still paying income taxes.
I make this request because statistics show that only about 30% of taxpayers itemize on their returns. That means that 70% use the standard deduction and they are the middle class and lower incomes. By reducing the number of deductions available you can simplify returns and lower rates for the majority by increasing the standard deduction.
I would also caution on using inflammatory language in this tax debate. I cringe every time I hear some Democrat politician say people should be paying their “fair share” when they know that those earning the highest are already paying 85% of the federal income taxes in this country. It is a buzzword for them politically and flies in the face of all logic. I would like to find a way for everyone to pay some de minimis amount in federal income taxes since it would put some skin in the game for everyone. I know this will not fly since the current code allows lower earners to avoid income taxes and in many cases get a refund under the “Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)”.
There are many other issues that would benefit by a bipartisan approach but this will mean we have to start accepting the results of elections and quit mounting efforts to undermine the winners. For the past eight years it was the far right conducting this effort and now it is the left that is hell bent on resisting. The real truth is no matter who the President is that person is the President of the United States and he/she is the President for every person in the country. Chanting things like “Not My President” only serves to further divide the nation and we are now at a time when we need unity more than ever.
If you have any comments on what I write in this blog please feel free to leave them in the comments section so that all readers can see them. Posting them on Facebook limits the audience. I welcome any comments as they only foster civil discussion.