I just finished reading an article in the August 5-11 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Some interesting articles in there. The cover story is on whether or not Marissa Mayer can save Yahoo, there’s an interesting read on the Russian version of Facebook, Vkontakte, an article on some leadership lessons from Walter White, the character that actor Bryan Cranston plays in the television show “Breaking Bad” and a slew of short information nuggets.
Like this one on page 25 entitled “An Actual Vault to Hide Senators’ Secrets.” In short, Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana and Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah, are working on rewriting the new tax code. The first real rewrite since 1986. Actually, its not so much a rewrite as wiping the slate clean and starting form scratch. And in typical political fashion, it’s rather f’ed up.
“They proposed sweeping away the tax codes thousands of loopholes, then asked their colleagues to submit written requests for the deductions they want put back in, assuring them that the requests would be kept private. Th response: silence. Senators didn’t want word to leak that they’d supported special tax breaks.“
To combat the silence, Hatch and Baucus came up with a plan worthy of the George W. Bush regime. The Bloomberg article has a leaked memo from July 19 that promises to keep the lawmakers tax code “wish lists” private.
Just in case you’ve been in a coma for the past 20+ years, most tax laws currently in place do not favor the middle class. Even in 1986, the tax breaks had very very little impact on the middle class and have slowly been hacked at and eroded to the point where almost any tax break or loophole is exclusively for corporations or the rich. The really rich, not the kinda rich. The “own an island” rich.
Let’s briefly recap before we move on. New tax code being written from scratch. Scribes Baucus and Hatch reach out to fellow lawmakers asking for their tax code wish list. No one responds. In an effort to get them to cooperate without reprisals from lobbyists, voters or other senators, they have developed a way to keep their “wish lists” secret, a vault. Literally.
Yea, yea, sure the process is interesting that they’ve developed to keep the stuff safe. Fine. Neat. Vault, whoopee. But the method or repository isn’t the story. It’s the fact that these wish lists will be kept secret and physically locked up for…wait for it….FIFTY YEARS.
FIFTY F’ING YEARS!
Let me break that down. New tax code being written. Lawmakers can submit which tax breaks and loopholes they want to keep in. They can submit their wishes in complete secrecy. Those wishes will be locked up (seriously) and kept from the public! For 50 years!
For a little perspective, the Senate’s internal records are sealed from public view for 20 years, documents on the presidents nominees remain secret for 50 years as well as Senate investigations. Tax reform falls under none of that.
Now that authors Bauscus and Hatch have established some bipartisan trust, built off the promise of secrecy, senators are responding. The idea of trust being built from secrecy is almost too much for this ironic brain to handle.
Let me go off topic for a moment and remind you that there are over 15,000 registered. registered, lobbyists in D.C. and only a little over 500 elected officials. Now, math being what it is and all, tells us there are about 30 lobbyists per one elected official. I am gonna go out on a limb and say that none of those lobbyists represent the interest of the middle class.
Try not to forget that our country, the United States of America, was established to avoid unfair taxation. Does the phrase “No taxation without representation” ring a bell?
Senators Hatch and Baucus are positively stoked to have reached an agreement that has yielded in excess of 1,000 pages of secret suggestions about tax code reform. Or as Hatch said in the article, “I think it was just a good offer to get people to open up more…” Hey assholes, if anyone had the promise of complete secrecy for 50 years, they would open up too!
As the article states, “Only in the U.S. Senate would hiding information the public has every right to know be considered ‘opening up.'”
I honestly don’t give a shit which side of the political fence you sit on, whether you are a tree hugging liberal, a democrat, a steeping tea party member or a republican, having the lawmakers of our country build an entire new tax code in COMPLETE secrecy is not a democracy. It is the very thing our forefathers were trying to get away from! We should absolutely know how our “elected: officials are contributing to the writing of the code to insure they have not been completely co-opted by lobbyists or corporations.
There is a scene in the 1972 John Boorman movie “Deliverance”, starring Burt Reynolds, where co-star Ned Betty is assaulted by some moonshine making rednecks. In the scene, he is called a little piggy and made to squeal like a pig, “Squeal! SQUEAL!”. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene. If you haven’t seen it, you should, (long before Burt Reynolds was a punchline or ironic guest star, he was the biggest movie star in the world). A benchmark movie in American cinema.
Make no mistake, unless we know who is contributing what to the writing of this new tax code, you and I will be made to “Squeal! SQUEAL!” There is no way lobbyists have our interests at heart. And with a ratio of 30:1. the only way we get heard is to rise up in unison and let our lawmakers know that we know.
Unless we do something, this new tax code will be so painful that there won’t be a vat of K-Y large enough to ease the pain. Can we seriously sit idly by and watch corporations and the wealthy LEGALLY hijack and write the tax code while our representatives are allowed to cowardly hide behind a veil of secrecy…for 50 years!! That ain’t right folks. Just ain’t right.
Bitch to the rich, patron to the poor, welcome to the middle class!
I couldn’t find the article I pinched a bunch of this information from, but if you do a simple Google search, you will find tons of information.