This 2016 presidential primaries had most of the candidates again talking about tax reform. Just like the 2012 election, and 2008, and 2000 and 1992 – and back to 1962 when President John F. Kennedy told the New York Economic Club:
The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income imposed by our present tax system; it exerts too heavy a drag on growth [and] siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power; and reduces financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking.
Those are three things every American should be free to do – work hard, invest, and take some risks to build income and wealth. This entrepreneurial spirit made the U.S. truly exceptional and financially prosperous. It drives innovation, research and development, robust job creation, and a strong economy.
But over the decades, such calls for tax reform always seem to die out once those elected politicians get to the White House, the Congress, or the state house. Entrenched career lawmakers are more concerned about special interest groups and getting re-elected than doing the right thing for all Americans.
The history of American taxes has been misguided — not a clearly thought out system that makes sense and functions well. Instead it’s 200+ years of patchwork – “add this, tweak that, raise rates, adjust these, exclude provisions” – with the result being a piecemeal concoction that has expanded the code to more than 73,000 pages and over 200 different forms. The system is truly broken and needs to be replaced.
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