It can be so, so hard to do what’s right

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Opinion - JAY AM­BROSE Jay Am­brose is an op-ed columnist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice. Read­ers may email him at speak­to­

The Trump tax plan is cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion and, some keen an­a­lysts are find­ing, could do more to re­vi­tal­ize the econ­omy, lift up the poor and mid­dle class, and sim­plify out­ra­geous com­plex­i­ties than any­thing seen in a long, long time. That’s sim­ply in­tol­er­a­ble by the stan­dards of many in D.C. and must stop now, we’re told.

The Democrats, for in­stance, don’t like it be­cause the well-off will profit, too, as in low­er­ing cor­po­rate taxes from the de­vel­oped world’s high­est. The thing is, the av­er­age Joe and Jane mostly pay those taxes with fewer jobs, lower wages, higher prices and lower eco­nomic growth rates.

That last item is huge be­cause, as Trump ad­viser Stephen Moore has ob­served, we des­per­ately need some­thing bet­ter than the mis­er­able, cough, cough, limpa­long 1.6 per­cent growth rate in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s last year in of­fice. But this year, with good news pos­si­bly just around the cor­ner, cor­po­ra­tions have been think­ing big again. Their prof­its are up, stocks are up and the growth rate hit 3.1 per­cent in the sec­ond quar­ter.

We’ve also got high con­sumer con­fi­dence and lower un­em­ploy­ment. Of course, as has been said by oth­ers not­ing all of this, the hap­pier days may not be just a con­se­quence of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tax ideas, reg­u­la­tory roll­backs and un­leash­ing of our en­ergy re­sources. But it truly is the case that we are talk­ing about mak­ing our cor­po­ra­tions more com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tion­ally, like­lier to stay home, for­eign­ers like­lier to in­vest more dol­lars here and the whole na­tion prof­it­ing.

It will also be the case un­der the plan, by the way, that money made over­seas will be com­ing back (maybe as much as $2.5 tril­lion) with­out the kinds of taxes that keep it abroad, and that feeds the econ­omy to ev­ery­one’s ben­e­fit even if some say a lot of that money just goes to share­hold­ers. Those share­hold­ers in­vest and spend, which ben­e­fits one and all, and the lion’s share would be go­ing to pen­sion funds known to serve many peo­ple with­out man­sions in Beverly Hills.

There’s a whole lot more here, of course, such as vastly sim­pli­fy­ing in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily in­come taxes, get­ting to just three ba­sic rates, ex­pand­ing child tax cred­its and get­ting rid of de­duc­tions for state and lo­cal taxes. Some love those de­duc­tions and don’t want to see them go, but step back and con­sider how it works. The states that tax the most get the most de­duc­tions, it has been ob­served. That means lower-tax states are in ef­fect sub­si­diz­ing higher-tax states whose rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Congress love that sys­tem and in some cases are will­ing to sac­ri­fice the rest of us to main­tain it.

Lots of loop­holes of var­i­ous kinds will go away as we get higher stan­dard de­duc­tions and what that means is the lob­by­ists are com­ing, the lob­by­ists are com­ing. They would much rather have spe­cial in­ter­ests con­quer­ing the over­all public in­ter­est, even if it means keep­ing tax-form con­fu­sion in­tact. The busi­ness of fig­ur­ing out what ex­emp­tions you have and do not have and all the rest ends up cost­ing a lot of money, $165 bil­lion a year, it is said, and it would be oh, so nice to skip some of that pain.

The plan lacks lots of de­tails be­cause that was left up to Congress, not such a bad idea if the mem­bers do their job, and it is not a hor­ror to me that some Repub­li­cans are ques­tion­ing the pos­si­ble added bud­get deficit here. They should think it through and take care through com­pro­mises if nec­es­sary while not for­get­ting what a truly well-con­structed plan can do.

As for­mer U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm and Michael Solon of US Pol­icy Met­rics have writ­ten in the Wall Street Jour­nal, the com­bined tax cuts of Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan in­creased fed­eral rev­enue by 19 per­cent dur­ing his time in of­fice while bless­ing the later years of his ten­ure with 4.6 per­cent growth. A per­cent­age point less than that could do won­ders this time around.

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