By John A. Charles, Jr.
Last Friday the Republican-controlled Senate passed a 479-page tax reform bill in the dark of night without holding any public hearings.
Moreover, the bill itself was not in final form during the floor debate. The legislation was amended on the fly with handwritten changes. The only way to know what the Senate did was to read the bill after it had been voted on.
The same tactic was used by Democrats in 2016, when the Oregon Legislature passed a complex energy bill that was drafted behind closed doors and passed with almost no public input, in the space of three weeks. Not a single legislator understood what the bill actually would do because many sections, including those dealing with billions of dollars of utility assets, were never discussed.
This kind of behavior is a disgrace. The process is more important than any particular bill. If we tolerate mob rule just because “our team” is in charge, it guarantees that we will be treated the same way when the “other team” has power.
Federal tax reform has been needed for decades. There is no crisis. Congress should slow down, invite public input, and make sure the legislation is actually worth passing.
John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.
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Politicians and pundits upset that tax increases were not part of the recent debt-ceiling deal in Congress are now blaming the Tea Party for last Friday’s unprecedented downgrading of U.S. sovereign debt by Standard & Poor’s.
Some are even calling Tea Party congressmen and activists “terrorists” for daring to stand up and demand that the American government live within its means. In this case, its means are the taxes that hard-working individuals and companies are able to afford in the face of runaway government spending and debt.
Blaming the Tea Party for pointing out that our national government is well on its way toward a financial cliff is like blaming someone who sees a house on fire for calling 911.
“No new taxes” is a perfectly acceptable political position. It bears no resemblance to any tactics that can remotely be described as terrorism. Letting people keep their own money, the money they’ve legitimately earned, doesn’t inflict violence on anyone else.
Terrorists do just the opposite; they take others’ property and lives for their own political, religious or other causes.
The Tea Party is more like the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale who stood up and pointed out that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Such honesty then, and now, is cause for praise, not name-calling.