My Tax Plan
There!! – I have finished my Tax Plan, my True Caring for Veterans Plan, my Balanced Budget Plan, my Armed Services Restoration Plan and my plan for Free College Tuition for Seniors — now I am ready to tell the American public what I will deliver as their President. The Tax Foundation (taxfoundation.org), the Tax Policy Center (taxpolicycenter.org) and the Heritage Foundation have all graded my tax plans as they have done for the other 24 candidates, and mine ranks right up there.
We are on the debate stage now and my head is swirling, every candidate has just announced what they will do. I start, just as they have, making promises of what will happen under my Presidency with regard to taxes and it suddenly dawns on me that:
- The “Ways and Means Committee” in the House of representatives and the “Joint Committee on Taxation” must write the actual legislation.
- That Article 1, Section VII of the U. S. Constitution, declares “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives”
- That the Revenue Bill must pass both the House and the Senate and then go through a resolution committee before it takes its final form and comes to me to sign.
What was I thinking?? I cannot promise that my tax plan will go into effect.
So I make a decision right on the spot. I will give it to the people straight. I will tell them the principles for which I stand and what I will work to get accomplished through Congress**.
- I will tell them that as President, I will lead the country with the principles of truth and virtue,
- I will, as the head of the Executive arm of the government see that the laws of the country are carried out,
- I will, as Commander in Chief provide for the common defense and,
- If elected I will not have the power of a king or dictator and thus, unlike the other candidates here, I cannot and will not make illusory promises and misleading claims regarding legislation over which I do not have direct control. Our country is to be governed by a clearly defined and balanced separation of powers as per Montesquieu’s* guidance.
The debate moderators gasp and the audience sits in stone silence – then gradually as reality seeps in, a few start clapping and eventually all in the auditorium are standing and cheering. The reporters do some fact checking and find out that sure enough we do have three branches of government and all the questions that they have been asking about the details of the various tax plans were an exercise in futility. The next day the TV newscasters proclaim and the headlines state:
WAKE UP AMERICA! —– ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CANDIDATE PROMISES YOU, ASK FOR WHAT YOUR CANDIDATE STANDS!
Every four years for the last several decades I have been amazed by the fact that the presidential candidates emphasize in their campaign rhetoric all the things that they are going to do, and, this year as well, what they are going to give away. So much of the debate and so much of what people beg to hear does not relate to the President’s actual functions and roles. Even more surprising is that for years on end the television anchors, reporters, political commentators and the debate moderators do not question the reality of these assertions but rather buy into them entirely and guilelessly – gleefully pitting one’s set of promises against another’s – as though one or the others plan will be the reality depending on who is elected. And then the most distressing thing of all is that the vast majority of the voters listening or receiving their information from the news, neighbors, or others sources accept what is said by a candidate as a fait accompli. As though, if their candidate is elected, or if their opposition is elected, that that is what would actually happen. It is no wonder that so many campaign promises go unfulfilled.
I selected the tax plan offerings to illustrate the miss-portrayal of reality offered to us every four years.
However, this is not to say that the messages delivered by the candidates are absent relevant information with respect to how they would lead and for what principles that they stand, far from it. There are indeed many matters that are under the President’s direct “Executive” or “Administrative” control. For example, the assertions related to rescinding or extending executive actions and getting rid of or adding regulations are realistic for a candidate to make. Also, declarations on the manner in which the Commander in Chief’s duties (i.e. those not requiring legislative action) would be carried out are legitimate. This year, for example, with such things as the terrorist threat at home and abroad and the discussions on the impact of regulations on the economy there is indeed considerable basis for candidate statement and voter discernment.
So what is required of us (and should be expected of our news organizations and debate moderators) is keen judgment on whether what is promised by candidates as an outcome that they will produce is realistically within their function as President. If this were consistently demanded, then candidates may learn to speak to fundamentals and reality and our country could elect Presidents on the basis of Principle, Character, and Competence rather than on politically expedient but imprudent promises.
Thanks Larry Von Thun
* Montesquieu’s writings were a major influence on the formation of the American governmental system. His works were cited by the founders in pre-revolutionary literature on government and politics more than any source save the Bible. Montesquieu’s philosophy that “government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another” reminded James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution,” and others that a free and stable foundation for their new national government required a clearly defined and balanced separation of powers. (adapted from Wikipedia)
** The book “The Quiet Man” by John Sununu relates the work done by a Republican President (George H.W. Bush) in working with a Democratic Congress in getting important legislation passed in a bi-partisan manner.