They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth; graciously accept a freebie.
The so-called economic stimulus packaged signed into law by President Bush this past week might sound like "free money" to some Americans. But to others, including all seven Republican congressmen from Georgia who voted no, we view it as "no free lunch." It is a plan analogous to drawing cash off a charge card just to send checks back home.
This $170 billion package that Congress adopted at breakneck speed will send $600 to individual taxpayers earning up to $75,000, and $1,200 to couples with combined incomes up to $150,000.
Ironically, many who don't pay income taxes will get checks, too.
If we really want to stimulate our economy, however, we wouldn't create more federal debt to give Americans a little money to pay a few bills. Instead, Congress should adopt permanent tax relief and put extra cash in the hands of taxpayers every week - not just this one time.
As Milton Friedman, the late Nobel Prize-winning economist said, we have to find every reason possible, to give every person possible, every tax break possible. Taxes are nothing more than money confiscated from the working public. We need to return as much of that as we can to those who rightfully earned it.
A Congress determined to ward off a serious recession should now immediately move to:
- Make the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts permanent. These cuts in the marginal income tax rates are set to expire in 2010. If that were to happen, we would see the largest tax increase in American history - about $2 trillion in new taxes. The rates for middle-class workers would increase a minimum of 3 percent and 5 percent for many.
- Capital gains and corporate income taxes should be permanently eliminated. This would not only stimulate investments but create jobs. That's a great tool to ward off a recession, which is usually paired with employment reductions.
- Eliminate the death tax permanently. No one should be taxed on what they leave behind for their loved ones, especially since they've paid taxes all their life. Furthermore, habitat for plants and animals suffers when land is parceled off to pay the death tax. In 2010 the death tax is scheduled to be phased out. Let's not resurrect the death tax thereafter.
- Eliminate the alternative minimum tax. Enacted in 1969 to target about 155 families for additional taxation, the AMT has turned out to be nothing more than an extra income tax that is hurting more and more of the middle class - about 19 million taxpayers currently.
- Do away with budget earmarks or at least adopt my budget amendment that would give the president, during times of war, the option to divert any money designated for pork projects to instead be spent on supporting our troops.
Millions of dollars designated for silly items like Bridges to Nowhere or a Woodstock Hall of Fame should instead go to giving our soldiers more support, especially when liberal House leaders are saying they won't support the troops unless a complete retreat is finalized by the end of this year.
One gold nugget in last week's $170 billion package was a tax break for equipment purchased by businesses. We need additional depreciation credits for businesses so they will continue to put more money into their companies and grow their business - no matter what the size.
Currently, close to 12 percent of our gross domestic product is paid in taxes in this country. When you pair that with uncontrolled government spending and bureaucrats in departments such as the U.S. Department of Transportation who earn an average salary of $102,000, we have to get spending under control. The first step toward that goal is to turn off the spigot of tax revenue pouring into a Congress that can never get its hands on enough of our hard-earned money.
Wall Street economists have called for permanent tax cuts to maintain our economy as the envy of the world. Both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan saw the wisdom in such a strategy when they passed some of the most dramatic tax cuts in history.
Let's not move backward from the progress they both made during the past 40 years, but continue their journey toward giving Americans more permanent, economic freedom.
U.S. Rep. Paul C. Broun, M.D., represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District.
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