Somehow it seems that the more absurd the congressional Republicans get, the greater their hubris and gall in proposing ideas that would hit government programs hard and create havoc for critically important government activities.
The latest is the right-wing "Republican Study Committee", a caucus of 172 of the far-right members of the GOP, and their "Fixing the Tax Code" release. They argue, for example, for Goodlatte's bill to "terminate the tax code" in 2019 in order to "force" Congress to implement a new tax system by a firm deadline. (Goodlatte, by the way, is a typical obstructionist right-winger Republican from Virginia who has evidenced numerous rather absurd positions in the past. He should not be listened to by anyone.) Their recommendations--more redistribution to the wealthy by lowering rates overall to 25% and cutting the tax on the types of income that the wealthiest Americans receive most of (capital gains and dividends) to a flat 15% rate.
This is, to put it bluntly, insane.
- You don't set the way the tax code works by some a priori decision to lower rates so the wealthy pay less tax.
- You determine how the tax code works, and how much revenue it should raise, by what kinds of obligations already exist that have to be paid and by considering carefully government programs and appropriate and fair ways to raise tax revenues to fund them.
- You can't "terminate the tax code" on a fixed date and expect anything other than anarchic chaos to result. It is enormously hard to write a full tax code that adequately addresses all of the human activities (and entity transactions) that have to be taken into consideration. To come up with the 1986 recodification of the tax code took a year and a half of concentrated work by a team of congressional taxwriters trying to reach a bipartisan result--something that hasn't existed for at least the eight years of the Obama administration. And that group wasn't trying to completely redo the entire code. It didn't "terminate" the existing code, but rather worked within that system to make determinations about provisions that were unworkable, outdated, or just plain bad.
- For example, it eliminated the capital gains preference, because it is clear that the characterization of income as capital or ordinary is one of the major complications of the code that allow for gamesmanship by rich people and support redistribution to the wealthy by privileging the type of income they mostly receive. Congress, of course, responded to intense lobbying by the wealthy and reinstated the privileged tax rate within 2 years (retroactively).
This is further evidence that the Republican majority in Congress is incapable of dealing with actual facts about how tax systems work, what revenues are needed, and what the needs in the U.S. are for revenues.
It also reveals the abject hypocrisy of the rightwingers in Congress. They won't uphold their duty to "advise and consent" on a presidential nominee for the highest court in the land, because they want to be able to obstruct the appointment of anybody that isn't as right-wing as they are. They claim it is because the people should have their voice heard by electing the next president (though that's just a sham argument--they want to obstruct things they don't like, whatever the Constitution should actually allow).
But they don't see any problem with a radical treatment of the tax code along the lines they want, even though they may not be in the majority of the Congress after this election. Hypocrits. Liars. Self-serving corrupt ideologues. That's what this right-wing caucus is all about.