Editorial: Boatload of spending programs are masquerading as tax cutsPublished 8:16pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Republicans’ mantra for a generation of “no new taxes” becomes especially insightful when even attempts to close loopholes is labeled a tax hike. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, godfather of Washington anti-tax conservatism, who desires to shrink government to a size he can “drown in a bathtub,” defines a tax hike as anything that increases federal revenue. So sealing loopholes that corporations and wealthy individuals exploit to reduce their tax bills constitutes an unacceptable new burden unless comparable relief is given somewhere else.
This mindset costs us an estimated $1 trillion annually to individual and corporate deductions and breaks.
This usual philosophical debate takes on urgency with President Obama and Congress trying to find a way to afford the government’s debt tab after Aug. 2.
They are spending this summer negotiating over increasing the nation’s $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling.
Solving this deficit problem we face as a country is going to take real compromise, not business as usual, by both parties.
In a test vote earlier this month, two-thirds of Senate Republicans agreed to do away with the ethanol allowance, for which the GOP was pounced on by Democrats determined to throw open the cracked door.
Democrats want to end tax breaks for oil companies, corporate jets and other special interests as part of the White House deficit reduction negotiations.
Democrats’ inter-party sparring centers on Obama’s proposal to end Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 a year. Moderate senators facing tough 2012 re-election contests wish he wouldn’t. Some Republicans, like Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, realize tax breaks and credits constitute a form of back-door spending that shifts money from one group of taxpayers to another. Coburn last year supported recommendations in Obama’s Fiscal Commission which proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade through a blend of spending cuts and new revenues — including elimination of many tax breaks. Three House Republicans on the panel, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, voted no.
Democrats on the panel likewise split. The future of tax breaks is a big decision, and the clock’s ticking.
Football’s loss was music’s gain
Everyone knows Clarence Clemons as saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band since 1972, although shortly before his death he was featured on Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” album.
The Big Man died June 18 of complications from a June 12 stroke. He was 69.
With the New Jersey rock band periodically on hiatus, Clemens developed other talents.
He acted in films, such as Martin Scorsese’s “New York, New York,” appeared on television shows, including “Diff’rent Strokes,” and in 1985, singing with Jackson Browne, charted a Top 20 hit with “You’re a Friend of Mine.”
The E Street Band went on the shelf in 1989 and, except for a 1995 recording session, did not regroup again until 1999.
Not that he ever quit blowing his horn after “Born to Run” slowed to a walk.
Clemens played on records from Aretha Franklin to Twisted Sister and jammed notably with a fellow saxophonist, President Bill Clinton, at the 1993 inaugural ball.
At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Clemens looked like the football player he once was.
He grew up in Norfolk and attended Maryland State College on a football and music scholarship from 1960 to 1964, playing defensive end and center.
The Cleveland Browns invited the New Jersey semi-pro player to try out, but injuries suffered in a car accident the previous day cut short his football career.
Though Clemens was never able to take the Browns to their first Super Bowl, he got there himself with the Boss, playing the 2009 halftime show. He will be missed.