My column for the Arkansas News Bureau this week looks at Congressman Rick Crawford’s most recent proposal to pass a new surtax on incomes over a million dollars in exchange for passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. I offer some defense for Crawford’s goal, but as I explain, he failed in his message delivery.
The problem for Crawford is that the part about the surtax on millionaires was reported first and then the Balanced Budget Amendment came out later. So for conservatives, they heard their spoonful on medicine before ever tasting the spoonful of sugar, which as any of us that have every watched Mary Poppins knows is backwards. But I conclude…
Crawford’s argument, although mathematically correct, does not follow the talking points of die-hard conservatives who argue that tax increases can never be on the table, only spending cuts. On the other hand, the die hards on the left insist that the only solution is tax increases for the wealthy, that government services should expand and never contract.
The problem is that for the last decade or so, Washington has consistently worked out compromises where both sides get a little bit of what they want – some tax cuts along with growth in government services. Although this is smart politics for getting re-elected, it’s horrible budgeting and is exactly how we got into this mess of trillion-dollar deficits.
Crawford’s idea likely will not go anywhere. If it even gets a hearing in committee, I would be surprised.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Arkansas piled on him for even suggesting it. If filing had not closed a week ago, he probably would have drawn a primary opponent as his reward. But he should be commended for daring to suggest an idea that, while unpopular, makes a lot of sense for those of us who understand math.
The bill – “Shared Responsibility in Preserving America’s Future Act” – has not yet been filed, but I am told it could be filed Monday. Meanwhile, criticism continues to roll in, including a scathing press release from the Ozark Tea Party, which is one of the larger tea parties in his district.