Putting Corporate Taxes in Perspective

Central to the debate over health care reform is the question:  “How do we pay for it?”  One idea we’ve discussed at Clearly is the proposal to enact a surtax on the incomes of the wealthiest 1% of households.

Which brings us the question of corporate taxation.  Over the past 30 years we’ve seen how, through the strategic use of campaign contributions and well-paid Washington lobbyists, big corporations have extracted huge tax breaks and tax loopholes out of Congress. Many corporations end up paying no taxes at all.  A 2007 Treasury Department report estimated that all these corporate tax breaks will reduce federal revenues by more than $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Sounds like money that could help plug those looming budget deficits.

Defenders of favorable tax treatment for corporations insist that tax breaks mean job creation.  Ironically, corporations have even gotten tax breaks for shipping American jobs overseas.  During the same period, middle class incomes have stagnated and American jobs have become less secure than ever before.

Discussion Question:

Should we restore fairness to the tax code by making corporations pay their fair share of taxes?

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A Blunt Question

The kickoff question on the Clearly NM Discussion Forum is prompted by recent comments made by Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO). Blunt, formerly the Minority Whip in the House, suggested in a radio interview last Friday that teh federal government never should have created Medicare. (link)

Question: What do you think? Would Americans have been better off over the last 44 years if Medicare had not been enacted in 1965?

To join in the discussion, click here.

Introducing the Clearly NM Discussion Forum

We at Clearly New Mexico are launching a new discussion forum designed to tackle one of the most pressing and divisive questions of our time:

What is the proper role of government?

Today, as we find ourselves in the grip of the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression, much of the conventional wisdom of the last thirty years lies in ruins.  Tax cuts and deregulation – the touchstones of the free market fundamentalism that has held sway in Washington and in state capitols – failed to lead us to the promised land of DOW 36,000.

Instead we got stagnating middle class incomes, greater inequality, and an avalanche of bank failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures. Radical deregulation unleashed a predatory financial sector that recklessly used its power to take the whole economy over the cliff.

Misguided tax policies of the past have deepened deficits and imperiled funding for essential services at the state and local level.

The harsh reality is that rights are expensive. Much blood has been shed to defend these rights — and to extend them to all Americans.

Moreover, a government that taxes and spends is required to secure our rights. Courts and cops, public schools and public roads, safe food and clean water, Social Security and deposit insurance – the list of government services necessary for a free society and a prosperous economy is a long one.

The recent cataclysmic economic events have forced Americans to reexamine the proper role of government.   Is government really “the problem” after all? And is less government always the solution?

It’s time to reconsider the value of the public sector.  To what extent do we need one that acts effectively for the common good, puts citizens in charge of public priorities, regulates in a way to foster a responsible capitalism, and maintains the infrastructure and systems necessary to confront the challenges we face together in the 21st century?

Now more than ever we need to ask hard questions about how to make government more efficient and effective — and above all, more transparent and accountable.

The Clearly NM Discussion Forum will be your opportunity to weigh in on this great policy debate.

In the weeks ahead we will be posing specific questions about the proper role of government.  If you are following us on Twitter, you will be notified instantly when a new question is posted.