Gene Steuerle on "An Issue of Democracy"

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 22:01:02 +0000

Gene Steuerle holds forth on the very undemocratic impact of our generation's promises to ourselves on the tax burden of the next:

At its core, democracy is about equal rights to vote—and have your representatives vote—on the nation's current priorities. But many recent laws attempt to deny us—and, even more so, our children—the opportunity to determine those priorities.

The reason is simple, but its effects are profound. Never before in U.S. history have so many promises been made to so many people for so many years into the future. Every additional promise, no matter what its merit, only attempts to tie that fiscal straightjacket tighter around future voters.

If our tax laws merely stay the same from 2006 to 2010, for instance, government revenues would rise by several hundred billion dollars. But guess what? Most of those revenue increases are already committed, mainly to the growing costs of our current health and retirement programs.

It gets worse. In a little more than a decade, we'll likely have around $1 trillion more in annual revenues, yet under current law almost all of that growth will have been pre-allocated without so much as a nod from the existing or future Congresses.

Until those issues are dealt with up front, new promises by our presidential candidates are largely puffs in the wind.

Read the whole thing.