December 5, 2010

This past week, a favorite commentator of mine from News Hour, the conservative David Brooks, wrote a column in the New York Times in which he shared his vision for how Obama could take charge of the tax code discussion and move our country forward.  As I read it, I marveled at its simplicity…and how it would help us re-think our nation’s debt and future – not through the disheartening process of compromise, but through consensus building.

Basically, he suggests that Obama issue a simple statement that positions it is not worth having a fight over a tax code we all hate…but instead, we give ourselves one year in which the Bush tax cuts remain in place, as do unemployment benefits.  But in that time, we commit to engaging in a comprehensive tax reform plan where throw out the existing code and build a new one. We eliminate loopholes, take on special interests, lower rates, and from scratch, build a tax system that works, is understood, and lowers taxes and creates jobs.

Brooks contends that this would shift attention from the big-government vs. small-government debate; shift resources from unproductive consumption to more productive investment, shift money from the affluent elderly to the struggling young, and eliminate parts of tax code that erode personal responsibility and emphasize parts that encourage responsible risk-taking.  Makes sense to me!

Brooks sealed it and earned my support when he said “…the president would lay something like this at the feet of the Republicans and ask:  Are you ready to have a conversation, or are you the party that can’t say yes?”

He ended the column with a wish for action: “Some days, gridlock seems permanent and fatal.  If only Obama would grab tax reform and use it to smash the crust of the status quo.”


Again, I am left thinking of other applications…maybe this is the real “trickle down” effect – from national to state to local; and along the way, we include our industry and our own personal, sometimes rigid, thinking!  That concept of Status Quo feeds right into my last conversation, doesn’t it?  I think it is the gate-keeper behind which lurks both Hubris and Fear of Change.  As I ponder this, I realize, it doesn’t matter which feeds the inaction-the real barrier is Status Quo.

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