Government needs to do more with less

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2007

In case you haven’t noticed, we have a taxing problem in America today. The world’s largest economy cannot seem to afford good school buildings, bridges, NASA, or the kinds of innovation that have previously created national unity and technological greatness.

Meanwhile, at the state and local levels, taxes keep rising to pay for unfunded federal mandates, reduced income from industry taxation, suddenly reduced property tax revenues and, in some locations, shrinking population.

There is no comprehensive answer to these problems, but several suggestions. Your suggestions would also be welcomed by an e-mail to

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First, let’s finish off the Alternative Minimum Tax (ATM) once and for all. It was designed to insure that the wealthiest Americans paid some tax after exhausting all of the loopholes in our tax policy. Let’s kill the ATM and follow the Democrats plan to recover the lost revenue through raising the taxes on Hedge Fund incomes above the minimum 15 percent. It is a simple solution, replaces a tax designed to focus on the highest incomes paying the lowest taxes, and recovers all the lost revenue.

Second, let’s make the Democratic idea of “pay as you go” tax and spend policy. The Republicans have taken the national debt to incredible levels with borrow and spend, and we need to end that policy before the debt load interest payments use up all of the federal budget. This has been a failed policy of great magnitude and one that will cost the nation for years to come. It must be stopped.

Third, we spend as much on national defense as the rest of the planet on an annual basis. Does this really make sense? Can’t we exercise some control here? Reduce waste? Stop production of the F-22, a fighter jet to replace the F-15 and F-16 that costs triple what those planes cost? There must be a way to bring this budget under some degree of control.

Fourth, weren’t the Democrats going to end “earmarks,” federal dollars spent on local programs that have ballooned beyond imagination? Let’s make that happen, we cannot afford these re-election gifts to the incumbents.

Fifth, why are we letting corporations hide taxable income offshore in violation of federal tax code? As much as $70 billion a year is being diverted to avoid tax responsibility. Enforce current law, enact new law, do whatever it takes to collect the taxes due the country by big business. I have to pay my taxes, so shouldn’t rich companies that want the benefits of operating in the U.S.

Sixth, change the method of funding our schools. The property tax hits retirees on fixed incomes harder than they can manage. And, while we all benefit from educating our children, the parents of the children have the most vented interest and, if they do not own property, pay the least.

Seventh, let’s reduce the cost of local government by combining and reducing the local government. Too many layers duplicate efforts and cost. Townships, and towns, and cities all overlap in their services and we can no longer afford the burden.

Finally, we can’t afford to put non-violent criminals in jail. It is simply too expensive. They need home confinement while paying the taxpayers, not the other way around. It costs more than $30,000 per year to jail someone. Let’s limit that cost to people who would harm us.

It is time we all learn to have government do more with less, not less with more. Please write and share your ideas on how this might happen.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune.