04/21/2017

What If We Don't Really Govern Ourselves?

Andrew Napolitano, Real Clear Politics

What if our belief in self-government is a belief in a myth? What if the election of one political party over the other to control Congress changes only appearances? What if taxes stay high and regulations stay pervasive and the government stays oppressive and presidents fight wars no matter what the politicians promise and no matter who wins elections? What if the true goal of those whom we elect to Congress is not to be our agents of self-government or even to preserve our personal liberties but to remain in power by getting re-elected?

What if they use government to aid their own re-elections by bribing us with our own money -- the rich with bailouts, the middle class with tax breaks and the poor with transfer payments?

What if Congress has written laws that are too complex for its own members to read and understand? What if the language of most federal laws is intentionally arcane so that ordinary voters cannot understand it? What if that language is actually written by faceless bureaucrats and not by accountable members of Congress? What if members of Congress in fact rarely read any legislation before voting on it? What if some legislation refers to secrets and secret procedures that only a few members of Congress are permitted to see and utilize?

What if when the select few members of Congress who are permitted to see those secrets do see them, those members are themselves sworn to secrecy? What if that means that our elected representatives -- our supposed agents of self-government in the government -- do not fully know what the government is doing and that even if they do, they can't legally tell us?

What if our representatives in Congress don't really represent us? What if they really represent a political party? What if each political party is controlled by a small leadership group that punishes members who defy it? What if Congress has written laws and rules that permit its leaders to punish members' defiance? What if another way to characterize defiance of political party leadership is political courage?

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Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).

 

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