Common Cents for October 12th 2012

November 1, 2012, by John Norris

Last night, I watched the Vice Presidential debate until I couldn’t take it any longer. If that was a debate, I don’t know what an argument is. While I understand Joe Biden’s desire to be assertive, and even aggressive, at one point during the proceedings, a scene from “This is Spinal Tap” came to mine: “This one goes to eleven.”

Certainly, members of either party will applaud their candidate’s performance, and deride their opponent’s; however, I wonder what the truly undecided felt watching last night. Frankly, I can’t imagine last night did much of anything for either ticket, which, after last week’s Presidential debate, could be sort of a victory for the Administration, I suppose.

With that said, the debate of tax policy caught my attention, and I wasn’t real pleased with what either man had to say on the matter. It seems as though tax policy exists solely to “feed the machine,” regardless of consequences. While that might elicit more than a few “duhs,” I was struck by how neither candidate had what I would consider to be a coherent tax plan to stimulate growth.

Take the proposed increase in taxes on the arbitrarily defined “wealthy.” This gets a lot of press, which is unfortunate, because solely increasing taxes on the Top 1% won’t have a real effect on reducing the overall level of public indebtedness moving forward. Why? Because budget projections are about as useful as pro forma financial statements.

They are, at best, a guess, and, at worst, a mechanism to distort future expectations. So, when the public and debate moderators ask for ‘specifics’ regarding tax policy what the two parties will give them are nothing more than a stab in the dark supported by some math generated by someone who is also taking a stab in the dark.  Read On…