The cliff! The cliff! We will fly off it like Thelma and Louise. Turn! Which way, right or left?
Voting for a right turn, Republicans toss rose petals before Guru Grover Norquist who required signed pledges from the faithful to never raise taxes. “Tax” is a three-letter dirty word to the guru. Right turners want lower taxes on the wealthy. The wealthy are “job creators” who will save the day doling out jobs like toys at Christmas.
The disguised job creators once traveled as “trickle downers” and “supply-siders.” They provided no jobs; they squirreled away the profits from a lower tax where no one could find them.
Maybe they need a new name: campaign donors. Cut the entitlements, they say. Cut Social Security, cut welfare, cut Obama’s health care for all. Cut all this spending and leave the wealthy alone.
On the left, Democrats hate the three-letter “cut.” They are ready to raise taxes on the rich. And watch out America, the Democrats promise to compromise; they are good compromisers. It seems Democrats are also good at throwing money at problems. They are not so good at running a tight ship by eliminating inefficiencies and cutting costs where necessary.
Right-hander Mitt Romney bragged, with a toothy grin, he’d never raised taxes as governor. Fee was his word of choice, though it is three letters still. Revenue from various fees soared like missiles in the sky under his lead.
In Georgia, a pharmacist forced to turn right, told me the fee for her license increased 75 percent during the last two years. Today, massage therapists pay fees and so do barbers and landscapers. Athlete agents, auctioneers and librarians pay fees. The list goes on.
Logically there is little difference between a tax and a fee, but whatever it is keeps the guru and followers happy.
When Georgia hit a financial bump in the road, they put teachers, university professors and state workers on “furlough,” though they sneakily managed to extract the same work from some.
“Furlough” has eight letters and lawmakers hoped the public wouldn’t notice this tax, fee or whatever you call it. It passed muster with the right.
A major part of the solution is found in a four letter word; no, not that one. The word is “fair.” It’s unfair to balance the budget on the backs of a few when fairness calls for it to be borne by all. It isn’t fair to hit only the lowly paid teachers and professors with furloughs while the rest of the residents are ignored. It is not fair to impose or raise fees on some workers much higher than what expenses demand. It is just not fair to place a heavy burden on the few.
Americans will accept “fair” and, perhaps, even be proud they live in a fair land. Forget the signed promises or wastefully throwing money at problems; seek fairness. Is it fair to ask more of the wealthy? If so, how much more? What is the burden? It’s subjective, but if lawmakers will look around at the people they serve, fair is not so hard to find. And forget politics; if it’s a tax, say so, but make it a fair one. Fair may be at your fingertips. Find fair and you find re-election. Americans love fair.
Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. He writes every other week for The Telegraph.