Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Despite McConnell's assertion, tax discussion isn't over

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has it backward. A discussion on more tax revenue should not be "finished" with last week's partial expiration of the Bush era income tax cuts. The broader conversation about reducing the deficit and reforming the tax code should be just beginning, and it has to include more revenue as well as spending cuts and entitlement reform.

McConnell, R-Ky., appeared Sunday on morning news talk shows to flatly reject the idea that additional tax revenues may be raised in any future deficit-cutting deal. That's too bad. He was helpful in working with the Obama administration to avoid the fiscal cliff. But comprehensive tax reform is still needed and ending some tax expenditures — those tax deductions, credits and exemptions that starve the federal Treasury of an estimated $1.1 trillion annually — should be part of it. Some other key Republicans have been open to this reasonable approach, and McConnell should not rule it out of bounds.

McConnell worked with Vice President Joe Biden to prevent automatic increases on marginal tax rates for all but the top 1 percent of households. But that foray into productive bipartisanship was short-lived. On the ABC News program This Week, McConnell bluntly declared that he was done talking about taxes. It's "Over. Completed. That's behind us," McConnell pronounced, saying that the focus needs to be on spending cuts. The only changes in the tax code he would accept would have to be "revenue neutral," meaning that closing tax expenditures is balanced by lower marginal tax rates. This rigid stance would complicate the coming negotiations on raising the debt ceiling and any hope of a "grand bargain" on federal revenue and spending.

Today, tax revenue is only 15.7 percent of GDP, nearly the lowest in 60 years. The fiscal cliff deal adjusted marginal rates upward from 36 percent to 39.6 percent for individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000 a year, to more fairly reflect the disproportionate benefits the country's wealthiest families have received from the economy. The changes mean about $620 billion in new revenues will be brought in over 10 years. That was a first step, but it was a relatively modest one.

Now Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to address the tax code that rewards special interests and gives wealthy people and big businesses too many opportunities to avoid taxes. For instance, the "carried interest" tax loophole should be closed. It allows hedge fund managers to claim their millions of dollars in annual earnings as capital gains, which are taxed at a much lower rate — only 20 percent under the new deal, up from just 15 percent. And special focus should be paid to closing loopholes that corporations use to avoid their tax liability. Corporate profits are at record highs, yet as a share of tax revenues, corporate taxes are near record lows.

The federal tax code has not been overhauled since 1986, when Ronald Reagan was president, and has once again become impenetrably complex and riddled with loopholes. Any deficit-cutting deal must include fixing the tax code and bringing in the resulting revenue that should have been funding the government all along.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18