July 5, 1999
A new declaration: more liberty, fewer taxes
Americans work past Independence Day to pay cost of government
On the fourth day of July, in 1776, a small group of men, representing 13 colonies in the far-off Americas, boldly told the most powerful nation on earth, that they were free.
They declared, in radical terms both then and now, that "all men are created equal" and are endowed with certain "inalienable rights," rights that government cannot take away for government does not grant them.
In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers sought to demonstrate to the world that the "…history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having the direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states…" In the list, we find the basic philosophy for our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
One point of consternation to our founding fathers was that the king had been "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent." Such a statement led different people in recent years to wonder, "Americans revolted over taxation without representation; how do they like it with representation?"
Indeed, one has to wonder how Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would react to the current state of affairs. After all, they felt shackled with a total tax rate that, in modern terms, amounts to single-digits rates. Today, the average American will pay more than 50 percent of their income in direct and indirect taxes.
In fact, most Texans will not start working for themselves for another week. Texans, like most Americans work from January until early July just to pay their federal income tax, states and local taxes, and the calculated cost of regulation. Almost no one in America has yet begun going to work to pay for food, clothing, shelter or their children's education. It was just on June 22 that Americans stopped working to pay for the federal government. The next several weeks will pay the costs of state and local government.
It is often easy to simply blame faceless bureaucrats and politicians for our current state of affairs, and they do bear much of the blame. But a decent share rests with those of us who expect Washington, DC, to solve every problem under the sun. If the public demanded that Congress abide by the Constitution, pass only constitutional authorizations and spending while opposing the rest, politicians would be more responsive.
All too often, though, politicians get the message that their constituents do indeed want unconstitutional spending cut and bloated government put on a diet -- just not in their community or for their particular pet project. This leads to the famous compromises; compromises that sound fine when a politician stands on the stump at election time, but lose luster when the bill comes due on Tax Day.
Now is the time for Congress to pass the American Values Tax Savings Act of 1999, of which I am a cosponsor. This legislation will eliminate the marriage penalty tax, the death tax, the alternative minimum tax, reduce the capital gains tax, and increase the pre-tax contribution levels for IRAs. This measure would provide almost $800 billion in tax relief by 2009 if passed this year.
Our basic problem is not that we are over-taxed, out-spent or under-represented, it is that we have lost sight of a simple premise that guided the actions of our founding fathers. That premise? The government that governs least is the government that governs best.
When we cut the size of government, our taxes will fall. When we reduce the power of the federal bureaucracy, the cost of government will plummet. And when we firmly fix our eyes, undistracted, on the principles of liberty, Americans will truly be free.
That ours is the freest land on the earth, that we enjoy a higher level of liberty than people anywhere, should never distract us from demanding more freedom and more liberty. This should be our declaration.