Do you see the steam coming out of my ears? I just read about the new Republican proposal to trigger “automatic tax hikes if their tax bill leads to a deficit.” What hogwash! It’s an attempt to provide political cover and avoid any incumbent from having to run after raising taxes. I am getting tired of the lack of transparency, accountability and public data occurring in government at every level, not just the con men in Washington.

I’ve mentioned this at our city and county level, and so far, have found receptive ears. The public has a right to know if any part of government feels that they are not doing an adequate job because of lack of funding. There are only two questions for government. Should we or should we not be doing this? How much does it cost to fund this so that the mandate is carried out successfully? Not one penny should be wasted, but trying to kill a mandate by underfunding it is unethical.

I remember the “Great Reagan Tax Cut.” Yes, we had significantly more spending power and investors had more money to invest. It was the correct initiative for that moment in time. However, it canonized a belief that what was disparaged as “trickle down” economics was always the way to go.

Part of what killed the benefit of that strategy was arming the Afghan resistance to the Russians and Reagan’s huge defense budgets that were seen in the positive light of bringing down the Soviet Union. As a DOD employee at the time, I can tell you that more than once there were remarks that we actually had more money than we could wisely spend! George H. W. Bush ended his political career by taking the risk to propose tax increases to end the deficit spending.

When George W. Bush started, and Obama and Trump continued our series of military wars in the Middle East without the necessary increase in taxes, the deficit and debt continued to mount. When Obama needed to use Keynesian economics to stimulate the economy in the Great Recession, the game was up. The national debt became astronomical because revenue was not adequate. Cutting taxes no longer was producing economic growth and had contributed to significant economic inequality.

Are we going to lose our democracy because we are too lazy to participate in it? Are we going to allow political activity to become merely a game of king of the hill? Government budgeting must be dynamic. Every budgeting period must include fresh looks at the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. It will never be perfect, and the federal government has been allowed deficit spending in order to balance the books and keep economic activity going, but citizens and legislators have become somnolent and parochial.

Tax policy has become a maneuver to gain personal benefit, not a way to pay for government while keeping the economy healthy. The cause of our time is to bring government back into its role of service to its constituents. We must pay attention and engage. We must elect only those representatives who are willing to do the hard work of fulfilling the intent of the political thinkers who worked so hard to craft a government that endures.

Linda Brugger retired from the Air Force and is a former chairwoman of the Twin Falls County Democrats.

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