Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”     Thomas Paine

April 12, 2011

A modest proposal

by Quincy

Following along the lines of Glenn Reynolds’ proposal of a 50% surtax on the earnings of former government officials, here’s my modest proposal for our elected officials:

For 10 years after leaving office, each elected official shall pay the highest income tax rate for which he cast a “yes” vote. Same goes for a president signing a tax rate into law.

If Nancy Pelosi cast a vote to raise the top income tax bracket to 75%, *she* would pay 75%. If Harry Reid voted for a top tax bracket of 55%, *he* would pay 55%.

Why should we allow our legislators to demand sacrifices of innocent citizens that they are not willing to make themselves?

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5 Comments

  1. Presumably as elected officials already pay income tax, they DO make the same sacrifices – in this respect at least – as everyone else.

    Comment by Leigh Caldwell — April 13, 2011 @ 6:23 am
  2. Yes and no. A lawmaker who would not be in the “rich” tax bracket can vote for tax rates he or she personally would never pay. Additionally, not all tax bills pass. If the bills fail, the people who vote for them should still be held responsible for their votes.

    Comment by Quincy — April 13, 2011 @ 8:22 am
  3. I think most Congressional representatives are in or near the highest tax brackets, or will be once they leave office.

    The deeper point though, is that it is quite possible someone might want to pass a higher tax rate, _conditional_ on it being applied across the board (to themselves as well as others). If it fails to pass (or is subsequently revoked), it doesn’t follow that those who voted for it should have to pay the higher rate if nobody else does.

    Comment by Leigh Caldwell — April 13, 2011 @ 9:23 am
  4. Leigh, if I had ever heard of a legislator talk about paying “our fair share”, I might tend to agree with you. The language is telling, though. When a legislator talks of people paying a fair share, it is always “they” and “their”, never “us” and “our”. That’s what I object to; and that’s where I think legislators should have a skin in the game.

    Comment by Quincy — April 13, 2011 @ 10:23 am
  5. Good idea; they should also have the least effective health coverage they have allowed to be legal by any of their votes, for the same reason.

    Similarly, state legislators’ children and grandchildren should attend the worst schools in their state that their votes would support.

    I think you have latched on to a useful principle.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — April 13, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

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