Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Not Tax Political Contributions?

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places sometimes. For instance, I was watching The Colbert Report on Comedy Central the other night, and David Sirota was on advocating public financing of political campaigns. This was not the first time that I'd heard this idea. It's been around for quite a while. The underlying rationale is that public financing of political campaigns will make sure that special interests cannot buy a candidate, and it sounds just as ineffective now as it did when it was first suggested to me in law school during a class that I took in the Law of Elections and Political Campaigns.

And then it hit me: Why not *TAX* political contributions? It's possible that someone has thought of this before, but I have an extensive background in law and politics, and I've never heard it suggested by anyone else, so this is apparently an original idea. In fact, the only discussions that I've seen regarding tax treatment of political contributions are people advising that political contributions are not tax deductible. As such, the idea of taxing political contributions will probably be rejected by most people out of hand.

I could go into a lengthy analysis of the pros and cons of this idea and/or narrate guidelines for its practical application, but I have no interest in doing so because it's a pretty straightforward idea. Suffice it to say that a tax on political contributions would be a totally voluntary tax, and it would immediately mitigate the impact of special interests on elections and political campaigns. As for the revenue generated by such a tax, . . . . that presents mind boggling possibilities. So how about it, Mr. Sirota? Why not tax the bastards?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Bill (of Rights) said...

This is such a bad idea for so many reasons. But coming from a lawyer, I'm not in the least surprised.

Forcible redistribution of wealth is never OK. It is fundamentally at odds with the tenants of a free society and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
We ought to do away with the entire system of taxation and the Federal Reserve System, which is as federal as Federal Express. BTW, there are no reserves either. :) The money is printed out of thin air with no backing. But I digress.

Another reason taxing contributions is a bad idea - double taxation.

Why not just disallow all contributions from special interests? After all, elected candidates are answerable to the American people not foreign national corporations or private enterprises.

I suggest you read the Constitution. Don't bother quoting the 16th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled on the 16th Amendment, multiple times, saying it gave Congress no new power of taxation.
STANTON v. BALTIC MINING CO., 240 U.S. 103 (1916) and EISNER v. MACOMBER, 252 U.S. 189 (1920) are just 2 examples. In fact the latter states the original Constitution trumps the 16th Amendment. I.E. Article 1, Section 9.

It's funny though. Get enough lawyers in a room and the menaing of the phrase "Congress shall make no law..." is questioned.

10:41 AM, December 12, 2007  
Anonymous Bill (of Rights) said...

Whoops. My previous comment should have read "tenets" of a free society, although our rulers treat us as tenants. Freudian slip, I'm afraid... Or is that the dreaded spell check again.

I once had to email an employee of mine to tell him he was incompetent and spell check changed it to incontinent. I think he shit his pants. LOL! :)

10:45 AM, December 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry buddy--not an original idea. Not even close. see http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=815465

And that's just one proposal out there.

6:05 AM, January 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a great idea and the proof is how little we have heard about it. As far as originality, who cares?

12:03 PM, February 14, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taxation like many other features of modern society is basically just a response to population growth.
The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce the population.
As long as we keep growing more people, we will need more rules and more taxation.
Unless of course you propose or believe that anarchy or "the law of nature" is a workable answer or ideology. That would eliminate all rules and taxation.
Taxing political donations with a progressive scale makes plenty of sense.
Single working class donors could make small contributions tax free, but large donors seeking favoritism could have their donations taxed at a VERY high rate to help level the playing field.
Leveling the playing field is an ideological position. If you don't believe in it, fine but then I say that since making laws always favors someone, we just move to ZERO laws and let the laws of nature rule.
But I doubt many would be happy with that "system" or ideology either.

11:41 AM, November 01, 2008  

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