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Op-Ed

Tax Political Donations

January 31, 2020

Here’s a fair way to reduce our obscene $1 trillion federal deficit: Tax political donations. Not that our spineless, money-grubbing Congress would ever do it. They know who their masters are — and it ain’t the folks who elected them.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Here’s a fair way to reduce our obscene $1 trillion federal deficit: Tax political donations. Not that our spineless, money-grubbing Congress would ever do it. They know who their masters are — and it ain’t the folks who elected them.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton received $1.4 billion in donations; Don Trump the john hauled in $958 million.

A 10% tax on those donations would have delivered $236 million to the U.S. Treasury.

This would not have restricted the candidates’ “speech,” because with less money available, the big ad outlets would reduce their rates.

A 10% tax on political donations would have reduced our trillion-dollar budget deficit by 0.00026% — twenty-three millionths of 1 percent.

OK — I ain’t claiming to solve the problem here.

I’m just presenting evidence.

Which, I understand, may soon be verboten in Congress — or already is.

That’s right — Verboten.

Citizens United (U.S. Supreme Court, 2010) which equates money with speech, is the most destructive Supreme Court ruling since Dred Scott.

Money is not speech.

Money is money. Speech is speech.

If money is speech, then speech must be money.

So why not tax speech — in accord with Citizens United?

Many moons ago, I had the great good luck to study music arranging with John Carisi, best remembered today, if at all, for his composition “Israel,” on Miles Davis’ 1957 album “Birth of the Cool.” (Mr. Carisi told me, among other things, that Thelonious Monk taught him how to drink.)

Be that as it may, one day in class I spouted the cliché “Time is money,” and Professor Carisi gave me a curious look and said: “No, time is time. Money is money.”

Just so.

Let me repeat:

Money is not speech — money is money.

It is a mathematical tautology that if A = B, then B = A.

So if money is speech, then speech is money.

And if our political “leaders” and a supine and increasingly corrupt Supreme Court can call money speech, and therefore untaxable, why shouldn’t we declare speech money, and tax it?

I ain’t proposing this.

I’m just pointing it out.

We are long past the point that any literate person believes that the purpose of donations to political campaigns is to foster “robust democratic debate.”

It is not.

It is to foster corrupt, slanted laws written by wealthy people and organizations, passed on to captive lawmakers, all of them feathering their own nests.

Does anyone truly believe that extreme right-wing ALEC, the American Legislative Executive Council, which writes laws for corrupt congressmen and state lawmakers, wants better government?

It does not.

It wants to destroy government: to give ALEC’s likeminded suckerfish ever less oversight and fewer controls.

Does anyone truly believe that the corrupt NRA, which writes the laws of our states and nation, truly wants better government?

It does not.

It wants to destroy government, to give its like-minded suckerfish less oversight and mre control.

And does anyone truly believe today — Jan. 31, 2020 — that the cowards who rule the U.S. Senate will do what’s right?

I don’t.

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