A couple news items of note making the rounds. Both could be deposited in the “suspicions confirmed” basket.

Sometime ago I wrote that politicians hellbent on getting this nation out of debt without raising taxes on business or the general voting population should start by taking a look at all the tax breaks on the books and getting rid of many of them. Politicians don’t like to do that because they risk the financial backing of those who wanted those breaks in the first place. But what do you know? It’s happening. A little.

The Missouri Legislature is having a special session just to re-examine all the tax “gifts” on the books. Revenue gained from old ones eliminated will be used to fund new ones for companies needing help getting established. Several other states are looking at their previous tax largesse to see if specific breaks or credits should be continued. Or abolished.

Helping a new firm get off the ground – with all the payroll and other community benefits associated with the effort – is admirable and justifiable. But, while most politicians will stand foursquare behind creating tax breaks or credits for certain companies and individuals, there are two widespread abuses often connected with the process..

One is that some breaks are created for more personal political purposes than for the reasons publically stated. Companies receiving unwarranted tax windfalls can be notoriously generous come campaign donation time. Nothing like having a friend at the tax factory.

The other abuse is that, once granted, tax credits and other relief are seldom reviewed and stay on the books for years. Often long after needed. That’s what you’ll find nationally. That’s what you’ll find in nearly all states. Can be caused by oversight, short legislative memories or good lobbyists.

While I sympathize with lawmakers reluctant to raise revenue – read tax increases – it seems inexcusable not to go back to the tax codes on a regular basis to look at all credits/breaks granted years earlier. Because, in the most basic terms, tax credits/breaks for one are tax increases for others.

Say taxes bring in $1,000 and your budget is $1,000. You give companies “A” and “B” tax relief of $100 per company. Now, you only have $800 coming in to meet the $1,000 budget. To make up the difference, you spread that $200 deficit over the other payers. The former, my friend, are tax credits and the latter are tax increases. You just weren’t told.

If legislators – and Congress – would be stingy in creating breaks while going back to the tax code regularly to make sure they’re still justified, I’ll bet revenues could be enhanced considerably.

Something else in the news worthy of passing along. If I had a buck for every time some politician complained about “too much regulation killing small business,” I’d be on a tropical island somewhere and you’d be reading some other blog. It’s especially the mantra of Republicans of all stripes.

Well, my friend, t’aint necessarily be so. That far-from-liberal-bastion called The Wall Street Journal came up with a survey of just owners of small businesses showing nearly 80% of them weren’t having a lot of trouble with current regulations. Further, many of the respondents said they welcomed regulatory oversight to make sure they were competing on level playing fields with all competitors playing by the same rules.

Almost 80%. That’s a pretty sizeable rebuff to at the squawking politicians trying to curry favor with voters. And donors. That’s not to say there aren’t regulatory abuses. Of course there are. But when written carefully and applied with common sense, the outcry – it seems – is greater by far than the truth. You need a scalpel here to correct abuses. Not a meat axe on all regulation.

So, there you are. In one column, you and I have propounded a way to raise government revenue without more taxes and we’re learned a lot of this regulatory bitching is just that: bitching.

That’s a pretty good day’s work.

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