[Originally published October 15, 2012.]
What specific tax expenditures would I cut from the budget, since my proposals to make the budget “revenue neutral” are contingent on broadening the tax base as a result of reducing or eliminating tax expenditures? You know, that’s a great question. That’s the kind of question the American people have been asking. That’s the kind of question they need to be asking. And after all of that question-asking, Americans are ready for an answer.
Here’s the truth: America is the greatest country on Earth.
I won’t pretend this will be easy—our budget is in bad shape. Cuts will have to be made. And when I have to decide which cuts will be made, I just think: Wow, America is a beautiful diverse country full of wonderful things.
Sometimes, when grappling with complex budget math, I think about America. Across the nation, people are getting up to go to work. They are cooking dinner for their children. They are watching Honey Boo Boo, the six-year-old pageant contestant, perform hilarious hijinks on TLC. She says, “Oh, Honey Boo Boo, child!” and I laugh. America laughs too. But nobody’s laughing about the importance of broadening the tax base to increase revenue streams for the government to fund further revenue cuts across the board, and neither are the great American people.
Many have argued that the home mortgage interest deduction is costly for the government and extremely regressive since it primarily benefits wealthy individuals. Sure, but let’s remember what’s really important: the ingenuity and passion of the American people to create a better future for themselves and their children. I’ve been all over this country, and Americans are the hardest-working, most innovative, and best-looking 312 million people I’ve ever met.
Others have made clear that with the cost of college rising and unemployment high, tax expenditures like the tuition credit enjoy strong support from the middle class. While the tuition credit may be popular, so are other American things, like apple pie and fireworks. From day one, I promise you: I will not eliminate apple pie or fireworks. You have my word, and Americans are always true to their word.
Will I take away the tax expenditures that people depend on to survive? Of course not. We need to make hard choices, but those hard choices should not be on the backs of the poor. That’s cruel, and Americans are not cruel. Americans prefer balancing budgets on the backs of everyone who is able, which excludes most slouchers. But America is not a nation of slouchers—America stands up tall! Tall like a tree! America!
Tax expenditures are bad, yet the American people are awesome. And they smell good, too, in addition to having excellent personal hygiene and flattering haircuts.
I know what you’re saying. Here’s another politician that is just going to avoid talking about anything of substance by spewing off flattering platitudes about wide swaths of people that he’s never met. But I’m not like other politicians. I’ll give you specifics: I’ll cut all of the tax expenditures for energy efficiency and environmental research and development. While that only makes up 0.2% of total tax expenditures, it proves once and for all that the American people are leading the way when it comes to making important choices about how to bring our country back to fiscal solvency.
Achieving revenue neutrality while cutting taxes with no new source of revenue might seem impossible, but in America, anything is possible. That’s the American dream—making the impossible possible. And if there’s anyone that can achieve the American dream, it’s Americans.
Did I mention I will cut taxes?