November 25th, 2013
06:45 PM ET

What I'm reading: Time to simplify the tax code

By Fareed Zakaria

“There’s no real fiscal solution that doesn’t involve changes to entitlements, and if we are going to adjust vital retirement programs, we must give people time to prepare. For this reason, many proposals exempt those within 10 years of retirement. A delay like this can work, but not if we continually defer action. Procrastinating for 10 years about a 10-year exemption makes it a 20-year exemption,” writes Michael Peterson in Roll Call.

“Simplifying our tax code should be another important part of the solution. Tax ‘expenditures’ now total $1.3 trillion a year (which is almost as much as all of the income taxes we collect), and many are market-distorting, wasteful and unfair. Done right, tax reform would make the entire code simpler and more equitable, while lowering rates for everyone, and reduce the deficit. And when we consider changes to vital entitlement programs, as well as to the tax code, wealthier Americans should of course contribute their fair share.”


“If the West wants to deal rationally with China, a paradigm shift in thinking is urgently needed. And, perhaps, such a shift could provide fresh ideas on how the West can approach the world differently and even begin to solve its own problems,” writes Eric Li for Yale Global.

“To begin a reassessment, it is useful to first recognize what China is not. It is not a revolutionary power, and it is not an expansionary power. It is not a revolutionary power because, unlike the West of late, it is a non-ideological actor on the world stage and not interested in exporting its values and ways to the outside world. Even as its interests expand far beyond its borders – and make no mistake, these interests will be vigorously defended – it will not seek to actively change the internal dynamics of other countries. It is not an expansionary power because that is not part of the Chinese DNA. Compared with the many empires in human history, even at the zenith of its own power during its long civilization, China has seldom invaded other countries in large scale.”

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Most definitely we need tax reform. Too many loopholes need to be closed.

    November 25, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  2. chrissy

    Amen to that @ banasy! And that Michael Peterson is quite rational in his thinking! It IS too late for the older generation to do a do~over on their retirement plans! Glad someone is aware of that! But this shoulda happened along time ago when they realised people are living longer!

    November 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  3. chrissy

    Now with that being said, i do have some big concerns with Congress having anything to do with this. First of all, social security as i understand (i may be wrong) it, is NOT one of their ent i t lements, therefore they would most likely put up one roadblock after another, simply because they can. And secondly because of the tax increase factor, they have a history of opposing those things because of their special interest groups. I would hope there would be a process in place that doesnt allow them to do their normal S.O.P.s.

    November 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • banasy©

      I would love to see Congress pay back all of the IOU's in the SS fund, Chrissy.
      They also need to raise the cap limit; many incomes have increased while the middle class have remained stagnant or lowered, wage wise.

      November 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    The group of USA citizens and residents most worthy of supportive social action in the form of money is young persons, under thirty or maybe thirty-five, who cannot read or write in any language and therefore do not have jobs. This valuable human resource, which needs further research, most abundantly provides untainted minds, all of them probably of genius level, preserved for society by school pupils' refusing to absorb boring information presented to them in crowded classrooms. These young residents are already equipped to play recorded popular music on electronic equipment.

    November 26, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • banasy©

      Where are all of those wonderful jobs that were promised in 2010, JIF?

      You know, the ones these stupid mid-thirties people would be working if they weren't outsourced ?

      Welfare fraud makes up only 3% – 5% of all cases; the problem goes much, much deeper than that.

      Bring manufacturing back to this country.

      Our economy cannot be sustained by "service" only.

      November 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Hi, @banasy. Where are those jobs? Well, I could ask you this question: was it I who promised those jobs?
        Do you recall our discussing the complexity of jobs outsourced in my field because the musicians union wants the same pay scale for classical and popular recording? London orchestral players are organized and live well, but USA musicians could do much work outsourced there if our union cold compete in classical scales.
        There are complex problems.

        November 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • banasy©

        Complex problems, indeed.
        Unfortunately, those who have sheepskin diplomas from prestigious universities are finding themselves in the same position as the ones who couldn't afford even basic community college: there are no jobs.
        Those people used to be able to make ends meet with manufacturing jobs until an opening in their field can no longer do so; this country cannot sustain itself with part time employment.
        Even the majority of students who are willing to learn are learning the lesson that There. Simply. Aren't. Any. Jobs.
        What to do??

        November 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  5. ✠RZ✠

    Ok Fareed, it seems just a little odd that the subject of tax reform should even be part of GPS, unless of course the implications are significant and far reaching.

    As it stands, things are beyond the stage of distress with little sign of any optimism. And yes, it would appear likely that someone is going to have to start paying the piper much sooner than later. But who?

    So what are you suggesting here? Taxation and spending that will actually benefit America? Or something along the same lines that we've been accustomed to seeing for decades, but perhaps even worse?

    November 26, 2013 at 7:09 am |
  6. ✠RZ✠

    @Eric X. Very good. And it would be great if everyone read the full article to perhaps gain a better insight. When derivatives were more or less in their stage of infancy I had the privilege to sit down with Richard Li (no relation I assume) for a couple days to expose him to what we were actually doing and how it worked. Clearly, we will always have problems both domestically and globally, but can always learn from each other on how to resolve them rationally and peacefully.

    November 26, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  7. chrissy

    @ Joey, im assumming you were being sarcastic correct?

    November 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  8. chrissy

    Oh @ banasy, i most definitely agree. But i dont think we will see that happen in our lifetime.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  9. rightospeak

    Well , another one of my comments removed . I do not need the hassle !

    November 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • banasy©

      Happens to the best of us.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      The other day I could barely get in one or two words at a time, and that's if I was lucky. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • rightospeak

      What I tried to say in comments that were removed is that Reagan, Carter and the rest talked about it but little happened . The corporations rule and nothing will happen unless monopolistic media and corporations "too big too fail ' are broken up.

      November 28, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  10. chrissy

    Breath in, breath out @ rightospeak! And re post!

    November 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • rightospeak

      Thanks , chrissy. The ignoramuses at CNN probably can not do any original thinking so they are jealous of anyone who can think or knows more than they do. Basically they try to control the comments so that their propaganda wins.

      November 28, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  11. chrissy

    Lol @ banasy, you would think he would be aware of that by now huh?

    November 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  12. chrissy

    You're right @ RZ, most times there is no rhyme or reason. Other than im guessing it to be who the moderator is on that thread at that specific time! And again, that is only a guess.

    November 27, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  13. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorite............TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!!!!!

    November 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  14. chrissy

    @ Joey, thats WHY you have Representatives! If enough people make theirselves heard to their representatives that they want a "right to work state" it CAN be changed and workers would have the RIGHT to work WITHOUT having to belong to the unions!

    November 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @chrissy, thank you. I knew about RTW states.
      I support unions. I joined one in 1960,
      Twice during my long membership, I have disagreed with the leadership regarding policies. The classical recording scale was one of those.
      While having no desire to abolish my union, I believe that greater flexibility in some areas would prevent much outsourcing.

      November 28, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  15. chrissy

    Lol @ Joey, i thought you might i just didn't know if you knew how easy it could be done. And i support MOST unions also. Some, not so much. And @ rightospeak, i do belive we've had this conversation before have we not? 😉

    November 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  16. chrissy

    Happy turkey day btw to you both!

    November 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  17. chrissy

    And in regards to your 10:06 post @ rightospeak, agreed long as we continue to let business as usual with our elected brats and their special interests groups (ie: major corporations) go on, we don't stand a chance! And unfortunately too many citizens either think 1. their vote does't count and so they vote with the one that has promised the one thing most important to them, regardless of that persons track record, or 2. they dont vote at all!

    November 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  18. chrissy

    And if its up to our elected brats and THEIR special interest groups there wont be any jobs anytime soon! Just purely for spiteful try to make the POTUS appear to be a failure! They're bankin an awful lot on the naivete of the american people and that those ppl will stay naive!!!

    November 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm |

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