Tuition Tax Credit Pressure Still Needed
The passage of the tuition tax credit bill by the House, with an amendment which extends some tax credit coverage to elementary and secondary schools, and almost certain passage of a similar measure by the Senate, will set the stage for Carter to decide whether or not he's really going to veto the bill.
If Carter decides to exercise his veto power, a great deal of pressure will be needed to persuade Congress to override the veto and push the legislation into law. There will be tremendous pressure from public school and other special interests against overriding the veto, and it will take a great deal of persuasion to get and hold a two-thirds majority to override a veto.
Some issues in the controversy which have been studiously ignored in Congress deserve some attention. Opponents keep talking about the tax credit as an "expenditure" by government, and talk about how much this measure will "cost the government." They need to be reminded that the money belongs to the taxpayers in the first place until it is forcibly taken from them. The crocodile tears shed by opponents of tuition tax credits about the cost to government seem all the more phony when you consider that the Carter Administration and most tax credit opponents are supporting a bill which would provide $1.3 billion more in "government money" for tuition assistance.
The opposition to tax credits seems quite obviously not to spending the money, but to having the taxpayers rather than the government decide how it will be spent.
Beware the Draft Fever
The Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended that the Selective Service system get an additional $17 million to begin setting up a registration system. This increase is in addition to a $2.2 million increase recommended by President Carter in his proposed FY 1979 budget, for additional studies. The chief congressional proponent of a new draft, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) has also recently stepped up his publicity campaign seeking to persuade the American people that a new draft is necessary.
It is not known now whether or not other committees will support the Armed Services request for the increase for Selective Service, but it should be apparent that proponents of the draft are increasingly beginning to "go public." Letters to Sen. Nunn and to your own Congressman and Senators, opposing any increase in the Selective Service budget, and stating unequivocal opposition to any new draft, would be timely now. (US Senate, Washington, DC 20510; US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.)
Tax Reform and Tax Revolt
The passage of California's Proposition 13 will have a substantial fallout on legislators at the national level. It's too bad we can't have a similar referendum on federal taxes. Nonetheless the tax revolt is being felt. Carter's efforts to scale down his original tax cut proposals are facing stiff opposition in Congress. A proposal by Rep. William Steiger (R-WI) to cut the capital gains tax has picked up surprising support, and a version of it will probably pass the House this year.
Outrage over taxes seems to be building to the point where most libertarians feel it should have been long ago. Nonetheless, it is an issue rife with opportunities for coalitions and spreading libertarian ideas.
A number of proposals to roll back taxes at the federal level are around, and you may want to consider mentioning some of them in letters to Congresspeople. The Kemp-Roth tax cut bill, which would cut federal income tax rates by 33 percent, has some surprising support. Kemp shrewdly invokes the shade of J.F.K. in promoting his concept, noting that the Kennedy tax cut in the early 60's was followed by an expanding economy and increased federal revenues. Several legislators are supporting indexing proposals, which would prevent tax rates from rising only in response to inflation, a fact which gives government a profit from inflation. And the National Taxpayers Union (325 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003) now has persuaded 23 state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for a constitutional convention to pass an amendment to the Constitution requiring the federal government to have a balanced budget. If 10 more state legislatures pass the resolution, Congress will be required to call the convention.
Libertarian Advocate has also proposed a plan to eliminate the progressive feature of the income tax and institute a "tax ballot" which would permit taxpayers to designate how their money will be spent.
If any of these notions appeals to you, please let your "representatives" in Congress know about it, and keep up the pressure. It is also important that we continually tie together taxing and spending as issues. We want lower taxes, but we should make it clear that we also want lower spending levels by government at all levels.
The tax revolt may be beginning in earnest, and it behooves libertarians to be in the forefront of it.
Son of S. 1
The criminal code recodification bill which was rushed through the Senate at the first of the year, is still in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. There is likely to be a great deal of debate yet to come at the Committee level, but it is still possible that the House version of the bill (HR 6869) will be passed quickly and rushed through the entire House. Letters to Peter Rodino (D-NJ), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to Robert McClory (R-IL), the ranking Republican, and to your own Congressman, would be helpful. S. 1437, the version which passed the Senate, has so many obnoxious features that it is impossible to amend it into a satisfactory form. It makes it a crime to "incite others" to evade military service, to obstruct a government function, or to fail to obey a public safety order issued by any "public servant."
The criminal code recodification bill is obviously a bill written to protect government from the people rather than to protect people from government. It should be defeated and sent back to committee to be rewritten entirely from a different philosophical perspective. As it stands now, the assumption that government is always right and benevolent, and the people are nuisances who shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of "orderly processes" is deeply ingrained in nearly every clause.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Washington Watch".