The Agitator #62
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
March 01, 2013 04:22 PM | 1756 views | 3 3 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The sequester has struck but it’s too early to know if it will be as consequential as the doomsayers predict. This is the bargain that both parties struck when they couldn’t agree on spending cuts to go along with increasing the debt ceiling. It was a poison pill that the House and Senate agreed to and which the President signed into law. What is curious about all this is how the Obama-haters are blaming him for coming up with the idea. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Does it really matter considering the bipartisan support in both Houses? What matters is if the sequester will ultimately impact public safety and government services that we all rightfully depend on.

Senator Johnny Isakson submitted to an interview on NPR Thursday evening. Unlike a recent MDJ editorial and MDJ guest columnist, Isakson engaged in a reasoned discussion about the problem and did not substitute reason with mindless Obama bashing. Isakson took the high road in stating that if we are in this situation again, there won’t be a meat axe approach. Instead each governmental department and agency will be directed to cut a certain percentage from their budget thereby allowing agency heads to make intelligent and informed decisions about where the cuts should be. There is no getting around the fact that despite a roaring stock market of late and a slow increase of home sales, our country is still in a difficult financial situation. We are still paying for two unfunded wars and Medicare Part D, both of which substantially added to the deficits, and with unemployment still high there remains a lack of needed revenue. Unfortunately, so many of the jobs being created today are not those that will bring in the taxes that occurred prerecession.

The American middle class continues to shrink, their wages are stagnant, and some things that can be done aren’t. The current tax code needs to go. When you have vacant shopping centers right here in Cobb County because landlords demand more rent despite businesses revenues being off, you have to ask why. Does the tax code incentivize investors of these shopping centers to walk away with some tax advantages to the detriment of the small businesses and communities? If so, something is very wrong with that. Empty shopping centers are not good for anyone except criminals, and of course, the property value also goes down which in turn decreases the local tax collections needed for schools, police, fire and other public services. But despite an overwhelming number of Americans who demand a new tax code, it won’t happen until there is campaign finance reform. When special interests no longer are special because they can’t influence our elected officials with money to keep their tax breaks, we just might see a ray of hope for change.


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Devlin Adams
March 04, 2013
Oliver, I couldnt agree more about the tax code. Seems like the Fair Tax, or the Flat Tax or something along that line would eliminate a lot of the inequitiies in the system. I don't see it happeneing until we get term limits in congress so these A--holes work at thejob they are elected to do instead of campaigning for re-election.
Oliver G. Halle
March 03, 2013
Devlin, thanks for that perspective from someone familiar with the problem. I think we would agree thta it's time for the tax code to be tossed. Too many tax breaks interfere with free markets, and the record keeping requirements are oppressive. But what will it take for it too happen? The only "reform" I see down the road is more of the same lip service about the need for it, but no politician doing anything about it.
Devlin Adams
March 02, 2013
Very balanced analysis, Oliver.

May I suggest that part of the problem causing empty shppping centers began when times were booming. Property owners, investors and lending institutions took advantabe fo cheap money and cheap labor (via the illegal immigrant market) and overbuilt, to excess, not only shopping centers, but office buildings and residential dwellings. I was in the constuction business during that time and I saw it coming. Every time we built a shopping center, many of he businesses occupying the finished product had moved from another shopping center. Once vacancies start occuring in a center, more invariably follow. It't a psychologial thing. Unless a center has a strong anchor store, (A well-known department store, Kroger, Publix or Home Dept). It is pretty much doomed.
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