Mission Against Debt and Lobbyist Control of the Senate
The Senate mission of Patrick is paying off the government’s debt. The first necessary step is ending the Washington lobbyists’ control of the Senate.
Today, the incumbents don’t debate paying off the debt. There is no talk of a surplus. They have given up on balancing the budget. Those of us who watch federal spending must now conclude that Washington Republicans don’t have any intent, plan, or capability to make the federal government smaller. They, along with the Washington Democrats, continue to provide well-connected interests – who give campaign money through lobbyists – with unfettered access to the US Treasury. The GOP controlled Congress (along with all too willing Democrats) passed the 2016 budget and appropriations bills. Both political parties dealt with caps on discretionary spending by simply raising the limits. In the process, the debt ceiling is now unlimited (look at the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Agreement details, Public Law 114-74) until March 2017. In September 2016, this Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution in order not to have to confront the runaway government before the election. This means there will be zero debate on spending. Because there is no debt ceiling, the lame duck Congress has the ability to give away the US Treasury without any regard to the discipline imposed by debt limits. Any discussion the Washington GOP is a fiscally conservative caucus is a hoax.
Patrick takes paying off the national debt as the duty of baby boomers. His plan is simple but requires hard work. The US now has a $17 trillion annual economy. We can take 3.0 percent of our GDP and, every year, put that toward debt reduction. In year one, we will pay off $510 billion. The second year – another $523 billion. If the economy grows at two and a half percent, in just under 25 years, the debt will be paid.
On top of the $19 trillion in Treasury bond obligations, our Congress and the lobbyists have unloaded $5.0 trillion of housing loan guarantees onto the taxpayers plus another $1.2 trillion in student loans. Borrowing and making more promises that our children will pay the bill is the way Washington spends money without voter accountability. This culture can only be fixed by firing incumbents.
If we do nothing, and let the debt keep going up, our children will leave.
Patrick has been in private law practice for 23 years. He is also a Certified Public Accountant. His practice is focused on solving tax and debt problems. Patrick intends to be the Senate expert on the tax code. His experience working with businesses and families trying to comply with tax law gives Patrick the real-world expertise the Senate needs to write the revenue code that is fair to all taxpayers, is simple to understand, and generates the funds necessary to run the government without deficits.
The many cases he has handled have shown him the government, the Internal Revenue Service in particular, is not properly staffed for its revenue collection mission. Patrick will be the first to tell his constituents that, contrary to recent public discussion, the IRS has a culture of integrity and is committed to excellence in customer service.
Patrick will advocate for three immediate changes. The first is to adequately fund the Treasury Department with a focus on the IRS. The second is to emphasize prevention of running up balances due rather than collection of past due taxes. The third is to remove the subsidy code from the tax code.
To fulfill its mission, the agency must have more Revenue Officers and Revenue Agents. This requires putting money into recruiting, training, and technology. Patrick believes the people who work for the IRS are committed public servants who will produce exceptional services. They need the means and authority to collect the taxes Congress has imposed on the economy. Putting adequate resources to facilitate tax compliance will be a good investment for our country.
The United States has many residents who have run up huge tax balances. Most have no capability to pay in full. Billions of dollars are owed by employers who don’t pay over their employees’ withholding taxes. Most people don’t realize this, but our government guarantees and honors the withholding of taxes shown on W2s even when the employer uses the money for other things.
Collecting money owed is always a challenge. It is futile when the person that owes can’t afford to pay. This is true for both public and private sectors. The IRS presently is no better than average at collecting. Many of the uncollected taxes are five years old and more. Patrick’s solution is preventing the run-up of delinquent taxes in the first place.
At the business level, Congress must give the IRS the tools to intervene early before employers are allowed run up month after month and then year after year of unpaid payroll tax withholdings. This current circumstance is unfair to both the country and to businesses that do pay. It’s unfair to the country as we are denied funds to pay for necessary government services and, thus, requiring more and more borrowing. It’s unfair to taxpaying employers who have to compete for workers against companies whose labor costs are lower because they don’t pay the withholding taxes.
As a tax attorney, Patrick has met with hundreds whose lives have been impaired and sometimes wrecked because of unmanageable tax debt and unfiled returns. From his experience he knows that at least 80 percent of taxes owed on late filed returns are never paid. In the Senate, Patrick will be the voice leading that chamber to enact policy preventing this family debilitating run-up of tax bills.
The third change needed is to remove government subsidies out of the tax code. Washington incumbents and lobbyists prefer tax subsidies because these costs don’t show up as expenditures in appropriations bills. Stopping this accounting gimmick will end the politicians’ avoidance of accountability for these special interest favors. Further subsidies, such as tax credits for wind energy, railroad track maintenance, and agri-biodiesel fuels credit, as now written, are beyond the necessary expertise of both Congress and the Treasury to determine compliance. The better policy is when a business or industry wants a federal subsidy, the House and Senate must publically approve by vote of an appropriation.
As a Senator
Patrick pledges never to let a lobbyist draft the law; never to depend on his staff to write out the questions he is to ask at a hearing; and never to vote on legislation he hasn’t read. His policy is before a Senator can vote on legislation, he or she must read the entire bill, acknowledge understanding the proposed law, and swear that no lobbyist has made a campaign contribution to get their vote. If the Senator can’t say yes to all three, they are disqualified from voting.
Patrick believes this is the first step in ending the spectacle of Congress dumping thousands of pages of incomprehensible law on the public and then expecting businesses and government workers to figure out what they and the lobbyists meant.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides good policy guidance on gun ownership rights and public safety. Justice Scalia wrote this opinion with great care. First, the Court affirmed the right of individuals to possess firearms for traditional lawful purposes such as self-defense within the home and for hunting.
Second, the opinion also held that Second Amendment rights are not unlimited. Justice Scalia went out of his way to declare longstanding laws that prohibit possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill; that forbid guns in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings; that impose conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms; and that restrict the right to carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose, are still valid and enforceable.
The latter holding provides a US Constitutional basis for the Kansas legislature to repeal the unfortunate law permitting the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses.
I support the Heller opinion and my hope is that it remains undisturbed.
On Judge Garland’s Confirmation
The appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court requires consent by a majority of United States Senators. My approach would be for Judge Garland to meet with every Senator, conduct confirmation hearings, and then schedule a vote before the full Senate.
I have searched for case law opinions written by Judge Garland. I found just two Court of Appeal cases which provided some insight. The first is American Bus Association vs. Federal Transit Administration. In this case, Judge Garland ruled it was constitutional for Congress to grant a special regulatory exemption to a private bus carrier even if it was anti-competitive. The second case is National Association of Home Builders vs. Environmental Protection Agency. In that case, Judge Garland held the EPA change of a rule regarding lead paint was permissible because it was not arbitrary or capricious. At this point, I don’t know enough about the nominee’s judicial philosophy to tell Kansans how I would vote.
If were Senator, I would ask Judge Garland these five questions:
· Do you agree that a federal expenditure is permissible only where Congress has appropriated funds for the purpose of the expenditure?
· Would transfer of Guantanamo detainees to facilities on US soil cause removal of their cases from military tribunals to the federal district courts for their criminal trials?
· Do you believe Justice Scalia’s Heller opinion settles the law recognizing the right of an individual to own firearms?
· Would a law requiring immediate disclosure of lobbyist’s contact with a sitting member of Congress violate the right to petition the government for redress of grievances?
· What are your thoughts on using evidence of disparate treatment to prove illegal discrimination?
I remember the nomination of Judge Robert Bork. Those hearings were the Senate at its worst. Even if the Senators considered him a poor choice for the Supreme Court, he was a human being and deserved respect. I understand this Republican treatment of Judge Garland is payback. The Democrats deserve it. But our nation needs a full complement of Supreme Court justices and America is entitled to a vote on Judge Garland’s nomination. If he is rejected, then we can move on.