Virtual Voices

Tax hypocrisy

Politics

Members of the Democratic Party should be outraged at the fact that their own leaders do not seem interested in contributing their own taxes to "care for Americans." Is it not odd that top Democrats like Tom Daschle and Timothy Geithner had tax "errors" that were magically found and remedied after they were nominated to head government agencies? What about President Obama's nominee for White House chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer? She withdrew her name from consideration because of tax problems as well. What gives? Are these not the same people who support using tax money to pay for bank bailouts, welfare programs, farm subsidies, and the like? How can we "help" Americans through tax-funded programs if the elite don't contribute to the pot?

Is this not hypocrisy? If a hypocrite is "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings," according to Merriam-Webster, could not these leading Democrats be charged with acting in contradiction to policies they promote?

I journeyed over to the Democratic National Committee website to read up on the resignations but the party doesn't seem to consider this news. Would it not be of interest to the party to note that the president's cabinet is falling apart one non-tax-paying wealthy nominee at a time?

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Again, why aren't Democrats raging mad that many of the party's wealthy elites do not participate in the very process lawmakers expect the rest of us to coercively submit? I totally disagree with President Obama that the recent cascade of resignations was his responsibility. I sincerely respect the president embracing the fact that "the buck" stops with him, but there was no way he could have known. If a person is willing to hide money from the government and break the law, one must assume that those persons would also be the type of people who wouldn't disclose this during nomination conversations last year. In a CNN interview President Obama said this about Daschle debacle:

"I think I screwed up. And, I take responsibility for it and we're going to make sure we fix it so it doesn't happen again."

President Obama did not "screw up." It's not his fault that there is a culture of tax avoidance among elites in a party of tax creators. The president is too new to Washington, D.C., to have been seduced into this brand of tenured political hypocrisy. Perhaps the president was naive to assume that the professional politicians he tapped were behaving differently than all the others (on both sides of the aisle).

Since the president seeks to bring change to Washington, I am more than willing to volunteer for various positions in his administration. I've been broke all of my adult life, especially during my 14-year graduate school stint, and I pay my taxes because it is the law and I have very little interest in going to jail.

Of course, some have argued that one way around tax evasion schemes in our convoluted system is to replace the current system with a flat tax. However, my sense is that human nature will prevail in a flat tax system as well and some will find new ways skirt even that system.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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