Sure, the fact that Mr. Romney’s effective income tax rate is considerably less than many taxpayers will, no doubt, add fuel to the fire over whether our tax code favors wealthier Americans. The debate will continue to rage in the coming months as Congress considers extending the Bush tax cuts. In looking at these tax breaks, policy makers must wrestle with striking the right balance between those who work for their money and those whose money works for them. Is the code too progressive? Not progressive enough? Does it encourage investment? Or hoarding?
I can’t answer these questions because I’m biased. Frankly, my money is very lazy. It might as well be sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and watching reality television for all the work it does out there in the world. To some degree, though, that’s a problem I can’t blame on the tax code. Maybe I need to employ a little tough love, kick that money out the door and make it get a job.
At the same time, I do know that my tax dollars are working hard (and I can see what they’re doing through the charts at http://nationalpriorities.org/). These dollars may not always be working on the jobs I’d like, but I’m certainly proud of some of the investments I’ve made. Sometimes I forget that the end goal of complying with the tax code shouldn’t be to hoard as much of my money as I can. Sometimes the goal should be to make investments in our nation and its citizens. That’s not necessarily a bad use of my dollars. It’s certainly better than sitting on the couch and eating Cheetos.