From Oregon to D.C.: Out of whack spending priorities

Chuck Sheketoff

From Oregon to D.C.: Out of whack spending priorities

At both the state and federal level, some spending priorities are out of whack.

Here in Oregon, the Governor and Legislative Assembly are taking a cuts-only approach to balancing the budget, showing little interest in enhancing revenues to deal with Oregon’s revenue shortfall.

Meanwhile, as discussed in The Costly and Ineffective Home Ownership Subsidy, a great deal of misdirected spending that takes place through the tax code, is left undisturbed.

A similar dynamic is taking place in Washington, D.C., where the House leadership seeks deep cuts in nonsecurity discretionary spending. This is the area of the budget that funds education, research, environmental protection and host of other programs that many Americans support.

And as is happening in Oregon, tax breaks for the wealthy are being left off the table in D.C.

Just how out of whack are the spending priorities by the House leadership?

Check out Infographic: Tax Breaks vs. Budget Cuts from the Center for American Progress. It provides a side-by-side comparison of safety-net cuts that the House leadership wants with the cost of specified tax breaks for the wealthy left undisturbed.

Return here to discuss.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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    Though I come in on your side of this issue, let's not be disingenuous by using the word "cuts" on one side without saying "taxes" on the other.

    Torturing our language is dishonest and cowardly.

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    Is there any way you can make that graphic bigger for those of use with lousy eyesight?

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    A colleague who served in the legislature once told me he'd noticed that poor and working class people always showed up at budget hearings, while the rich showed up at the tax hearings; the chart shows why.

    It's just nuts to keep these tax breaks off the table - all the more so since reports are now showing that the drastic state budget cuts are, predictably, slowing the economic recovery.

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    Of course Chuck we could do away with all of those pesky tax breaks for the wealthy by doing away with the income tax altogether.

    A sales tax exempting basic food, shelter, medicine and heating could easily replace the current income tax and reduce the need for much of the Oregon Revenue Department. Win-Win-Win

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    Doug and Chuck - spot on! Kurt - that approach could create another layer. It takes time - sometimes years - after a tax program sunsets before the DOR is done administering it. 2 examples - the Vogl refunds of the 90's and kicker years. Both continue to come up even though it's been some years since they came about.

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    Yes, cut all those listed tax breaks. Let's give our middle class a chance again!

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    What about the White House, Chuck? Complete sellout.

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    I assume that OCPP is not calling on eliminating the home mortgage deduction entirely. This is easily the largest deduction available for working families, and it encourages home ownership which is the single largest source of equity for most Americans.

    Eliminating this deduction for a couple filing jointly with a taxable income of $50,000 (excluding the credit) would cost a new home owner with a $200,000 mortgage at 5.4% about $1,000 in additional state taxes and about $1,500 in additional federal taxes in year 1.

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    Sal - Read pages 51 to 53 of Rolling Up Our Sleeves where we discuss a variety of ways of reforming the home mortgage interest deduction, including turning it into a credit that can be better targetted.

    Many working families who are homeowners don't get the home mortgage interest deduction because they don't itemize.

open discussion

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