WASHINGTON — Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., this week introduced a bill for an optional flat income tax that he said would simplify the onerous process of filing taxes every year.
The bill would give tax filers the option of using the current filing system, with its many deductions and credits and five income tax brackets, or filling out a one-page form and having income after standard deductions taxed at a flat 19 percent for the first two years and 17 percent each year thereafter.
“I’ve been intrigued with an idea for an optional flat tax,” Sen. Alexander said. “It’s designed to be revenue neutral, and it’s a practical way to save the taxpayer time and money and not cost the government money.”
Sen. Alexander’s proposal drew an immediate rebuke from Mike Padgett, who is running as a Democrat for Sen. Alexander’s seat.
Mr. Padgett, a former Knox County clerk, said the flat tax would hurt middle income families while disproportionately benefiting rich tax filers.
“Stand with me, and I’ll push for tax law that puts prosperity back in the hands of those who work hardest for it and who will drive economic recovery in this country,” Mr. Padgett said in a statement.
Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., said he thinks the controversy over Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s “bitter” comment is overblown but shows how in this day and age candidates have to always be on guard.
“Unfortunately, politics in America have become the politics of ‘gotcha,’” Rep. Davis said. “There will always be an effort to make a word or phrase into a blunder or slip-up. YouTube and MySpace have driven the message in many cases, and it takes on a life of its own.”
Sen. Obama has drawn fire from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate John McCain for his comments at a San Francisco fundraiser that suggested working-class Americans are “bitter” about their economic status and “cling to guns and religion.”
CORKER TO RING IN TRADING DAY
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ stock market Monday at 9:30 a.m.
Sen. Corker, who joined the Senate Banking Committee in January, also will meet with several financial industry leaders during his stay in New York.
The stock exchange, in a news release, praised Sen. Corker’s “successful career as a businessman” and noted his tenure as Tennessee commissioner of finance and Chattanooga mayor before being elected in 2006.
RURAL POLICING FUNDING PUSHED
Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., are urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide $5 million in funding for the Rural Policing Institute.
“Rural law enforcement agencies like those in Georgia often face a difficult challenge in receiving up-to-date training, with tight budgets and small staffs frequently forced to make a choice between training opportunities and keeping officers on the street,” Sen. Chambliss said.
Last year, the senators co-sponsored legislation to create a rural-focused law enforcement training initiative.
“By having a program where we can send instructors to these rural police departments, we maximize our training capabilities and ensure that these officers are able to receive on-the-job training without reducing manpower,” Sen. Isakson said.