COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | JOHN PATRICK FORD

Will a split Republican Party rally?

With the ashes settled from the crash and burn of the Republican campaign of 2012, it is a good time to reflect on some basic problems. Editorial pages and business magazines are full of advice. Broadcasters add their biased opinions for solutions to help the conservative wing of the party win young and ethnic voters.

I will focus on just three top issues that divide American voters and their representatives in Congress: national debt, health care and immigration.

Pre-Election Day polls found these to be the biggest differences between Democrats and Republicans and the most controversial areas needing reform. Certainly the gridlock in Congress for any type of reform is proof enough that something has to be done. I will start with the economy and national debt, which require a complete overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code to move in the right direction.

As a retired CPA, I suffered for decades under the cumbersome IRS rules and special tax loopholes that constantly changed for the worse. As overwhelming as it appears to be, a complete redraft of the IRS code eliminating all special benefits would put most taxpayers on the same level of the playing field.

With electronic data so widespread, most taxpayers could be sent a bill for their taxes (or refund checks) automatically from the data already captured by the government from income sources.

This system would drastically change the option for itemized deductions that already discriminates between homeowners and renters. The difference can be made up with lower tax rates that apply only to income. But this is a pipe dream that may never get past the special interests that control congressional decisions.

How does this relate to the national debt? Tax revenues would be structured to cover government expenditures and eliminate annual deficits adding to the debt. The current $17 trillion national debt is not sustainable and has to be reduced over the next three generations. There’s a challenge for elected representatives.

Changes in the nation’s health care system under the Affordable Care Act are still working out many wrinkles in managing the insurance options. The United States was the last developed nation to adopt universal health care. In fact, the prior rating of the U.S. system was 37th, after Morocco.

Other problems in the nation’s health care system include the shocking amount of insurance fraud. The Economist reported the United States lost up to $272 billion in government-funded medical benefits from fraud and abuse. That’s a whopping 1.7 percent of GDP and twice the budget for Britain’s National Health Service.

Instead of the Republican caucus spending time trying to scuttle the Affordable Care Act, perhaps more effort could be given to stop the bleeding all over the carpet, the news magazine suggests.

Now I address the most controversial issue languishing before Congress since the last election: immigration reform. Wouldn’t you think the Republican leadership could recognize that its inaction, if not obstruction, is turning away the Latino vote?

Apparently not, as the inner clique of the tea party-inspired minority appears to control political beliefs contrary to rank-and-file Republicans who might just believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

As I have previously written, opponents to immigration reform, or any legislation to better manage border security, forget that we are a nation of immigrants. Those critics should evaluate where their ancestors came from and under what hardships they endured with language and racial discrimination.

Based on what I read and hear in the nation’s media, I don’t believe the Republican Party is taking these three issues to heart in the buildup to the November midterm elections. That could result in more loss of the young and Latino voters.

Unless the party leaders change their model, the Grand Old Party will be just old and not so grand.


Ford is a freelance writer in San Diego. He can be reached at johnpatrick.ford@sddt.com

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