Finance Column » Your Money This Week » I can haz new tax revenue?

I can haz new tax revenue?

By Mark Hamrick ·
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Posted 11 am ET

You heard it from President Barack Obama.

Standing in front of first responders, or police officers and firefighters, he said he's willing to work with "anybody" to help head off a series of mandatory federal spending cuts March 1.

"My door is open. I've put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done," Obama said.

I figure that means he's willing to work with you and me, too. It's time to come forward with our best ideas because members of Congress haven't been able to head off the sequester, from what the president says. For the moment, however, I figure it isn't best to walk right into the Oval Office. The people guarding the White House haven't yet opened the gates to the complex, and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. remains closed to car traffic. Let's not test the whole "door is open" thing just yet. I'm not that brave and don't want anyone else to get hurt.

Here are some of my "back of the envelope" sequester solutions. Remember, you heard 'em here first. I'm not sure members of the Tea Party are going to like this though, because I am testing the waters on new revenues. You know -- speaking quietly here -- taxes.

  • Tax photos of cats and restaurant food on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This would raise billions of dollars.
  • Eliminate guaranteed salaries for members of Congress. Pay them only on commission when effective legislation is agreed to. Now, I know billionaire investor Warren Buffett went down this road last year in an interview with CNBC when he said, "you just pass a law that says that anytime there's a deficit of more than 3 percent of (gross domestic product), all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election." Well, that idea has been out there for a while and it hasn't gone anywhere. So, take a seat, Uncle Warren.
  • Tax the word "like" when used as a placeholder. Like, in casual conversation. On the one hand, this would place an undue burden on the nation's young people. On the other, it would make having to listen to conversations in public less "taxing" for older generations. That's, like, people like my wife and me. Billions of dollars can be found here, assuming that we could actually get at the money.
  • Place a 50 percent federal tax on bail anytime a professional athlete is jailed for an alleged crime. Just the DUI, weapons possession and assault cases among NFL players ought to be enough to fund the Department of Defense for a year. And, we know the athletes can afford it.

I'm even willing to let Congress take credit for these ideas if it moves the process forward.

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1 Comment
Steve Nash
February 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Good list. Point #2 may be below the dignity of Congress, so it might not work.