“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The need for genuine leaders in our world could not be more critical. While advances in science, information technology and medicine benefit mankind and improve our daily lives, government policies affecting job creation and education seem uninspired, caught in a quagmire of status quo thinking while bowing to special interests.
The winner of this week’s most lamentable example of the leadership vacuum is highlighted in Kelly Phillips Erb’s Forbes.com piece, Out Of Ideas And In Debt, Spain Sets Sights On Taxing The Sun. The seemingly random tax policies of Spain’s “leadership” have resulted in an economic position that looks more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a strategic plan for leading Spain out of its crippling state of decline.
Contrast Spain’s convoluted policies with the kind of clear and visionary thinking that is emerging from entrepreneurial leaders in Silicon Valley, one of the most innovative and productive regions in the world. On Monday, Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group,blogged that U.S. tax policy is, “a confusing mess of preferences, exemptions and deductions that both individuals and corporations dread toiling over each year.” Guardino goes on to argue in favor of lower rates and eliminating all tax credits, except for those that are proven to “promote economic growth.”
Shoot across the U.S. and you will fly over a number of state leaders who are pushing for less convoluted tax policies. Governors in Oklahoma, Kansas and Ohio are leaders in rethinking tax policy to more innovative approaches that encourage job creation and put more money into the hands of workers.
In the last few weeks, North Carolina’s legislative and gubernatorial leadership successfully passedsome of the most impressive reforms in the country. The Carolina Journal reports that these broad-based reforms will firmly plant the Tar Heel State in 17th position on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, a big improvement from its current 44th place ranking.
In my own state of Missouri, we are approaching a veto session where legislators will vote on overriding Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 253. Passed with bipartisan support, the leadership mettle of our legislature will once again be tested. This practical approach to tax policy sets the stage for job growth by reducing the tax burden on employers, while allowing workers to keep more of their hard-earned wages.
Missouri House Bill 253 gradually reduces the personal income tax by .5 percent and the corporate income tax by 3 percent over a 10-year period. It also provides for a 50 percent deduction for small businesses, which will be phased-in over five years. By increasing the deduction for individuals with incomes less than $20,000 a year, the bill provides relief to those living below the poverty line. This sensible approach to economic stimulus also offers built-in safeguards that ensure reductions will only be triggered if annual state revenues increase by $100 million.
The best leaders provide the vision, direction and determination that is essential to break through the death spiral of bad policies that benefit the few. Missouri lawmakers have an opportunity to prove their belief in economic growth and job creation. The vote to override Governor Nixon’s veto of HB 253 creates an opportunity for establishing an authentic legacy of leadership on tax reform for our state. For those who do not agree, I hear that the moon is wide open for imposing new taxes.