My Taxes (and How Did My Congressman, Barney Frank, Become a Millionaire?)

Our marginal income tax rate will be 54.1%: 35% Federal, 5.3% State, 3.8% Medicare and 10% for charities (we give away 10% of our pre-tax income; see “A VC’s View on Charitable Giving”). And, if the Bush tax rates expire, add another 5%.

This all just covers wages, and it excludes the coming 3.8% investment income tax rate (another ObamaCare tax) as well as proposed increases on capital gains and dividends.

I’m OK with all the increases.

What I wish, though, is that the government would be innovative on spending. For example:

  • Why not let us all participate in on-line polls to choose among spending options? For example, what if the government offered a menu of three options with various cuts/allocations across domestic and foreign programs? How about if the one with the most votes win?
  • When you give to a college, you’re allowed to decide if the gift is for the endowment, financial aid, a department, etc. Why not allow that for the government budget?
  • How did my Congressman become a millionaire? He is Barney Frank, who is about to retire. He has been in politics his whole life other than a brief teaching job. Click here for the 2011 Federal form he filed showing $1.2 million of assets at his broker. And, he gets health benefits for life and a great pension of around $139,000 a year, with cost of living adjustments, of course. All that wealth earned as a public servant.

Now, I’m not a partisan. I’m a registered Independent.

But, I don’t think politicians’ incentives are aligned with ours. They’re focused on getting re-elected, and with the advent of corporate spending on elections, they will be more beholden to special interests. They’re exempt from ObamaCare, and until recently, could engage in insider trading. So, they’re “above it all.”

In today’s Internet world involving transparency and crowd-sourcing, the “behind the door” allocation of spending in top-secret Congressional negotiations seems so old-school, wrong and full of crap. I know, I know. We have a republican form of government, and it is not a true democracy.

Still, I’d like more power to the people.

2 thoughts on “My Taxes (and How Did My Congressman, Barney Frank, Become a Millionaire?)

  1. Frank was employed for over 30 years as a high ranking federal employee; is a published author; is married without children; and has a unique life story and experiences that likely create speaking opportunities.

    A net worth of $1.2M for an older Harvard trained lawer with a life history of work, writing and speaking doesn’t feel scandalous to me.

  2. While that sounds pretty, we don’t live in a society where things like this would be healthy — most voters are voting on sound bite and misinformation. The only reason our government comes close to working is that we elect people that are far smarter than the average voter.

    Just take a look at our current presidential election — both candidates are very smart, but they end up running campaigns that aren’t focused on the hard issues and truths we need to deal with because that would not win an election — even this past debate is an example. Lots of talk about Romney winning but he never once offered any detail on *how* he was going to keep his promises — and why would he, he didn’t need to because of the voters.

    Back to your post, Perot talked about some of these things years back, but I’m afraid we just don’t have to group intelligence or maturity to “do the right thing” (whatever that is!) if left to the voters 🙁

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