Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Opportunity zones

Jack Kemp wrote in Townhall President Bush's timely call for an opportunity zone for the entire Gulf region was greeted recently by a Washington Post editorial labeling it a "Go Go Zone."

I strongly support measures like this, that give tax deductions when people invest thier own money in something, because I think it will be much better spent than if the government just sends a lot of money down to allow corrupt Louisiana politicians decide how to spend it. I also favor Bush's proposal to give plots of government owned land to people who will get a mortgage to rebuild their house on it, than sending a bundle of money down to rebuild houses in land that is 7 to 15 feet below sea level.
Apparently no good deed goes unpunished. They wrote, inexplicably, that tax incentives offer breaks for investment but not for job creation.
Does the investment not trigger rebuilding? How can you rebuild, without hiring people to do it?
Did the Post editorialist ever take a look at the renaissance going on in Harlem, thanks to President Clinton's Empowerment Zone (a modified Enterprise Zone)? Have they looked at the low-tax industrial zones (maquiladoras) along the Tijuana-San Diego border? Have they noticed how low-tax, pro-business cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Pudong and Hong Kong are doing in China? Or Dublin, Ireland, or Dubai, UAE? The empirical evidence shows that while the president's opportunity zones need more tweaking, they will work.

Congress recently passed legislation extending limited tax relief to the victims of hurricane Katrina and Rita. They should immediately enact follow-on legislation with more juice to the president's opportunity zone idea of "green-lining" the entire Gulf Coast region as an enterprise zone with powerful tax and regulatory incentives to restore robust economic activity and jobs with homeownership and housing as key components.
I agree.
During the next three years Congress should allow individuals and companies in the zone or anyone outside the zone investing in it to choose whether they want to pay taxes under the current Internal Revenue Code or under a simplified, pro-growth tax system. Individuals living or working in the zone could choose to pay a simple, low, single-rate tax that could be filed on a postcard, which would eliminate the capital gains tax.
This is an interesting way of trying out the Flat Tax. Do it in an area that people want to help.
Companies and home builders could choose to pay federal taxes under a streamlined federal tax system that would allow full, immediate write-off of all investment expenditures and inventory purchases, a full deduction for all dividends paid, no tax on capital gains. There should be no tax on low-income workers up to 180 percent of the poverty level. Where education is concerned, wider use of education and housing vouchers are also tools that can be used.

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