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Common Ground: Senate Republicans

This week in my Lenten practice, I’d like to share my common ground with the Republicans in the US Senate. I support Republicans like Jon Kyl who are resisting the idea of a special tax on AIG and other bailout bonuses.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the bonuses should not have been given out. I think it’s madness to pay retention bonuses to the very people who helped drive the company into the ground. I also feel pretty strongly that taxpayer dollars should not be given out as bonus money at private companies.

But I feel stronger about the rule of law. The way the bailout was written, bonuses and other questionable expenditures could be made. The bonuses were legal if not moral or well considered. We can draft contracts so similar behavior doesn’t happen in the future.

But if we start writing tax laws out of a sense of moral outrage at small groups of individuals, I forsee anarchy. Today it’s companies recyclying taxpayer dollars into bonuses. Maybe tomorrow it’s a tax aimed at the outrageous earnings of professional ball players. Or a tax aimed at people with assets in countries out of favor with the United States. Or whatever.

So while Senator Kyl and his brethren aided and abetted the last Administration in disregarding the rule of law when it came to torture and surveillance, I welcome Republican efforts at upholding the rule of law when it comes to taxation.

This is a good common ground example because I don’t agree with Senator Kyl on most issues. But I don’t let my many disagreements with him keep me from joining with him in urging the Senate to forego tax law based on passions of the moment. Working across party lines on areas of common agreement is what is going to get this country moving again.

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