While listening to Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, I heard him mention cutting congressional pay by 10% as part of a revised deficit reduction package.

As an alternative, I have a modest proposal to evade the 27th Amendment and achieve an immediate financial penalty upon Congress. In the spirit of Jonathan Swift, I suggest that Congress pass a special tax that would apply only to their salary. The rate of such a tax would be calculated based upon the size of the federal deficit; for example, if the federal deficit were 43% of revenue, then our Representatives would pay an additional 43% tax, which we could call an Incompetence Tax.

This tax would embrace erroneous principles currently in fashion with our legislators. First, it would be a use of the tax code to do what is prohibited to Congress by the Constitution. Second, like ancient Athenian democracy, the majority can target a tax upon a specific unpopular individual or group for expropriation of their wealth; is anyone less popular than Congress? Third, it uses the taxing authority not to raise revenue but as a punitive instrument.

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