In any event, since Washington seems hopelessly gridlocked, I've got my solution for how to fix America's gaping budget hole.
Ignore the 16th Amendment.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The 16th Amendment gives Congress the power to collect taxes however they want. It does not require Congress to do so. Why doesn't Congress simply apportion the deficit out by state then send each state a bill? I could think of at least three "fair" formulas:
- Apportion the deficit by population, counting all adult legal citizens -- pretty much the original method but updated for the 21st century
- Apportion the deficit by population, counting all adult legal citizens plus some fraction of the resident alien population (dangerous as states might then demand representation for said resident aliens)
- Apportion the deficit by number of electoral votes (forces small states to pay more, but most small states also receive a disproportionate share in Federal dollars...)
The bill to close the deficit would be about $3333 per person per year. Alaska has about half a million adult legal residents and a gross state product of around $45 billion. Our bill would come to $1,666,500,000 -- $1.6 billion dollars. Alaska's state operating budget is around $11.4 bn. So this is not an unreasonable impossible to accommodate increase.
The good thing about this solution is that it allows each state to tackle a difficult problem on their own. If Kalifornia wants to increase income tax rates on the "wealthy" to 95%, well, fine. Maybe they love LA and will stay, maybe they'll flee, who knows. If another state wants to go after capital gains, sure, why not? Maybe the effect on investment won't be so bad. Maybe some states will deficit spend themselves and borrow money in hopes of growing their economy. Maybe they'll cut services to cover Uncle Sam's bills. Maybe they'll punt the problem to cities and counties and let them figure out how to raise the dough. The point is that there are a lot of ways to skin the cat.
When you have a really difficult problem to solve, one technique is seeking "emergent solutions." This is the "laboratory of democracy" deal. Why not let States get the bill and figure out how to pay it? Why do we need a "grand bargain" to get everyone to agree on One Plan at the federal level?
Also as a plus -- States might decide that this is ridiculous and use their powers under the 10th Amendment and the amendment procedures to exert their sovereign authority once they're on the hook for spending. Maybe we'd actually see some sort of balanced budget drive, or reigning in on inflationary monetary policy, or accountability for politicians.