Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a District investment firm.
Farr said Congress should not act precipitously until the economy is on more stable footing. Here’s his recipe:
“1. I would extend the Bush tax cuts until gross domestic product growth is 2.5 percent or greater for four consecutive quarters.
“2. I would eliminate many of the tax loopholes.
“3. I would enact a prorated plan for increasing the retirement age over a 10-year period. The new retirement age would be based on the average life span of Americans using the actuarial tables ... Once we’ve completed the first 10 years of adjustment, I would permanently link retirement age to the actuarial tables.
“4. I would have a means-tested deductible for Medicare. For example, a person receiving Medicare coverage who makes $250,000/year, would have a $2,500 deductible.
“5. I would review and revise the 10 largest government programs and contracts that are currently adjusted with formulaic annual increases. I would change the increases to negotiated rates no greater than the rate of inflation. And these contract increases would no longer be guaranteed.
“6. Carried interest [such as the profits private equity investment managers receive from the sale of portfolio companies] needs to be treated as income [instead of taxed at the lower capital gains rate]. This is a matter of fairness rather than an attempt to move the needle.”
— Thomas Heath
John Kane, president and chief executive of the Kane Co., an office-moving firm based in Hyattsville.
Kane offered a variety of options for raising revenue, including taxing Internet sales and treating capital gains and dividends as ordinary income. He suggested any money raised should be matched by some portion of spending cuts.
“We should have a three-tier income tax bracket with rates of 15 percent, 28 percent and 36 percent. The 15 percent applies to the first dollar earned. The 28 percent is on income in excess of $300,000. Income in excess of $1 million should be 36 percent with decreasing deductions based on increasing income,” Kane said in an e-mail.
“Leave charitable contributions as they are and deductions for interest as it is. Private charitable groups do a better job of serving the poor than the government.”
Kane’s most provocative idea: “Incentivize [anti-tax crusader] Grover Norquist to retire.”
— Thomas Heath
Greg J. Baroni, chairman and chief executive of Attain, a Vienna-based professional services firm.
Baroni said contractors would be more willing to accept changes in government procurement if the trade-off is more predictable spending patterns. For instance, contractors could work under performance-based contracts, which pay for outcomes, not effort.