Monday, July 9, 2012

Obama on Taxes: A Failure of Imagination, Extended Dubstep Remix

It looks Team Obama has decided to go back to using tax cuts to draw a distinction between Obama and Mitt Romney. Let me just quote myself:
But Barack Obama campaigned against "the smallness of our current politics". He talked about the failure of the country to envision a government capable of doing big things. And he has now delivered us a debate between two governing parties that doesn't extend beyond the four corners of a Heritage Foundation whitepaper. The best thing government can deliver to the American people is a tax cut, and the only difference between the two parties is the question of which taxes get cut. I don't know about you, but I would have a hard time waking up in the morning to go work in OEOB if that's all I were there for.
Tactically, this isn't as tough choice as Ezra Klein makes it out to be. "The base" is not as ideologically committed to raising taxes as the conservative base is to cutting them; the point of raising taxes is mostly to get the government to do useful things not to just increase the size of government for its own sake. Tax cuts are overwhelmingly popular especially if they are broad based or targeted at the middle class. But no one ever wrote a folk song extolling the virtues of cutting taxes not quite as much as the other guy while not even trying to maintain existing levels of state & local spending during mass unemployment.

Update: Amazingly, Nancy Pelosi has signed on to Chuck Schumer's "compromise" that retains tax cuts to earners up to $1 million. In theory this could be used to create a fourth tax bracket, which would be wonderful. In practice ... if we can only tax the tiny sliver of earners at that level of income, the government is never going to be able to afford anything more than its current level of service, if that.
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