Reform Conservatism

Reform Conservatism: Just Another Name For Big Government Activism?

The movement's vision raises troubling questions that NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru wants to avoid

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NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru has made it his personal mission to let no criticism of reformocons—and their beloved Rubio-Lee "family fairness" tax plan (the first stab at translating the reformocon vision into a governing agenda)—go unanswered. So he took another "shot"—to use a word he used for me—at my Friday response to his rejoinder.

Recall that the Rubio-Lee plan is marketing itself as a huge middle-class tax relief plan. To that end, it collapses the current seven-bracket tax code into two—with individuals under $75,000 and couples under $150,000 paying a 15 percent income tax and those above, 35 percent. It would eliminate all deductions—even for state and local income taxes—except for home mortgages and charitable donations. It would replace the current standard deduction with a universal $2,000 personal tax credit. It would also offer a $2,500 per child tax credit to parents in addition to the $1,000 one they already receive.

Among various other criticisms of this plan (including that it'll break the federal bank and the sharp 20-point tax cliff would create a barrier to middle-class mobility), I had noted in my column that:

The big losers (under this plan) would be the many families making between $150,000 and $411,500—or the vast middle and upper middle class who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of these reforms. Rubio and Lee's proposed 35 percent tax rate would constitute a big tax hike for these families (from 3 to 7 percentage points). Some of the increase would be mitigated if they have children and can avail themselves of the child tax credit. But still, it'll be a tax hike.

Ponnuru will have none of this. In an initial response to my column, he alluded to a table on p. 23 of the Rubio-Lee tax plan and said:

Using reasonable assumptions about mortgage interest and the like, the document projects that a household making $200,000—and thus in the top 5 percent—would get a tax cut of $12,300 from the plan. That example assumes the household includes two children. Assume the couple has no children, though, and the tax cut would still be $7,300. They don't sound like big losers to me.

And then again, in the second response to my response, he says:

I noted that her generalization is not true even for the people in the income range she identified. I cited examples involving families making $200,000. Her response to that point: "Look at the said table [p. 23 here] and you'll see that this $200,000-making couple would need to have two children and charitable donations of $10,000 before it comes out ahead under the Rubio-Lee schema. Otherwise, they lose." This is simply false. The table shows no such thing. As I noted in that earlier post, if the couple had no kids its tax bill would still drop by $7,300. Assume they gave nothing to charity and had no kids, and they would still come out ahead by $6,600.

First, a mea culpa: Yes, Ponnuru is right, I overstated my point. I should have said that a couple making $200,000 would "potentially" lose if you took away their child tax credits and charitable contributions, not that they would lose.

That said, Ponnuru's suggestion that such a couple would necessarily come out a winner isn't based in verifiable reality.

Ponnuru does not tell us where he got the $6,600 savings for the childless couple with no charitable donations. The table he mentions doesn't say that. (More on that later.)

But there is also a larger issue:  Are the assumptions behind these four illustrative examples on page 23 really "reasonable" as Ponnuru claims? That is very unclear because the duo don't offer much information.

Take, for example, the hypothetical joint filer family with two kids earning $50,000 that Rubio-Lee claim would save $4,500 under their plan compared to the current tax system. But how?

According to the IRS's 2012 Statistics of Income table, the average filer who is married, filed jointly, and earned between $40,000 and $50,000 (the closest income bracket to the hypothetical example) paid on average roughly $1,400 in income taxes in 2012, the latest year for which data are available. To realize the $4,500 savings, this hypothetical Rubio-Lee family will have to get a $3,100 check from the government. But the Rubio-Lee plan caps the refundable amount to the taxes owed and does not create a negative income tax. So how exactly will this couple realize these savings?

Now let's return to the Rubio-Lee's $200,000 joint filer who would allegedly save $12,300. This assumes a $10,000 charitable contribution or 5 percent of the couple's income. But again separate IRS Statistics of Income table for 2012 shows that joint-filers between $100,000 to $200,000 income range make average charitable contributions of about $3,900. For filers in the $200,000 to $500,000 income range, the average annual contribution was just under $5,700.

This calls into question just how reality-based the assumptions behind the Rubio-Lee saving estimates that Ponnuru accepts at face value really are.

Consider another aspect of the $200,000-joint filer example. The couple is said to be from Utah, a state with a 5 percent income tax. But they don't indicate whether their $12,300 figure takes into account the fact that, under their plan, the couple will lose their state tax deduction. And why did they pick Utah in the first place? If the couple were from any number of other states, say, Hawaii (11 percent) or Vermont (8.8 percent) or Oregon (9 percent), would the results still be so rosy? Information rather than spin would be nice.

But why is it so important to Ponnuru—and Rubio-Lee—to declare $200,000 couples as winners under the proposed plan?

Because a non-trivial number of losers in the lower end of the $150,000 to $411,500 range would doom the plan politically. Reformocons have got to insinuate therefore that all the losers (and they don't deny that there will be losers, mind you) are concentrated in the upper end of that bracket because that'll make it much easier to throw them under the bus.

What's more, the more the conversation remains bogged down in minutia, the more Ponnuru can avoid squarely answering the big questions that I and others such as Nick Gillespie, Veronique De Rugy, Amity Shlaes, Kim Strassel, John Hayward, Scott Lincicome, Ben Domenech, and even Rush Limbaugh have raised with the Rubio-Lee plan – not to mention the reformocon project in general.

Questions such as the following:

One: Does it behoove the party of limited government to use the tax code to play class favorites or offer handouts to people who make life choices that the government considers socially useful? If reform conservatives want to call themselves conservative, they can knock themselves out. But if they are going to use the tax code as a tool of social engineering, can they at least stop doing so under the rubric of limited government and free market? Indeed, they should come out and repudiate limited government as forthrightly as Ethics and Public Policy Center's Henry Olsen (whom E.J. Dionne has dubbed "one the most creative Reformicon thinkers) has. Olsen says:

"If American principles simply require hands-off government, then American principles have not been part of our politics for a very long time. A hands-off approach is not what American politics and principles require; it is a parody of what America and American conservatism mean."

In other words, America's limited government traditions are hooey—a myth with little basis in history. This is radical revisionism and, if this is what reformocons seriously believe, they ought to say so upfront instead of couching their vision as pro-limited government and pro-free enterprise.

Two: The liberal welfare state has created dependency among low-income folks, especially minorities, trapping them in poverty. Would not expanding government handouts risk creating a similarly dependent middle class? Why do reformocons believe that a government whose unintended consequences they have long blamed for the decline of poor, inner-city communities would be an effective tool for regenerating an allegedly stagnating middle class? (Is it any wonder that Big Government liberals absolutely love their child credits, praising them as even better than Obama's credits which, after all, apply only to child care.) 

Three: Is this plan even politically viable?  Do reformocons seriously believe, as I asked last week, that the new class warfare between the middleclass and the upper middleclass would fare much better in an upwardly mobile society like America's than the liberal class warfare between the rich and the poor?  The American dream is based on an expectation of getting ahead, climbing up the income ladder. People have a stake not only in the bracket that they inhabit but also the one they aspire to. Declaring war on the upper middleclass, in essence, is like declaring war on the aspirations of the middleclass. And it represents a serious loss of faith in the promise of America – and the ability of unfettered individuals to realize the American dream.

Four: Is expanding the welfare state to a whole new class of people when the country is already buckling under the existing welfare state fiscally responsible? The child tax credit has a price tag of $173 billion annually with zero growth benefits. Isn't its opportunity cost unacceptably high? Wouldn't it make more sense to use this money instead to, say, lower the 35 percent upper tax bracket, up the income level where it kicks in, or pay down the national debt – all measures that would potentially stimulate the economy.

Five: Newt Gingrich once disparaged Bob Dole as a tax collector for the welfare state. (The quip resonated because Dole represented a Republican Party that for the nearly half-a-century between the New Deal and the Reagan revolution had accepted that it must work within the confines of the existing political bargain rather than fundamentally rewriting it.) But now reformocons seem to be turning the GOP into the party of the welfare state.

They hold President George W. Bush's prescription drug plan for seniors—aka Medicare Part D—as a model of success because it deployed "market forces" to deliver a senior boondoggle (and buy elderly votes) rather than technocratic micromanagers. The child tax credit now attacks the other end of the lifecycle, basically launching the reform conservative version of cradle-to-grave Life of Julia, given that it is hardly the only item on their wish list of government handouts. They have one for literally every phase of life. Got a problem? Uncle Sam has a solution:

  • American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain, a reformocon in good standing, joined liberals two years ago in pleading that federal unemployment benefits be extended beyond the original 26 weeks, provided that the unemployed kept looking for work rather than dropping out of the labor force. He advocated this despite admitting that suspending these benefits would cause the unemployment rate to drop. Subsequently, he outlined a plan in National Affairs, the premier reformocon journal, to offer jobless folks federal cash bonuses when they found employment—apparently to prevent them from giving up.

The job gains of the last six months have destroyed much of his "jobs agenda."  But if the GOP had actually taken his advice, the GOP would have eroded whatever is left of its limited government brand with nothing to show for it.

  • Strain has likewise proposed "billions of dollars" in infrastructure spending (which is actually a pet reformocon project these days), particularly with an eye toward boosting the mobility (transportation not income) of low-income folks. He said:

"We could simply buy buses, have them pick up workers in lower-income, outer neighborhoods and exurbs, and then run them express from those places—not stopping along the way in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods—all the way into commercial centers. In larger cities, we could run the buses express from low-income exurbs to the last stop on commuter rail lines; basically, we could give low-income workers a fast lift to the train, connecting residents of exurbs with the labor markets of major cities."

But blacks moved en masse from the south to the north in search of auto and other factory jobs during the Great Migration without targeted transit programs. Now, apparently, "we" need federally funded bus lines to transport people a few miles. Wouldn't simply ending the bad governance and crony capitalist schemes that have killed local jobs in cities like Detroit be a more effective free market approach to connecting low-income people with jobs?

  • NRO's Reihan Salam, another prominent reformocon, has long favored expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit program and replacing it with wage subsidies in order to boost employment. Others have even spoken approvingly of implementing a guaranteed income scheme.
  • Room to Grow, a reformocon manifesto, recommends not scrapping Head Start, the federal Pre-K program for low income kids, that has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer money without producing any lasting educational gains, but voucherizing it. Now, it's one thing to voucherize an entrenched system like K-12 to give parents more control over their education dollars. It is quite another to entrench a questionable program by voucherizing it.

This is far from an exhaustive list of all the government handouts that reformocons favor, but it is enough to show that they are not offering limited government or market solutions—just cheaper and more efficient statism than liberals, if that. (That's why I previously called their vision a "triumph of liberalism.") It would be a sign of the right's intellectual bankruptcy if the reform conservative vision is the best that it can muster after two presidential terms in the political wilderness in which the country has watched the birth of a monstrosity like Obamacare, trillion-dollar stimuluses, TARP bailouts, and a burgeoning national debt. But the danger of reform conservatism is not that it'll ultimately succeed, but the damage it'll do even as it careens towards failure—namely, undermining this country's inner defenses against the growth of government.

It is only natural therefore that their agenda—a radical departure from principles that have set the moral compass of the GOP—is raising a great deal of suspicion among right-of-center folks. If all Ponnuru and others do is trivialize these growing concerns by nitpicking and ignoring the fundamental issues, they'll have only themselves to blame if they encounter more resistance and opposition going forward.

NEXT: Scandal-Plagued Aaron Schock Resigns from Congress

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  1. Reform Conservatism is an oxymoron.

    1. Huh? The political identifier reactionary exists because conservatism and reform are not mutual exclusive.

      1. conservatives (small c) is about maintaining the status quo (following traditions)

        reform (small r) is about changing the status quo to make it better

        Reform Conservatism is a political ideology that abandoned the definitions of both words

      2. Reactionary is the perjorative label assigned to the losers when the Radicals won in Russia. Technically, we’re talking about the same people as both would be anti-radical, but you can see how the very word makes the group second movers who exist only to oppose radical policies.

        1. The term came into common usuage as a result of the French Revolution.

      3. The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.

        — G. K. Chesterton

    2. Reform conservatism is actually just another in a long line of astroturf intellectual movements spun from neoconservatism. Reformocons are Straussians, not conservatives. Ponnuru, Olsen, Strain, and Salam are Straussians. The AEI is a Straussian organization. Rubio and Lee are both sock puppets of Straussians. Whenever you hear an ideology like this that sounds and looks like a gimmick for statism, it’s from the Straussians.

  2. CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!

  3. Reformocon. Cute.

    1. Decepticon

        1. I miss that thread. So sue me 😉

          1. Probably a good thing you did.

  4. Reform Conservatism: Just Another Name For Big Government Activism?

    Yes.

  5. Open borders fundamentalist- it sucks when the Republicans increases the size of the government but it’s cool when a billion immigrants do it instead.

    1. How do immigrants increase the size of the government directly? They don’t. The idea of free association and open borders aren’t connected to the welfare state which is the only argument you can make.

    2. Damn you’re on a roll with this. Ox been gored recently?

      1. One nice thing about not being autistic is emphathy. I feel for the displaced American workers despite doing great myself. Unfortunately, it’s not really something I can explain to someone like you. Not all of us have to have had our ox gored to oppose something though. Good use of idiom though I know that is hard for you guys.

        1. If you have no gored oxen, you ether had none to start with or you are one of the gorers.

  6. What’s more, the more the conversation remains bogged down in minutia, the more Ponnuru can

    Ummm, the conversation is “bogged down in minutia” because you keep making shit up.

    1. How about you point out what’s made up so there’s an actual discussion? I feel like I’m reading the comment section at Breitbart right now.

      1. You don’t understand. If they get to qualify for a bunch of the credits (like children and charity) then those couples making $200k might not lose, so Shikha was totally wrong. Or something.

        1. If you don’t like this plan you have to pretend like Shikha is a competent critic. Or something.

          1. Hey, I never said she was competent.

          2. I don’t understand the point. Your argument in that response thread:
            No, that’s the point they come out $12,300 ahead.

            So, yes, they come out ahead if they pop out a few kids and give a bunch of money to charity. So, Shikha responded to that point and says the 6,600 savings cited isn’t given an explanation. Is she right or wrong on that? Your initial point in that thread doesn’t answer that. You just say ‘that’s the point’ to the credits saving them money. Yes, the point of the plan, which Shikha is right on, is social engineering. Only instead of it being a progressive agenda, it’s a conservative family-oriented one that attempts to play on the supposed middle class.

            I question Shikha’s intention in this, and she makes arguments I loathe. But her overall point against the tax plan is valid. And her statement on the specific numbers in this or that instance do distract from the fact that this is a Republican plan that excepts the argument on tax reform as framed by the left. Both sides are agreeing taxes can be used this way, and it’s just a matter of details.

            1. The issues there are obvious to a libertarian. Mainly, even if the agenda isn’t bad in one instance, someone else will have that power and has all the justification to use it to their ends that you may disagree with. Hence one of the issues with arbitrary uses of power. This particular argument – it’s obviously pretty much settled to mainstream America who has no problem with using taxes this way. That’s a poor argument for a supposed libertarian to accept, though.

              So, you hate Shikha is not an argument or excuse for your own lack of an argument.

              1. So, you hate Shikha is not an argument or excuse for your own lack of an argument.

                Shikha was factually wrong. She apologized for it in this post. Do you have some sort of learning disability?

            2. Your initial point in that thread doesn’t answer that.

              Correct. I’m not a time traveler

              Is she right or wrong on that?

              Why don’t you click over and find out yourself?

              You just say ‘that’s the point’ to the credits saving them money.

              That’s not at all what I said.

      2. Read Ponnuru’s “second response.”

        I made the same points here.

  7. Did the NR people steal a table from the Reason editorial staff at lunch today or what? This is starting to feel like the Anchorman news team fight.

    1. Ron Burgundy: Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.
      Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch.
      Ron Burgundy: It did, didn’t it?
      Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart.
      Ron Burgundy: I saw that. Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?
      Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.
      Ron Burgundy: Brick, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you’re probably wanted for murder.

  8. my neighbor’s mother makes $86 /hour on the internet . She has been fired from work for 8 months but last month her check was $12427 just working on the internet for a few hours. see it here…………..

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  9. Who would lose or win also depends on the source of their income.

    As I understand it one part of their proposal is to make dividend and capital gains totally income tax free – a 0% tax rate.

    So the composition of one’s income has a bearing on what they will pay – not just how much it is.

    A person making $200 K totally from wage income will pay taxes at the 35% rate

    An investment asset rich retiree whose only income is $200 K of dividends and capital gains income would pay zero in taxes.

    1. Well, I have total confidence that dual-income, empty-nesters without substantial investments will get fucked in the ass.

    2. Oh man, the Boomers are trying to steal more shit from everyone else via government? My surprised face seems to be missing.

      1. I am a boomer, I don’t expect to benefit from this change.

        1. I am also a Boomer, and me and my wife would get totally hosed by this plan.

        2. Should have put all your assets in one convenient 401(k) or IRA. That way the government can just seize it all at once. This is just further condensing all additional capital into nice large buckets so the government doesn’t have to go house to house when they really need to pay some debt.

          I’m pissy because I’m stuck at work with dick all to do.

      2. Decreasing your tax burden isn’t stealing from people. Go back to your prog hovel.

        1. It’s amazing that increasing the tax burden on one set of people and giving the others a break counts as “libertarian”. They want all the money. If you haven’t figured out to be skeptical of government shaping tax incentives, you’re still one of the suckers.

          1. How about just dividing the cost of running the federal government by the number of people in the country and sending each person an exactly equal bill for their share?

            That should fix your problem.

            1. Someone illustrated that already… something like 56K.

          2. If you haven’t figured out to be skeptical of government shaping tax incentives, you’re still one of the suckers.

            This.
            Targeted tax benefits are a back door means of regulating people’s personal choices.
            One the government is using more and more.

            They could replace farm subsidies with tax credits and it would have exactly the same distorting effect on the economy.

            1. Al Capone started it!

    3. No. People making $200k in wages, would pay 15% of $150k plus 35% of the $50k. They would then get the $2k/person tax credit plus any other credits they muster. Assuming they don’t have a mortgage or kids or donate to charity, they would pay $53,500 or 26.75% of their income in federal tax.

      People shouldn’t have to pay capital gains or dividends taxes. They invested earned money, and the corporation they invested in paid taxes before paying out dividends (and the capital gains is based on the hope of more dividends in the future).

      One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in these discussions is it eliminates the federal tax subsidy of those living in high-tax states and areas like NYC and California.

      1. “People shouldn’t have to pay capital gains or dividends taxes. They invested earned money, and the corporation they invested in paid taxes before paying out dividends (and the capital gains is based on the hope of more dividends in the future).”

        I agree with that.

        The double taxation issue is the reason for that type income being taxed at lower rates (but not zero) now.

        I have tried explaining that to a number of liberals who flat out refuse to even admit that the dividends an individual investor receives is the same income that has already been taxed at the corporate level.

        1. Well, they should just make dividends deductible on the corporate side. That eliminates the double taxation and keeps the income tax rate flat.

          1. No if you are going the corporate route – just totally elimate the corporate income tax altogether.

      2. I’m confused as to why labor and capital income should have different tax brackets. Zero would be optimal. Capital gains — maybe since the government is inflating away the value of your capital, but dividends are just someone else’s work that you provided the capital for. Again, this is all government shaping behaviors. Put all your money where they can get to it. They already floated taxing 529s. Don’t think that retirement funds are safer. Of course, if we didn’t tax either investment or income we wouldn’t be having these hair splitting arguments about how invested money is really different than money earned by providing someone a good or service they values today.

        1. There is no “hair splitting” distinction between wage income and dividend income.

          The issue is crystal clear – dividend income is now subject to double taxation – once at the corporate level and again at the individual level. Wage income is not double taxed.

          Eliminating the tax on income at the individual level fixes that and brings both types of income into parity – only being taxed once.

          1. Just eliminate it on the corporate side. Aside from everything else, this would incentivize companies issuing dividends which would help stabilize stock prices and make the market less prone to bubbles.

          2. The money is not yours until it is a dividend. It wasn’t taxed as your money. It is a separate transaction for which you are making a special pleading.

            1. Wrong.

              As a stockholder, I own the assets – and the income – of the corporation. It was indeed my money. I own a prorata share of the corporate bank account that was used to pay the corporate tax on my prorata share of that corporate income.

              You are a perfect example of what I posted above about people refusing to acknowledge it as the same income that has alread been taxed.

            2. The problem is that corporations get taxed on their profits and then pay out dividends after taxes. And then the dividends get taxed as income. That’s the double taxation. If they got taxed on profits AFTER paying dividends to shareholders (in other words, if they could deduct the dividends from the corporate income) there would be no double taxation. This would basically means that all shareholders and the corporation only get taxed on their share of the total profits.

        2. Because the initial capital investment was already taxed as income.

          Two brothers make 100k in income. They both pay 25% tax rates.

          One brother spends all his after-tax income on consumption.

          The other brother invests $10,000 in a lemonade stand.

          20 years later, they are still both making the same amount of money, but the second brother sells the lemonade stand for $50,000.

          Your claim is that $50,000 is should be taxed as if it were the same as labor income, but you forget the second brother had to forgo consumption to get this.

          Thus it should not be taxed at all as labor income, inflation for one reason, but another because it clearly punished the thrifty brother.

          1. Or $40,000, the gain.

      3. People shouldn’t have to pay capital gains or dividends taxes

        People should not have to subsidize other’s children and that is what this plan is. I am tired of being pick pocketed at every level of government to support other people’s desire to have kids – whether it is one or a dozen.

        And as you note at the end,

        One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in these discussions is it eliminates the federal tax subsidy of those living in high-tax states and areas like NYC and California.

        Here too our “family friendly plan” is really about helping those who want to have big mortgages. Renter? No break for you. Paid your home off? Nope, no breaks for you and we’re gonna go back to double taxing your property taxes. Have a nice day.

  10. By the way, I haven’t actually read the details of their proposed tax plan so I don’t know if the $150 K tax bracket cutoff means that those making over that amount will only pay the 35% rate on their taxable income over $150 K (as the current bracket system works) or if it means that once someone goes over that threshold they pay 35% on their entire income.

    1. 35% marginal tax rate above 150K

    2. It has to be $x.00 plus 35% of the amount over $150,000.00.
      if not, imagine the maneuvering of taxpayers nearing the threshold.

  11. Why do the reformocons sound exactly like the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush?

    And what exactly are they supposedly “reforming”?

    Last time I checked taking the status quo and doing it harder was not what “reform” meant.

  12. “Does it behoove the party of limited government to use the tax code to play class favorites or offer handouts to people who make life choices that the government considers socially useful?”

    Who’s the engineer?

    A Ponnuro article from 2012 makes the case for expanding child-care credits to put an *end* to the current system’s social engineering:

    “The goal of the credit, it should be remembered, is not to bribe Americans to have more children than they want. Rather it is to rectify the government’s bias against children, which leaves families with children bearing an unjustifiably large share of the tax burden?.
    “Readers may well wonder whether a large tax cut would be wise at a time of large deficits. But the appropriate tax structure is a separate issue from the appropriate tax level. Whether the tax code is designed to extract 15, 19, or 23 percent of the nation’s economic output for the federal government’s use, parents ought to pay a lower portion of that burden than they do now. To make room for a large child credit, my preferences would be, in order, to cut spending, to end or reduce truly discriminatory tax breaks, and to expand the top tax brackets so that a higher proportion of the income of high earners is taxed at the top rates. What’s important is that budgetary decision makers include the fair treatment of parents among their goals.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/…..sh-ponnuru

    1. Again: The government undertakes to provide for people in their old age. I know, it’s a ponzi scheme, let’s abolish it right away. And invent a car which runs on unicorn farts, while we’re at it.

      Anyway, the government undertakes to finance this old-age program by taxing families inequitably. Large families contribute more to the system by having more kids/future workers. But the large families pay the same tax rate as childless or small-family couples.

      The government has no standing to defend its behavior by saying, “well, we’re running a ponzi scheme, so the victims don’t have the right to complain!”

    2. The correct way to rectify any biases in the tax code, is to make the tax code more uniform, not to add more complexity.

  13. While we’re on “reform” stuff, let’s not leave out what “reform Judaism” really is: Hardcore Marxism.

    After all, Marx was a Jew.

  14. just as Arthur said I cannot believe that some one can profit $7970 in 4 weeks on the internet . have a peek at this site
    ????? http://www.MoneyKin.Com

  15. Maybe I’m just a simpleton but it seems there should be an easier solution to the personal income tax issue.
    I’m just brainstorming, so feel free to poke holes or add your opinions/ideas.

    1) Flat tax rate, in a reasonable range, say somewhere between 15% to 22%.
    2) Classify all income as taxable income.
    3) Eliminate all deductions except for qualified retirement plans, SS/FICA, charitable giving, state income tax and property taxes.
    4) To offset the loss of deductions and shield a reasonable amount of income that’s required for living expenses, raise the personal exemption. I’m thinking around $15,000.00 per adult and $5000.00 per child.
    5) Eliminate all refundable tax credits.

    1. Huh. I must be a simpleton too. Cuz I Agree! I’m unsure about number 4.

      1. #4 would replace the personal exemption (currently $4000.00) and the standard deduction (currently $6300.00) so $10,000.00 might be a bit low. This would offset the loss of mortgage interest deduction while shielding income used for rent.

        No more alternative minimum tax. No more earned income tax credit.

  16. Personally? Since it is a tax reform plan, create a web site that allow me to put in all the information: income, joint/single, dependents, charity donations and what not. And then tell me how much my tax bill would have been–under this scheme–for the 2014 tax season. Allowing me to compare apples-to-apples. Do not ask me how much I paid in taxes, just tell me what I would have owed under this proposed plan. Make me do the math to see how much I would have “saved”. Why? Anyone can write a website that does not really care about anything except showing me that I would have saved 8%. Maybe I did not think about a deduction that by you asking for it, I now know I can now claim. But, no, we would rather have a great debate–argument–using straw men. and forget it all in 1 or 2 years. yeah….

    1. You propose the government create a website, as if it’s something easy that’s done all the time.

  17. Here’s an idea.
    Eliminate the income tax.
    Gee, I wonder what that would do for the economy and the US government.

  18. Until someone specifically, and quantifiably defines the “middle class”, none of these arguments have ANY merit.

    You cannot target a mirage.

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