Thursday, September 23


Holy smokes, how did I miss THIS ONE? Here is a reason for 70 million Americans to vote Kerry-Edwards:

While John Kerry's week has been all about Iraq, John Edwards has been talking tough about the economy. Yesterday in Ohio he delivered a blistering critique of Bush's economic and tax-reform plans, calling it "the most radical and dangerous economic agenda to hit our shores since socialism a century ago."

"Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy," he told an audience outside in Cleveland. "We don't know all of the details, but we know that people who inherit hundreds of millions will pay nothing; firemen and waitresses and working people will pay everything. And we know his plan will take away the most important incentive for the single most important form of ownership: it will eliminate entirely the tax deduction for home mortgage interest." [emphasis mine]

That last accusation in particular seems like a winner, in the old-school, they're-going-to-take-away-your-Social-Security vein. Except that it's not just scare-mongering: the Bush administration has genuinely been considering, according to this report unearthed by Ron Suskind and discussed by Tim Noah some weeks back, getting rid of such progressive tax instruments as the Earned Income Tax Credit and other social policy instruments in the tax code on account of how they make the tax code unecessarily "complicated."

The document, prepared for former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, clearly states as part of its explanation of a flat tax -- which conservatives say Bush is still considering for a second term -- that:

"Many of the special deductions, exemptions, and credits allowed under the current tax system are intended to promote widely held social goals, e.g. health care, homeownership, and charitable giving. The basic version of this proposed tax system would eliminate or reduce many of these tax incentives without providing substitute programs."

Another version of the tax reforms O'Neill considered stated that:

"Special credits, including the earned income credit, child credit and education credits, would be eliminated."

A description of the basic proposal noted: "Itemized deductions -- Repealed."

I have difficulty seeing how anyone gets the home mortgage interest deduction revoked in any Congress, regardless of its political make-up, given the popularity of the measure and the record-high levels of home-ownership in this country, which gives most of the voting public a stake in it. But the fact that the Bushies have been considering it seems like the kind of fact that deserves much broader play and maybe even a TV ad or two. Because people really ought to know that this thing they've come to value and rely upon is not as universally valued as they might think. It would be a real shame if an issue like this that could impact more than 70 million people got only cursory national attention during this campaign.


Post a Comment

<< Home