Sunday, November 11, 2012

The party Republican voters want, deserve

Grover Norquist has a majority of the House of Representatives under his thumb.  219 representatives have signed his pledge (.pdf) to never raise taxes on anyone ever, and that's enough to keep a deal from happening.  Of course, Norquist himself actually has no official power.  He doesn't decide who is on the ballot.  But, as demonstrated in the GOP primary defeats of relative moderates like Richard Lugar and Bob Bennett, any Republican who shows any hint of being insufficiently conservative is not long for this political world.  A Republican who breaks a pledge to Norquist would certainly face a primary challenger supported by Norquist and Co., and that Republican would almost certainly lose.

Republican voters have shown no inclination to encourage compromise or moderation.  It would take an act of political courage for a Republican to challenge his own constituency to change their stance.  GOP voters have so routinely purged legislators capable of legislating that there is no one left foolish enough to fight the status quo.

So now we have a 219 representatives who would be committing career suicide if they led the nation away from the fiscal cliff.  With a majority of the House sworn to never raise taxes, along with a president who's said he will veto a cliff-avoiding bill that doesn't raise taxes on the rich, I'm not optimistic that we can avoid a Washington-induced recession.


NWest said...

The one thing the party could do that would be good is eliminating tax credits and tax deductions. Elimination of the mortgage interest deduction and the earned income credits should help the deficit considerably. Repealing special tax treatment in Hollywood won't raise much revenue but the republicans can say that it's a tax on the rich (these rich movie companies pay very little taxes at all, but you never see special news reports about it). Get rid of the education tax credits, and redefine "capital gain" as regular income (no reason that someone who makes money in the real estate business should be taxed at a lower rate than someone who works for a salary).

All of these things could in theory be done without breaking the no raising taxes pledge.

NWest said...

Naturally rates going down as a whole would have to be matched "dollar for dollar" but with a simplified structure it is likely that revenue will rise simply because loopholes allow people to cheat.

TableTopJoe said...

NWest, from what I can tell about your proposal, it amounts to raising taxes on the middle class.

The reason there are 47% who have no federal income tax liability is precisely because of things like the mortgage interest deduction, the child tax credit, and the education tax credit.

Now, on their merits, I pretty much agree with you that they are economically distortive (I don't think that's a word, but you get my point). However, without implementing an increasingly progressive income tax structure, this would amount to an enormous increase in the tax liability of people in the $50,000/year range.

I like your idea regarding treatment of capital gains as income, but there are countervailing concerns there as well. I think that so much of the liberal disgust over this is that it is (1) not progressive at all, and (2) applied in such ways as the "carried interest" rule where the money is not really at risk in the first place.

Just some thoughts.