THE PASSIONS OF...

THE PASSIONS OF THE OVERCLASS. Allow me to agree with Reihan Salam on this:

Daniel Gross's crusade against the AMT is taking a new shape. Now it's not just a war on affluent Democrats -- it is a a war on "a good chunk of the national Republican base." In that case, though, isn't keeping the AMT an example of the need for revenue trumping politics? The AMT is flawed. Still, I can't help but find the obsession of the upper-middle-left, and the upper-middle-right, with the AMT more than slightly amusing. This is not unlike racial preferences. Somehow the color composition of the Ivy League becomes the central moral challenge of our time. Who says? The Ivy League!!!

In an ideal world, this AMT creep business we're seeing wouldn't be going on. In the actual world, however, the government desperately needs more revenue and liberals have no business campaigning for revenue-decreasing measures. This is especially true since though the AMT is hardly the most progressive tax out there (it nails swathes of the upper-middle class at the same rate as the super-rich), it's really not the least regressive tax out there either (try sales taxes or the home mortgage interest deduction or FICA, all of which take bigger bites out of the poor than the rich).

UPDATE: Reader B.A. points out that I can't have meant the AMT is "really not the least regressive tax out there." Indeed, I didn't. I meant either it's really not the most regressive tax out there, or else I meant it's really not the least progressive tax out there, or else I shouldn't use negation so much in my writing. Just another reason why reference can't be reduced to intention.

--Matthew Yglesias

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