By the time you read this, we may have a new balance of power in Washington. If Democrats have the upper hand, we can worry that they'll continue the Clinton-Gore push to make the tax code more complicated--albeit a bit more progressive, too. If the Republicans are in the driver's seat, then it appears that tax cuts targeted to the rich will be at the top of the agenda.
Neither vision is attractive to those of us who believe in a fair, straightforward tax system. But whichever party is in charge, perhaps it can be persuaded to amend the details of its presidential candidate's campaign tax promises without sacrificing the basic themes.
When Abraham Lincoln faced the dissolution of the nation in the early 1860s, he imposed new taxes on the wealthy to help pay to save the Union. When Franklin D. Roosevelt took America to war against the Nazis, he sharply increased taxes on businesses and the rich to help fund that crusade. Now George W. Bush is leading a new battle against international terrorism, and insists that as part of that effort, we need to cut taxes on corporations and the best-off Americans!
"For lower-income families, my tax plan restores basic fairness," President
George W. Bush asserted in his address to Congress on February 27. "People with
the smallest incomes will get the highest percentage of reductions."
To help us understand what the president meant, here's some interesting data
from The Washington Post business section of March 13. What follows are
captions that ran under photos of the CEOs of Apple Computer and of IBM.
Now that John McCain has joined George W. Bush in presenting a major tax-cut plan, the two GOP candidates are engaged in a debate that is, by conservative standards, unusual: Whose proposal does the most for taxpayers in the middle and lower portions of the income scale? Each candidate claims that the other's plan does little or nothing for these taxpayers. In this case, actually, both candidates are right.