Pols on both sides get all twisted up over tax reform

Let us bend our yoga-trained bodies into the Salute to the Sun pose. We are praising Charlie Rangel’s tax reform proposal. The New York Democrat wants to get rid of the alternative minimum tax, modestly cut taxes for most people and modestly raise them for the super-rich.

The Rangel bill does the right moves: It simplifies the tax code and makes it fairer. But no one expects it to go anywhere this year.

The plan already has Republicans hyperventilating about “the mother of all take hikes” — even though it’s actually revenue-neutral. That means it neither adds to nor subtracts from total tax collections. The bill would take back some of the Bush tax cuts for the tippy-top earners, but not all. Even taxpayers making over $1 million a year would still pay less tax than they did before 2001.

But not paying their fair share of taxes has become the sport of kings for many leading moneybags. Some tycoons especially dislike the part that would raise taxes on a private-equity fund manager’s $500-million bonanza to a rate more in line with what the chauffeur pays on his take-home.

So they quietly launched a thousand lobbyists to kill the Rangel bill. Being old regulars in the boudoirs of the super rich, the Republicans instantly vowed to stop the grave “injustice.” But it appears that even some key Democrats are pounding on the door, so eager are they to please the fat wallets.

Wall Street lobbyists recently entertained Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who immediately went into Downward Dog pose, with surprising ease. The Democrat reassured them in a closed meeting that plans to subject equity-fund managers to the same tax rates as everyone else would not see the light of day in the Senate this year. He reportedly told them that the Senate was too busy to raise their taxes.

Stay calm, progressives. Breathe in. Breathe out.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to bless the Rangel bill, and instead expects fellow Democrats to “have our usual exciting, dynamic give-and-take on the subject.” The spokesman for presidential contender Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, says the Democratic senator “welcomes his (Rangel’s) leadership” and leaves it at that.

Democrats do know the gusto with which Republicans will take a tax hike for millionaires and fool the public into thinking it hurts chicken pluckers and bus drivers. They did it with some success after the 1993 tax reform, which raised taxes only on the top 1 percent, and not by much.

The conservative but virtuous Tax Foundation criticizes such efforts to deceive the yahoos. In its Tax Policy Blog, Gerald Prante writes, “Regardless of whether one supports Rangel’s bill or not, calling it a tax hike is somewhat dishonest.” Rather, he explains, it shifts taxes from one group to another. “Overall, the bill does not raise the average tax rate on the U.S. economy,” Prante adds. And if Republicans want to condemn the bill, they should “call it class warfare rather than attack its revenue neutrality.”

Class warfare?? Not even touch football. Billionaires would barely notice the sort of tax increase Rangel is talking about — and the bottom fifth of earners would see on average only a 1 percent increase in after-tax income.

It appears, alas, that doing the Sun Salutation before the Rangel bill will bring us more exercise than tax reform. But the splendid idea is out there for meditation.

In the meantime, do not expect the super rich to join us in the “asana.” The rich can apparently stop taxation of themselves from rising. In any case, they have private trainers.

Froma Harrop is a Providence Journal columnist. Her e-mail address is fharrop@projo.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
The City of Everett is set to purchase two single sidewalk restrooms from Romtec, a company based in Roseburg, Ore., for $315,000. (Romtec)
Editorial: Utilitarian but sturdy restrooms should be a relief

Everett is placing four stalls downtown that should be accessible but less prone to problems.

Schwab: What was lost when doctors stopped making house calls

More than just a convenience, a house call could inform a doctor about the patient’s care at home.

Dowd: Biden could take a lesson from Reagan on pace of travel

In his bid to look energetic, the president is jetting around the globe at a clip Nancy Reagan would not approve of.

Krugman: Public’s mood on economy shows a subtle positive shift

It might not provide much help to President Biden, but it may not be as much of a drag on him, either.

Goldberg: Attack on Pride in Colorado further splits the GOP

The state party president, who is running for Congress, is counting on homophobia to secure the base.

toons
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, June 13

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Stephens: Only way that Biden can win is not to run

The president can only commit to managing threats; his best chance for victory is to leave the ticket.

Krugman: The wealthy’s support of Trump isn’t just about money

They’re also not crazy about those who — like Biden — don’t pay sufficient deference to them.

Bouie: Should wealthy and powerful again put trust in Trump

They stepped away after Jan. 6, but — ignoring their own need for democratic norms — are drawn to autocracy.

Everett principal Betty Cobbs served kids, community for 51 years

Education and community. Those words are the best America has to offer;… Continue reading

Artist Natalie Niblack works amongst her project entitled “33 Birds / Three Degrees” during the setup for Exploring The Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The paintings feature motion-activated speakers that play each bird’s unique call. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: For 50 years Schack Art Center there for creation

The art center is more art studio than museum, supporting artists and fostering creativity in kids.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.