Democrats Against Tax Reform
Wall Street Journal
December 17, 2017
"Republicans are poised this week to cut taxes for most American workers and businesses, fulfilling a core campaign promise. But before the House and Senate vote, it’s worth noting that they may do so without a single Democrat in support. How has the party of the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s and the co-writers of the Reagan reform in the 1980s become implacably opposed to pro-growth tax policy?
"A little history shows how remarkable this is. The Kennedy marginal tax-rate cuts were pushed by White House economist Walter Heller and powered the economic expansion for another half-decade. In the 1981 tax debate, William Brodhead of Michigan and other Ways and Means Democrats offered an amendment that cut the top rate on investment income to 50% from 70% in the first year.
"Yet this year not a single Senate Democrat seems willing to vote to cut the top rate a mere 2.6-percentage points to 37% or reform a corporate tax code that Democrats have long recognized is anti-competitive...
"Part of the explanation is ideological. The Democrats as a party moved sharply left during the Obama years—on economics nearly as much as on identity politics. They have made income inequality their main economic priority rather than growth, and the fact that the slow-growing Obama economy increased inequality hasn’t changed that obsession.
"One result is that there isn’t a pro-business Democrat left in the Senate...Democrats are now the party of Thomas Piketty, the French economist who thinks tax rates should return to pre-Kennedy levels to reduce inequality.
"Whatever the political results next year, this Democratic left turn isn’t good for the country. The U.S. has historically prospered when there is a growth wing in both major political parties...
"After the slowest expansion in decades and tepid wage growth, Americans should want this tax reform to succeed and it’s a shame Democrats are rooting for failure."
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