Exchequer Is Trying to Vex Me

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Kevin writes, “Alas, I am destined to spend my days disagreeing with Ramesh about the child tax credits — I think taxes are about revenue, not about social engineering — and I very much like the idea of simply getting rid of special exemptions categorically, with a meat ax, rather than reducing them surgically with a scalpel.”

I think we both agree that the tax code should be designed to raise necessary revenues in a way that inflicts the least possible damage on society. But I do not see the child credit as a piece of “social engineering” or a “special exemption,” but rather as a partial corrective to the way our old-age entitlements overtax parents. If you make the financial sacrifices to raise children, you’re contributing to the future of Social Security and Medicare in a way that ought to be recognized when divvying up the taxes to support the programs. If Kevin wants to get rid of the child credits but not the entitlements, then he is the social engineer and not me. And his engineering is faulty.

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