Changing the Credit

by Ramesh Ponnuru

I’ve been busy with other work, but I wanted very briefly to respond to Ezra Klein and Jonathan Chait, both of whom make the same criticisms of my column this week about how Republicans should handle the minimum wage. I argued that instead of raising it, they should advance other proposals including an expansion of the earned income credit. They say that I’m ignoring the GOP’s commitment to cutting the earned income credit.

I don’t read the Republican record the same way they do. Objecting to the way Obama expanded the earned income credit in his stimulus bill is not the same thing as opposing its expansion, and wanting to cut a portion of the budget that includes the credit does not preclude reallocating the funds in that portion in a way that would expand the earned income credit.

I do think, however, that Republican budget-balancing plans put too much pressure on that part of the budget by not offering enough up-front entitlement restraint. I don’t think Republicans are in exactly the right place on these issues, which is why I write articles advocating that they change their approach in some respects. It is certainly true that what I advocate is not where they already are. If they were there already, I suppose I’d just write a column telling them to carry on rather than the one I did write.

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