The candidate has a new tax plan that is designed to raise as much money as the current system. It lowers tax rates in return for getting rid of the mortgage-interest deduction, the child tax credit, the exclusion of employer-paid health insurance premiums, and many other tax breaks. It’s going to sound very appealing to a lot of conservatives — at least, to those who have any interest in what Huntsman has to say.
But here’s the problem. The tax code, when combined with entitlements as now structured, overtaxes parents, and the child credit only partially offsets that effect. By abolishing the credit — a legacy of the Gingrich Congress and the Bush administration — Huntsman would be taking a step away from neutrality and toward a perverse form of social engineering.
And while we don’t know all the details it seems highly likely that the net result would be a higher tax bill for most middle-class parents, also known as Republican voters. Attacking the financial interests of your own side’s voters is praiseworthy only if it is in the service of good policy.