The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Big, But Fixable, Problem with the GOP Tax Framework

How many middle-class families get a tax cut and how many get a tax increase from the new Republican tax-reform framework released today depends on some details it doesn’t provide.

The relevant parts of the plan 1) increase the standard deduction to $24,000 for married couples, 2) increase the child credit by an unspecified amount, 3) raise the lowest marginal tax rate from 10 to 12, and 4) eliminate the personal and dependent exemptions. How it nets out depends on a particular household’s configuration and the ultimate answer to 2. It’s a pretty big detail to leave out. It determines how much middle-class tax relief the plan offers, and whether the plan has a pro-family element. As I pointed out in recent testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, the child credit would have to increase at least $600 per child to offset the elimination of the dependent exemption.

I would have vastly preferred if the framework had said that the child credit will increase by at least $1,000. And I think Republicans would be having a better rollout today if it had. Republicans have plenty of time to fix this problem. Recognizing it and committing to solving it would be a good start.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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