The Corner

Conservatives 1, Progressives 0

Conservatives have lost the messaging battle on taxes. The public has bought into the notion that they exclusively care about keeping taxes on the rich low (at the expense of the middle class) and that the growth effects of disguised spending (tax credits) are the same as marginal rate reductions. 

But stepping back to survey the larger picture, it looks like conservatives have won the war. 

Beginning with Ronald Reagan’s Economic Recovery Tax Act, conservatives have waged a 30-year war over low tax rates. Consider that in 1979, a couple with $5,500 in annual taxable income faced a marginal tax rate of 14 percent, while a couple today earning the same amount ($16,507 in 2012 dollars) has a marginal rate of 10 percent. A 1979 middle-class couple earning $20,200 (currently $60,626) saw its marginal rate drop from 21 to15 percent. And a couple making $160,000 in 2012 would have faced a marginal rate of 49 percent in 1979; it’s now down to 28 percent. And, of course, the top rate in 1979 was 70 percent. It may be too high now (43.4 percent including the ACA taxes), but it is nowhere near where it was three decades ago.

The fiscal-cliff deal makes the 2001–2003 tax laws permanent for 98 percent of taxpayers, patches the AMT permanently, and makes clear that both sides of the aisle have embraced the virtues of lower taxes. 

That is not to say that all is perfect. The tax code remains in need of a fundamental overhaul to improve its international competitiveness (a lower corporate rate and a move to a territorial tax system), growth incentives, and the appearance of fairness. And the messaging in favor of pro-growth tax policy is in bad need of refurbishment.

But the basic point is simple: Despite all the rhetoric, the entire political spectrum now embraces vastly better tax policy than was the case in the recent past.  

Now, it is time to wage the next war: entitlement spending.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More