The Corner

Dean = Tax-Cutter?

Dean apparently is going to address one of the most glaring vulnerabilities of his candidacy, his advocacy of a huge middle-class tax increase via a repeal of the Bush tax cuts. I know the Clark tax plan is objectionable for all sorts of reasons (the Wall Street Journal editorial page has a good takedown on it today), but its tax cuts for middle-class families sets up an excellent contrast for him with Dean. The Dean campaign has been wise to this for some time, and the candidate himself is apparently now coming around. This is what the Boston Globe reports today:

“After months of touting his plan to repeal all of President Bush’s tax cut, former Vermont governor Howard Dean is moving toward embracing a tax relief package for middle-income Americans, which would amount to a major revamping of a centerpiece of his Democratic presidential campaign.

Dean’s action comes after his team of economic advisers privately gave him a ‘unanimous’ recommendation to back a middle-income tax cut to offset the increases that would come with repealing Bush’s plan, a top campaign official said.

The economic team has been especially concerned that Dean’s proposed repeal of the Bush cuts has enabled critics to accuse him of supporting what amounts to a $2,000 tax increase on families earning between $73,000 and $145,000.

Some advisers worried that stance could be politically fatal in the general election if Dean is the Democratic nominee.

Yesterday, Dean signaled that he is heeding his team’s advice to provide some form of middle-class tax relief, saying during an Iowa debate, ‘Ultimately, we will have a program of tax fairness for middle-class people.’

A top Dean official said yesterday that the campaign has made a ’strategic’ decision for Dean to refrain during the primaries from revealing details of a proposal to trim middle-class taxes, preferring to announce it during the general election.