The Corner

The (Draft) Fiscal Commission Report at First Glance

Things I like: the cap on discretionary spending; the reduction in future Social Security benefits for high earners; the expansion of the Medicare payment commission’s mandate so that it can recommend benefit changes, not just price controls; the increased Medicare cost-sharing; the reduction in the number of tax rates; the abolition of the state and local tax deduction; the rate-reducing reform of the corporate income tax.

Things I dislike: federally-mandated medical-malpractice reform; the fact that the commission won’t just come out and say that it wants to make Social Security benefits less generous for high earners; the hostility shown to the child tax credit.

Something I dislike a little but can live with: Rising inequality means that a higher share of national income has exceeded the cap on Social Security taxes. The commission raises the cap to reverse this erosion.

Places the commission should have gone further: Three tax rates is an improvement, but two would be even better; the cap on revenues over GDP, at 22 percent, is much too high; no functions of government are shed.

A place it should not have gone as far: The commission gets rid of the alternative minimum tax. For the same revenue hit you could address most of that tax’s problems and address other more serious shortcomings of the tax code. (Dropping the state and local deduction takes means a lot fewer people would be paying the AMT to start with.)

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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