The Corner

Flattening Taxpayers in New Jersey

Earlier today, Veronique de Rugy commented on the tax-policy debate that has broken out between the Republican candidates for governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie says that Steve Lonegan’s flat tax would raise taxes for 70 percent of New Jersey’s “working families.” Lonegan says it would raise them for “only” 40 percent, and not by much.

The Wall Street Journal, as she notes, is taking Lonegan’s side of the argument. “Republicans can’t credibly be the candidates of growth if they echo liberal class-envy rhetoric to attack tax reform.” So now it’s “liberal class-envy rhetoric” to note accurately that a tax plan raises taxes on large numbers of non-rich people? When conservatives have attacked cigarette-tax increases, we have pointed out that they disproportionately fall on poor people. I didn’t think we were all being libs back then. I still don’t.

I also think that if conservatives want to be in a deeper political hole than we are now, becoming the party of tax increases for poor people is a good way to do it. (Here’s a quote from a news article featured on Lonegan’s site: “When asked by a reporter whether his plan would mean a tax increase for the working poor, Lonegan replied that that was the whole point.”)

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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