The Corner

Politics & Policy

Bad Arguments Don’t Help Us Debate Bad Policy

I’m a skeptic of the Republicans’ tax plan. I think that it’s unwise to blow up the deficit outside of a recession in the hopes that sudden economic growth will rebalance the budget.

Dishonest arguments against the plan, however, do skeptics no credit. Brian Faler in Politico and Matt Yglesias at Vox both released policy explainers this afternoon with a bold claim in their headlines, declaring that the Senate plan raises taxes on the middle class.

As Yglesias notes in the text of his article (but contrary to what the headline suggests), this uses the estimate for 2027, after the individual tax cuts expire. This simply ignores the entirety of those cuts, which will be in effect for years, as well as the possibility that Congress would renew them in the future, closer to their sunset.

There does seem to be an actual tax increase on lower brackets, but it’s not what Yglesias was pointing to. Specifically, the $10,000-to-$20,000 bracket sees a lower refund, and the $20,000-to-$30,000 bracket sees an apparent rate increase. Nicole Kaeding at the Tax Foundation suggests that this is because fewer would claim health-care-premium tax credits with individual-mandate repeal.

This tax plan (and all proposed legislation) should be thoroughly vetted. Misleading critiques to pull in clicks, though, simply encourage people to write off all criticism.

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