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Tax Fairness for Families

by Ramesh Ponnuru

That’s what a hike in the child tax credit would accomplish

Pro-family tax reform is the rare conservative cause that is more popular with the public at large than it is with conservative elites. An expanded child tax credit, such as the one Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) has proposed, has the support in polls of most people, especially those in the middle of the income spectrum. But oh how the Wall Street Journal’s editors hate it. It “does more for political redistribution than economic growth.” It’s a “mistake.” It’s “just the sort of flim-flam that economists loathe.”

Opposition to the credit is a longstanding cause of the Journal: Those quotes are from 1995, 1996, and 2003, respectively, when the Journal was chastising Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and other Republicans who wanted tax relief for parents. During the mid 1990s, the Journal was convinced that the child credit would backfire politically because “the middle class will resent being treated as pawns in a political game that will only produce a tax code that is more complex and less rational.” It was no kinder to other attempts to offer tax relief to families. When Iowa raised the dependent exemption from $15 to $40 per child, the Journal wrote that such proposals “sound nice, but aren’t going to do much for growth.”

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