November 06, 2009

Is This the Change You Were Hoping For?

The Return of the Inflation Tax
In order to raise enough money to make their plan look like it won't add to the deficit, House Democrats have deliberately not indexed two main tax features of their plan: the $500,000 threshold for the 5.4-percentage-point income tax surcharge; and the payroll level at which small businesses must pay a new 8% tax penalty for not offering health insurance.

This is a sneaky way for politicians to pry more money out of workers every year without having to legislate tax increases. The negative effects of failing to index compound over time, yielding a revenue windfall for government as the years go on. The House tax surcharge is estimated to raise $460.5 billion over 10 years, but only $30.9 billion in 2011, rising to $68.4 billion in 2019, according to the Joint Tax Committee.

Americans of a certain age have seen this movie before...

I also recall some yak-yak from Our Puffery in Chief about only raising taxes on the rich. Being of a certain age, I remember the much less radical Bill Clinton making that same promise, and my subsequent annoyance at discovering that despite having a middle-class income at best we were somehow among "the rich."

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does play encores for the short-of-memory.

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