Friday, October 12, 2007

True tax reform

Republican candidates for president are falling all over themselves to stake out the position of biggest, bestest tax-cutter. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have been especially vocal trying to convince voters that, if they are elected president, more Americans will see more money in their pocketbooks.

If only it were true.

Giuliani and Romney aren't really interested in the bank accounts of average Americans. If they were, they'd be screaming at the top of their lungs about repealing or altering the alternative minimum tax.

The AMT is this well-intentioned law that says if your income is above a certain level, you must pay at least X amount in income tax. It was designed to prevent the wealthy from finding loopholes in the tax code and not paying their fair share.

Good idea. Unfortunately, the AMT did not adjust for inflation, which means now more and more middle-class Americans are being hit by a tax not intended for their relative income level. Of course, this doesn't seem to bother the Republicans candidates.

Taxes that hit the elite but not average Americans, like the estate tax (must inherit millions to be affected), are at the top of GOP cut list. But if the Republicans were serious about tax breaks, they'd champion a change to the alternative minimum tax, a ture burden on the middle class.

Then again, tax relief for everyone has never really been part of the game plan for the GOP. So why start living up to their own hype now?

In an ironic twist, Hillary Clinton proposed a tax break for the middle class (in the form of a tax decuction for middle class families to encourage private retirement savings) that Republicans soundly denounced as — get this — not helping American taxpayers.

I can't even think of a joke. The satire essentially writes itself.

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