Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fooling the censors

Steve Gilliard is right that the nascent Bush plan to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes is even more outrageous than the plan to eliminate business tax deductions for employer-provided health insurance.

Everyone is freaking out over the plan to elminate the deduction for health care, but that isn't the real kicker. It is the elimination of the state and local tax deduction which will blow the plan up. That's far more important than health insurance and in an immediate way. In New York, that deduction saves thousands a year, directly. Now, that's not a big deal in Texas, but if they want the GOP not to die in the Northeast, well, they might want to reconsider that.

When the news of this reaches New York's papers, the screaming will be as if someone jammed a poker up someone's ass. Unpopular wouldn't be the word. The old age lobby will scream about the health insurance plans, because that would affect pensions as well, that could easily die in committee. But the state and local tax plan will make people go nuts. Because that will be seen in people's wallets immediately. Mind-bogglingly stupid isn't the word for this.

This is an idea that will immediately impact nearly all tax payers in a clear and substantial way. It's one of the biggest political blunders I could imagine the Republicans making. Which is why I don't think they are really serious about it. These people may be insane, but they aren't stupid. They have to know that any suggestion to eliminate state and local tax deductions will be met with fierce opposition, and not just from Democrats. So why would they even float this idea?

Why, to draw the fire away from the plan to eliminate the deduction for employer-provided health insurance of course.

It's an old trick that writers in the TV industry learned a long time ago: If you want to get something risqué past the censors, mask it behind something really offensive. The theory being that the censors will stomp on the really bad thing but leave alone the thing that you wanted all along.

The Republicans can propose both of these measures, give ground on the state and local tax proposal, get what they wanted all along and then publicly pat themselves on the back for being bi-partisan in their approach to tax reform.

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