Democrats now favor the Pethokoukis ‘extend and reform’ tax plan

November 10, 2010

Evan Bayh and Kent Conrad like my “extend and reform” proposal (via the WSJ):

Two top Senate Democrats floated the idea Tuesday of extending the Bush-era income-tax rates for a limited time only, and tying that move to an overhaul of the U.S. tax code or passage of policies to address the budget deficit.

At a news conference, Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), the current chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he would prefer to extend the current breaks only until a complete tax overhaul can be accomplished. “If I were able to make the decision, I would go for changing the tax system fundamentally,” Mr. Conrad said. “And I’d have an extension [of the Bush-era tax cuts] until that was accomplished.”

Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) suggested a similar approach. He proposed a two-year extension of all the current tax levels, to be followed by the implementation of policies to reduce government deficits.

And here is the sort of thing I have been proposing:

The Bush tax cuts look on the verge of cheating death. The White House is strongly hinting it will compromise with Republicans and agree to extend temporarily wealthy and middle-class tax reductions set to vanish at year-end. That would provide welcome relief since even partial expiration risks sapping economic growth during a flaccid recovery. But a two-year deal, while welcome, would also still leave the long-term state of the tax code in flux. Washington should use the extra time for sweeping reform. … Obama’s deficit panel may offer some suggestions next month, but the basics seem basic enough. Taxes should be lower, broadly applied and subject to as few market-distorting deductions and loopholes as possible. As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels often quips, American needs a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.

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