Thursday, February 11, 2010
The second major step the Administration is taking to address the long-run fiscal challenge is restoring balance to the tax code that has been lost since 2001. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts disproportionately favored wealthy taxpayers. ... These tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans took place when the incomes of ordinary Americans were stagnating and inequality was reaching almost unprecedented levels. In other words, the tax cuts exacerbated the broader trend rather than mitigated it.
The President has consistently maintained that the tax cuts went too far in cutting taxes for people making more than $250,000 per year and that the country could not afford the tax breaks given to that group over the past eight years. That is why one important plank of his fiscal responsibility framework is to rebalance the tax code, so that it is similar to what existed in the late 1990s for those making more than $250,000 per year. Specifically, the Administration has proposed letting the marginal tax rates on ordinary income and capital gains for people making more than $250,000 per year return to the levels they were in 2000. It has also proposed setting the tax rate on dividends for high-income taxpayers to the same 20% rate that would apply to capital gains—which is lower than the rate in the 1990s—and letting all other features of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire for these taxpayers. In addition, it has proposed limiting the rate of deductions for high-income taxpayers to 28%, so that the wealthy do not obtain proportionately larger benefits from their deductions than other Americans do. None of these changes would take effect until 2011, so they would not affect disposable incomes as the economy recovers in 2010. Nonetheless, they would raise nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years and even more over the longer run.