Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Brooks: Obama Should Embrace Graetz's 100 Million Unnecessary Returns Tax Reform Plan

100 Million Unnecessary ReturnsNew York Times op-ed:  Our Second Adolescence, by David Brooks:

My main complaint with Obama is that he promised to move us beyond these stale debates, but he’s, instead, become a participant in them....My dream Obama would take advantage of the fact that only the president can fundamentally shift the terms. ... My dream Obama would abandon the big government versus small government argument. ... My dream Obama would nurture investment in three ways.

First, he would take spending that currently goes to the affluent elderly and redirect it to the young and the struggling. ...

Second, Obama could nurture investment by starting a debate on the sort of consumption tax plan Michael Graetz describes in his book 100 Million Unnecessary Returns: Enact a value-added tax, use money from that tax to finance an income tax exemption of $100,000, cut the corporate tax rate to 15%, replace the earned-income tax credit with payroll tax relief and debit cards. This is a heavy lift politically, but it achieves Obama’s fairness goals while boosting growth.

Third, Obama could talk obsessively about family structure and social repair. ...

My dream Obama wouldn’t be just one gladiator in the zero-sum budget wars. He’d transform the sequester fight by changing the categories that undergird it. He’d possess the primary ingredient of political greatness: imagination. The great presidents, like Teddy Roosevelt, see situations differently. They ask different questions. History pivots around their terms.

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Where exactly does Mr. Brooks live, it certainly is not in the United States in 2013.

With respect to the three points.

1. Exactly how does the President unilaterally change spending components. In Mr. Brooks' world apparently the President has unlimited spending authority. In the real world spending must approved by Congress, where Republicans control the House and de fact control the Senate.

2. Exactly how does the President unilaterally enact a massive change in the tax code? Oh, that what happens on Fantasy Island where Mr. Brooks takes his vacation from reality.

3. Obama should talk about family structure and social repair. Exactly what does that mean, and how is it the role of the Chief Executive to talk about that?

Can anyone explain why the NYT continues to publish Mr. Brooks? Wouldn't something from Mad Magazine be more relevant. My dream is that the NYT would be able to present a real Conservative, one with principles and one who could articulate a Conservative position that makes sense and is intellectually consistent. Like Mr. Brooks' dream, mine too is likely to go unrealized.

Posted by: David R. | Feb 26, 2013 2:00:30 PM

Oh goody - yet another column where David Brooks self-identifies as a rube. However, in Brooks' defense, Obama still wears the well-creased pants that convinced Brooks of Obama's potential.

Posted by: Andy Freeman | Mar 1, 2013 12:21:57 PM