Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Conservative Backlash Against Vic Fleischer's Appointment As Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Senate Finance Committee Democrats

Fleischer (2016)Following up on my recent posts:

Politico, Morning Tax: Backlash Begins:

It took a little while, but prominent conservatives in the tax field are starting to question Sen. Ron Wyden’s decision to bring on Victor Fleischer as co-chief tax counsel for Finance Committee Democrats. Fleischer, a University of San Diego law professor, helped jump-start the movement to end the preferential tax treatment of carried interest, which has become something of a cause celebre among Democrats.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform said he had no issue with Fleischer himself. But the author of the famous anti-tax pledge told Morning Tax that he believes the appointment underscores that Democrats will be using carried interest to try to take GOP eyes off of a bigger prize. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “wants $100 billion a year in tax hikes. They want to fight over this and get us wrapped over the axle on this [carried interest] tax hike, but what they really want is 50 times bigger than this,” Norquist said. “This is an old trick. It’s a tactic where you act as if you’re talking about a little thing, when you’re really talking about a much bigger thing.” (To be clear: Norquist has publicly opposed proposals to scrap the current treatment of carried interest, and remains against raising any taxes on capital gains.)

Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum came at the issue from less of a strategic political angle. Holtz-Eakin said the chief tax counsel slot has generally been less of a political role, and he wonders whether Fleischer — who’s been writing op-eds for The New York Times — will follow that tradition. “I haven’t seen anything in the public debate [that] suggests that he’s acknowledged” conservative critiques of the Democratic carried interest position, Holtz-Eakin told Morning Tax. “And that bothers me. If he’s gone there to play politics, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

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