BOLD? INNOVATIVE?….Here’s Barack Obama’s “bold and innovative plan to reform America’s tax code”:

  1. A new $500 income tax credit for everyone who works and pays payroll taxes.

  2. A new mortgage interest tax credit for homeowners who can’t currently take advantage of the existing mortgage tax deduction.

  3. Elimination of all income tax for seniors with incomes under $50,000 per year.

  4. A new program in which the IRS sends prefilled tax returns to people with simple taxes.

I know that it’s unfair to expect Obama to live up to his own hype every day. Not every proposal from his campaign is really going to be bold and innovative, even if he says it is. But really, if he’s planning to campaign as the guy with fresh ideas, he’s going to have to do better than this.

#1 is basically a convoluted way of reducing payroll taxes. It’s OK, I guess. #2 is dumb. Why should homeowners get even more special treatment than they get now? #3 is just special interest group pandering. There’s no reason a senior citizen making $45,000 should be exempt from paying income tax. #4 is fine, but trivial, and doesn’t actually change the tax code at all.

I know the Obama fans out there are going to jump all over this, but I have to say that the guy’s losing me. He’s an inspiring speaker, and given the realities of how presidents exercise power that’s no small thing. But he sure is cautious to a fault. His big foreign policy speech was fine, but cautious and mainstream. His big healthcare speech was fine, but cautious and mainstream. And now his big tax speech is….just cautious and mainstream. I really want to hear something big and controversial from Obama, something that demonstrates a desire to shake up the status quo. But he just doesn’t seem to be willing to take any chances. That’s a shame.