Time For More Tax Cuts!

What do Republican politicians do when they need to pick it up a step? You’ve got it: they propose more tax cuts.

So it’s no great surprise that Mitt Romney is signaling that he’s coming out with a new, “bold” tax proposal to coincide with his stretch drive towards primaries next week in Michigan and Arizona, not to mention the upcoming Super Tuesday (March 6).

The chosen herald for this news appears to be that intrepid supply-sider, Larry Kudlow of National Review, who reports, with barely restrained excitement, that Mitt’s new tax cuts will be “across-the-board with supply-side incentives from rate reduction, and that it will help small-business owners as well as everyone else.”

You may wonder why Romney didn’t find space for this stuff in his previously released 159-page economic plan. Looking at that beast for the first time in a while, it already includes making the Bush tax cuts permanent; abolishing estate taxes; a partial abolition of taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains; and lower corporate tax rates. Ah, but there it is, the placeholder for new goodies: “a conservative overhaul of the tax system over the long term that includes lower, flatter rates on a broader base.”

Now lots of folks in both parties think it might be possible to have lower income tax rates if the lost revenues are offset by aggressive elimination of tax expenditures, from fossil fuel subsidies to the mortgage interest deduction, all of them zealously defended by some powerful lobby. It will be interesting to see if Romney moves in that direction, or instead (as one might guess from Kudlow’s enthusiasm) relies on the old voodoo magic of supply-side economics, and pretends lower rates will pay for themselves. Since he’s in full primary pander mode, it’s unlikely he’ll propose anything a signfiicant number of GOP primary voters will find objectionable.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.