Opinion Columns & Blogs

Left, Right, Center sound off on tax reform

The political news cycle is fast, and keeping up can be overwhelming. Trying to find differing perspectives worth your time is even harder. That’s why we have scoured the internet for political writing from the right and left that you might not have seen.

From the Right

Matthew Walther in The Week:

“The bill is also not as bad as its hysterical critics want you to think.”

Walther is not sure the tax plan before the Senate is going to pass, much less be signed — in its current state. However, the bill’s critics, he argues, are overstating their case. “Trickle-down economics doesn’t create the broad base of wealth its bow-tied architects imagine,” he writes, “but it’s not clear that it always destroys it either.”

Ned Ryun in The Hill:

“What is now discussed doesn’t come close to being real tax reform for the American people. What it does qualify as is a grab bag of goodies for the uberwealthy globalists while passing the price tag on to the middle and upper-middle classes in America.”

Ryun is disappointed that the current tax overhaul plan does not do more to cut taxes for middle-income families. He puts the majority of the blame for the corporation-friendly tax code at the feet of Steven Mnuchin, the secretary of the Treasury, and Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council. Both are Goldman Sachs alumni who perhaps wanted to “to help their chums back on Wall Street.”

David Frum in The Atlantic:

“Even if the plan becomes law, as still seems improbable in the face of its terrible poll numbers, what firm would venture a long-term investment based on tax changes so likely unsustainable?”

Frum says he believes that the United States needs to lower its corporate tax rates. But he is worried that, given how unpopular the current version of the tax bill is, Republicans will not be able to achieve lasting change before Democrats sweep the 2018 elections. According to Frum, the Republican Party is throwing away its one chance to enact a lower corporate rate.

The editors of National Review:

“Conservatives should not ignore the importance of keeping the federal deficit under control, nor the risks of repealing the mandate without broad-based health care reform.”

The editors at National Review are heartened by the changes they saw in the latest version of the tax bill. And while they are still worried about the amount these tax cuts will add to the deficit, they are particularly happy to see a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

From the Left

Isabel Sawhill in Democracy Journal:

“We liberals may need to start better recognizing the difficulty of achieving such redistribution in practice, and in light of those difficulties, consider other ways of reducing inequality that focus more on market incomes and less on tax and benefit programs.”

Perhaps focusing on tax policy to solve economic redistribution woes is the wrong approach, Sawhill writes. Here, she presents strategies to remedy “pretax inequities.” Read more »

Jordan Weissmann in Slate:

“The House tax plan was a gaudy gift to the G.O.P.’s donors — the legislative equivalent of wrapping a bow around a Buggati and leaving it in Charles Koch’s driveway.”

Weissmann and Ryun probably do not agree on a lot, but they do see the Senate’s tax bill as a boon to rich people who benefit from corporate tax cuts, and a thumb in the eye of “ordinary households.” And though the Senate bill is marginally less generous to the wealthy than the House bill was, Weissmann writes, “‘better than the House bill’ is a pretty abysmally low standard.”

Jonathan Chait in New York magazine:

“The tax code is imperfect now. Once the Republicans get through with it, it will be in desperate need of reform.”

Republicans, Chait argues, are rushing through a flawed tax bill because they know that “extended public debate and scrutiny of their already-unpopular plan would only subject them to more public backlash.” His article chronicles some of the more “obnoxious” features of the plan, including a tax break for owners of private planes and a tax increase on graduate students. Read more »

From the Center

The editors of Bloomberg View:

“It’s not that their plans are timid: They would amend almost every aspect of the tax code. It’s that they lack any coherent theory of reform.”

The editors of Bloomberg View find very little to celebrate in the new version of the tax bill. They contend that this version of the plan makes an already complicated code more complex and includes “countless gimmicks to disguise its true fiscal impact.” And they worry that the plan will add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to the deficit, noting that “fiscal stimulus is the last thing an economy at full employment needs.”