Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Stand by" for a Ronald Reagan deficit reduction proposal

Peeking into Sitemeter this evening (okay, I admit it...), I saw that someone from the domain had landed on xpostfactoid through a Google search for "Reagan standby tax."  Searched with good reason!  Check out this throwaway proposal from the 1983 SOTU (cited in my post The Liberal Reagan):
And fourth, because we must ensure reduction and eventual elimination of deficits over the next several years, I will propose a standby tax, limited to no more than 1 percent of the gross national product, to start in fiscal 1986. It would last no more than 3 years, and it would start only if the Congress has first approved our spending freeze and budget control program. And there are several other conditions also that must be met, all of them in order for this program to be triggered.

Now, you could say that this is an insurance policy for the future, a remedy that will be at hand if needed but only resorted to if absolutely necessary.
Now try to imagine Barack Hussein Obama proposing a trigger for a tax hike, rather than for the across the board spending cuts he's proposed, if deficit reduction were not on target by 2014.  Capping that emergency tax at 1% of GDP means capping it at a cool $152 billion in additional yearly revenue at this year's estimated GDP -- maybe $160 billion by 2014. Levied over eight years following, that's more than the total tax increases envisioned either in Obama's plan or in Bowles-Simpson.

Feeling hemmed in by budget constraints, Bill Clinton once sarcastically called himself as an Eisenhower Republican. Ezra Klein recently suggested that Obama is more of a George H.W. Bush/Bob Dole Republican.  In some regards, though, he's a few steps to the right of Ronald Reagan. Or rather, the earth has moved under his (and all of our) feet.

If only, in tax terms, he could find his way to standing as a Clinton Democrat.

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