Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Question for Democrats

Okay, you want to raise taxes on the rich. I get that. But what do you want to do with the money?

At different times, it seems, you want to
  1. Fund universal health care.
  2. Give a tax cut to the middle class.
  3. Reduce the long-term fiscal gap.
Which is it?

To get some idea about the numbers involved here, let's turn to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO tells us that each percentage-point increase in the top two income tax rates (singles making over about $150K, married taxpayers over about $180K) increases tax revenue by only about $6 billion a year. And even that $6 billion is an overestimate, because it takes into account only a limited range of behavioral responses to higher tax rates.

No one really thinks you can achieve all three of the above goals in any significant degree and pay for them with only tax hikes on the rich. When it comes down to choosing among the three goals, which one would you pick?