Among the liberal propagandists who write for publications such as the Washington Post, Slate, and others, Ezra Klein has a soft spot in his heart for an Orwellian approach to language (i.e., distorting the meaning of words). And he’s not above resting arguments on facts that somehow do not include those that are inconvenient to his liberal “vision.” So, it’s especially funny when Klein whines about “obfuscation and misdirection” by proponents of tax reform who reasonably call for broadening the tax base and lowering rates.
Klein argues that broadening the base and lowering rates would mean increases in tax revenues generated mostly through cuts to deductions for charitable donations, home-mortgage interest, and state and local taxes. And according to Klein, whether we want to do this is “the conversation we need to be having.” Well, duh. Of course that should be the conversation, but he’s overstating the case when he claims that Republicans are distracting the audience from the sources of the tax increases. People understand what’s at stake.
It appears that Klein has a significant concern about eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes because it would negatively impact high-tax cities and states (by hitting taxpayers hard), which would make them less attractive places to live. This bothers Klein because these high tax places, not surprisingly, tend to be “disproportionately blue.” But really, eliminating the deduction would actually help expose the tax and spend policies of the politicians in those cities and states for what they are. This is something that Klein, who claims to oppose obfuscation and misdirection, should favor.
Broadening the tax base and lowering rates would give us a tax code designed to efficiently raise revenue rather than conduct social policy, and that would be a good thing. But it would also represent real “change,” which doesn’t go over very well with liberals, who these days are simply reactionaries.