Here are two possible opinions on Speaker Boehner's bill to extend the Bush tax cuts permanently for everyone earning less than $1 million.
1. It's great. Measured by the House Ways and Means Committee, over ten years, it's about a $4 trillion tax cut compared to current law (under which the cuts expire December 31). It's better than President Obama's approach because it reduces taxes compared to current law (under which the cuts expire December 31) not only for the under $250,000-a-year crowd that Mr. Obama wants to protect, but also for the $250,000 to $999,999 a year crowd. And it's better than doing nothing at all, because if the House does nothing at all, then everyone's taxes will go up under the current law. Finally, far from totally abandoning the $1 million-plus crowd, the Boehner approach helps them out by not pursuing limits or phase-outs on their itemized deductions and by providing some continued estate-tax relief, and by capping their dividend and capital gains tax at 20% (23.8% if you include the ObamaCare tax), rather than letting those rates rise to the Clinton-era ordinary income tax rates. The $1 million plus earners will also benefit from the lower rates at the lower brackets, and they may have the ability to restructure some of their income as capital gains or dividends, anyway. That's one reason that left-wing groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are so worked up against the Boehner plan. Finally, it's permanent, or at least as permanent as any tax legislation is, providing some welcome certainty.
2. It's terrible. By decoupling million-dollar-a-year earners from the rest of the population, the House Republicans are joining in the class-warfare, attack-the-successful tactics of Obama. They are abandoning the principles that everyone should be treated the same and that tax relief should go to those who already pay a big share of the taxes. Not only is the policy wrong, the process is terrible. The plan being voted on is amendment two to a resolution "Approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003." The amendment was posted online at 10:39 p.m. on Tuesday, while a vote is expected some time today. That leaves two days for the public to review the legislation, which includes all kinds of little goodies (or baddies, depending on how you look at it, like "Allow electing Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to tax income to the Trust not the beneficiaries." I'd love to know who got the lobbying fees on that one.) It's a missed opportunity for tax reform or tax simplification (though never underestimate the fact that lower rates themselves are tax reform because they reduce the value of the deductions). The tax cut may undermine whatever credibility the Republicans have on the debt and deficit issue, because it's not part of an overall budget package, though there is a companion spending reduction bill.
Which do you think is closer to the truth here, "great" or "terrible"?