The really big one, the key to their strategy since 1980.
Senator Wyden is working with Sen Gregg on tax reform. He clearly has learned nothing from watching the Republican co-sponsors of Wyden Bennet (including Bennet) vote against cloture on health care reform.
Republicans and Democrats get into a lot of fights about how high taxes should be and what they should fund. But Wyden and Gregg have largely sidestepped those fights by holding revenue more or less steady and are simply attempting to clean up the code. "We think there's very fertile ground for a bipartisan initiative, which takes the tax laws and makes them dramatically simpler and maintains their progressive nature," Gregg says.
The Wyden-Gregg plan takes the six income brackets currently on the books and compresses them into three (15 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent). It gets rid of the alternative minimum tax. It triples the standard deduction available to all taxpayers,
This would be a reasonable description of the state of play except for one huge gigantic immense issue which you want your readers to ignore -- progressivity. Given revenues Democrats want the tax code to be more progressive and Republicans want it to be regressive. This is a huge issue. You segue to presenting income tax brackets.
You are pushing the Republican line that income tax brackets are about the level of taxes, that all go up or all go down but it is impossible to increase the tax rate on high incomes and lower the tax rate on lower incomes. You don't even pretend you have an argument. You just jump from a scaler choice (high or low) to three numbers -- a vector.
You are participating in an absurd blatant obvious trick that has been the core and basis of Republican political strategy since 1980. If you were a Republican, I would, at least, give you points for audacity, but you are a Democrat and, in this post, writing as a fool (usually you are brilliant).
Wyden is an major reform energiser bunny and a total maniac about bipartisanship. Even Obama has noticed that it is a bad idea to try to deal with Republicans. How many of the Wyden plan's Republican cosponsors voted for the much more moderate Senate health care reform bill or their no votes by saying the bill wasn't radical enough ?
I think it is safe to guess that Gregg would vote against any bill based on his joint work with Wyden. That's what Republicans do.
In exchange for Gregg's time, Wyden is willing to surrender on a vitally important policy issue on which the public overwhelmingly agrees with Democrats and opposed Republicans.
Wyden and Klein are, by inclination, policy wonks. They are sensible centrists who wish they were technocrats (they respect Democracy, but they wish the people chose to elect technocrats not ideologues and partisan hacks and so do I).
Under the circumstances, this means that they have to fight fight fight the Republicans by any legal means. One just can't support policy based on reality and open minded analysis of data without trying to weaken the Republican party by any means possible. They have proven again and again that they are not honest partners in any negotiation and that they will always pull the football away.
I'd support Wyden if he proposed his plan without the cut in the top marginal tax rate (so 43% as currently scheduled not 34%). There is no reason to cut that rate. There are huge deficits streaching as far as they eye can see which will start crowding out investment fairly soon when we are out of the liquidity trap.
The people overwhelmingly overwhelmingly want higher taxes on the rich.
Republicans will fight higher taxes for the rich (of course). They will fight any bill supported by Democrats (of course). The terms of the struggle should be a simpler much more progressive tax code vs the status quo.
It is much better policy. It is much better politics. It is not done, because it would be called demogoguery and class warfare by super rich pundits who clearly base their views on the issue on their group interest.
Klein isn't a Republican. He isn't even rich. Why the hell is he going along with this scam ?
And yes the Senator Ron Wyden who is afraid of being called a class warrior is this Senator Ron Wyden
why the hell is he proposing a top marginal income tax rate of 35% ?