Wednesday, January 22, 2014

They'll do anything at all but they can't Douthat

I comment on Chait commenting on Douthat claiming that Republicans will do something against poverty and for social mobility.
The New York Times’ Ross Douthat lists a few in his most recent column: Senator Mike Lee endorsing family-friendly tax reform ..., and Marco Rubio endorsing more generous tax credits for low-income workers without children.
The confessedly mean Chait's critique is much too kind
The weakness of these plans is that, because they add on to the existing party agenda rather than try to replace it, they don’t fully make sense. For instance, Rubio claims his tax credit plan is deficit neutral, which means his proposal to redirect more tax credits to low-income workers without children would have to come out of the pockets of low income workers with children. Or else he’d have to break his vow and add to the deficit. Lee’s tax reform likewise has no real numbers, for the same reason: The math does not work.
That's true as far as it goes, but Chait doesn't note that, given the requirement that helping the non rich not include increasing the deficit or taxing the rich more, Lee and Rubio's proposals are diametrically opposite. Lee says taxes should be reformed to make them more family friendly, Rubio says they should be reformed to make them less family friendly. Douthat describes the two exactly opposite proposals as steps in the same direction. I think it is clear that he is fairly smart, but he just isn't intellectually serious.

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