>> A quick aside on Barack Obama’s new tax plan, as described by Obama advisors Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman, which is purportedly in response to polls saying he was losing on the issue (unlike, of course, all other Obama policy shifts). Essentially, they say President Obama would bring back the old and not missed 39.6% tax rate (as opposed to the current 35%) and a new payroll tax on top earners, because of course raising taxes on the entrepeneurial class will really help the country by taking away the disposable income they would otherwise reinvest in the economy. This is all kind of pointless, though, because essentially what Obama’s proposing is the same as what will happen when the Bush tax cuts expire – he doesn’t have to lift a finger to make them law, and none of these hikes will pay for the grandiose governmental expansions he favors in other areas (hello, trillion dollar deficits).
But it’s in the New York Sun’s hard-hitting editorial on the plan that we see an astonishingly anti-woman element to it that Austan and Jason aren’t particularly up front about, and that I had missed myself on first glance:
Meanwhile, the most astonishing sentence in the op-ed is this one: “His plan would not raise any taxes on couples making less than $250,000 a year, nor on any single person with income under $200,000.” It amounts to a declaration of war on two-income families, a marriage penalty of punitive proportions. If those two single persons with income just under $200,000 get married, Mr. Obama is going to hammer them with a huge tax increase. If the second earner, who in many cases is the woman, is going to have to give 54% of what she earns to the government, she might as well stay home with the children.
Ah, the full-throated return of the marriage penalty. Here’s the problem with this area of tax policy, which has had a huge impact on society (read this Blankenhorn essay for more): the marriage penalty discourages people from getting married, economically – but it also encourages them to be a one-income household, with the kind of societal benefits on health, education, lifestyle, etc. that social conservatives (and the populist working class) approve of wholeheartedly.
Yet there’s no question here that Obama’s tax plan is, at its heart, anti-woman. Forced to choose because of our tax structure to either stay at home and care for the kids or stay in the workforce, the overwhelming majority of married couples has mom stay at home, and dad go to work. I’m frankly amazed that Obama’s policy shop has a blind spot on this, as this is the ideal sort of issue for McCain to point out in front of Hillary supporters (that, and he should announce as soon as possible as big an increase in the child tax credit as is feasible – he currently has said he intends to double the dependent exemption, but there’s tons of available political ground here by supporting a pro-family tax code). This is amateur hour.