One of the great linguistic crimes of the left in recent years is their attempt to hijack the term “tax cut” to refer to what are, in essence, payoffs to specific constituencies.
During the 2000 and 2004 elections, in a spate of almost-honesty trumping marketing, the Gore and Kerry campaigns referred to them as “targeted tax cuts” – allowing the audience to ask “Targeted? At whom or what?”
The answer, of course: anyone whose vote the Democrats want to buy.
As a Republican, of course, I favor across-the-board cuts in both taxes and spending. I also acknowledge that many of the most popular tax cuts that fall short of that goal are “targeted”, in a sense. The Mortgage Interest Deduction is targeted at homeowners; Capital Gains Tax cuts are aimed at stockholders and others who directly or indirectly buy or sell investment securities, equities or property; the Death Tax is aimed at people who die. These have one thing in common; they affect the vast majority of the American people, most of whom own houses and participate in the market (directly or via their 401K funds, and all of whom will eventually enter the probate and inheritance system, presuming the Democrats leave them any property to bequeath). Home owners, direct and indirect investment and probate cross all party, demographic, regional and social lines.
Democrats’ “targeted cuts”, however, try to slice the pie into much finer slices, each of them a constituency they need, essentially to rebate some of the cost of the higher spending back to the groups, classes and other slices they need to keep happy.
Hence Al Franken and his proposal to give a post-secondary tax deduction, which Aaron Landry misleadingly labels a “tax cut”.
From a Franken press release today:
A college diploma is more than a dream for Minnesota families – it’s practically a requirement for middle-class prosperity. But with George W. Bush in the White House and Norm Coleman in the Senate, that prosperity has slipped out of reach for Minnesota’s middle class. My tuition tax cut will bring college within reach for 10 million students nationwide. And it will take a step towards restoring America’s middle-class promise: that hard work can bring prosperity to your family.
The average student loan debt in Minnesota jumped over $6K during the first three years of Coleman and is the 5th in the nation. Coleman’s continually voted against students, such as letting tuition tax deduction expire, opposing $4.9 billion for Pell grants.
Of course, one of the reasons a postsecondary education is so expensive is the immense subsidy from the government. It’s Economics 101; when more money is made available to pay for something for which there is a limited supply, the price will rise. The price of postsecondary education has risen much faster than inflation over the past thirty years; anecdotally, tuition at my very modestly-priced alma mater has nearly tripled since I was in school, while average incomes have not.
So Franken isn’t proposing a “tax cut”, so much as a “rebate” of a price increase caused by the government’s own subsidies, which are the primary inflationary pressure on tuitions in the first place.
At any rate, getting into college isn’t the biggest problem facing Americans’ entry into the middle class; graduating from high school knowing enough English, math and citizenship is. And on that front, Franken promises only more of the status quo.
Not even a “tax cut” to help people secede from the system that Franken’s biggest supporters, the Teachers’ unions, broke in the first place.
But I digress.
Let’s just make sure we keep our terms straight, OK?