I would be remiss if I left E. J. Dionne’s column without mentioning his vapid sketch of longterm fiscal sanity:
Any plausible plan should include at least $2 trillion to $2.5 trillion in new revenue over a decade. Obama, who loves to quote financier Warren Buffett, should follow Buffett’s lead on this. Writing in the New York Times last week, Buffett proposed that “for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.”
A carbon tax, partly offset by tax cuts or rebates for middle-income and poorer taxpayers, could provide additional revenue. And we need to do still more to contain health-care costs without hurting those who can’t afford insurance and without voucherizing Medicare
As I’ve mentioned before it would take more than $600 billion per year of combined revenue and spending cuts just to stabilize our fiscal situation (let alone improve it). The $250 billion per year of additional taxes on the rich doesn’t come near the target. Leave alone for a moment that, at least according to the IRS’s report on income tax returns for 2009, the number of the ultra-rich has declined drastically (by more than 50%) and that of the rich has declined substantially. Has the trend continued? That’s an important question if you’re going to found your fiscal plan on the declining income of a dwindling number of high income earners.
How much will be raised by a carbon tax? How does he plan on reducing Medicare spending costs? What economic impact would the tax increases he’s proposing have? Details, please.
If these things were that easy we’d already have done them.