Lacking in 1040tude

One of the dumber things George W. Bush did — and there are plenty of items to pick from — was push for tax cuts with expiration dates, a bargaining chip that was slightly less useful than a cow chip:

There appears to be a general confusion and muddleheadedness about the way all this is discussed, so I propose that everyone remind themselves that all tax rates are always “temporary”. There’s just no such thing as a “permanent” set of tax rates. As far as I can tell Congress could revisit and alter tax rates every single year, or whenever they felt like. They could take the current tax rate percents and add 2*(rand()-.5) to each number. They could flip some coins. They could use a Ouija board. If they then passed the new set of tax rates, those would be the new tax rates. Why do people ever think of any of these numbers as “permanent”?

A “temporary” tax change, then, is a law that says “let’s make the tax rates X for the next few years, but then back to Y after that”. Needless to say, that’s a dumb law. Why ever do that? If you want the tax rates to be X just change them to X. If, in a few years, changing them back to Y seems like a good idea, sure, go ahead. But why bind yourself to it beforehand?

Beats me. Hell, the Senate doesn’t even bother with budgets anymore, not that anyone believes that they’re binding.


  1. McGehee »

    20 September 2012 · 10:11 pm

    Considering that control of the Senate at the time was being shared by Trent Lott and Tom Daschle — as if Dick Cheney weren’t capable of tying them both in knots with his brain — and with Jim Jeffords already in “ready, set go” mode to quit the GOP caucus from the moment he ran for the student council in 4th grade, permanent tax cuts were about as likely as a budget is from the current Senate.

  2. Joe »

    21 September 2012 · 3:53 pm

    The expiration date was necessary to get it passed. Without expiration they would have needed a super majority for the bill to pass. By making it a temporary measure it could pass with a simple majority. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from listening to the garbage from DC.

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