Sen. Schumer Rejects Tax Reform Compromise

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In a speech to the National Press Club, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) rejected the current compromise for a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would prevent the trigger of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that go into effect on January 1. He stated that the compromise could not bring in more revenue by lowering the top tax rate and still protect the middle class from tax increases:

Specifically, he’s publicly urging Democrats to abandon a tax reform model that calls for ending tax expenditures, many of which benefit middle income earners, in order to finance a large tax rate cut for wealthier people. It’s a framework that’s popular among economists, particularly conservative ones, but that a group of Democrats negotiating with Republicans to avert large tax increases and sharp spending cuts next year have also embraced.

Instead, he proposes targeting tax loopholes and deductions that benefit top earners and raising their top income tax rate, while simultaneously narrowing the tax code’s preference for capital gains by ratcheting up the capital gains rate from its current, historically low rate of 15 percent. Taken altogether it’s a call for significantly more revenue from high-income earners than Dems have sought by proposing to allow the Bush tax cuts for top earners to expire; and an attempt to strengthen Dems’ negotiating posture, lest they get lured into conceding another large income tax cut for the wealthy.

Sen. Schumer proposes to freeze the top two tax bracket, cut the loopholes and deductions that benefit the top earners and raise the capital gains tax.

David Dayen at FDL News Desk notes that this would be a “major blow” to the Simpson-Bowles plan that would see the tax rates reduced to 23% for the top earners.

So how would Schumer get the Republicans to sit down at the table? As David point out, simple by dangling “entitlement” reform:

But there’s a giant caveat to all of this, based on the excerpts (haven’t yet found the full speech):

  But he says that Republicans should be drawn to such a deal by the prospect of a bipartisan bargain that also includes changes to improve the sustainability of entitlement programs. Those programs – such as Social Security and Medicare – are expected to run substantial shortfalls in the future, adding dramatically to budget deficits.

   “The lure for Republicans to come to the table around a grand bargain should be the potential for serious entitlement reform, not the promise of a lower top rate in tax reform,” Mr. Schumer is expected to say, according to excerpts of his speech.

So Schumer wants to trade unworkable “tax reform” for deeply unpopular “entitlement reform.” That’s not really a great trade. It’s good to acknowledge that tax reform will never work the way its most passionate advocates suggest. But if that doesn’t exist as a “get” for Republicans in a grand bargain, and entitlement cuts are the substitute, we have a whole different problem.

While Schumer claims that the concession on “entitlement” reform would not include privatization or a voucher program,  Atrios noted the Republicans have no interest in “reform” of entitlements unless it includes privatization and tax cuts for the wealthy. In other words, the chances of getting anything done have greatly increased.


  1. TMC
  2. RUKind

    Sell them a bridge while you’re at it.

Leave a Reply