Confused tax plan can’t do what it says

Congress has never cared much about truth in labeling, but even by its standards, the Cut Inflation Act of 2022 is ridiculously absurd.

The deal struck by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is being inflated by the media as a revitalizing accomplishment of the presidency for President Joe Biden, when in reality it is rubbish of its hastily stalled legislative programme. incoherent confusion under a misleading name.

A signature of Biden’s legislative strategy has been to pursue sweeping legislation that has nothing to do with real voter concerns. Worried about inflation? Don’t worry, we have a partisan and wildly ambitious voting rights bill, a police reform bill or a new multi-billion dollar spending bill just for you.

Thankfully, Manchin cut what Biden and the rest of the party initially wanted to spend on what’s called “Building Back Better.” Otherwise, the new chord is still just as non-sequential. In an age of inflation, it offers hundreds of billions in new spending. As the economy plunges into a recession, or close to one, it offers hundreds of billions in new taxes. And its main focus is more green energy spending, when climate is low on voters’ priority list.

None of this makes much sense. According to Penn Wharton’s budget model estimate, the law would very slightly increase inflation in the short term, when inflation is a problem, and decrease it very slightly after 2024, when – hopefully – it has come down.

It’s just a random pattern, you say? Well, Manchin used to rely on it.

Manchin boasts of the $300 billion deficit reduction over 10 years, which is meant to be one of the bill’s counter-inflationary boast points. Just a week ago, however, the senator voted for the Senate’s $280 billion “Chips and Science” bill. What the West Virginia solon gives with one hand, he takes away with the other.

Certainly, Democrats will continue new spending to the extent that they can.

Manchin deserves credit for sounding the inflation alarm while Democrats were still in denial. Nevertheless, his record is not sterling. Last year he voted for the $1.9 billion “bailout package” which played a role in worsening inflation. Now he claims to be fighting that inflation through fiscal correctness as he freely spends more money.

In short, Manchin is an arsonist who shows up to put out the fire with a leaking hose.

The tax part is no better. The 15% corporate income tax will hit manufacturers especially hard, including the semiconductor makers that Manchin and the Senate just subsidized. Again, what is it? Do these companies deserve to be more subsidized or more taxed?

Manchin implausibly denies that the tax hike is a tax hike. He calls it closing a loophole, a classic Beltway euphemism for a tax hike.

Furthermore, he further denies that the bill raises taxes on those earning less than $200,000 a year, although the Joint Committee on Taxation found exactly that. The committee estimates that people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would see a 0.8% increase next year.

Then there is the problem that the additional corporate tax is a drag on business investment when it desperately needs it. Inflation results from demand exceeding supply, so it is imperative that the government refrains from preventing businesses from creating more supply.

Finally, Manchin said in 2010, “I don’t think in a recession you disrupt taxes or raise taxes.” He has apparently suspended this rule until further notice.

In the end, this is all a counterproductive waste, but it could have been much worse. The bill won’t remake Biden’s crumbling presidency, but it will make Democratic activists feel a little better about Joe Manchin’s contribution to the republic.

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