At Vox, Matthew Yglesias offers his left-leaning perspective on Sen. Mike Lee’s child tax credit proposal, arguing that it could transform the partisan political debate between Democrats and Republicans.
(See also Reihan Salam’s response to Yglesias’ piece at National Review.)
Whatever the merits of Lee/Stein-style tax reform versus Romney/Ryan-style plans, if Lee’s faction were to win it would transform the argument between Republicans and Democrats.
Right now when Democrats propose a big new program for the poor and the middle class — whether it’s Obamacare or future universal preschool benefit or what have you — Republicans counter by complaining about excessive spending and government waste. But the GOP alternate to spending money is tax cuts for a small number of very rich people. That in many ways sets the bar for a liberal proposal very low. Democrats don’t need to convince voters that their programs are cost-effective, just that they are in some sense useful.
A reorientation of the tax cut debate around bigger tax credits for middle class parents rather than lower tax rates for hedge fund managers would change that. Republicans would be able to offer people more money in their pockets as the alternative to more public services — a potentially much more compelling offer.