Saturday, February 09, 2008

McCain and the Alternative Minimum Tax

In Senator John McCain's speech on Thursday, 2/7/08, to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., he twice pledged to end the Alternative Minimum Tax.

The AMT was enacted as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, applies to corporations and individuals which because of "tax preference items" (deductions and the like) pay little or no income tax. Conservatives targeting the tax note that an increasing number of middle income taxpayers have become ensnared because it is not indexed to inflation.

But there is another reason more individuals have become subject to this tax. As the great columnist Michael Kinsley has noted, "George W. Bush's first-term tax cut lowered the regular income tax for affluent people so dramatically that many more people qualify for exactly what the AMT is supposed to do -- make sure that nobody with a high income gets away with paying little or no income tax."

Ending the Alternative Minimum Tax, therefore, is a supporting pillar of the Repub's "starve the beast" spending philosophy. You know how that works: inveigh against "big government;" cut government spending, thereby making government less effective; then complain about how ineffective and inefficient the government works. So, for taxation: complain about how much of a burden the (progressive) income tax is on the middle class; cut income taxes for the wealthy, as George W. Bush has done and John McCain wants to continue; watch as the AMT inevitably includes more of the middle class; then complain that the AMT is a plague upon the middle class and urge its abolition.

Cutting tax rates for millionaires and multi-millionaires is only one of the ways this "maverick" from Arizona will pander to the Repub base over the next nine months. Fasten your seat belts, for more is coming.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The spin on this type of stuff is so relentless, everything is so black and white - your job isn't 'too easy' - it's impossible! The rightwing puts so much money and resources into creating this lingo. Why, just the other day I heard one of them assert that a particular measure was nothing short of a redistribtion of income. Imagine!

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