National Journal on Charles Rangel and Taxes

By November 2, 2007Taxation

Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel and his recent proposal to overhaul the tax code — including fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax — is the cover story of this week’s National Journal.

When House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., unveiled his $1.3 trillion tax reform proposal on October 25, it was widely seen as a resounding salvo in the 2008 election campaign. Although legislative action isn’t expected any time soon on the sweeping proposal, it will be a focus of Democratic discussion — and Republican potshots — for the next 12 months in the presidential and congressional races and in the halls of the Capitol. But Rangel wasn’t looking only to jump-start a political debate or to lay the groundwork for potential policy changes in 2009. He was also making a major bid to burnish his legacy as the chairman of what many have considered Congress’s most powerful committee.

It will be the focus….really? You would think — you might indeed hope — but so far the Democratic discussion has been noticeable in its absence. The left-leaning political blogsophere has been even quieter. There’s a piece at Talking Points Memo, but the focus is on the AMT. Normally, anything that hits upper-income levels gets cheered on with passionate class warfare, but there’s this diary in “Daily Kos” and not much else.

Very odd, this reticence. Couple of possible reasons suggest themselves:

  • The aggregated wisdom of the left and/or Democratic Party leaders is Rangel’s plan is going nowhere.
  • Any, ANY proposal that can be described as a tax increase is political poison.
  • Tax policy is hard. Explain the AMT? Uh, no thanks. There must be something simpler to complain about.
  • At the NAM, Rangel’s proposal is welcomed as a useful starting point for important discussions, including the reduction of the corporate tax rates. But a salvo?

    P.S. The Journal piece also has an interview with Rangel. Excerpt:

    NJ: So you are not waiting until 2009 to pursue tax reform?

    Rangel: I am too old to wait until 2009. I wouldn’t think that it would be easier [with a Democratic president]. I hope that if 90 million people want their tax cut now, what would stop me?

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