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“Republicans Vie Over Who Can Cut Taxes Most as Deficit Shrinks” by Bloomberg’s Richard Rubin sums up the challenge for Republican 2016ers who want to offer big, splashy, Reaganesque tax cut plans at a time when the national debt is three times as high as it was in 1980 and top tax rates are 50% lower:
By removing budgetary and income-distribution constraints from their tax plans, Republicans are seeking to avoid some of the criticism that had their 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, playing defense on tax policy in the campaign’s final months. Obama, bolstered by independent analyses, said Romney couldn’t find enough tax breaks to eliminate in order to offset the cost of lowering tax rates as much as he wanted. The result, Obama maintained, was that Romney’s plan would cause middle-class families to pay more or increase the budget deficit. … That argument may be replayed in 2016, particularly if Republicans spend the next year in a tax-cut race. The rate cuts and business write-offs that are attractive to Republican primary voters may not fare as well with a wider audience. In a Republican primary, you want “a plan that is very pro-growth and is very simple to understand, and as a result you could put yourself in difficult positions,” said Lanhee Chen, who was Romney’s policy director in 2012. “I don’t think it’s insurmountable by any means, but it makes their job harder.”
And thus you get snarky headlines like this one in the New York Times, “Marco Rubio’s Puppies-and-Rainbows Tax Plan,” which I comment about over at NRO’s The Corner. (I have a quote in the NYT piece.)