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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fake Punditry In Action

Al Hunt is a columnist for Bloomberg News.  Hunt used to be the Executive Editor of Bloomberg News, so you would think that he knows what he is talking about, right?  Nope.

Today, Hunt wrote a column entitled "It's Been 31 Years Since the Last Tax Overhaul. Here's Why."  Hunt claims that there are no people left in Congress to ignore pressure groups or special interests and to make a deal in the national interest.  Hunt says a tax deal is very unlikely this year.

But let's take a look at the opinions of this supposed expert.

1.  Is it really 31 years since the last tax overhaul?  There was a major change to the tax code in 1986.  Rates were cut and many deductions were eliminated.  Then in 1990, taxes were raised under George H.W. Bush.  You may recall that Bush had famously told America, "Read my lips: no new taxes."  When he went back on the promise and modified the tax structure, he was defeated in 1992.  After Bush came Bill Clinton.  In 1993, Congress overhauled the tax code again.  The top rates on income were pushed up by nearly a third.  Corporate taxes were raised.  Eighty five percent of Social Security income was suddenly taxed.  Medicare taxes were raised.  The phase out of personal exemptions and deductions for high income people was made permanent.  It was a major overhaul.  When George W. Bush became president, the tax code was again changed in a major way.  The Bush tax cuts lowered individual tax rates across the board.  The estate tax was cut and then phased out.  There were many other changes.  It was another tax overhaul.  When Barack Obama became president, there were more tax changes.  Obama got Congress to raise the top rate for individuals.  The capital gains tax was raised by a third.  Additional medicare taxes and Obamacare taxes were thrown into the mix. 

So, in substance, there were tax overhauls not just 31 years ago, but also 27 years ago, 24 years ago, 16 years ago, and four years ago.  Hunt just overlooked the last four tax overhauls in his column.

2.  Is it true that there are no people left in Congress who would negotiate a tax deal that would be in the best interest of the American people?  That's Hunt's claim.  I am not a fan of Congress, but even I don't think that everyone in Congress is a servant of special interests and pressure groups.  Many members will do the right thing.  As long as President Trump leads a strong effort to get the tax changes passed, there will be a very good likelihood that they will pass.

In summary, Hunt has his facts and his views wrong.  That's it.

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