Which Clinton tax rates does he mean: Twice a week, Paul Krugman’s column appears. On those occasions, Americans actually have a chance to learn something from their daily newspaper.
Krugman is fundamental. That’s why we found this morning’s column frustrating. What exactly did Krugman mean by the highlighted passage:
KRUGMAN (11/2/8/11): The supercommittee was a superdud—and we should be glad. Nonetheless, at some point we’ll have to rein in budget deficits. And when we do, here’s a thought: How about making increased revenue an important part of the deal?In that highlighted passage, Krugman proposes reinstating the Clinton-era tax rates—and he proposes going beyond them. But an obvious question came to mind: Which “Clinton-era tax rates” does Krugman have in mind?
And I don’t just mean a return to Clinton-era tax rates. Why should 1990s taxes be considered the outer limit of revenue collection? Think about it: The long-run budget outlook has darkened, which means that some hard choices must be made. Why should those choices only involve spending cuts? Why not also push some taxes above their levels in the 1990s?
Let me suggest two areas in which it would make a lot of sense to raise taxes in earnest, not just return them to pre-Bush levels: taxes on very high incomes and taxes on financial transactions.
Which Clinton tax rates does Krugman mean? Does he mean we should return to the Clinton tax rates on those who earn above $250,000? Or does he mean that we should return to all the Clinton tax rates?
On its face, Krugman seems to be talking about all the Clinton tax rates. But in the past few years, the debate about the Clinton tax rates has narrowed down to the tax rates on high earners. Ever since he was a candidate, President Obama has rejected the idea of letting the Bush tax rates expire on families which earn less than $250,000. Within the liberal world, discussion of the Bush and Clinton tax rates has thus collapsed into a discussion of tax rates on high earners only.
We’ll promise you this: Whatever Krugman may mean, many of his readers will think he’s talking about restoring the Clinton tax rates on just the top two percent.
Does Krugman want to restore all the Clinton tax rates? Or just those on the highest earners? We’ll guarantee that his readers don’t know.
We don’t know which he means either.
Visit our incomparable archives: In July, Krugman discussed his views about future taxation on a Charlie Rose program. This same point of confusion arose at that time. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/26/11.
One additional question: Have you ever seen a news report about what it would be like to return to all the Clinton tax rates? About how middle-income families would be affected?
Answer: Of course you haven’t! Your “press corps” writes about hair and friendship patterns. That other shit is so tedious, so boring!
Darlings! It can go fly!