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Real target of Republican tax bills: Feds, eds and meds bloat

Michael Barone on

On health care, the Republicans have sent a similar signal by repealing the Obamacare mandate to buy insurance. It turns out that this "tax" -- as Chief Justice John Roberts insisted it is -- falls most heavily on those with modest incomes, leading many of them to conclude that Obamacare policies are a bad deal.

Or consider the yelps about the Republicans' planned repeal of the deductibility of state and local taxes (except for some property taxes). This would be progressive in its incidence, because most of the increased federal revenue would come from high earners in high-tax states, especially New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California, whose residents tend to vote Democratic.

Americans in lower-tax states have been effectively subsidizing bloated public payrolls and astonishingly generous pension plans. Removing the deduction would put pressure on politicians in high-tax states and on the public employee unions to hold taxes and spending down.

This change, plus a possible Supreme Court ruling that public employees cannot be forced to pay union dues, should reduce the largesse that public employee unions have been contributing to Democratic candidates in these states and nationally. Seeing as public employee union dues come from taxpayers, this amounts to public financing of the campaigns of one political party. It shouldn't be surprising that the other party wants to stop it.

An Agriculture Department report on the expenses of raising a child showed that over the past several decades, the costs of health care and education -- despite or because of government subsidies and regulation -- have increased much faster than inflation, while the costs of food and clothing, mostly provided by the private sector, have actually decreased in real dollars.

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The Republican tax plans can be seen as a pushback against "feds, eds and meds" inflation and a push toward something more like what private-sector innovators (like those in long-ago Dayton) have been able to deliver.

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Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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