Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Non-Contract With America

OpinionJournal - Hot Topic :: What Democrats aren't saying about their agenda, so we will. : "Tax increases. The Bush tax cuts expire in 2010, and any chance that they'll be made permanent will vanish with a Democratic Congress. The question is whether Democrats will try to raise taxes even sooner. Most Democrats voted against the Bush tax cuts, but this week Ms. Pelosi said on CNBC's "Kudlow & Co." that "Democrats like tax cuts. We support middle-class tax cuts."

The same isn't true, however, for the "investor" tax cuts of 2003 that coincided with the acceleration of the current expansion. Ms. Pelosi says reversing these tax cuts "at the high end" would be "an earlier resort." This would raise the top income and dividend tax rate back to 39.6% from 35%, and the capital-gains rate back to 20% from 15%, substantially raising the cost of new investment in the United States. Economist John Rutledge estimates that raising the dividend rate alone would reduce the value of the S&P 500 stocks by between 5% and 8.5%, roughly a $500 to $700 billion decline in the wealth of the 52% of American households that own stock.

Health-care regulation. Big Pharma and private insurers, watch out. Michigan's John Dingell, who would run the Energy and Commerce Committee, has co-sponsored the "Patients Before Profits Act" that would gut funding for the new Medicare Advantage plans that are proving so popular with seniors.

The union label. AFL-CIO headquarters would be rocking with hope once again. A job-killing hike in the minimum wage, to $7.25 from $5.15, would whisk through Congress, and we'd expect that Mr. Bush would sign it.

Energy. The Pelosi Democrats favor a "windfall" profits tax on oil companies and a virtual moratorium on drilling for more domestic oil in Alaska and on the outer continental shelf (where the U.S. may have more energy than Saudi Arabia).

No comments: