In the second GOP primary debate back in 2015, Ronald Reagan was mentioned 45 times. And it seems you can’t watch a Republican on TV for more than a few minutes without hearing mention of the Gipper. But despite all the praise for America’s 40th president, Robert W. Merry blames a lack of Reagan’s gumption for the failure of the GOP to lower the top marginal rate in their forthcoming tax plan. He writes at The American Conservative (abridged):
In contemplating the Republican effort to craft a plan to revamp the U.S. tax code, one unmistakable reality comes into focus: The Democrats have won the debate. That became clear with reports that congressional Republicans currently plan to keep the top individual tax rate at 39.6 percent.
The top rate is too high. It distorts economic decision-making by creating incentives for people to game the system, which isn’t very difficult to do, given the massive number of preferences and loopholes stashed away in the tax code since that grand but short-lived synthesis that emerged in 1986.
We see now the spectacle of Republicans lacking the resolve to press the issue, to make the case and bring the American people around to the view that prevailed so dramatically in Reagan’s day.
This is a failure of political marketing. The Democrats, …have been very effective in marketing their idea that the Republicans are a bunch of oligarchs fixated on helping their fat cat friends through tax policies favoring the rich. You can’t win a debate that way. And you can’t seriously spur the economy with a tax code that encourages massive amounts of distorting economic activity.
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