No, wait! Don’t hang up. That’s what I though, too. There is no tax hike I can learn to like. But then I read Amity Shlaes’ column.
Even for non-wonks such as yours truly, Shlaes’ The Greedy Hand, a study of how the tax system works and what should be done, is compulsively readable. She has done a good job of explaining and selling the only tax hike I can imagine liking (that’s because it’ll turn out to be a tax cut for most of us).
What is it?
“It is a levy on employer- provided health benefits that cost more than $15,000, a proposal included in Bush’s State of the Union address.
“Under the plan, employers would lose the ability to deduct the cost of the health-insurance policies they buy for workers. What’s more, that cost would be counted as income on the worker’s return. The anti-tax team accepts this because of what it brings with it: a standard deduction of $15,000 for every household. This means an effective tax cut for many families because their annual premiums add up to less than $15,000.
“But the big change here isn’t in the pennies and dimes. It is in the way the plan lodges responsibility for a family’s health budget with the family, instead of employers. This isn’t merely a tax shift but also a cultural shift, Republicans say. It would make Americans feel stronger and more economically secure.”