The Thelma & Louise Caucus

Nov 21 2012 @ 1:08pm

That's what Daniel Gross dubs individuals who want to drive off the fiscal cliff. He belongs to it:

I’m not eager to see all the tax cuts expire, but I think the cliff does offer a rare opportunity to correct a historical error. The cuts introduced all sorts of harmful wrinkles and distortions into the tax code, in ways that privilege passivity over labor.

There’s no earthly reason why capital gains and dividends should be taxed at 15 percent while wages for hardworking professionals are taxed at twice that rate. There’s no reason estates should be taxed at such low levels. There’s no reason carried interest—the wages private equity and hedge-fund managers effectively take for managing other people’s money—shouldn’t be taxed as income.

All these low rates were intended by their designers to be temporary—the better to mask their long-term cost. But because these tax cuts have powerful, well-connected constituencies, it has been difficult to slay them. Once we’ve gone over the cliff, the conversation about taxes will take on an entirely different tenor than the pre-cliff one. After a lost decade in the markets and the economy, advocates for the absurdly low rates of taxation on capital will have to make their case for lowering them again. Good luck to them.

Earlier pushback against cliff-dive advocates here.