Class warfare

Well, they started it, but I think Barack Obama intends to finish it.

I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

9 thoughts on “Class warfare”

  1. I was waiting for Obama’s campaign to get to this. Romney’s promised very few specifics of any substantial economic magnitude. The biggest things that he’s proposing to put into action immediately are tax cuts, Medicaid cuts and repealing Obamacare. These are almost perfectly mirrored; you could tally up the parts of this that boil down to tax cuts for rich people and the parts that boil down to taking health care benefits currently in law away from the poor and middle class and you’d wind up with two numbers that were pretty close to even, with the remainder being unfunded tax cuts.

  2. “I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home”. Most of this deduction goes to the wealthiest home owners, since the exemption cap is quite high compared to median home prices. The mortgage interest deduction is terrible public policy, particularly in an era of more renters. Read Yglesias for a day or two and I’m sure a related rant will show up.

    This is a gimme targeted at upper middle class suburbanites – not the natural Dem constituency.

    But the rest of it is great!

    1. Upper middle class suburbanites are a natural Dem constituency. Remember that Obama won the $200K+ vote four years ago. If the suburbanites are business owners or managers, they tend to vote Republican; if they are salaried professionals, they tend to vote Democratic.

      Like all right-thinking people, I agree that the mortgage interest deduction is terrible policy. But it isn’t the mortgage deduction that screws renters, because the value of the deduction is impounded in the price of the home. What screws renters is the tacit deductibility of imputed rental income. (To understand this, think of a person who buys a house, rents it out, and uses the rental proceeds to rent the house next door. This is economically equivalent to just buying the house and living in it, but the tax consequences are very different. The person who takes the roundabout route will have to pay income taxes on the rental income from the first house; the person who just lives in the house does not.)

    1. Head Start a waste of money? Not if you take the long-term view. Ludwig & Phillips (U of Chicago), 2008:

      With these caveats in mind, Garces, Thomas and
      Currie report that non-Hispanic, white children who
      were in Head Start are about 22 percentage points
      more likely to complete high school than their siblings
      who were in some other form of preschool, and
      about 19 percentage points more likely to attend some
      college. These effect estimates are equal to around
      one-quarter and one-half of the “control mean.” For
      African Americans, the estimated Head Start effect
      on schooling attainment is small and not statistically
      significant, but for this group Head Start relative to
      other preschool experience is estimated to reduce the
      chances of being arrested and charged with a crime
      by around 12 percentage points, which, as with the
      schooling effect for whites, is a large effect.

    2. Uh, the second link doesn’t say what C. Van Carter says it says.

      The link says that the government should get out of the student loan business because (among other things) it would decrease the cost of college. This argument is debatable, but if you accept it, it is the opposite of advocating that students should “pay more for college.” A person who can’t tell the difference is going to make a credit card company very happy.

      1. I’d add that Bloomberg is not a reliable source for much beyond market quotes (a la WSJ) and TNR should have died of shame years ago.

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