Just below the surface


A friend has just sent me a comparison of the McCain and Obama tax plans, which make interesting reading. McCain does not actually propose to change much, but Obama, says the comparison, would be raising tax rates in several key areas.

On capital gains, McCain would have no tax on the sale of homes up to $500,000 but Obama proposes a 28% tax on the sale of all homes. On dividends, McCain's 15% represents no change, but Obama's team would tax dividends at nearly 40%. On income tax, McCain would again change nothing, but Obama would revert to the pre-Bush-tax-cuts position, raising rates even for those on just $30,000 a year. And Obama would restore the inheritance tax that Bush repealed.

Obama fans would no doubt challenge this interpretation. But the fact is that the last thing America needs right now is higher taxes. After seven fat years, you have to expect a few lean ones. Everyone has to go a bit hungry, the government included. You can't maintain a bloated public sector through hard times and expect an over-burdened private sector to carry it without stumbling. Certainly, Margaret Thatcher in the UK raised taxes in the teeth of a recession: but that was done to bring the government's books back into balance, no longer dependent on the frauds of borrowing and inflation. With sound money and sound budgets restored, the economy boomed and Thatcher was able to cut the tax burden year upon year upon year.

As Ronald Reagan put it: We don't have a budget deficit because we haven't taxed enough. We have a budget deficit because we've spent too much. Simple, really.