No Homerun for Tax Reform Yet

May 23, 2006

The tax relief bill signed into law earlier this month seems bittersweet to many; while it’s certainly a step in the right direction, much more remains to be done.

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council recently published a commentary drawing an analogy between the slow progression of tax reform and bunting in baseball. According to author Raymond J. Keating, while many Americans may be disappointed to not have the tax reform home run they’ve been hoping for, they can at least be glad for the slow and steady progress that has been made:

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver often said: “You win games with good starting pitching and three-run homers.” Weaver didn’t have much use for bunting. But plenty of other mangers [sic[ and teams certainly have over the years. They’ll note that moving runners into scoring position can be an important part of winning ballgames.

The same can be said about legislation. We all long for the big, walk-off homerun that wins a particular policy debate. But those seem pretty rare these days on the legislative field of play. Sometimes it’s just about getting the runner a base closer to scoring. That’s what Congress and the President did this month by extending important tax relief measures.

During the Bush Administration, tax relief first reached base with a measure in 2001 that … would reduce personal income tax rates and end the death tax. But the measure … was temporary ….

Tax relief moved to second base in 2003. Not only were the personal income tax rate cuts accelerated, but capital gains and dividend tax rates were reduced …. But, again, these tax measures were temporary.

The article concludes:

As a former owner of the Texas Rangers, President Bush no doubt can appreciate moving runners along. But he also understands that they need to cross home plate. The President has consistently called for making the 2001 and 2003 tax relief measures permanent. That must come next from Congress, or advancing the runners by bunting will have meant nothing in the end.

Read the full commentary here. For more on tax reform, click here.


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