The Washington Post is now worried about Democratic tax plans.

The Washington Post has come out against the progressive tax raises proposed by Congress to pay for health care. It does so reluctantly – it’s not against the principle of progressive taxes generally – but apparently they feel that the combination of Medicare cuts and wider-than-expected targets for the surcharge are just unacceptable.

…in principle, higher taxes for the well-heeled could make sense — as part of a broader rationalization of the unduly complex tax code.

But there is no case to be made for the House Democratic majority’s proposal to fund health-care legislation through an ad hoc income tax surcharge for top-earning households. The new surtax would hit individual households earning $350,000 and above. It would start at 1 percent, bumping up to 1.5 percent at $500,000 in income and to 5.4 percent at $1 million. The new levy would begin in 2011 and is supposed to raise $540 billion over 10 years, about half the projected cost of health-care reform. The rest of the money would come from reduced spending on Medicare and Medicaid — though the surtax for the lower two categories would jump by a percentage point each in 2013 unless the Office of Management and Budget determines that the rest of the bill has saved more than $150 billion.


The long-term deficit is driven by the aging of the population as well as by growing health-care costs, both contributing to Social Security and Medicare expenses. There is simply no way to close the gap by taxing a handful of high earners. The House actions echo President Obama’s unrealistic campaign promise that he can build a larger, more progressive government while raising taxes on only the wealthiest.

To evoke one of my favorite authors, it would be unseemly for me to ask:

  • Does the surcharge of 350K households (not individuals) and above perhaps hit too many senior staff at the Washington Post for comfort?
  • Does the projected Medicare/Medicaid cuts perhaps also hit too many senior staff at the Washington Post for comfort?
  • Does this mean that the Washington Post now regrets its frankly laughable endorsement of the current President, back in October? Particularly since McCain’s – how did they put it? Ah, yes: “irresponsible selection of a running mate” – had a better grasp on what was coming than the Washington Post’s editorial board?

You know what? I feel like being unseemly.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.