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January 18, 2004

IN RESPONSE to my earlier tax-cut post, reader Kate Hamilton -- who, like the InstaWife, seems to be in charge of her family's tax preparation -- emails:

The tax cut has saved my family about $1500 this year. I realize that to your average monocle wearing elitist that isn't much, but to my husband who works so I can stay home with our three kids, and myself, it is a real life saver! Not only that, but the extra money from our return is going to pay for plane tickets so my kids and I can go visit their grandparents in the lower 48. Now thanks to the president and his tax cut we'll be helping out the airline industry too. Reaganomics work!

I wonder how many people are having similar experiences right about now? To the extent that a lot are, attacking Bush for the tax cut may be counterproductive, simply ensuring that he'll get credit. In fairness to Bush's critics, however, hardly any of them actually wear monocles.

UPDATE: Reader Jorge Del Rio emails:

I experienced the same thing. I have the benefit of a father who is a CPA (even if I didn't I work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, although I'm an attorney) and I recently had him run our numbers. Our return is rather large. The effect of it is even more profound. My wife never returned to her job after her maternity leave. She was a senior associate here in DC at one of the largest law firms in the country. You can imagine what she was making. It completely dwarfed my salary, and I do ok. We saved up quite a bit of money and only needed to draw on it modestly. Well, our son will be 2 in April and it was looking like she was going to have to get back into the workforce sometime in the late summer, early fall. With this refund, she can now stay home for almost another 9 months. That really is priceless. Kind of hard to try and convince us that the tax cuts were reckless. If those guys in Iowa tried telling my wife, to her face, that they would increase our taxes by repealing the tax cuts, they just might get popped in the nose.

Interesting. I don't know how many people are having this experience, but if there are a lot, I imagine that it will help Bush -- ironically, especially if his opponents make an issue of the tax cuts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A couple of readers ask why I'm not fulminating against the deficit. Well, I was really making a political point, not an economic one, but I don't think the deficit growth is a product of the tax cuts so much as of overspending. I think that the Bush Administration is guilty of overspending, all right, and if I had my way I'd hold non-defense spending flat. But that's not going to happen. Bush's tactic here seems reminiscent, as I said in an earlier post, of Nixon's though it seems unlikely to touch off Nixonian levels of inflation anytime soon.

As I've also mentioned before, there's an interesting irony in that the pressure to play against type, and the sort of pigeonholing employed by the press that produces such pressure, means that Democratic presidents wind up being worse on civil liberties, and Republicans worse on deficits, than you might otherwise expect based on stereotypes.

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