If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That's what came to mind this AM when I read that John McCain's plan to address the ailing economy includes a big cut in the capital gains tax rate, from 15% to 7.5% for the next two years.
How wrongheaded is this? Let me count the ways.
First, the McCain folks may have missed this, but asset values have been falling, big time. Remember, John?... That whole financial mess that folks have been talking about? When capital assets, like stocks or bonds, lose value, that's a capital loss, and it's already deductible from your taxes.
If you want to provide income and job opportunities to people who are hurting, your best bet is to do so directly, through tax cuts targeted at them, and through infrastructure investment designed to create new, quality jobs. That's what Obama aims for in his recently announced package.
Finally, and this is important, does anyone really believe that this allegedly temporary cut will really sunset in two years? Like Dr. Phil says, "this ain't my first rodeo!" That's the tripwire in the Bush cuts. They end in 2011, but anyone who wants to let them do so is accused of supporting the "largest tax increase in history."
So we are yet again left with John McCain getting it wrong on economic policy. There is absolutely a need to help struggling families right now, but if this is the best he can come up with, we'd all be much better off if he put the hammer back in the tool shed and left the policy construction to others.
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