As President Biden readies his speech to Congress this evening outlining his tax hikes, a threat to his plans is emerging among the Democrats. It seems a passel of them is vowing they won’t support any Biden plan unless it restores the full deduction for state and local taxes that was done away with by President Trump’s tax reform in 2017. So closely divided is the House that, CNBC reports, Mr. Biden’s plan could be derailed.
We are enjoying the ironies. Starting with the New York Times, which just reversed its long opposition to ending the SALT deduction. It is now endorsing what amounts to Mr. Trump’s tax reform on SALT, though it has different reasons than Mr. Trump. The 45th president reckoned his reform would put pressure on states to curb their spending. The Times fears that ending the SALT deduction would be a sop to the rich.
Ira Stoll’s FutureOfCapitalism.com is greeting the Times reversal of its editorial position with a posting headlined “Welcome to the Fight.” Mr. Stoll notes that these columns endorsed an end to the SALT deduction some 15 years ago. That Sun editorial, called “Seeing Daggers,” was issued in October 2005. It had some fun with Senator Chuck Schumer’s frantic opposition to ending the SALT deduction.
(At the time, Mr. Schumer suggested ending the state and local tax deduction would be “a dagger to the heart of the people of New York.” His credibility was undercut by the fact that he sees daggers in just about every sensible idea that comes along. Or, as the Sun put it, he “sees daggers more often than a four-eyed knife thrower looking through a kaleidoscope.” Congress eventually brushed aside his objections.)
The SALT deduction, in any event, has become such an issue that eight Democrats in the House have just sent a letter to Secretary Yellen. They argue that the pending tax and infrastructure measure would be an “ideal piece of legislation” for dealing with the SALT deduction. They warn her that they will not vote for a tax package that fails to restore the SALT deduction.
The letter is signed by more Democrats than the margin by which, at the moment, the party controls the House. CNBC reports that, so far, some 20 Democrats and nine Republicans in the House are pledging not to support a bill that fails to restore the SALT deduction. Even Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is warning against restoring the SALT deduction. Maybe they all can get Mr. Trump to come in with some support. What an artful deal that would be.