OpinionTrending Commentary

Want Some SALT With That?


Washington, D.C. – With Joe Biden in the White House and the Democrats in control of the Senate, nothing the Republicans want to do that’s important will happen.

Within reason, they can pass what they want. If they do, however, the Senate will block it and, if by some miracle it’s not, the president will veto it.

Now that the terms are clear, what the heck is wrong with the Republicans in the House who are blocking the tax bill? The economy has still not recovered from the lockdowns. Some juice is needed, especially if the plan is to defuse the debt bomb through growth rather than by printing money.

It won’t become law as it is. It’s a symbol of the kind of policy the voters can expect from a unified Congress under GOP control. A group of moderates from high tax states however won’t allow the bill to get to the floor unless Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, stick in a provision that restores the federal deductibility of state and local taxes.

Capping that deduction in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed for meaningful, pro-growth cuts to be enacted. Without those and without their impact before the pandemic hit, the economy might still be in a recession.

It was a worthwhile trade. Some people – especially Democratic Party mega-donors living in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, and California don’t see it that way. They want their SALT – for State And Local Taxes — deduction restored in order to ease the considerable economic pain of living in places where state and local taxes take a big bite out of what they make.

The elimination of the SALT deduction sparked an exodus of “one percenters,” sending them to states with no income tax, like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. Their gain is the liberal welfare states’ loss.

The folks who can’t afford to move are complaining, but they’ve been misled, not because they’re worse off. As Center for a Free Economy’s Ryan Ellis pointed out recently, most upper- and middle-class wage earners in the tax belt are better off without SALT too.

Looking at Westchester County, N.Y., a wealthy enclave just north of New York City, Ellis found the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was “very good” for the people who lived there.

“Those making between $50,000 and $75,000 per year have received an average income-tax cut of $800. Those making between $75,000 and $100,000 got a tax cut of $900. Those in the $100,000 to $200,000 range saw their taxes reduced by $800. Only those making more than $200,000 are paying about the same as before,” Ellis wrote.

There are other, more complicated reasons why the abolition of SALT didn’t cause the economic harm many people claim it did. Yet, taking a page from the Freedom Caucus playbook, the Republicans blocking the tax bill from moving unless they get what they want – a backdoor tax cut for the 1% – are doing more harm than good.

To put it plainly, that’s dumb. Call for the restoration of the deduction all you want. Rail against the leadership when you’re at home in your district. Promise to fight for real change in the future. But in the name of Ronald Reagan, stop holding the tax bill hostage. If you don’t, people will remember.

A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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