House Republicans voted for a child tax credit and business tax-break bill that they claim is a bipartisan achievement, but it’s another election-year spending bonanza and a bigger policy victory for Democrats. The GOP is embracing Democratic welfare and government spending priorities, writes Kim Strassel. The Senate can stop it.
Trillions and trillions in debt – money we do not have. Economists increasingly sound the alarm over the torrid pace of spending by Congress and the White House. And yet these degenerates keep spending.
another election-year spending bonanza and a bigger policy victory for Democrats
Republicans are on board with the expanded child tax credit, a handout dating to 1997.
By Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, Feb. 1, 2024 6:09 pm ET
Rep. Jason Smith leaves a meeting of House Republicans in Washington, Jan. 30. Photo: Tom Williams/Zuma Press
Four months after decapitating their own speaker for a supposed lack of conservative principle, House Republicans this week celebrated by collaborating with Democrats to pass a welfare blowout. Kevin McCarthy, we hardly knew ye.
Proving again that Congress is incapable of anything beyond redistributing other people’s money, 357 representatives passed another $78 billion spending bill. Add it to the pantheon of Nancy Pelosi-era bipartisan binges—the “infrastructure” bill, the semiconductor-welfare transfer, the $1,400 Covid checks. New GOP leadership, same debt-fueled status quo.
Don’t go looking for “reform” or “spending discipline” or any of the usual GOP catchwords in this blob. The beating heart of Wednesday’s package is two longtime Democratic priorities—increasing the size of the child tax credit and its availability to parents who don’t pay income tax. The left accomplished both during Covid and have worked fervently to resurrect them since they expired in 2021. Republicans granted their wish.
Democrats built this Trojan Horse in 1997, when Bill Clinton won a $500 child tax credit. Their goal since has been to increase its size and expand eligibility, making it the basis of a future universal basic income. Republicans went from understanding the perfidy of government handouts to hoping they cadge a bit of credit for said income redistribution.
We’re all for “families” now—and that’s the justification for robbing the paychecks of productive childless taxpayers and rerouting their earnings to nonworking parents. This bill would further discourage work, leaving more parents and children dependent on government largess. It’s of a piece with the Republican lurch toward bills that micromanage industrial policy or penalize the free market. Today’s MAGA populism amounts to little more than warmed-over big-government Rockefeller Republicanism.
In return for this huge win, House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith got Democrats to support three business-related tax provisions that many already supported. That includes allowing corporations to deduct more of their interest expenses, which reverses a reform Republicans worked hard to include in the 2017 tax reform. Mr. Smith complains that critics of the bill care more about “Wall Street” than “Main Street.” He should look in the mirror.
It gets worse. Tucked in the bill are “low-income housing” credits, disaster dollars, budget gimmicks. And in an attempt to buy off a few hostage-taking Northeastern Republicans, Speaker Mike Johnson is apparently open to blowing up another hard-won GOP tax reform, the limit on deductions for state and local taxes. The SALT deduction is a sop to high earners, and forces taxpayers in low-tax states to subsidize the soaring progressive tax rates of New York, New Jersey and California. Yet there is talk of a bill that would double the current $10,000 cap for married couples.
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