- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In a recent speech at Georgetown University, Howard Dean unveiled his economic plan, calling it “Reclaiming the American Dream.” Since its centerpiece is a complete repeal of the Bush tax cuts, the plan amounts to a gigantic tax increase. And let there be no mistake: Mr. Dean’s claims to the contrary, “Reclaiming the American Dream” will result in a huge tax increase on child-rearing working families. How ironic it is that one of Mr. Dean’s “clear objectives” is to “[r]elieve the crushing burdens on American families.” Contrary to the details of his schemes, he also claims his program “will strive for greater tax fairness for middle-class working families.”

Mr. Dean will also do his best to destroy the world’s trading system. Admittedly, he has retreated from his policy of requiring every nation that wants to trade with the United States to have labor and environmental policies identical to ours. However, he makes clear he will use stringent labor and environmental standards to eviscerate the comparative advantages of the developing nations that are now too poor to afford the labor and environmental policies popular among the Birkenstock crowd in the cafes of Burlington, Vt.

On the domestic front, Mr. Dean would establish a massive government health-care system that would, by comparison, make “Hillary-care” look like nip-and-tuck adjustments around the edges. Tax-and-spend liberalism would return with a vengeance, beginning with a two-year $100 billion government program to “create 1 million new jobs.” The plan doesn’t mention how these government-created jobs at the state and local levels will be funded.

Mr. Dean claims the middle class received little benefit from the Bush tax cuts. Told by “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert in June that the Treasury Department provided figures showing that “a married couple with two children making $40,000 a year, under the Bush plan, would pay $45 in [federal income] taxes… Repealing them under the Dean plan,” Mr. Russert continued, relying on Treasury data, would force that family to “pay $1,978, a tax increase of over 4,000 percent.”

Mr. Dean’s response was, “I don’t believe them.” Not good enough. Those figures are accurate. Unlike Mr. Dean, we have done the math. It checks out.

Nor was Treasury cherry-picking its income categories. A married couple raising two children and earning the median married-couple income of $60,335 would receive a $1,936 tax increase under Mr. Dean. The median income for a married couple with the wife in the paid labor force is $70,834. Assuming two children, Mr. Dean would raise that family’s income taxes by $2,353 by: (a) taking away the $500 per child increase in the child tax credit ($1,000); (b) eliminating the 10 percent tax bracket ($700); and (c) reinstating the marriage penalty ($653).

Believe it, Mr. Dean.

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