Misreporting tax policy

The New York Times reports: Congress Votes to Spare Millions From Alternative Tax:

By 352 to 64, the House voted to shield about 21 million Americans from being hit by the alternative minimum tax.

No, they didn’t. But it takes until the 8th paragraph to find that out:

House Democrats angrily approved the bill after giving in to demands by Congressional Republicans and President Bush that the tax cut not be offset by raising other taxes. Democrats started out the year by pledging to pay for the $50 billion cost of the A.M.T. fix with cuts in spending or increases in taxes elsewhere. The Democrats repeatedly tried to get Senate Republicans to back a plan that would have paid for the cut by imposing new taxes, particularly on wealthy hedge fund managers. But the Republicans refused, leaving Democrats little choice but to break their promise. By not offsetting the cost, the national debt will increase by $50 billion.

All Congress did was shift the tax burden. Some people will pay less in taxes next year, but some people will pay more in taxes at some point in order to make up for that. The Democrats tried to do the responsible thing and make it clear who had to pay that cost, while the Republicans apparently preferred to believe that the tax fairy would come and balance the budget for them.

The only way to actually spare millions from the effect of this tax would have been to find some offsets for changes in tax revenue. That means budget cuts or shifting the tax burden elsewhere. Congress shifted it to future generations, who will pay it with interest. To China.

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