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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Costly & Simple v. Slighlty Less Costly & A Lot More Complicated

Max Ehrenfreund writes at The Washington Post
Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed paying for his policies that transform large sectors of the government and the economy mainly through increased taxes on wealthy Americans. A pair of new studies published Monday suggests Sanders would not come up with enough money using this approach, and that the poor and the middle class would have to pay more than Sanders has projected in order to fund his ideas.
The studies, published jointly by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute in Washington, concludes that Sanders's plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade. His programs would cost the federal government about $33 trillion over that period, almost all of which would go toward Sanders's proposed system of national health insurance. Yet the Democratic presidential candidate has put forward just $15 trillion in new taxes, the authors concluded.
Clinton's approach to policy is less expensive but more complex, as David Farenthold explains at The Washington Post:
Clinton’s approach is an extension of the one that both her husband and President Obama used to make change in the face of a balky Congress and hostile states. Instead of handing out money, they handed out tax benefits. Democrats could celebrate the benefit, Republicans the cut.
Instead of simple, universal benefit programs, they engineered complex solutions — like the Affordable Care Act — that were supposed to be customized to fit consumers’ needs.

The result, now, is a government that groans under the weight of its complexity.
The tax code has changed more than 4,000 times since 2004. The overwhelmed IRS expects to answer just 47 percent of the calls made to its help-line staff this year, and it has 923,000 unanswered letters. The broader growth of federal regulation has also caused a boom in the number of professional “compliance officers,” whose entire job is to follow rules: There are 136,000 in the private sector, at last count.
Clinton’s solutions would add complexity to complexity.