Astorino’s tax reform would lift the state’s flagging economy.
The executive for Westchester County, north of New York City, is calling for a simpler system that cuts the top state tax rate on personal income to 6% from 8.882%. Eight different tax brackets would be reduced to two, with the 6% rate applying to income above $200,000 for individuals and $300,000 for married couples. A 4% rate would apply to income below those levels.
The Republican would also repeal a utility tax, and by 2020 he’d phase out New York’s dreaded estate tax, which runs up to 16% and has sent tens of thousands of New York residents to retire in better tax climates. Mr. Astorino also wants to cut the state corporate tax rate to 5.9% from 6.5% by 2019. A simplified corporate system would eliminate favors for politically popular industries like the film tax credit that subsidizes the millionaires who produce “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show.”
But now it looks as if voodoo is making a comeback. At the state level, Republican governors — and Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, in particular — have been going all in on tax cuts despite troubled budgets, with confident assertions that growth will solve all problems. It’s not happening, and in Kansas a rebellion by moderates may deliver the state to Democrats. But the true believers show no sign of wavering.
Meanwhile, in Congress Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is dropping broad hints that after the election he and his colleagues will do what the Bushies never did, try to push the budget office into adopting “dynamic scoring,” that is, assuming a big economic payoff from tax cuts.
It does rather boggle the mind that a Nobel Laureate economist is against the idea that we should try to estimate the changes in peoples’ activities in response to changes in incentives. Maybe we’re not very good at it, maybe we won’t get the perfectly correct answer. But the core of the whole economics project is that people respond to incentives. So shouldn’t we try to work out how before we change public policy?
As we mentioned in yesterday’s brew, George F. Will has a great column this week about Jeff Bell in New Jersey. Well, this morning the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gave the Will piece the full back page of its opinion section. See for yourself.
Every 36 years, it seems, Jeff Bell disturbs New Jersey’s political order. In 1978, as a 34-year-old apostle of supply-side economics and a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution, he stunned the keepers of the conventional wisdom by defeating a four-term senator, Clifford Case, in the Republican primary. Bell, a Columbia University graduate who fought in Vietnam, lost to Bill Bradley in the 1978 general election, but in 1982 he went to Washington to help implement President Reagan’s economic policies that produced five quarters of above 7 percent growth and six years averaging 4.6 percent.