by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What’s one way for conservatives to battle the notion that they’re interested only in those dastardly rich guys? Ramesh Ponnuru urges in a National Review Online column that the movement’s thinkers focus on policies that would help those with moderate incomes.
Republicans have often in the past had an advantage over Democrats when it has come to middle-class taxes. They might reclaim that advantage by championing an idea of Robert Stein, an official in George W. Bush’s Treasury department, who argues that any tax reform should include a much larger tax credit for children that applies against payroll taxes as well as income taxes. The policy rationale is that parents contribute more than their fair share to entitlement programs: They pay payroll taxes, but also make financial sacrifices in raising future taxpayers. A large credit would recognize this contribution.
In 2008, conservative pollster John McLaughlin asked respondents whether they favored expanding the child credit from $1,000 per child to $4,000. They supported it by 56 percent to 23 percent. Support was highest in the middle class, with 67 percent of people making between $40,000 and $60,000 a year favoring the idea. Interestingly, support rose as people moved left on the political spectrum. Liberals were more supportive than moderates and moderates more than conservatives (although conservatives still supported it, 46 to 32 percent). Those numbers seem to confirm that the idea is not a natural fit for conservatives.