The Birth Tax

From the NYT today:

Even if the economy rebounds strongly over the next few years, the federal budget deficit could climb for the rest of the decade if Congress adopts proposals strongly supported by President Bush, the Congressional Budget Office said today…The nonpartisan office said the deficit would be $480 billion next year but could reach a cumulative total of $5.8 trillion by 2013.

At several points in the article, a Republican says something to the effect that ten year projections are unreliable, so we shouldn’t worry. For example, White House budget office spokesman Trent Duffy said this:

The only thing we know about 10-year projections is that they are terribly, terribly wrong. In 1993, 10 years ago today, C.B.O. did not predict that in the late 1990’s we would have a surplus.

Dufffy’s not entirely wrong here, ten year predictions are highly speculative. One presidential candidate in 2000 , Al Gore, repeatedly pointed this out and argued that we should not blow the whole ten year projected $1.4 trillion surplus on tax cuts, and instead advocated a more conservative (!) approach of targeted tax cuts and paying down the debt.

The other candidate, George Bush, loved those ten year projections and used them to justify tax cuts. Now he doesn’t like ten year projections.

On a related note, remember Bush’s “it’s your money, I’m gonna give it back to you” line? That should really be modified now to “it’s your children’s money, and their children’s money, and I’m gonna give it to people making over $100,000 a year.”


P.S. I believe Molly Ivins gets credit for coining the “birth tax” phrase. Dwight Meredith recently did some back of the napkin calculations and finds that the birth tax is roughly equal to one BMW–admittedly, entry model–per taxpayer.