Rudy Penner Is too Smart too Spend His Time Playing Budget Three-Card Monte
Rudy Penner writes:
How the Budget Baseline Favors Spending: [A] renewal of a temporary entitlement at current levels, such as food stamps, is not considered to be a spending increase, but a renewal of temporary tax relief is considered to be a tax cut. This has important consequences.... Reauthorizing agricultural subsidies at current levels does not have to be paid for whereas extending temporary relief from the alternative minimum tax does require raising another tax or cutting an entitlement... the definitions... tilt the playing field in favor of spending, because the extension of a temporary tax cut is said to “increase” the deficit whereas the extension of a temporary entitlement does not.... [S]ensible reforms would make it easier to extend the Bush tax cuts for upper income groups...
And then he gets upset that people interpret this as smoke-and-mirrors and an endorsement of the extension of the Bush tax cuts.
He needs to step back and rethink what he is doing, hard. He is playing intellectual three-card monte. As Diane Rogers writes:
Paying for Tax Cuts Is Hard To Do…So Should We Sabotage It Entirely?: Rudy... [forgets] that “renewal” and “temporary” as applied to the entitlement program vs. the tax cut have different meanings. The “renewal” of a “temporary” entitlement program is a “reauthorization” of an entitlement program already in law... [t]he permanent, multi-year costs of [which were]... scored and subject to budget rules at the time they are enacted.... [T]he “renewal” does not represent new spending, at least not under CBO scoring conventions. In contrast, when a tax bill is (intentionally) written to have tax cuts expire... only the costs up to that expiration are scored. So “renewal” of expiring tax cuts involves costs that have not previously been counted...
For Penner, a "level playing field" is one that counts the budgetary costs of spending twice and of tax cuts once. That's simply wrong.