NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

John Kerry: Physical Conservative?

April 9, 2004

John Kerry, advised by Clinton-era officials, has decided to run on Bill Clinton's economic record. And he's offering much the same program the man from Hope did in 1992: tax hikes for the rich, cuts for the middle class, constraints on congressional spendthrifts.

The problem is that Kerry isn't really interested in shrinking the size of government, and that makes it impossible to get the numbers to add up, says the Wall Street Journal:

  • By rolling back the Bush tax cuts only on those making more than $200,000 a year, the Kerry plan would bring in $400 billion in extra revenue over 10 years, according to Jerry Orszag of the Brookings Institution.
  • But the National Taxpayers Union scores Kerry's campaign spending pledges as costing $276.88 billion per year.

So where will the money come from? The real answer, of course, is that everybody's taxes will have to go up, says the Journal.

Recall what happened under Bill Clinton:

  • Originally the 10 percent surtax was to apply only to those making $1 million or more but ended up hitting people with incomes of $250,000.
  • Other tax bites continued down into the lower brackets as well.

Kerry's "fiscal responsibility" would mean increasing the tax burden again, which would likely kill the recovery. And by ruling out the reform of Social Security and Medicare, he makes it inevitable that the long-term fiscal situation will deteriorate rapidly after 2008, when baby boomers start to retire. At that, the call for tax hikes will become a roar.

Source: Editorial, "Kerry as Fiscal Conservative," Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB108147375807078697,00.html


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