Conservative intellectual circles have been riven by a disagreement over whether the Republican Party should continue to prioritize tax cuts for wealthy people, or instead give more priority to expanding the child tax credit. In the former camp lie the party’s donor base, most Republican politicians (as evidenced by the shape of the current Republican tax bill), and, most vociferously, The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Journal editorials have relentlessly defended the eternal certainty of supply-side dogma that tax rate cuts for the rich have magical economic power, and mocked the notion that Republicans have anything to gain from adopting policies that help the middle class instead of the super-rich. (“Democrats and right-wing income redistributionists will claim the bill is a tax cut for the rich no matter what the GOP does,” the Journal frequently insists — an untested hypothesis, since the party has spent 25 years fanatically committed to giving rich people huge tax cuts.)
Today’s page features a short column satirizing the arguments of conservative reformers who wish to deemphasize the tax cuts for the rich and do more for families. Written by Adam O’Neal, a Journal editor, the piece mockingly proposes that Republicans create a tax credit for people who have pets. “I suggest Republicans cancel their proposed Child Tax Credit expansion and instead offer a fully refundable Canine Tax Credit worth at least $500 a dog,” he argues.
You see, pets are like children! They’re small, cuddly and adorable, but they’re a purely discretionary choice. It follows that spending your money on pets or children deserves no preference from the tax code, because it’s a purely discretionary item to indulge in, like a beach house or a private plane. (Actually, the latter is getting a special deduction from the Republican plan, but never mind.) “The Child Tax Credit instead exists to transfer wealth to a preferred group (human families) from an undesirable one (childless superconsumers),” he argues. “Why privilege Child Moms over Dog Moms?”
Yes, why, indeed? President Trump likes to compare the targets of his bullying to dogs. Now the comparison between humans and dogs can actually become the intellectual basis for public policy.