The Magazine

For Richer, For Poorer

The best part of the Bush tax plan you've never heard about.

Feb 3, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 20 • By DAVID BLANKENHORN
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Until fairly recently, George W. Bush and most Republicans solidly backed Plan A. But by the time of the tax cut of 2001, most House Republicans had switched to Plan B. The Senate eventually went along, and President Bush signed into law that year a long-term plan to reduce the marriage penalty that contradicted his own campaign proposal from the previous year and that, while not pure income-splitting and far from perfect, clearly pleased the marriage buffs and the defenders of at-home mothers. Now, as part of his 2003 tax package, President Bush wants to speed up the implementation of that Plan-B style reform.

That's why Edmund Andrews of the New York Times smells a rat. In his January 19 column, he patiently explains bonuses and penalties, as if there were no other way of thinking about the issue. For him, the meaning of marriage is not even a topic, and so there is no philosophy to discuss, only political intrigues to uncover. He points to the "surprisingly intense political battle waged by influential conservative groups" to distort the original proposal, and, amazingly, ends up blaming almost everything on Phyllis Schlafly, that "indefatigable foe of feminism." Poor guy. An interesting debate about marriage just took place, and apart from his sneering reference to "Ozzie and Harriet" families, he can hardly say what it was about.

David Blankenhorn is president of the Institute for American Values in New York City.