Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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The Tax(Cut) Man — and Woman — Cometh

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Lo and behold, an actual policy discussion may be emerging in California’s GOP gubernatorial primary: tax cuts.

On Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s campaign released a web video claiming his opponent, Meg Whitman, doesn’t want to lower taxes. It comes the same day that Poizner, who for months now has toiled away in the relative anonymity of the GOP grassroots and rubber-chicken circuit, told reporters that he’ll soon launch a tv ad campaign introducing himself to a broader California audience (Whitman’s already two tv ads ahead of her rival). 

Steve Poizner

Poizner had no other choice tp up the ante as (a) he has to find ways to undermine Whitman’s standing with primary voters and (b) he has to limit the damage from Whitman’s earning a coveted endorsement from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s political action committee. Team Whitman quickly turned that nod (“the only candidate . . . Howard Jarvis himself would trust to protect Proposition 13”) into a radio spot.

At this point Poizner would welcome a debate over tax cuts — pretty much any policy debate, for that matter — to show off his detailed plan to jumpstart California’s economy . . . and change the dynamics of a primary in which Whitman’s style has trumped Poizner’s substance.

The Poizner plan:

a 10% reduction in all personal income tax rates

a 10% reduction in the state sales tax rate

a 10% reduction in the corporation tax rate

a 50% reduction in the capital gains tax rate

As for Whitman’s tax-cutting agenda, here’s what she’s suggested so far:

Enact permanent marginal tax rate reductions for the middle class

Cut taxes for job-creating businesses of every size

Implement targeted tax relief to strengthen manufacturing and create and retain high-paying jobs in California

Lower the capital gains tax

Expand research and development tax credits

Exempt purchases of manufacturing equipment from state sales tax

Establish tax incentives and credits to train and hire displaced workers

How nice it would be if the two rivals sat down and debate the merits of their respective plans — say, at next month’s Republican convention in Santa Clara.

BTW, Whitman is getting her advice from a campaign Economic Task Force that includes Hoover Senior Fellows Michael Boskin, John Cogan and John Taylor (they also advised California Govs. Schwarzenegger and Wilson).

As to what they’re thinking vis-a-vis California, tax cuts and economic revitalization, I recommend this Hoover Digest piece co-authored by Boskin and Cogan.

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Written by Bill Whalen

February 24, 2010 at 5:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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