Soundings

E. J. McMahon
W.’s Gift to New York
The president’s proposed tax cut is a boon for New York.
Spring 2001

New York's top congressional Democrats have given President Bush's ambitious plan for an across-the board tax cut a chilly reception. Senator Hillary Clinton warned that it "could derail the nation's economy and give New Yorkers higher interest rates and more unemployment." Representative Charles Rangel of Manhattan thundered that the president had charted "a reckless course." Senator Charles Schumer chastised Fed chairman Alan Greenspan for even implying that Bush's tax cuts would help the economy.

Truth is, New York has more to gain than most states from Bush's plan, which gives everybody, from street vendors to big-time investors, tax relief. Because New York's average incomes are so high, it sends billions of dollars more in tax dollars to Washington than it gets back. The state's balance of payments deficit now stands at $18 billion—the fourth largest of any state in the country. Near the end of his long tenure, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan concluded that it was futile to try to close this gap by chasing after more federal spending. "When you are in a hole, stop digging," he advised.

The income-tax provisions of the Bush plan alone would do that, saving New Yorkers billions a year. If you toss in a repeal of the estate tax, the proposal's total value to the state easily exceeds $100 billion as it phases in over the next decade. While Clinton and Rangel are beyond persuasion on the potential value to New Yorkers of an across-the-board cut, Schumer may yet be susceptible to reason: he's at least acknowledged that New York's balance-of-payments deficit is mainly the product of its heavy tax burden, not too little federal aid. Let's hope he reaches the logical conclusion and supports the reduction of New Yorkers' federal tax burden.

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