Tags: larry | kudlow | Greek | Disease

Greek Disease in the House

Friday, 28 May 2010 09:45 AM

By Larry Kudlow

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One day Team Obama announces a plan for enhanced rescission authority to impound wasteful spending, and the next day the House surfaces a plan for $200 billion in "stimulus" spending on transfer payments for welfare, even more unemployment compensation, still more Medicaid and a bunch of special-interest subsidies.

So are we to believe that President Obama will rescind the excess appropriations? Hardly. And since pay-go is dead, most of this new spending will not be offset. It will add to deficits and debt.

It's the Greek disease. The welfare state run amok. Right here at home.

And in true class-warfare style, a small portion of the $200 billion is supposed to be offset by jacking up capital-gains taxes for investment partnerships. If passed, this would reduce investment, jobs and economic growth, and enlarge the deficit. Higher spending and investment taxing is a true austerity trap.

This business of raising the tax rate on investment partnerships would be a particularly onerous burden on American entrepreneurs. And it would put this country at a decided disadvantage to our competitors in China and elsewhere in Asia (outside of Japan).

Increasing the tax rate on the investment portion of these partnerships (i.e., the capital gains) would boost the penalty rate from 15 percent to 38 percent — and that includes the Obamacare payroll tax on investment scheduled for 2013.

So, instead of keeping 85 cents on the extra dollar earned from high-risk investment, the House proposal would drop the return to only 62 cents — a whopping 27 percent incentive rollback.

And by the same amount, it would raise the cost of new capital, draining investment liquidity from the private sector in order to finance government transfer payments.

Nothing could be worse. This is spread-the-wealth in its most crass form.

And if all that weren't bad enough, the House proposal would tax the so-called enterprise value of these firms by applying the same penalty-rate structure on the sale of all or part of an investment partnership. In other words, it would make real-estate, venture-capital and private-equity firms the only businesses in the country that are ineligible for long-term capital-gains treatment when they are sold in full or part.

One private-equity partner tells me that this would "tear apart the incentives for innovation that have been at the foundation of American enterprise since 1921, when the capital-gains differential vis-a-vis ordinary personal tax rates was first created."

Compounding matters, we read in USA Today this week that private-sector personal incomes are at an all-time low, while government benefits as a share of income stand at an all-time high. I believe this is called redistribution.

And then comes a study from the Harvard Business School that states: "Stimulus Surprise: Companies Retrench When Government Spends." What a shocker. (Hat tip to economist Don Luskin.)

House Democrats apparently don't read newspapers from Greece or the United States. And they sure don't read Harvard B-School studies.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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