Games People Play With Tax Cuts

DANBURY, Conn. – I spent the morning with the leading Republican candidates for this state’s open, Lieberman-less U.S. Senate seat. A fuller story’s coming, but one of the items that’ll appear in it will hold special appeal to tax wonks.

So: Linda McMahon, the WWE co-founder who is solidly ahead in polls, is running on a “middle-class tax cut.” She claims that it will save the “average Connecticut family” $6000 every year. The problem, as has been noted in the state, is that she overstates “average” income by $17,000 per year (it’s $108,000, not $125,000), and that the savings only add up if you assume you’re cutting the restored Clinton-era tax rates.

In a short media avail after the speech, New Haven Register’s terrific Mary O’Leary asked McMahon how all of this made sense.

“I’m talking about a plan that goes into effect in 2013,” said McMahon. “You can go online and plug it right in. I’m basing my plan on the fact that the current tax law, which Congress voted on last week to not expire – that will be the tax law.” In other words, yes, she’s basing her cuts – the middle class savings – not on what Democrats are offering the middle class. She’s basing them on what would happen if Congress didn’t compromise at the end of this year, and just raised everybody’s taxes.

I hadn’t see this particular mathematic wizardry before. Is it happening in other races?