In a very lengthy post at The American Spectator, I explain why the castor oil produced last night might be more good than bad for conservative digestions — by just a tiny amount, to be sure, and even then only if conservatives start playing their cards better in the coming months, but still an amount worth considering. Please do take the time to follow the link and read the whole thing, but for now, the main point is that this deal actually does retain the lower spending levels (on discretionary spending) that conservatives had wanted. This fact should not be lost in the din of wailing and gnashing of teeth.
For purposes of this post, let me add to that AmSpec mini-essay to focus on two aspects of this deal that conservatives should truly celebrate.
Both involve “permanent” (in legislative lingo) solutions to vexing tax issues that conservatives have long sought.
First, this bill would permanently establish a $5 million threshold before the death tax kicks in. This is a huge achievement, protecting the vast majority of small businesses and family farms from this horrible tax. Even better, it indexes the threshold to inflation — so the exemption from the death tax will only grow over time. This is terrific. It is good economics, good policy… in short, a very good win.
Second, this bill permanently protects tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of taxpayers, from the evil Alternative Minimum Tax. How? Again, by permanently indexing the current threshold for inflation. Rather than leaving this hidden time bomb ticking, forever threatening to explode, subject to repeated “fixes” at the last minute by harried congressmen, this now enshrines into law the protections that all current taxpayers still below the AMT level now enjoy.
These are not achievements to scoff at. Sometimes it makes sense to bank some gains and come back to fight another day for other things of importance.