David Brooks loves the imaginary tax deal that exists in his own brain 

He calls it "The Mother of all No-Brainers." It's a long-term budget deal that New York Times columnist David Brooks says involves reforming unsustainable and insolvent entitlements through cuts, and in exchange, "Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary."

There are many grounds on which to object to this Brooks column (for one, it's hard to take seriously his moralistic talk about conservatives having "no sense of moral decency," especially after he called TARP opponents "nihilists), but the columnist undermines his entire argument with his false premise. In fact, no Democrats are offering entitlement cuts in exchange for eliminating tax credits.

Obama uses imaginary "oil subsidies" and overhyped "corporate jet subsidies" to make it sound like he just wants to eliminate tax credits. But he also makes it clear he wants to raise income tax rates. When you add in the fact that Obama has been multiplying special tax credits like crazy (convert your car to a plug-in car, you get a tax credit!), it becomes harder to believe that Obama really sees tax-credit-elimination talk as a revenue raiser rather than as misleading partisan rhetoric.

Where does Brooks get the idea that Obama simply wants to eliminate special tax breaks? Here's what Obama once wrote:

I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.

This is the best explanation I've seen for Brooks' column.

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Timothy P. Carney

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