Are Republicans Now Praising the EITC?


In the New York Times this weekend, former Obama advisor Christina Romer writes that she’s not a big fan of raising the minimum wage:

We could do so much better if we were willing to spend some money. A more generous earned-income tax credit would provide more support for the working poor and would be pro-business at the same time….Why settle for half-measures when such truly first-rate policies are well understood and ready to go?

Over at National Review, Patrick Brennan comments:

This obliquely raises an important point: Conservatives rightly praise the EITC, especially right now as an alternative to a higher minimum wage, but increasing it will cost the federal government money. For someone holding Romer’s views of our levels of debt and deficits, that is not much of a problem (she also suggest more spending on early-childhood education). But for the bulk of conservatives right now, it is, and that should be considered when suggesting the EITC as a counter to the president’s plan — it would be a non-negligible expansion of federal spending, though one that would in large part go to help the poor, blunting, perhaps, some criticisms of GOP budgeting priorities.

Did I miss something? Are conservatives now pretending to praise the EITC? They’ve mostly been sworn foes for the past two decades, so if they’re now big fans I must have missed the conversion. Hell, last year they were mostly complaining about the poor not paying enough in income taxes, something that’s true mostly because of the EITC.

In any case, I’ll bet that Obama would be delighted to raise the EITC instead of the minimum wage. The reason he didn’t bother suggesting it is that he knows perfectly well that Republicans would vote it down instantly. Conversely, raising the minimum wage has a slightly better chance of passage because (a) it’s popular and (b) employers have to pay it, not the federal government.

Right? Am I missing anything here?

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