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Pro-con on Obama's proposed business tax break

In Ohio on Wednesday, President Obama delivered a full-throated attack on Republicans. Almost as an aside, the president briefly mentioned his own latest job-promotion ideas. The most promising was the president's proposal to allow firms to write off 100 percent of the cost of new equipment and other productive investments immediately, rather than take the deductions over several years. Administration officials argue that this would deliver what amounts to a $200 billion interest-free loan to companies that are otherwise eager to expand but starved for cash. To be sure, many of the businesses sitting on an estimated $1 trillion in cash say they are awaiting consumer demand, but for those that hesitate to invest because of tight credit, this measure might provide a boost. There is, in any case, little chance that Republicans will join Democrats to enact the president's proposals before the election, if ever. The GOP is doing just fine politically, resisting anything that it can spin as a tax increase and riding the wave of public economic discontent. — Washington Post

In Cleveland, the president worked overtime to make bogeymen out of Republicans in general and House Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner of Ohio. After all, Boehner-led, tax-cut-happy Republicans are so blinded by the prospect of retaking control of the House (and maybe even the Senate) that they won't even line up behind proposed new tax breaks for business. That's the Democrats' script. The reality is, Republicans won't enable another liberal scheme seeking to pander to voters in a last-ditch attempt to save Democrats from possibly historic midterm election losses on Nov. 2. The latest smoke and mirrors would allow companies to write off 100 percent of new investments in plants and equipment in the first year versus the current three to 20 years. But it's a gimmick — the break would expire at the end of 2011. As one corporate boss told the Wall Street Journal, "What's really needed is a thoughtful, cogent tax policy that everyone . . . can rely on for a number of years." Gee, imagine that. — Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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