Harold Ford Calls for Immediate Tax Cuts, Immediate Deficit Reduction

I can’t tell if this Harold Ford op-ed in the NYT is some kind of dada performance art or part of a real senate campaign (or, indeed, if the senate campaign is itself performance art) but it’s surely not policy advice. Consider this:

First, cut taxes for businesses — big and small — and find innovative ways to get Americans back to work. We can start by giving any companies that are less than five years old an exemption from payroll taxes for six months; extending the current capital gains and dividend tax rates through 2012; giving permanent tax credits for businesses that invest in research and development; and reducing the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.

But also:

Finally, we need to address budget deficits now rather than waiting for some ideal future economic situation.

The problem, of course, is that the deficit is outlays minus revenue. To make the deficit smaller, you can’t also make revenues smaller. The math isn’t difficult.

Ford also calls for the enactment of insurance regulations (specifically “prohibit[ing] insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions”) without the individual mandate and subsidies that can make such a policy workable. Keith Hennessy from the Bush administration recently explained that this is “politically savvy” but doesn’t add up as substance:

Most of the current insurance “reform” debate instead focuses on the guaranteed issue and community rating provisions of the House- and Senate-passed bills. I oppose these provisions, but they have broad-based bipartisan support. Yet those Republicans who claim to support these provisions do not support the other policies required to make these provisions effective. These Republicans have taken a politically savvy but substantively inconsistent (and, I believe, irresponsible) position that could come back to bite them.

Apparently, though, it’s not just Republicans.