Complicating the tax code

Democrats consider Rep. Jon Porter, the Republican who represents Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, to be vulnerable this fall -- and not without reason. Registration in the district, created following the 2000 Census, used to lean toward the GOP but now tilts slightly Democratic.

Rep. Porter's likely challenger, former Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, has kept a fairly low profile since announcing his candidacy last year. But on Monday, voters received a taste of Mr. Daskas' positions on taxes, as he held an April 15 news conference at a local union hall.

Unfortunately, those who seek an alternative to class-warfare rhetoric or believe the tax code is in desperate need of simplification will be sorely disappointed by Mr. Daskas' remarks.

The Democratic candidate made no bones about his soak-the-rich philosophy, arguing that allowing successful people to keep more of what they earn amounts to a handout and can come only "at the expense" of others.

But Mr. Daskas wasn't done. He went on to propose a virtual Christmas tree of populist subsidies and tax breaks.

For instance, Mr. Daskas wants to increase taxes on Big Oil and companies that "outsource" jobs. He wants to subsidize the development of alternative energy. He would increase the child-care tax credit, expand property tax and mortgage interest deductions for homeowners who itemize, and let many of the Bush tax cuts expire.

In addition, Mr. Daskas would give breaks to small businesses that provide health insurance, increase tax deductions for families with kids in college, and allow military families to count combat pay toward the earned income tax credit.

Whew! Did he miss anybody?

The Porter camp responded to Mr. Daskas' press conference by offering a litany of the congressman's own proposed tax reforms and repeating his devotion to making permanent all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts.

That's fine, but it's too bad Rep. Porter didn't seize on his potential opponent's eagerness to complicate an already Byzantine tax code -- and his willingness to use the federal income tax as a vehicle for income redistribution and social engineering,

A simpler tax code is a fairer tax code -- and Mr. Daskas proposes to move us in the wrong direction. It's an issue Rep. Porter might do well to exploit.