Mr. Santos’ latest flub
The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend — especially when that individual is spackled with disgrace and his efforts against your shared enemy undercut your own more robust strategies.
In this case, U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-Long Island, has introduced a bill to lift the so-called SALT cap, an element of former President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul that placed a $10,000 limit on the amount of state tax payments that New Yorkers could deduct from their federal income taxes. This editorial board has consistently made the case that the cap, which was intended by the tax bill’s Republican framers to punish higher-tax and -income states that tend to be led by Democrats, should be ditched as part of a larger effort to dial back the inequities baked into the 2017 tax plan. (President Joe Biden just unveiled a budget proposal that, among its other elements, would raise taxes on top earners and businesses — but we doubt anyone in the White House expects it will find favor in a House that’s under the thumb of the so-called Freedom Caucus or the narrowly divided Senate.)
Into this five-year-old dilemma steps the unwelcome figure of Mr. Santos, currently under investigation for his abundant lies about his resume, his alleged criminal history in Brazil, and enough campaign finance irregularities to make the lowest Tammany Hall grafter weep with shame. Numerous members of New York’s Republican congressional delegation have joined Democrats in calling for Mr. Santos to resign or be expelled — although the most powerful member of that delegation, Rep. Elise Stefanik, has remained largely silent or engaged in her usual pattern of deflection.
In an apparent attempt to claim some sort of relevance, Mr. Santos recently introduced a bill that would raise the SALT cap to $50,000 for single filers. In this effort as in so many things, he is a man alone — in part due to the fact that more robust efforts to alleviate the impact of the cap have been proposed by far more credible lawmakers. A bipartisan proposal introduced earlier this year by another GOP freshman, Rep. Michael Lawler, and other blue-state lawmakers in both parties would increase the cap to $100,000 for individual filers and $200,000 for married couples. (Married couples get no added benefit under the current cap.)
When The New York Times asked Santos’ office why he had opted to introduce his own bill rather than back the bipartisan alternative, there was no response.
The introduction of legislation is a privilege granted to all members of Congress, no matter how ridiculous the proposal — Mr. Santos has signed aboard a clownish bill that would make the AR-15 the “national gun of the United States” — or how odious the lawmaker. If Mr. Santos wants to play-act like a responsible House member before his inevitable exit, it’s likely to be no more convincing than his other performances. His fellow members should treat this measure like they should treat him: as a pariah.