For some reason, the Democrats have let themselves be bullied into secrecy. Irrational fears of being branded “socialist” have led the party to hiding assistance programs as byzantine tax incentives. This just doesn’t make sense.

As Yglesias writes about the recent HIRE program, an assistance program doesn’t win any political leverage if no one knows about it. This same thing happened with the economic stimulus credits last year: instead of just giving people money like Bush did, the stimulus plan called for temporarily reducing Federal payroll withholding rates. While the fiscal effect is the same, taking less money than usual hardly feels like a credit. It’s no wonder that few people even realized they were getting a tax rebate.