Thursday, September 16, 2010

GOP Thinks It's A Good Idea To Hold Tax Cuts For The Middle Class Hostage For Their Wealthy Donors


Only 33% of Republicans want to see Boehner become Speaker

I've been looking into what most of the Republican congressional candidates have in common this year-- no it isn't O'Donnell's anti-masturbation mania-- and it seems to be a threat to block tax cuts for the middle class if the wealthiest 2 or 3% of Americans don't get them too. Their message is, "If the rich don't get their Bush tax breaks extended, no one else will either." Crooked Ohio used car dealer Tom Ganley is a good example. He's trying to buy a seat for himself in northeast Ohio (suburbs of Cleveland and Akron) and he isn't terribly savvy, just sort of parroting the Boehner line. His opponent, progressive Congresswoman Betty Sutton has been an indefatigable fighter for the middle class and is a champion of extending the tax breaks for middle class families. Ganley is more interested in the 3% of Americans who have benefited the most from the Bush economy: " The President just doesn’t seem to understand how dire a situation his policies have created. AND he’s now arguing a step that I believe will certainly make the problem far worse! He’s proposing the elimination of Bush tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 a year-- in other words, a TAX INCREASE for all those folk. He says he would use that revenue to fund a temporary tax credit for business investment."

A bit to the south of Sutton's district, Congressman John Yarmuth, who represents the Louisville area and is also a firm backer of an extension of middle-class tax cuts and new incentives for small business, is up against Todd Lally, a guy widely seen as dangerously uninformed and angry to the point of becoming unhinged. And Lally, like Ganley, seems obsessed with helping "hard-pressed" millionaires.

Ganley and Lally may be stupider than your average garden variety GOP House candidates, but, essentially, it's the same message wherever you look. When asked directly by the Louisville Courier-Journal if he thought wealthy people were really the ones hurting, he replied, “Yes, I think some of them are.” Economists have concluded that, in fact, the wealth of American millionaires increased by 16% in 2009 alone, while the income of middle-class workers remained stagnate or declined. According to the CBO, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will cost taxpayers $700 billion over ten years. When confronted with the burden this would place on the national debt, Lally scoffed, reiterated strong support for his millionaire tax plan and offered no plan to pay for it. 

Now, recall that way back on September 12, Boehner, probably drunk, said on Face The Nation that he would vote to extend middle-class tax rates even if it means eliminating the reductions on household incomes exceeding $250,000 a year. He's been walking that back-- in a panic-- ever since. Fearful of the scorn of more Republicans Boehner put together a press conference and said, repeatedly, that he would support only legislation that kept in place the tax cuts for the wealthy as well as for average Americans.
"The Republicans really are put into a very difficult position," said former Republican Representative Bill Archer of Texas, who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax bills. "They are historically for tax relief. In this case, the question is can you be against tax relief if you don't get everything you want?" ... Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, was among Republicans who distanced themselves from Boehner yesterday. "We're for a full, complete extension of the Bush tax cuts," Ryan said on talk-show host Sean Hannity's radio program.

As Dan Pfeiffer explained on the White House blog yesterday, the Republican approach to the scheduled sunsetting on the Bush tax cuts will double the nation's deficit over the next decade!
Instead of joining President Obama in his call to extend the middle class tax cuts to working families, to the people who need it most, McConnell and Boehner’s focus appears to be on millionaires and billionaires who aren’t asking for a tax cut. During these challenging economic times, we simply can’t afford to borrow another $700 billion over the next decade to give an average tax cut of $100,000 to Americans making over $1 million per year.

What’s clear is that Senator McConnell’s and Congressman Boehner’s plan would do absolutely nothing to grow our economy, put people back to work and strengthen America’s middle class. Instead, it would take us back to the same exact failed economic policies that created the mess we’re in: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut rules for the special interests and big corporations and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself.

...The Congressional Republicans have tried very hard over the past 19 months to convince the American people that they were the only ones who could be trusted with getting spending under control and reducing the deficit. This argument was always laughable, considering these are the same people that took a budget surplus at the end of the Clinton administration and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit. Now we have further evidence that, despite all of their bluster about deficits and out of control spending, it’s clear that the Congressional Republicans have no plans to fix these problems and is unprepared to govern responsibly.

Tuesday three of the most committed progressives in Congress, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva and Mary Jo Kilroy sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging action on the Bush tax cuts before October adjournment. The letter calls for the elimination of tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans who simply don't need them, and use that revenue to help end deficit spending. Boehner and his cronies are already going insane over it-- especially since it was their decades of pushing terrible trade policies that led to the terrible US-China trade deficit and this elimination of unwarranted tax cuts to the wealthy is being touted as a way to get rid of that deficit.

Meanwhile you might be interested in a survey from Stan Greenberg's Democracy Corps that shows how strongly voters support the Democratic position on letting the tax breaks to the wealthy expire while extending them for the middle class.
This will be a tough election, but fortunately, the unfolding tax issue can work strongly to help Democrats and define the choice in the election.  This is a case where Democrats are strongly aligned with public thinking and priorities. Only 38 percent favor extending the Bush tax cuts for those over $250,000-- the official position of Republican leaders and candidates.  Clearly messaging around this choice-- with Democrats voting for middle class tax cuts, while starting to address the deficit and protecting Social Security, contrasted with Republican candidates who still believe trickle-down economics and worsening the deficit-- works for progressives.

With Democrats down by 7 points in the congressional test ballot, they have reason to welcome this potential shift in the dynamic.  Democrats hold the high ground on these issues-- and this one noticeably moves the congressional vote to the Democrats after a debate.  Democrats should embrace a tax debate.  Frankly, they do not have many issues where:

* There is a 17-point margin in favor of the Democratic position, 55 to 38 percent.

* The strong messages gives a disproportionate lift to the Democratic candidates-- scored 13 points better than named Democratic candidates while Republican messages performed half as well.

* There is an opportunity to show seriousness on the deficit, while undermining Republicans on the issue.

* The choice re-enforces Democrats’ core values and strongest framework for the election (for the middle class versus Wall Street).

The payoff from this debate comes in a 2-point narrowing of the Republican lead in the congressional vote after hearing the debate.  And for the most powerful Democratic messages, it narrows the vote by 5 points, to 45 to 47 percent.

This latest poll of likely voters by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps finds majority support for a variety of tax cut measures to protect the middle class. Some of the key findings include:
• Over half-- 55 percent-- support increasing taxes by letting some or all of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. Specifically, 42 percent say the cuts should remain in place for the middle class, but expire for those making more than $250,000.  Just 38 percent say all the tax cuts should remain in place. This is not a purely base issue-- by a 17-point margin, independents favor raising taxes on the wealthy.

• This message is even more popular when it is contextualized by broader economic messages.  By a 10-point margin, voters are persuaded and reassured by the idea of raising taxes on the wealthiest so that revenue can be used for deficit reduction and investment in jobs.

• Majorities clearly side with extending the cuts for the middle class, at least for some time. Voters favor extending the tax cuts for the middle class for two years, as some have proposed, while a similar majority favors extending these cuts permanently. The proposals receive intense popular support from Democrats, with all proposals advocating expiration of tax cuts getting more than six-in-ten support.

President Obama spoke about the hostage-taking from the Rose Garden late yesterday afternoon:
Extending these tax cuts is right. It is just. It will help our economy because middle-class folks are the folks who are most likely to actually spend this tax relief-- for a new computer for the kids or for maybe some home improvement.

And if the other party continues to hold these tax cuts hostage, these are the same families who will suffer the most when their taxes go up next year. And if we can’t get an agreement with Republicans, that's what will happen.

So we don't have time for any more games. I understand there’s an election coming up. But the American people didn't send us here to just think about our jobs; they sent us here to think about theirs. They sent us here to think about their lives and their children’s lives, and to be responsible, and to be serious about the challenges we face as a nation.

Senator David Vitter doesn't pay any attention when President Obama speaks. He summed up the Republican incomprehension of the plight of regular American families nicely and it was caught on tape by Charlie Melancon's campaign. Now Melancon is a conservative Blue Dog, but even he thinks unfair tax breaks for millionaires should be allowed to expire while tax cuts for the middle class stay in place:

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At 6:09 AM, Blogger Bula said...

I say call their bluff..let all the tax cuts expire. The blame rests with Bush. It was his legislation with the sunset clause written in. Bush raised the taxes. Not Obama.

Then when the new congress comes in, offer a middle class tax cut.

How could the republicans reject a tax cut then...

And remember, people without jobs don't give a shit about tax cuts... but a lot of republican doctors and lawyers make 250K or less... They want it...


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