Tuesday, January 01, 2013

AmericaBlog's Gaius Publius points out that the Bush tax cuts HAVE EXPIRED, and therefore . . .


by Ken

Over at AmericaBlog, Gaius Publius notes: "Bush tax cuts have expired, no law has replaced them." As he points out :
No, a handshake between Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell is not a new law, desite what you're reading in the papers. And yes, the negotiating ground has changed, despite what you're reading in the papers.
I'm not absolutely sure that's the case, bearing in mind what WaPo's Village Fixer Chris Cillizza pointed out the other day about congressional electoral math: that whatever the polls say, congressional Republicans are pretty much invincible in their districts, and have no need to curry favor with people who aren't going to vote for them anyway. (Witness the announced opposition to the Senate "deal" of that illustrious statesman Eric Cantor. If you believe in, or are just curious about, the "deal," here's Ezra Klein's "Everything You Need to Know About.")

Still, the congressional Republicans' high-bracket paymasters, who for the time being have lost their tax goodies, may start to get restless about the payoff for their investment. You or I might say, "Serves you right for bankrolling those doody-brained Teabaggers," but I suppose it's theoretically possible that they could be calling for the head of "Sunny John" Boehner on a silver deficit-hawk platter.

So let's follow along with GP's premise, because it leads to a honey of a hypothetical letter from the president ("pretend-Barack") to his congressional negotiating partners, "John & Mitch," in which he offers a set of nonnegotiable proposals, including a number that they either agreed to or had negotiated better terms than "before you blew it by not sending me a bill in time." The list includes going back to $250K as the cutoff point for restoration of the Bush tax cuts; taxing capital gains and carried interest at 25% (not the agreed-upon 20%!); extending assorted tax credits and fixes as well as unemployment benefits; a full-year pushback of the sequester; and so on -- "AND I'm going to tell the American people every single day, starting this very afternoon, that their tax breaks are in your hands."

And with it pretend-Barack offers terms that include passage in both houses of Congess "without amendement," at penalty of having the package reinstated with the $245K threshold dropped to $245K, and then to $240K, and so on.
This is how pretend-Barack plays the game after January 1, after the Bush tax cuts have already expired with no new bill. Unless they’ve changed the constitution, or we don’t have rule of law, or something. Or unless Barack had something totally different in mind -- and totally different masters to obey (dare you to click).
It's such a pleasant fantasy that I'm prepared to indulge GP a bit. Of course those last two conditions he cites pretty much take the air out of the tires of the fantasy by themselves, even without the consideration of the Republicans' electoral disincentive to budge.

That said, I confess that I have also fantasized about an administration media blitz, since even the president has seemed prepared to make an issue of the R's' commitment to tax favoritism for the wealth. However, the blitz would have to be clear and specific, to try to communicate to voters that when the chips are down, the R's' nonnegotiable concern is for people who earn above $250K and the very small group of richies who are actually subject to estate taxes.

In reality, though, I suppose we have to wait for the House Republicans to do their worst and then see what has been given away.

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