Today’s political insanity
Posted on December 1, 2010
Today all 42 Republicans in the US Senate signed a letter saying they will block all Senate bills until there is resolution on the Bush tax cuts and their upcoming December 31st expiration. Democrats want to continue the tax cuts for all those making under $250,000 per year and the Republicans want it to stay in place for all income levels.
What can we know with some certainty?
- That leaving the tax breaks in place for those earning over $250,000 per year will cost $700 billion, adding to our ballooning deficit (the tax cuts were put in place when we enjoyed an enormous surplus);
- Letting the tax cuts expire returns the tax rate to the levels of the Clinton era, a 3% increase from 36% to 39%;
- The CBO’s non-partisan analysis of 17 measures to boost the economy ranks tax cuts to the wealthy as number 17 in terms of effectiveness;
- The Republican position would benefit the wealthiest 2% of Americans. The other 98% would continue to enjoy the tax cut under the Democratic plan.
That’s what we can know for sure.
Here’s what drives me crazy. Republican and Tea Party (aka Nut Case) activists have go on about the deficit and adamantly oppose things like the extension of unemployment benefits, yet are willing to add $700 billion to the deficit to benefit those who need it least.
Democrats are making the argument on the basis of the deficit, but they are willing to increase the deficit in lots of other areas.
Why not say the simple truth: that they believe the richest people in the country should pay more taxes?
The real argument is over income (re-)distribution. If both sides would acknowledge it, make their case on their principles and their models, and then have the debate it would at least be more honest and transparent. Income redstirubution is not a Socialist concept (despite Glen Beck’s rants) — it is inhherent in all tax policy. What really should be debated is what model of income redistribution we think makes the most sense and why.
What we have instead is hypocrisy from both parties, grandstanding, and bad government. Governing is the art of compromise. So compromise. Here’s my suggestion: extend the cuts to all those making up to $1m. That will cover the overwhelming number of small business owners, a key source of new jobs and economic energy, and provide a national benchmark for what constitutes wealth. If you then make more than $1m per year, you’re officially wealthy and will pay a higher percentage of taxes. If you are under $1m per year, you are part of the proletariat and will enjoy the current level of taxation.
I can live with the Democratic proposal and would support it, even though my taxes would go up (we’re lucky to be in that targeted group, as I look at it). If compromise means moving the cut off, then so be it. But for the love of God, please give us reasoned and measured governance and policy debate. There is too much pain and suffering in the country — Rome is burning while the political orchestra fiddles away.