So what do I mean when I say they want to add $3.7 trillion to the deficit? I mean that they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. The cost of the Bush tax cuts over the next 10 years comes to $3.7 trillion. They’ve said to the Democrats, in other words, that they will agree to minor revenue increases now, but only on the firm condition that the Democrats accept depleting the Treasury by 15 times as much over the next decade. What sort of idiot would take that deal? It’s not a deal at all. It’s hostage-taking, no different in spirit from the kidnapper who feeds you well for a few days but then takes the money and shoots you anyway.
This is way the Republicans play politics these days. Attach the debt-ceiling vote to completely unprecedented demands for spending cuts. Subject the debt-ceiling vote to cloture rules so that raising the limit requires 60 votes instead of 51—for the first time in the history of the Senate, since it began raising the debt limit during World War II. And now, agree to revenue increases, as long as you can force the other guys to agree to revenue cuts that you know and they know would cripple their party’s priorities and program for the country.
And about these revenues: they’re arrived at mainly by taking away deductions used by working- and middle-class taxpayers in order to pay for huge tax cuts for You Know Who. Under this plan, from Republican Senator Pat Toomey, households earning all the way up to $200,000 would actually see small tax increases, according to Joint Committee on Taxation estimates. Households from $200,000 to $500,000 would average a small cut, less than $2,000. Households from half a million to a million would enjoy an average cut of $13,301. And above a million,$31,764.
The Joint Committee reckons that to achieve the income-tax rate cuts the plan seeks, which go even beyond the Bush rates (especially for… yes, You Know Who), deductions like the one for home-mortgage interest would have to be cut by 75 percent. Hence, overall taxes go up on those below $200,000. And that, folks, is the Republican idea of “revenue.”
Republicans in the House and Senate are signing bipartisan letters saying they’re open to tax increases. Of course these letters never say which tax increases. That’s left vague precisely so some Republicans will sign. But the second that Emanuel Cleaver, the Missouri Democrat at the center of trying to arrange these bipartisan deals, pencils in one actual concrete tax increase, the Republicans will hear about it from Grover Norquist and their local Tea Party chapters, who’ll remind them of this very attractive and bull-headed right-wing fellow back home who just the other day was talking about how fun it would be to run for Congress...
These letters don’t mean anything. Alexander’s good intentions—and I believe he has them; he is a conservative but a reasonable human being who genuinely is troubled, I’m told, by the toxic atmosphere in his workplace—mean close to nothing. And there’s a specific reason why.
This morning on NPR, Andrea Seabrook reported that the Republicans on the supercommittee are “saying that they are going to vote en bloc.” So there you have it. Now ask yourself: If they are going to vote as one, do you think six Republicans are going to vote for meaningful revenue increases? Or are they possibly a little more likely to vote en bloc against any tax increases?
Whats your option?