Republicans dodging realities
The New York Times said the following in an editorial:
Congressional Republicans seem to think they are being flexible on taxes simply because a few of them have grudgingly admitted that some new revenues can be part of the current fiscal negotiations. We’re unimpressed.
No credit is due to a party that has suddenly accepted the obvious when it has no choice, particularly after two years of irresponsibly reducing the deficit only from the spending side. True flexibility means acknowledging that tax rates for the rich have to go up, and then negotiating how much and which ones. But, so far, Republicans have been just as closed to that reality as they have been for years, ignoring both the election results and the plain arithmetic of deficit reduction.
“No Republican will vote for higher tax rates,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” recently.
Raising rates on the rich remains so taboo to party leaders that they have twisted themselves into knots to avoid it, coming up with several convoluted alternative schemes to bring in revenue just so they can tell their supporters that rates were left untouched. Most of them involve putting caps on popular deductions like the vital one for charitable donations. Apparently, Republicans are so wedded to keeping the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that they would prefer to hurt charities and the vast nonprofit sector, which would inevitably suffer if donations from the rich could not be deducted.
A deduction limit also doesn’t raise very much money. Capping deductions at $50,000, as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has proposed, would raise only $727 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center, far less than the $1 trillion in revenues from ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Excluding the charitable deduction from that cap would raise only $473 billion.
In exchange for these non-concessions, Republicans want vast cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit the middle class and the poor.
Fortunately, President Barack Obama is ignoring these head-fakes and holding firm to the principles that won him re-election. This week, he is embarking on a campaign to take his case to the public, meeting with middle-class taxpayers and visiting a toy company in Pennsylvania that he says would be hurt if a tax cut for middle- and lower-income levels isn’t restored.
So far, the House has refused to pass a Senate bill to keep those tax cuts, hoping to use them as leverage to preserve cuts for the rich. Speaker John Boehner even threatened yet again to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless he gets his way, another sign of how far Republican leaders are willing to go to cling to the failed policies of the past.