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Public v. Lobbyists on Bush Tax Cuts

A new poll from CNN/Opinion Research shows that only 31% of Americans want to see all the Bush tax cuts extended, and 51% would rather just extend those at the lower end of the scale, and let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Another 18% would rather see them all expire.

Even 50% of REPUBLICANS AND CONSERVATIVES don’t want to see all the tax cuts extended.

So basically, the movement to extend all the tax cuts doesn’t come from the bottom up, it comes from the top down.

A decade ago, Dirk Van Dongen sat across from President George W. Bush in the Indian Treaty Room in the White House complex, mapping out plans to pass tax cuts. Now, Van Dongen, who heads the nation’s top wholesalers’ group, is leading a lobbying blitz to ensure they survive.

He helps run a 1,000-member coalition of companies and trade groups opposing President Barack Obama’s proposal to discontinue tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans, saying that job-generating small businesses will be hit hardest.

Lawmakers “can’t ignore these groups because their members blanket congressional districts, are easily mobilized and could play a significant role in the midterm elections,” said David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York.

A number of prominent Democratic Senate candidates have talked favorably of temporarily extending the high-end tax cuts, and with this background, and everything we know about money in politics, you can surely see why.

Now you can read the CBO projections about ten different ways, but they do say fairly clearly that extending all the Bush tax cuts will basically shrink the economy in the long run. And while I don’t agree with CBO on all fronts, given how much capital would be pushed into the pockets of the rich and onto the sidelines, never to be trickled down, that’s a pretty realistic rendering of the effect. So the business lobbyists greedily demanding their tax cuts want to cut their own throats in the long run.

So far, the Administration has stayed on the side of the public and not the lobbyists, in this case. Will their fellow Democrats?

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David Dayen

David Dayen