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Boehner Flips Back: Committed to Deficit-Busting Extension of All Bush Tax Cuts

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), fuzzy again. (original by TalkRadioNews via Flickr)

After a brief moment of clarity on CBS’ Face the Nation, where he said that he would reluctantly support the Obama tax plan without extensions of tax cuts for the wealthy, House Minority Leader John Boehner returned to form today in a news conference, vowing to hijack tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income:

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday backtracked from remarks he made Sunday suggesting he would support extending the Bush tax cuts only for households with incomes below $250,000 a year, as President Obama has proposed.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner repeatedly emphasized that he would support only legislation that kept in place all of the tax cuts. He sidestepped questions about how he and Republicans would vote if Democrats insisted on pushing through a measure that ends the tax cut on household incomes of more than $250,000 a year. Tax cuts for all incomes that passed in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush are due to expire at the end of this year.

“I want to extend all of the current tax cuts,” Boehner said. “I want the speaker [Nancy Pelosi] to allow a fair and open debate on our two-point plan.”

He was referring to a House Republican proposal to keep in all place all of the tax cuts for two years and reduce federal government spending back to 2008 levels.

Only problem with Boehner’s “two-point plan” is that it would slash hundreds of billions from popular social programs so that millionaires can get a check for $100,000. The net cost to the budget happens to be quite large, it wouldn’t create but probably destroy a non-trivial number of jobs, and Boehner won’t even identify which cuts he would make to give a true measure of the plan.

Moreover, the Joint Economic Committee released a report today showing that the Bush tax cuts massively increased economic inequality and precipitated the Great Recession by fueling the need from the middle class for credit and debt and bubble-driven economics. Annie Lowrey writes:

The JEC argues that more-progressive taxing might help. (The huge bump in inequality during the Clinton years is due to the tech and stock bubble.) “Policymakers today have the opportunity to continue the work begun by President Clinton,” the JEC writes, specifically referring to the current Congressional battle over taxes. “[They have the opportunity to] help steer America back onto a course of economic growth where rising tides lift all boats, rather than just the wealthiest American’s yachts. Retaining the Bush tax cuts for all households, instead of letting them expire for the top two income brackets, would make the income tax system less progressive and could further exacerbate income inequality and economic fragility.”

So given the facts, the clear contrast with Republicans, and multiple polls showing public opinion on their side, what will the Democrats do to press this advantage? Well. . . . [cont’d.]

At his weekly press availability this morning, (Steny) Hoyer declined to draw a bright line on the issue of tax cuts for the rich, adding to the uncertainty over whether Democrats will force Republicans to choose between tax cuts for the middle class, or no tax cuts at all.

“I’m always, as you know, prepared to discuss alternatives so that we can move forward,” Hoyer told reporters.

I’d say that it’s like they want to lose, if I didn’t know that substantial chunks of the Democratic caucus really do want to lose this battle, and give their contributors a continued tax-cut boost.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Boehner Flips Back: Committed to Deficit-Busting Extension of All Bush Tax Cuts

After a brief moment of clarity on CBS’ Face the Nation, where he said that he would reluctantly support the Obama tax plan without extensions of tax cuts for the wealthy, House Minority Leader John Boehner returned to form today in a news conference, vowing to hijack tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income:

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday backtracked from remarks he made Sunday suggesting he would support extending the Bush tax cuts only for households with incomes below $250,000 a year, as President Obama has proposed.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner repeatedly emphasized that he would support only legislation that kept in place all of the tax cuts. He sidestepped questions about how he and Republicans would vote if Democrats insisted on pushing through a measure that ends the tax cut on household incomes of more than $250,000 a year. Tax cuts for all incomes that passed in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush are due to expire at the end of this year.

“I want to extend all of the current tax cuts,” Boehner said. “I want the speaker [Nancy Pelosi] to allow a fair and open debate on our two-point plan.”

He was referring to a House Republican proposal to keep in all place all of the tax cuts for two years and reduce federal government spending back to 2008 levels.

Only problem with Boehner’s “two-point plan” is that it would slash hundreds of billions from popular social programs so that millionaires can get a check for $100,000. The net cost to the budget happens to be quite large, it wouldn’t create but probably destroy a non-trivial number of jobs, and Boehner won’t even identify which cuts he would make to give a true measure of the plan.

Moreover, the Joint Economic Committee released a report today showing that the Bush tax cuts massively increased economic inequality and precipitated the Great Recession by fueling the need from the middle class for credit and debt and bubble-driven economics. Annie Lowrey writes:

The JEC argues that more-progressive taxing might help. (The huge bump in inequality during the Clinton years is due to the tech and stock bubble.) “Policymakers today have the opportunity to continue the work begun by President Clinton,” the JEC writes, specifically referring to the current Congressional battle over taxes. “[They have the opportunity to] help steer America back onto a course of economic growth where rising tides lift all boats, rather than just the wealthiest American’s yachts. Retaining the Bush tax cuts for all households, instead of letting them expire for the top two income brackets, would make the income tax system less progressive and could further exacerbate income inequality and economic fragility.”

So given the facts, the clear contrast with Republicans, and multiple polls showing public opinion on their side, what will the Democrats do to press this advantage? Well….

At his weekly press availability this morning, (Steny) Hoyer declined to draw a bright line on the issue of tax cuts for the rich, adding to the uncertainty over whether Democrats will force Republicans to choose between tax cuts for the middle class, or no tax cuts at all.

“I’m always, as you know, prepared to discuss alternatives so that we can move forward,” Hoyer told reporters.

I’d say that it’s like they want to lose, if I didn’t know that substantial chunks of the Democratic caucus really do want to lose this battle, and give their contributors a continued tax-cut boost.

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David Dayen

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