Monday, May 21, 2012

On Taxes, Reagan Sides with Obama against Romney

by Nomad

Though the Republicans of today like to consider themselves the party of Reagan, as we see, nothing could be further than the true. Reagan- whether you were fond of the man or not- would never have given his approval to a platform of  preferential taxation on the rich. That sly political fox would have told you that a politician would have to be completely  out of touch to try to run on such a ridiculous notion. 

Nevertheless, Mitt Romney wants to make the Bush taxes cuts permanent (or at least, for the foreseeable future.) Here is how he frames the discussion.
"I know there are some that say, look, we should lower taxes for the very highest-income people. My view is very simple: The people that have been hurt most by the Obama economy, has been the middle class. That's why I cut taxes for the middle class." 
Always careful to distract voters and frame the discussion but never actually saying one thing or another. Extending the Bush cuts? His answer is to talk about tax cuts for the middle class. Never mind that the middle class ARE paying their share. That's not the problem. That's not even the question. 
But back in 2008, he was far less careful about his pronouncements.

In the 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida he told the audience:
I support the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts helped get our economy going again when we faced the last tough times. That’s why right now, as we face tough times, we need to have somebody who understands, has the private sector, the business world, the economy in their DNA. I do. I spent my life in the private sector. I know how jobs come & how they go, and I’ll make sure that we create more good jobs for this nation. One way to do that is by holding down taxes & making those tax cuts permanent.
Of course that was in 2008 and the majority of Americans felt that extending the tax cuts was not a bad idea. However, things changed, after the bottom fell out of the economy. 
While President Bush was reassuring the American public that the economy was stable and strong right up until the whole charade melted into a gooey mess. Americans were quite willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, we can't expect the economy to heal itself if we are punishing the job creators, right?
By 2008, however, that idea was wearing thin. If the tax cuts were to have strengthened the economy and encouraged job growth, there was precious little sign of it. In fact, the idea of tax cuts and attempting to finance two expensive wars at the same time was indefensible from the start.

The tide of public opinion has definitely turned, as numerous polls show. Greg Sergent, writing for the Washington Post, notes:
* A new National Journal poll finds that 56 percent support ending either all the Bush tax cuts or just the ones for the wealthy, while barely more than a third want to keep them all.

* The new Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of Americans -- and a majority of independents -- supports either ending all the Bush tax cuts or just the ones for the wealthy.

Indeed, Gallup finds that Obama's proposal -- ending the tax cuts for the wealthy but not for everyone else -- has the support of 44 percent, more than any other solution.

* A CNN poll in late August found that a majority, 51 percent, favors ending the tax cuts for the rich, and another 18 percent favor ending them all.

It also found that among independents, 44 percent favor ending the tax cuts for the rich, while another 21 percent favor ending them all. Letting the tax cuts for the rich expire has majority support in all regions of the country except the south.

* A recent CBS poll also found a sizable majority, 56 percent, think the tax cuts for the wealthy should expire.
No wonder Romney is trying to change the subject. The effects of the tax cuts are now quite apparent. The Republican party- after years of talking about tax cuts for ALL Americans- are trying to pin the blame on the president. As one writer points out:
Under Obama’s watch the national debt has risen from roughly $10 trillion to $15 trillion, a record high. But to what extent are his decisions while in office to blame? The answer: very little. The vast bulk of the debt is the result of policies enacted during the Bush administration coupled with automatic increases in federal spending and decreases in tax revenue triggered by the economic downturn.
This is, of course, the harvest but who planted this bad crop in the first place? (This doesn't excuse Obama for deciding to extent the Bush tax cuts.) 
And what would be the result of making the Bush tax cuts permanent? According to the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts,  extending some or all of the tax cuts would impact the economy in a number of negative ways. According to its report:
  • Making the tax cuts permanent for all taxpayers, regardless of income, would increase the national debt $3.3 trillion over the next 10 years.
  • Limiting the extension to individuals making less than $200,000 and married couples earning less than $250,000 would increase the debt about $2.2 trillion in the next decade.
  • Extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers for only two years would cost $561 billion over the next 10 years.
Still, it is always dangerous to rely too much on what any Republican says, even the stalwart Ronald Reagan. Despite the remarks on the clip, Reagan was to be the one who would actually start the downward slide, kicking off the tax holiday for the wealthy. According to one source:
In his first four years in office, from 1980 to 1984, Reagan lowered the top income tax bracket from 70% to 50%. In the next four years, Reagan took the top bracket from 50% down to a dangerously low 28%. Reagan went on to triple the national debt, raid the Social Security trust fund to make up for his loses and went on to raise taxes eleven times primarily on the middle class.
With all the evidence at hand, you would think the American public would have wised up a bit in the forty years of wealth rewards. However, there never seems to be an end to the number of people who will swallow whatever a Republican conservative says as if it was the gospel. 
Related articles