It’s not exactly a newsflash, but the Republicans are blatantly hypocritical when it comes to their no taxes pledge. They now want to let the payroll tax cut expire at the end of the year, adding about $1,000 a year to working Americans’ tax bills. The same Republicans who were willing to let America default are now willing to endorse what amounts to a $120 billion tax increase.
Ezra Klein looks at this today:
One possible answer is that a large tax increase in an election year is good for them because it’s bad for President Obama and the economy. But that’s a pretty cynical explanation. Another is that they care more about tax rates on the rich than they do about tax rates on the poor. But they resist that argument. The real answer, Republicans says, is that they just don’t like temporary tax cuts.
”We don’t need short-term gestures,” explained Sen. Lamar Alexander. “Temporary tax rebates don’t work to create economic growth,” said Rep. Paul Ryan. Brad Dayspring, the spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, says his boss “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”
But as Jon Chait noted, Republicans proposed and passed temporary tax cuts in 2001 and 2008. Ryan voted for both packages. So did Cantor. And Alexander. So the GOP seemed to believe in temporary tax cuts when George W. Bush was president.
In other words, Republicans have frequently fought for temporary tax cuts. When offered the choice between a larger temporary tax cut and a smaller permanent tax cut, as happened in 2001 and 2003 and 2010, they have opted for the temporary tax cut. Now that Obama has come to endorse a temporary tax cut, they have stopped supporting it — a pattern we’ve seen on many other issues, as well. But the idea that the party has had some steady, policy-based objection to temporary tax cuts just doesn’t fit the record.
I’ll take the cynical views that Ezra mentions in his post. Mitch McConnell’s stated goal was to keep President Obama to one term. That’s pretty bold honesty from a politician. To me, it looks like two things. The Republicans are willing to screw the working poor and middle class to protect the rich. The Republicans are also completely unwilling to do anything that President Obama wants to do, whether it’s good for the country or not.
During the budget ceiling and deficit reduction debate, Republicans were unwilling to consider any new revenues at all. Let’s leave aside the obvious lie from Sen. Alexander (of course temporary measures help – all stimulus programs are temporary). We need stimulus for this economy. Some economists believe that the US economy is already in recession. Again. And all they’re doing in Washington is blathering on about the need for deficit reduction.
We don’t need deficit reduction at all. What we need is a robust jobs program. We need to help the long term unemployed. They face a real human catastrophe. We need to get those people back to work. The deficit will be reduced just by people working again and paying taxes again. Keynes was right. Government needs to step in during times when the economy is weak. Republicans either forgot that, or don’t care.
The Republicans have forgotten – or again, don’t care – that they need to govern. And that means doing what’s right, not trying to stack the deck with a weak economy so that Obama’s reelection chances are lessened. A poor economy could benefit the Republicans weak presidential field in 2012. So they do what they can to keep the economy weak and the working poor and middle class continue to suffer, and the Republicans rich friends keep getting richer.