When I cut my lawn, it gets shorter. If I don’t cut my lawn, it remains the same height. When I cut my hair, it gets shorter. If I don’t have my hair cut, it remains the same length. For the sake of those I’ve heard talking over the past few days, I’ll explain it even simpler: if you have something and you act to make sure that there is less of that something, you’ve made a “cut.”
When it comes to the matter of taxes in America, if a given tax rate is lower tomorrow than it was today, that tax rate was cut. If the tax rate tomorrow is the same as it was today, there has been no such cut. And, by that very same logic–maybe some of the aforementioned geniuses would like to sit down for this one–if the tax rate tomorrow is higher than it was today, then there has been a tax increase.
Groundbreaking? Hardly. And yet so many politicians and pundits on the left and the right continue to throw around this idea that Democrats would be cutting taxes by merely extending the Bush tax cuts.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, for example, originally told CBS’ Face the Nation that “if the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for it.” Other Republicans have followed suit, characterizing any extension of the Bush Tax Cuts as a tax cut by the Democrats. Even the brilliant Charles Krauthammer, in advocating on Special Report with Bret Baier a unified Republican front against the increase of any taxes for anyone during the course of this recession, insinuated once last night that the Democrats would be cutting taxes if they renewed the tax cuts passed in 2001 by the Bush administration. And, of course, President Barack Obama has been traveling the country, explaining how he desperately wants to provide the middle class with a tax cut, without mentioning that extending the Bush tax cuts either partially or in their entirety would merely be avoiding a tax increase for those to whom any extension applied.
The left has always been fantastic at changing the American lexicon. If you disagree with Al Gore and his flunkies on the threat posed by global warming, for example, you’re a “denier.” Here, Barack Obama and the Democrats have been successful, only 49 days outside the mid-term election, in so far convincing a great deal of the American people that should they vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year, they would actually be responsible for actively cutting the taxes for middle class Americans. In reality, even if a vote does go through, all that would be done is maintaining the status quo.
Some Democrats, however, have refused to engage in the semantics. Oddly enough, these are also the eleven House Democrats currently breaking with the administration and supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts across the board.
In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats Melissa Bean (IL), James Matheson (UT), Glenn Nye (VA), Gary Peters (MI) explained to the House Speaker that, “[i]n recent weeks, we have heard from a diverse spectrum of economists, small business owners, and families who have voiced concerns that raising any taxes right now could negatively impact economic growth. Given the continued fragility of our economy and slow pace of recovery, we share their concerns.”
Florida Congressman Ron Klein, staring down the barrel of a hard-charging Republican challenger (the fantastic Allen West), told a crowd in Delray Beach, Florida that extending the Bush tax cuts was the right thing to do. “Every day, I hear from families that are still struggling with bills and people who can’t find a job no matter how hard they try, so I believe right now, our top economic priority has to be job creation,” Klein said. “In order to achieve that, we need tax credits for small businesses that will help create new American jobs, while also promoting investment and growth. As we work to rebuild the economy, I support a one-year extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts.”
Bobby Bright, an Alabama Democrat and Auburn University Alum who has been one of several Democrats to break from party leadership in both high-profile votes and campaign ads, came out strongly against the party line, stating: “I don’t care if it’s the wealthiest of the wealthy, you don’t raise their taxes. In a recession, you don’t tax, burden and restrict. The economy is like a ship, and if you sink the ship, all the good you might do goes down with it.” With the ship analogy, I also think he might have been channeling Ron Burgundy.
Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, actually went so far as to acknowledge not only that his party leadership is actively looking to raise taxes on Americans but also that the Democrats’ policies would be damaging to the American economy, noting in a statement that “[w]e are managing a very fragile economy, and now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone.” Right now, the congressman maintains, “we should not do anything at this juncture that could jeopardize or slow the nation’s economic growth.”
Similar messages came from Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes, Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, Arizona Democrat Harry Mitchell, New York Democrat Michael McMahon, and Indiana Democrat Brad Ellsworth. The latter even made a point to acknowledge that it is those very people so often vilified by the left–those evil rich and successful people–who “indeed … are the ones that make investments, that start businesses investing in companies.”
When it comes to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, I certainly appreciate the efforts being made by Republicans to unify behind an all-or-nothing approach by the Democrats. The Democrats are the majority party — let them deal with the fallout if Americans begin to see adverse effects like those mentioned on Monday by the Christian Science Monitor:
What is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, unless Congress acts?
- The 10, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent rates would all rise. The new tax rates would be 15, 28, 31, 36, and 39.6 percent. This would cost taxpayers about $157 billion per year.
- The indexing of the alternative minimum tax for inflation would end. The AMT, which provides $66 billion in annual relief for taxpayers, attempts to ensure that individuals who benefit from itemized deductions or credits pay a separately calculated minimum tax.
- Taxes on capital gains and dividends would rise, meaning that investors could potentially pay about $35 billion more.
- Married couples would go back to paying higher rates than today, at a cost to them of $32 billion per year.
- Expanded tax credits – such as the child tax credit, which went from $500 to $1,000 – would end. This would cost families $26 billion per year. Some taxpayers would also pay an additional cumulative $1.5 billion in education costs.
- The estate tax, which has already expired, would go back to its 2009 level, costing heirs at least $26 billion.
- Higher-income households would see the dollar value of their personal exemptions phased out and would have a lower value for certain itemized deductions. This would cost those people – most of whom make well over $170,000 a year – about $21 billion.
It’s a fairly simple concept, and now that the political discourse has turned away from distractions like the Ground Zero Mosque and flaming Korans, ongoing discussion regarding the very concerns that Americans across the political spectrum will be carrying with them to the polls in November needs to be carefully put together by Republicans, if they wish to make the gains we all know they are capable of.
There must be no question in the minds of everyday Americans who do not pay attention to the daily comings and goings in Washington that an extension of the Bush tax cuts will not be a tax cut by the Democrats, but rather just the continuance of the status quo. Similarly, there must be no question in the minds of everyday Americans that any Bush tax cut not renewed by the Democrats is a bona fide tax increase. Therefore, what we do not need are folks like John Boehner and even Charles Krauthammer taking verbal easy street and going along with the left’s change in our lexicon.
Thankfully, folks like Indiana Rep. Mike Pence seem to understand the distinction. He released a statement today in support of Boehner’s recent letter to Nancy Pelosi in which he urged leadership to engage in open debate over the Democrats’ planned tax increases:
No American taxpayer should face a tax increase on January 1, and this issue deserves a full and transparent debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I stand with Leader Boehner and my Republican colleagues in urging Speaker Pelosi to allow the American people to express their will through their elected representatives on a matter that will affect every American taxpayer.
Raising taxes on job creators will not create jobs, especially during the worst economy in decades. The American people want Congress to act quickly to prevent the coming tax hikes. With our nation’s unemployment rate near 10 percent, it’s vital that the White House and House Democrats not play political games with the economy. I hope Democrat leaders in Congress will respond to the need to come together in a bipartisan way to stop the president’s planned tax increases.
Perhaps, on this issue, when it comes to conveying their message as strongly and succinctly as possible, Republicans should look to Mike Pence, and even to what’s being said by those Democrats currently running for their lives from the policies advanced by their president and party leadership.