Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2009

BIGGEST. TAX CUT. EVER.... A few weeks ago, when the House approved the economic stimulus bill without any Republican votes, David Weigel noted that he literally couldn't remember "a time when the entire Republican conference in either house voted against tax cuts."

That's true, but let's go a little further. The compromise plan announced last night includes $282 billion in tax cuts over two years. With that in mind, Steven Waldman argues, persuasively, that when the vast majority of congressional Republicans oppose the package, they'll be voting against the biggest tax cut "in history."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush's first two years of tax cuts amounted to $174 billion. A second batch in 2004 and 2005 cost $231. And those were thought to be bigger than the tax cuts offered by Reagan, Kennedy or others.

Now, perhaps some new analysis will show that the tax cuts end up not quite being the largest in history by this measure or that. But it's clear they're massive.

I'm ducking the debate on whether this is economically a good or bad -- but surely it ought to be a big story.

True. Waldman also notes that this is also an example of a liberal Democrat delivering early on a tax cut he promised during the campaign, a pledge "few Republican thought he'd keep."

What's more, let's also not forget that Obama's tax-cut plan in the recovery package is not only arguably bigger than previous cuts, but also better targeted. George W. Bush's tax cuts were long-term income-tax rate cuts, which amounted to a generous break for those at the top, since the wealthy pay most income taxes. Obama's tax cuts, meanwhile, are short-term refunds paid directly to working and middle class families (some of which Republicans have denounced as "welfare").

As such, GOP lawmakers are going to reject one of the largest, if not the largest, tax cut ever proposed by a president -- which just so happens to be targeted at the working and middle class families Obama vowed to look out for.

When the economy recovers, I suspect many on the right will argue, "Obama's policy only worked because he passed a quarter-trillion dollars in tax breaks." That will surely make them feel better. But how will those same conservatives respond when it's noted that Republicans stood up to oppose one of the biggest tax-cut plans in American history?

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Don't know about better targeted. $70 billion to upper-middle-class via AMT?

Posted by: Obama -- Not as Tough as the Steelers on February 12, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

No credit where no credit is due...

President Obama waxing philosophical in his recent press conference:

I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that's the lesson I learned. But there was consultation. There will continue to be consultation.
Posted by: koreyel on February 12, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

What makes you think anyone will remember or believe that Republicans opposed this tax cut? They will revise history, deny and accuse anyone who says otherwise of lying - same old, same old - some things never change, even if we Dems want to believe in CHANGE.

Posted by: withay on February 12, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

How will they respond? They will lie as they always do.

Its the Republican brotherhood of perpetual victimhood. Hypocrisy is what they do

Posted by: SnarkyShark on February 12, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Remember how the money wasn't going to create any jobs? Well now Sen. Jeff Sessions has just discovered that the construction spending in the bill will create 1-2 million jobs.

Why the admission? Because with construction jobs there is the potential of hiring illegal aliens. As many as 200k could get work! He makes the admission of jobs because he wants to force a provision that employers use e-check, which verifies SSN.

Posted by: tomj on February 12, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them.

This was bizzare when Obama said it. Surely he knew Republicans would have never pushed for the same tax cuts. In fact a few minutes ago, someone from Cato Institute was on MSNBC saying the only tax cuts that will stimulate the economy are marginal tax cuts. It was fun watching Andrea Mitchell's eyes roll.

Posted by: Danp on February 12, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The points you make are linked together, you know. The reason the Republicans don't like these tax cuts is *because* they are targetted at middle-to-low class people. Republicans only get excited over tax cuts for the *rich*.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on February 12, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

This post is silly. Silly because you seem to think that the voters remember things like "voted for" or "voted against" in detail. I doubt if they do. Furthermore, the Republicans will simply say that *every body knows that Republicans are for lower taxes but these weren't really lower taxes* or, alternatively, that these "lower taxes" were going to happen anyway but are horrendously offset with the higher deficit spending. There's no single, linear, narrative that the Republicans have to hew to on this one. And, as has been amply demonstrated over the last eight years, the high brand definition of the Republican party generally allows them to skate right past little inconsistencies. This is the same thing that allows them to claim George Bush as a conservative when it seems good to them (and vote for his deficit spending) and then disavow him as "n ot really a conservative" when deficits become a rhetorical and political problem for them.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on February 12, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush's tax cuts were long-term income-tax rate cuts, which amounted to a generous break for those at the top, since the wealthy pay most income taxes. Obama's tax cuts, meanwhile, are short-term refunds paid directly to working and middle class families (some of which Republicans have denounced as "welfare").

Everything I've read says short-term refunds are just used to pay down debt, not inject money into the economy, and are therefore poor stimulus. Obama should have split the difference and offered long term rate cuts to working and middle class.

Posted by: red state mike on February 12, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Do this either in real per capita terms or relative to GDP. Something tells me that by these metrics, it won't be the largest tax cut ever.

Posted by: pgl on February 12, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Voters will forget, but they can be reminded again by negative campaign ads when the time comes. Republicans are not the only ones who get to run those. "Out of one side of his mouth Senator Scheisskopf SAYS he's for cutting your taxes. Out of the other side..."

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 12, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hannity, Blitzer, Limbaugh, the WSJ and others will merely rewrite the history of what happens today. It will be Republicans that saved our bacon. It will be so amended.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 12, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

So, Republicans are opposing the largest tax cut in history, which happens to go much more to middle class families than any of Bush's tax cuts ever did.

If they're not, as many claim, the party of tax cuts for the wealthy, then why did they oppose the largest tax cuts in history that happened to go mostly to the middle class?

Because less than .001% of the bill was spent on jobs for people saving fish in California?

Seems they should have held their nose...

Posted by: anonymiss on February 12, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans tend to only vote for tax cuts for the very wealthy because that is consistent with the "trickle-down" economic policy that is fundamental to their party. Of course, it has never worked, but they keep hoping it will. ... oh wait isn't the definition of insanity??

Posted by: bruce on February 12, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What makes you think anyone will remember or believe that Republicans opposed this tax cut?
Posted by: withay

Gosh---I don't know---maybe because Dems will beat the GOPer constituency over the head with it for the next 21 months? They can ram the message home on the Sunday talk-shows, too.

And---MSNBC prime time.

They can beat up Bill Orifice and Hand-job-itty over at FauxNoise, too.

It is so-ooo time to make the GOPer tribe bleed on this one; to force them to fall on their own swords, and to politically devour each other in the scramble to climb into the rigging, as the good ship Reaganomics founders and sinks in its own vacuous excrement....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 12, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Mitch McConnell is poo-pooing the bill because "middle-class workers will end up getting less than $8 a week in tax relief."

Carry the one... that's +/- $300. Or approximately the size of the tax relief Dear Leader Bush provided.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 12, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

As we examine the "solutions" being offered--borrow and spend, borrow and spend, brawk!--we see the same old tired script being played out. New ideas? Basically zero, at least to date. Where is the recognition that any economy fundamentally dependent on cheap, abundant oil and ever-rising debt, tax revenues and consumer spending is mortally wounded?

Posted by: C.H. Smith on February 12, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

In case anyone's counting, the Republicans only vote for tax cuts that break the economy, not ones that fix the economy.

Posted by: gex on February 12, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

You progressive pinheads again miss the point!

Everyone knows that the rich create the jobs in our country. Everyone knows that the only problem with our economy is that the rich do not have enough money.

Everyone knows that our economy is in good shape. Everyone knows that the real reason that our economy is not in good shape is that the Obama administration has caused a downturn in the economy - just like FDR caused the Great Depression.

The problem with our economy is not the past 30 years of cutting taxes for the wealthy and trickle down economics; the real problem is that we did not cut taxes enough on the wealthy.

All good Americans understand that the solution is to cut corporate & top tax rates & raise payroll taxes!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 12, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess this tax cut isn't going to help *me* any, since I'm just above the income level cut-off point.
On the other hand, I know many people that will be getting a benefit from it, and I'm glad that it'll help some of my friends. Nevertheless, I wish I could use my money to help them directly, rather than be forced to do so by the government.
In my opinion, that's really the key point: people should control where their money goes, not some bureaucrat.

Posted by: Eric on February 12, 2009 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm reminded of when I worked for a restaurant with a large European clientele. To keep the waitstaff from getting inadvertently stiffed, the tip was added to the bill.

Americans, unused to this, fell into two camps. Some were pleased the tricky math was done for them. Some would come up to my hostess station, huffing and puffing, claiming they usually tipped much larger than that, but because we went ahead and put it on the bill, they weren't going to tip at all!

The same notice, in large letters, that explained the tip also explained they could simply request a bill without the tip. But none of them ever did.

They just used it as an excuse not to tip.

Posted by: WereBear on February 14, 2009 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

>>What makes you think anyone will remember or believe that Republicans opposed this tax cut?

It's up to us to never let them forget. The 2010 campaign commericals write themselves. Except for three electred representatives, EVERY MEMBER of the GOP voted against the largest middle class tax cut in American history.

Posted by: Broadway Carl on February 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

>>Don't know about better targeted. $70 billion to upper-middle-class via AMT?

I don't know about that. My wife and I have been getting slammed with the AMT the last few years and believe me, we are far from "upper middle class."

Posted by: Broadway Carl on February 14, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I live in a rusting trailer married to my second cusin in tornado alley in Kansas. All I can say is that I would liek to give all of my money to rich people. They deserve it more than me, and my family doesn't need teeth to eat dollar menue food. It goes down soft and we don't even wipe when we squirt out the kitchen area window so we don't use toilet paper. as I sit here and worship Karl Rove for his genus, I urge all of you to just give your money to a wall street big wig. They are failures, yes, but they are betetr than all of us and I love them like I love sarah palin's retard babay. It looks just like the six I have in the closet. Pray the rich get richer and all of us poor people die so we can't suck the system dry. thank you and Jeebus bless you all - except poor people like me. We are trash and should stop wasting air.

Posted by: Limbaugh Hannity. Jr. on February 14, 2009 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Hold the phone.

This bill wasn't just a tax cut, it was also an unprecedented increase in spending, which always comes out of the taxpayers' pocket eventually, whether it by higher taxes in the future, or the loss of purchasing power through inflation.

I've got a similar offer to make: how about if I give you a million dollars, but I require you to pay me back ten million bucks over the next five years? Would you take that deal?

Posted by: Some Guy on February 14, 2009 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

COOL pass a fuckin 700billion dollar bill to bail out the auto industry but dont pass mere 200 million for middle class people.....THIS GOVERMENT IS SHITTIN ON US AND WE ARE LETTIN THEM DO IT.....Europe shits on its own gov't and do strikes in the street on sunny wednesday not because they are revolting against their institution not because they are pisssed off its because they can and will do to show their gov who leads and who follows. THE FUCKIN PEOPLE LEAD AND THE GOV'T FOLLOWS!!!!


Revolution in my mind
we ve been waistin so much time
revolution in my heart
its been tearin us apart

this one is for revolution
soldiers all posistions
this one is for revolution
Green Beret cover formation

get up get up get up
get up get up solders ride!!!!!

BONETHUGS N HARMONEY....

Posted by: Dj knowflow on February 14, 2009 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

200 billion*

Posted by: Dj knowflow on February 14, 2009 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I think you hit it right on the head!

RT
www.anon-tools.us.tc

Posted by: Jack Jones on February 14, 2009 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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