Political Animal


July 15, 2011 8:30 AM GOP rejects trading one tax cut for another

By Steve Benen

Last week, Democrats in debt-reduction talks focused much of their attention on unnecessary and unpopular tax giveaways. If Republicans want a compromise that cuts the debt without raising tax rates, Dems said, they can start by scrapping tax expenditures that help corporate-jet owners.

The response from GOP leaders was fierce and unyielding. The only way Republicans would even consider ending these tax breaks, they said, is if the savings were applied to other tax breaks. In other words, Republicans opposed the Democratic effort to apply savings to debt reduction — the issue conservatives pretend to care about — because more tax cuts remain the top GOP priority.

Yesterday, President Obama reportedly put this to the test.

Mr. Obama suggested in Thursday’s meeting that leaders end tax breaks for ethanol producers, oil and gas companies and corporate jet owners, and offset those tax increases with an extension of the payroll tax credit for employees, a Democratic official familiar with the meeting said, but Republicans said they would not support it.

This is fascinating. Obama was willing to trade needless tax subsidies, some of which even Republicans don’t like, for a separate tax cut that benefits private employers. This is, as of last week, exactly the kind of deal GOP leaders said they were inclined to support.

But when the president put it on the table, and set up the deal exactly as Republicans want it, they still said no. And remember, a payroll tax cut is the GOP’s preferred approach to job creation.

As Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued last week, “If they oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that helps create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”

This is the whole point of the “sabotage” question. The argument isn’t that Republicans have conservative ideas about helping the economy. Questioning their motivations on this alone would be foolish. The point, rather, is that Republicans have begun rejecting their own ideas about helping the economy, even after Obama presented their idea in the way they requested it.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Ted Lehmann on July 15, 2011 8:41 AM:

    This is exactly what happened during the health care debate also. By now there's a whole litany of Republicans undercutting their own ideology to oppose anything the President proposes. The question isn't whether they're doing this, but how to use the facts to get people to understand the depth of their antipathy to Barack Obama and the degree to which they're willing to sacrifice the country to their goal of getting rid of him.

  • FRP on July 15, 2011 8:45 AM:

    The humour in all this ...
    If this is to be revealed ..

    Will shor be a funny !

    This special occasion will be a double nonsense feature .

    With the entirely pointless opening up of Geraldo's brain , or equally testosterone poisoned™ artifact , simultaneously with equally the pointless arguing over whether or not to bail the boat or let us drown !

    This and other features of slowly going insane , sigh good times . A product of ridiculous posturing by old hens and roosters taking no responsibility for its apparent tediousness . Remember prisoners have no consent !
    Thank you veddy much

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2011 8:46 AM:

    Isn't it cute?

    These developmentally challenged Republican children learned a new letter!

    Now it's ABO - Anything But Obama.

    All of this after 30 years of ABC's - Anthing But Carter, and Anything But Clinton.

    It's a BREAKTHROUGH!!!

    Maybe someone should alert the MSM.

  • walt on July 15, 2011 8:49 AM:

    As Ted Lehmann says, the GOP strategy amounts to demonizing the person of Barack Obama to the point of ideological incoherence. Obama's strategy, it appears, is to magnify their unreasonableness by subtly goading them into ever greater displays of it.

    A party based on racist fear-mongering and economic fantasy is probably not going to cover itself in glory or, for that matter, win over many independents. This is really their base strategy played ad nauseum. And unless the geezers on Medicare who vote Republican are also going to fertility clinics, it's also a demographic dead end.

  • Ron Byers on July 15, 2011 8:53 AM:

    I wonder if anybody has told elected Republcians and Grover Norquist that the public strongly endorses the idea of mixed cuts and tax increases. By strongly I mean 2 or 3 to one. How many baggers are there anyway. Do they get to vote 4 or 5 times?

  • bleh on July 15, 2011 8:56 AM:

    The substance of these sorts of conversations has become entirely immaterial. It's pure theater. There's really no point to analyzing it except in those terms.

    I just hope the House Dems are leaning hard on Harry Reid. It's really gonna be his plan -- his version of McConnell's plan, which is actually WORSE than the original plan -- that is gonna be the serious shot. The House Dems need to make sure it's as little worse than the original McConnell as possible.

  • bdop4 on July 15, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Interesting. Yesterday, it was all about Can'tor, and how he was the guy gumming up any progress.

    The WSJ paragraph above implies that ALL the republicans rejected this latest proposal.

    Makes me think that the whole Can'tor drama yesterday was just a planned daily distraction.

    These people really do not want to do a deal. Let's oblige them and act in the best interests of our country.

  • FRP on July 15, 2011 9:04 AM:

    Leonard Bernstein on the Victrola wailing away at Symphony 41 in C Major, K. 551 "Jupiter": I. Allegro Vivace .
    Go Lenny !
    You show how its Done Wulfy !

    Oh by the way -
    Ted Lehmann says, the GOP strategy amounts to demonizing the person of Barack Obama ...

    Bob Somerby recently sermonized that the last two words posted here , Barack Obama , should from M Dukakis include all non GOP elect or chosen ones as being non human . Amen

  • Anonymous on July 15, 2011 9:05 AM:

    Anyone ever consider that the rating agencies are in on it too? Republicans are acting even more bat $hit crazy. S&P etc starts to talk downgrade at the same time? I mean, it's not like they haven't ever done it before. And yes, I have taken my medicine.

  • ComradeAnon on July 15, 2011 9:07 AM:

    Anyone ever consider that the rating agencies are in on it too? Republicans are acting even more bat $hit crazy. S&P etc starts to talk downgrade at the same time? It's not like they haven't ever done it before. And yes, I have taken my medicine.

  • FRP on July 15, 2011 9:08 AM:

    Is that medicine any good ?

  • two spoons helps , three spoons forever on July 15, 2011 9:11 AM:

    Is that medicine any good ?

  • altara on July 15, 2011 9:12 AM:

    Today's question:

    Will the Debt-Ceiling Fairy save us from Eric Cantor and the other Republicans?

    homer www.altara.blogspot.com

  • T2 on July 15, 2011 9:15 AM:

    When Schumer made his "sabotage" comments, several days in a row, there was zero push back from the GOP, FOX or any conservative source that I know of. It would appear their orders were to not reply and hope the Schumer meme died off. Normally the Right would have coordinated a withering reply network on something like this, but not this time. It really hit a nerve, didn't it?

  • berttheclock on July 15, 2011 9:18 AM:

    Delicious segment on Lawrence O'Donnell, last evening, where he showed a clip from an old "Morning Joe" show. He had been a guest and asked Cantor a question about an upcoming vote on recovering TARP money. Rangel had a resolution pending which would have confiscated bonus payments where TARP money had been used. O'Donnell goaded Cantor into admitting he was leaning towards voting for the measure, even though Boehner was trying to keep the anti-tax RepuGs in the fold. Cantor's ramblings showed he had no idea how the money was going to be recovered, but, he was adamant that the money should come back into the Treasury. BTW, that afternoon, Cantor broke ranks and voted with Rangel. So, he did vote for a "Tax Increase", if you will.

  • Josef K on July 15, 2011 9:20 AM:

    They're really going to do it, aren't they? The Republican rank-and-file literally can't say "yes" to anything offered, and I've no confidence that McConnell and Reid can make their plan work (never mind if Boehner and Cantor can get it through the House).

    They're really going to push us into default.

    I wonder if this is how the monitors in NORAD would have felt if they saw an incoming nuclear strike by the Soviets.

  • DAY on July 15, 2011 9:24 AM:

    "It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.” Sen Schumer

    Is the President a Democrat? Is the President black? Does a bear shit in the woods?

  • Jon on July 15, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Their only, only concern about screwing up the economy, perhaps for generations, is that the GOP not get the blame for it. They want to screw up the economy. The only way to affect their behavior is to make sure the blame is clearly theirs, at which point they will back off.

  • marty on July 15, 2011 9:50 AM:

    And even this morning, Rep. Ryan (on Morning Joe, where even Mika admits that "we like him a lot") used some slick language to hide the fact that the bottom line for these thugs is NOT ONE MORE DIME OF REVENUE. Of course, he wasn't so straightforward- the up till now claim that tax loophole closures should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere has been changed to avoid answering the more direct question of putting any loophole closure
    revenue toward the deficit. Now, Ryan says that " we wouldn't want to see those loophole closures ( and he even cited GE not paying taxes, implying the revenue that would bring in)
    take pressure off the spending cuts"

    He went further to say that he doesn't think even 4 trillion dollars of cuts is enough, quote - "We have to cut much more"

    So, massive cuts to social programs, middle class but NO REVENUE INCREASE AT ALL - any deficit reduction comes from spending cuts- any revenue increase must be offset with more tax cuts, and NOT go to defect reduction.

    Despicable bastards!

  • jcricket on July 15, 2011 9:57 AM:

    The GOP want more and more people to become destitute and lose their homes. After all, people who are barely hanging on by a thread in the current economy aren't good enough to deserve any kind of consideration or respect.

    Homeless people have no permanent address and therefore don't belong to a valid voting precinct.

  • berttheclock on July 15, 2011 10:12 AM:

    @jcricket, I understand your position, but, many homeless people do have mailing addresses, which are considered valid for voting purposes. They use drop-in centers, missions, shelters and, even, churches as mail drops. Even DMVs accept the addresses for driving permits. Sadly, at times, those addresses can be used against the homeless, in cases, where citizens become hip to the addresses and will refuse to hire anyone using such an address. "Oh, you're one of Them Kind"

  • nemisten on July 15, 2011 10:15 AM:

    They want cuts? Give 'em cuts -- to the PENTAGON. What or whom exactly are we defending ourselves against? The Chinese? Al Queda? The Russian Army?

    Americans (95% anyway) are a collective bunch of stupid wussies ('we need a strong military...'). Consequently, even most 'progressive' Dems won't touch the issue for fear of being branded a communist, or terrorist, or whatever, and losing re-election.

    Yes, the US empire is crumbling, and if it means bankrupting arms makers, then it's a good thing.

  • bigtuna on July 15, 2011 10:26 AM:

    cund - please don't insult the developmentally challenged ...

    btw - Krugman made the point this am - focus now is on Obama, but really, republican strategy has been that they do not view ANY democratic president as a legitimate elected official. THeir fundamental operation system is to negate, deligitimize, etc., what ANY democratic president does. Obama moreso.

    Another exa. of the asymmetrical warfare - dems at least start out with some sense of respect for presidents.

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2011 10:36 AM:

    You're right. What was I thinking? They can't help it.

    My apologies.

    Yes, CAPTCHA my love, galactic terneedu is what's coming our way...

  • FRP on July 15, 2011 10:53 AM:

    The coming financial debacle will have only double plus good effects for the meisters of arms , air , water , etc .

    Now for something a little bit off

    Requiem for a middle class
    Ryan Reagan / Cantor Cheenie

    First movement
    Laughing all the way to my Dacha in chew harder minor
    Second movement
    Same as the first 'ceptin' wurser

    I , reminiscing over the long productive marriage to Captcha , mused of late , that Captcha’s impressionistic blue period had evolved into a wild Sal Dali esc period blossom .

    This is the heartland , here on the coast where America was forged into what makes possible the disintegration of something even conservatives fail to realise . Makes the sacred spinning conundrum of grape shot mean spirited anger possible , effen delightfool .

  • ohhenery on July 15, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Silver spoons and golden missiles

  • CDW on July 15, 2011 11:53 AM:

    Obama (and liberal bloggers) should know by now that it simply doesn't matter what obama proposes. The cons will not give him anything that smells like a win even if it is win-win. And it won't change if he wins reelection. He'd better start doing something for dem congresspeople if he wants to get anything done next term and helping them does not include making cuts to SS and M/M.

  • Zorro on July 15, 2011 3:01 PM:

    Ah, the Beastie Boys prove right again:

    Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage
    Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage
    Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage


  • Bonnie on July 15, 2011 10:30 PM:

    But when the president put it on the table, and set up the deal exactly as Republicans want it, they still said no. And remember, a payroll tax cut is the GOP’s preferred approach to job creation.

    This is a great example of BAD FAITH negotiating.