Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How the Bush tax cuts are a winning issue for Democrats

With the Bush tax cuts (on both the wealthy and middle class) set to expire, Democrats have a great opportunity to back Republicans into a corner and to win both politically and on policy, argues Jon Chait:

The key factor here is that, just as Republicans got to frame the debate in 2001 by combining the tax cuts into an up or down vote, Democrats can frame the debate now by separating the policies Republicans pretend to care about from the ones they actually care about. Republicans want to have a vote on the whole collection of Bush-era tax cuts. Democrats shouldn't give it to them. You hold a separate vote on the middle class portion and dare them to oppose it.

Basically, Democrats can push a vote on extending only the middle-class tax cuts. If Republicans filibuster it in the Senate because what they really want is an extension on upper-class cuts, it'll look like they support middle-class tax hikes and/or like their key priority is ("wildly unpopular") tax cuts for the wealthy, which it is, while Democrats will be able to make the case that they tried to extend the cuts but were blocked by an opposition party that cares more about the rich than about ordinary Americans. But if they don't, Democrats will be able to take credit for keeping middle-class taxes down and can avoid a vote on extending the upper-class cuts altogether while also criticizing Republicans for supporting tax cuts for the wealthy.

In other words, Democrats could come out of this with a winning political issue with which to hammer Republicans and either additional revenue or a more progressive tax code, each of which serves core Democratic interests (higher government spending or fairer taxation). 

In a way, it's a can't-lose situation. Except that Democrats usually find a way to lose. I hope Chait is right, but I fear that Democrats will mess this up somehow.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home