Let’s get this “renew the Bush tax cuts” story straight. First of all, at this point they’re the “Bush tax increases.” Remember, it was a Republican Congress and a Republican President who passed and signed a law that raised taxes (e.g., let the 2001 tax cuts expire) on January 1, 2011. That’s the default, business-as-usual case, thanks to Republicans. Which means that, unless a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President act by the end of this year, we will all be seeing our taxes go up next year. Again, if that happens, if taxes increase on January 1, 2011, it will be courtesy of the Republicans, who wrote the law that way.
Second, to the extent that the Republican tax increase is postponed or rescinded, that will be the result of a Democratic Congress and Democratic President doing so. That’s right, Democrats would be cutting taxes, as they already did big time (and with almost no Republican support) in the “stimulus” ($237 billion in tax cuts to individuals, $51 billion in tax cuts for companies) last year.
Third, as for the BONE-r/Can’tor/McConnell Republicans, they’re apparently willing to let taxes increase for all of us in order to give millionaires and billionaires an undeserved, largely-unasked-for, tax windfall.
Fourth, let’s get real here: given our current deficit and national debt, we can’t afford any of these tax cuts. In fact, “the CBO projects that a full extension of the Bush tax cuts, plus a permanent fix to the Alternative minimum tax, will cost $3.7 trillion over 10 years, not including debt service costs.” Also, “The Joint Committee on Tax estimated in a March 2010 report…that the cost of extending just those cuts that affect people making less than $250,000 and permanently fixing the alternative minimum tax will cost $3 trillion. The difference-a bit less than $700 billion-is the cost of extending just those cuts for the wealthy.”
Fifth, there’s a case to be made that, even though we can’t afford any of these tax cuts in the long haul, we need to continue them in the short haul because of the recession. I’m definitely open to that argument, although eventually taxes are going to have to go up (and health care costs gotten under control) if we’re ever going to tackle our severe, long-term structural deficits.
Finally, however, the concept that the wealthiest (e.g., top 2% or 3%) of Americans (where you draw the line, exactly, is debatable, but $250,000 seems reasonable) need a tax cut right now is questionable at best. Which makes the Republicans’ willingness to raise taxes on everyone else (the other 97%-98%) in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires even more egregious than it already is. Oh, and forget the Republicans’ supposed commitment to “fiscal conservatism,” as these tax cuts – for the rich ($700 billion over 10 years) or the middle class ($2 trillion over 10 years) are both completely unpaid for and unaffordable.