House GOP continues their political death march to prevent the top tax bracket from rising by less than 4%

At least we know who they work for now — they’ve made that clear

House Republicans have released a counter-proposal to President Obama’s budget plan to avoid plunging us off the fiscal cliff speed bump. Unsurprisingly, it raises tax revenue but doesn’t allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. In fact, according to analysis by the Washington Post, it appears to lower taxes for the top tax bracket.

The proposal calls for $800 billion in higher tax collections through an overhaul of the tax code next year that would push the top rate below the current level of 35 percent and raise cash by wiping out loopholes and deductions.

The plan also seeks $600 billion in health savings. One option, GOP aides said, would be raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. It also includes $300 billion in savings from other mandatory programs, such as farm subsidies. And it would save $200 billion by applying a less generous measure of inflation government wide, including to Social Security benefits, which would rise more slowly as a result.

The GOP plan also seeks another $300 billion in cuts to agency budgets on top of the $1 trillion in cuts already enacted. All told, it would produce $2.2 trillion in new savings, or $4.6 trillion when measured against the same yardstick as the president’s proposal.

So, let’s do a quick tally here:

Winners: America’s most wealthy citizens. Their tax rate would actually drop rather than going up the tiny 3.9% that would take them to where they were during the boom years of the Clinton administration.

Losers: Social Security recipients and future Medicare recipients. To pay for keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the super-wealthy, people will have to wait longer to be eligible for Medicare and will see a slow-down in their social security cost of living increases.

In other words, our most vulnerable citizens take a hit so that the most secure citizens pay no cost at all.

Oh and, big surprise, as as Jed Lewison points out, they aren’t providing any specific details about all the savings they are going to achieve, either.

From their letter here’s the heart of their so-called “proposal”:

For instance, on November 1 of last year, Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of your debt commission, presented the Joint Select Committee with a middle ground approach that garnered praise from many fiscal watchdogs and nonpartisan experts. He recommended that both parties agree to a balanced package that includes significant spending cuts as well as $800 billion in new revenue.

Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy. Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates. On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending. These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.

This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform. Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs. We believe it warrants immediate consideration.

If you are agreeable to this framework, we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached.

That’s not a proposal. It’s barely enough for a bullet point. It’s not something a legislator came up with. It’s something from a P.R. flack.

This brings into sharp relief who the Republicans in the House answer to: The Very Rich. Big Money. Nobody with any credibility still believes that the fate of our economy hinges on them maintaining a 3.9% lower tax rate. If that were the case, our recession would never have happened and our economy would be roaring because they have had that tax break for more than five years.

This past weekend at the RootsCamp conference, I heard White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett speak. During her speech she said this very clear and unequivocal terms:

President Obama WILL NOT allow the Bush tax cuts to be renewed for the richest two percent of Americans.

No “unlesses”. No “except fors”. A simple, unequivocal, direct statement.

WILL. NOT.

The White House is saying the same thing through other channels, as well.

UPDATE: White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer has issued the following statement:

The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires. While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates. President Obama believes—and the American people agree—that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down. Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs.

I’d call that “dead on arrival”, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and while we’re talking House budgets and hypocritical Republicans, news is out today that Paul Ryan has a new budget out himself. Remember that $716 billion that he and Mitt Romney beat the hell out of President Obama about during the campaign? Well, it’s still in Paul Ryan’s budget.

Totally not kidding.

During the campaign, candidate Romney repeatedly hammered President Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare as part of his signature healthcare law. Romney pledged to repeal those cuts in a break from his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, had preserved Obama’s Medicare cuts in two consecutive budget proposals that repealed the rest of the Affordable Care Act. Ryan is now back at work crafting his next budget, and Republicans on his committee say the $716 billion in Medicare cuts will likely survive.

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said the $716 billion cut is part of the committee’s over-arching plan to save and reform Medicare. He said he doesn’t expect Ryan to back away from any part of that goal just because Romney was on a different page.

I’m not sure where Woodall and the journalists who wrote the piece, Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck, were during the last six weeks of the campaign. They act as if Ryan himself didn’t attack President Obama over this very same $716 billion in Medicare savings. Remember, this chunk of money comes from elimination of waste and duplication and not a single penny from reduced benefits. Paul Ryan was right there with Mitt Romney with his stunningly hypocritical attacks. Let’s just be clear about that.

[Photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]

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