Remember that dreaded device that Republicans hated so much: Reconciliation? That was the one they said perverted the Constitution when Democrats were looking to use it during health insurance reform. Well, back in the day when George W. Bush was president, Republicans didn’t think it was so danged bad. In fact, they loved them some reck and silly ayshun just fine, thank you very much. In fact, they loved it so much that they used it to pass a massive, budget-busting package of tax cuts for both middle class and über-wealthy people alike.
Here’s the thing, though: things passed under reconciliation sunset (expire) after ten years. And guess when those tax cuts expire? Yup. Next year.
So the question before Democrats and the Obama administration right now is “What to do, what to do?”
The president is adamant that the middle class tax cuts be made permanent. He’s equally adamant that we simply cannot afford the giant deficit created by granting tax breaks on income over $250,000.
In terms of spurring the economy, he couldn’t possibly be more correct. The tax Millionaire/Billionaire Tax Cuts have clearly NOT created jobs. There’s no arguing that, right? You’ve seen this, right?
And that’s no particular surprise. You give a middle class person a tax break and they immediately go out and spend it on stuff. That puts the money back into the economy. On the other hand, you give it to a wealthy person, they’re going to invest it in the stock market or put it into savings. It’s not economically stimulative.
So, the smart thing to do is make the middle class tax cuts permanent and get rid of the Millionaire/Billionaire Tax Cuts, right?
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not so fast. Have you forgotten about the Republicans? Of course you haven’t. And, like the sun rising in the morning, they are predictably digging their heels in and insisting the Millionaire/Billionaire Tax Cuts are made permanent, too. In fact, it’s so important to them, they’re willing to just extend them for awhile, just so we can get used to them. Like the last ten years wasn’t enough. But they know damn well they can’t “decouple” them from the Po Folk Tax Cuts because then they’d be forced to vote on tax breaks for the rich and also, too, tax breaks for the middle class. So they’ve got to keep them together.
The rub here is that Democrats are not known for their spine in matters like this. They tend to get all “let’s be bipartisan” on us and then completely cave. For the Republicans, “compromise” means “do what we want and we won’t beat you up”. For Democrats, “compromise” means “do what the Republicans tell you to do or they’ll beat you up”. It’s a simple formula that’s worked just so well for the past couple of years hasn’t it?
Here’s an example. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on “compromise”:
“There’s only one thing that’s acceptable and that’s to not raise taxes on anyone,” McConnell said on conservative talker Sean Hannity’s radio show. “We’re not interested in bifurcating it.”
“We’re willing to talk to the president about how long he’s willing to extend it,” the top Senate Republican added.
See how this compromise thing works for Republicans?
Well, it looks like the Dems might maybe could be not too sure but possibly be holding the line on this. Lotsa progressive groups have been putting massive pressure on them lately and, today, we learned that they might just go ahead and bifurcate that sumbitch anyway, Republicans be damned:
One of the most powerful labor leaders in the country just said that he’s in direct talks with the White House and Dem leaders about throwing down the gauntlet and holding a vote just on extending the middle class tax cuts — and that all parties involved are seriously considering it.
AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka told reporters moments ago on a conference call that he’s been aggressively lobbying the White House and Dem Congressional leaders to hold such a vote. Liberals are pushing for this course of action — rather than a fake “compromise” on extending all the Bush tax cuts temporarily — because it would represent a genuinely confrontational approach, forcing Republicans to choose between supporting Obama’s tax cut plan and opposing a tax cut for the middle class.
Asked if he had been discussing this vote with the White House and Dem leaders and whether he’d received indications it’s a real possibility, Trumka said “Yes” to both.
Well, hot damn! I’m not holding my breath but this is VERY encouraging. Of course the Republicans are threatening a filibuster in the Senate but I’m okay with that. It’s time we let them filibuster. Here’s my dream:
- Bifurcate the hell outta the tax cuts. One bill for the po folk, one bill for the rich folk.
- Pass the Po Folk Tax Cut in the House.
- Let the GOPosaurs filibuster that, if they want, in the Senate. If they let the tax cuts expire before the lame duck session expires, that’s on them. I say, eventually they cave because how many news cycles saying “REPUBLICANS FILIBUSTER TAX CUTS FOR 95% OF ALL AMERICANS!!!” do you think they can take? Not many I’ll wager.
- Take a vote on the Rich Folk Tax Cut in the House, watch it go down in flames. No Senate vote needed.
- Celebrate your historic win over the GOPosaurs.
There’s probably some procedural bullshit I’m missing here but with clever folks like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on the job, I feel certain they could pull this off.
The question is now, will they?
I’m just sayin’…