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Why The Republicans Want To Raise Your Taxes

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent assertion that any disaster relief for Hurricane Irene would have to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere sparked a great deal of outrage, especially in the progressive sectors of the blogosphere.

On one level Cantor’s position is no surprise. Paying for emergency disaster relief used to be standard operating procedure in Washington, because it would be inconceivable that the federal government would force the states and individuals to shoulder the burden alone. But with the new GOP House majority, Washington has new rules. Now when there’s a policy objective that enjoys bipartisan support—avoiding a government shutdown or default, for example, or providing disaster relief—the GOP will use it as a hostage to extract their partisan policy objectives.

More broadly, people look askance at Cantor and the GOP for previously supporting (but not paying for) disaster relief, a pair of foreign wars, an expansion of Medicare, and the Bush tax cuts, and then finding their inner fiscal hawks when a Democrat entered the White House. (Robert’s 10th Rule of Politics: A party’s dedication to fiscal responsibility is inversely proportional to its political power.)

Of course the GOP still wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, at a cost of $4 trillion over 10 years. If pushing budget-busting tax cuts while carrying the banner of fiscal austerity on issues like disaster relief seems like cognitive dissonance, it is. But that’s today’s GOP.

Take taxes. Last month’s Iowa GOP presidential debate provided a defining moment for the party. The assembled would-be nominees were asked if they would accept tax increases if there were $10 in spending cuts for every dollar of new revenues. To a person, they refused. This came days after the conclusion of the debt ceiling crisis, which had been deliberately manufactured by House Republicans, and which had turned on their flat refusal to accept any tax increase. And it came after months of pious declarations that one never, ever, ever raises taxes on a soft economy (the experiences of Presidents Reagan in 1982 and Clinton in 1993 apparently notwithstanding).

And yet the GOP now wants to raise taxes, both in the immediate term and as a broader matter of principle.

They oppose, for example, President Obama’s call to prolong the payroll tax cut enacted last year when the (temporary) Bush tax cuts were extended. Ordinarily, American workers pay 6.2 percent of their wages in a tax that funds Social Security, with their employers matching the amount. For 2011, that rate was cut to 4.2 percent. The logic is simple: The poor and working class are most likely to pump extra disposable income back into the economy, making the tax cut a more efficient stimulant than, say, rate cuts for the wealthy. It’s as broad-based a tax cut as can be imagined, as it benefits virtually everyone who works, even those who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes. So of course Republicans oppose its extension, preferring to allow a broad-based tax hike to go into effect in the new year. “Not all tax relief is created equal,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the House’s fourth-ranking Republican, told the Associated Press, while others cited fiscal concerns. Extending the tax holiday, which cost $67.2 billion this year and a total of $111.7 billion over 10 years, would be fiscally irresponsible while extending the Bush tax cuts is sound policy? Not all tax cuts are created equal indeed.

And this isn’t an isolated instance of the GOP breaking from its usual anti-tax orthodoxy. The truth is that many leading Republicans yearn to raise taxes on working-class and poor Americans.

“We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry intoned last month when announcing for president. What to do? Here’s Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: “We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something, even if it’s a dollar.” More recently, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman approvingly cited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as saying we don’t have enough people paying taxes in this country. The GOP as stalwart fighters against taxes? No more. That more Americans should pay taxes is, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the new Republican orthodoxy.”

And who is it Republicans would like to raise taxes upon? According to the Tax Policy Center, 46 percent of U.S. households won’t pay income taxes this year. The elderly (who are mostly retired, have a larger deduction, and often don’t have their Social Security benefits taxed) make up a plurality of 44 percent of the nonpayers, while people whose income tax liability is wiped out by the child tax credit, child and dependent care tax credit, and the earned income tax credit—all of which were enacted with Republican support—make up an additional 30 percent of the group. (The rest of the nonpayers get a handful of smaller tax credits, including education credits, itemized deductions, and even capital gains benefits.)

Keep in mind that these people not having any income tax liability does not mean that they don’t pay taxes (as is often implied in GOP talking points). They pay state and local taxes, not to mention federal payroll taxes, which of course the GOP wants to see rise.

So Republicans worry about the wealthy paying too much in taxes while fretting about freeloading lower classes. They talk a big deficit game but are more concerned about cutting government spending, specifically on programs that benefit the nonrich. Perhaps this isn’t cognitive dissonance but the logical evolution of the modern GOP into an Ayn Rand-ian coalition explicitly focused on freeing a wealthy elite from the parasitical depredations of everyone else.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, September 7, 2011


September 9, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Disasters, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Public, Republicans, Revolution, Right Wing, Social Security, States, Taxes, Teaparty, Wealthy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eric Cantor Is A Hypocrite On Disaster Relief Spending

Buried in this Saturday’s Washington Post Metro section was  a short piece about the request from conservative Virginia Republican Gov.  Robert McDonnell for $39 million in federal disaster relief for his state.

This was an initial request for 22 localities in Virginia  hard hit  by Hurricane Irene. According  to the article, other local governments  can request more aid and, in addition,  McDonnell also asked for Hazard  Mitigation Assistance for all Virginia  localities.

This comes from a governor who, along with his Republican  congressional counterpart Eric Cantor, rails against Washington and “government  spending.”

What makes this quite interesting is the position taken by  Cantor  last week on Federal Emergency Management funding for disasters. We have  had a record 66 natural disasters  this year and Hurricane Irene was  one of the 10 most costly ever.

Cantor, whose district was hit hard by the earthquake and  the  hurricane, has said that any spending for FEMA should be tied to cuts   elsewhere, dollar for dollar, “Just like any  family would operate when it’s struck with disaster,” says Cantor. Funny, that is not how he felt back in 2004   when he appealed for money for his district after another hurricane and  voted  against the amendment by Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas  to do require offsets.

Did Eric Cantor ask for dollar for dollar cuts to pay for  the wars  in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did he  ask for dollar for dollar cuts to pay  for the Bush tax cuts for the  millionaires and billionaires? Did he   ask for dollar for dollar cuts to pay for increases to homeland  security? How about border agents?

Another very conservative congressman from Virginia, Leonard  Lance,  totally disagrees with Cantor.  Help is needed now. Gov. Chris  Christie  of New Jersey, no friend of government spending, talks as though Eric  Cantor  has lost his marbles: “Our  people are suffering now, and they  need support now. And they [Congress] can  all go down there and get  back to work and figure out budget cuts later.”

It is time for a host of protesters to go to Cantor’s district   office and call him on his absurdity. Does  he believe we should help  the victims of these disasters? Is that what government has done for  over 200  years? Does he just want to play politics and delay help? Does  he represent the  people of Virginia? Does he care about  the others  who have been the victims of tornadoes and floods across this  country?

It reminds me of a Senate debate where a certain Republican  from  Idaho was complaining about a bill that included funding for rat control   in New York City.

“In Idaho, we take care of our own rats,” to which the New  York senator replied, “In New York, we take care of our own forest fires.”

That about sums it up.


By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Disasters, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Governors, Homeland Security, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle East, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Teaparty, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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