THE RIGHT'S TAX BAMBOOZLEMENT GAME PLAN
Democrats want to allow the Bush tax cuts for the rich to lapse, while renewing the cuts for other taxpayers. Republicans, of course, want to keep the whole tax cut package -- including the cuts for the rich, which the general public doesn't like. A couple of days ago, Jonathan Chait argued that this gives Democrats a tactical advantage:
So we're down to a game of chicken. Here's why the Democrats hold the whip hand. They can pass an extension of the middle-class Bush tax cuts through the House. If Republicans let the bill pass, then they've lost their leverage to extend the unpopular Bush upper-income tax cuts. If they filibuster it, then Democrats can blame them for raising taxes on middle-class Americans. It would let Democrats out of their pledge. (Hey, they tried to keep the middle-class tax cuts.) Then nothing would pass, and we'd instantly revert to Clinton-era rates across the board.
Well, you know what that means: time for the GOP noise machine to bamboozle the public!
And I think we know what the specific bamboozlement message will be. THis is on the Heritage Foundation's blog right now:
New Calculator Shows How Much More Taxes Will You Pay Next Year
We are on the precipice of the largest tax increase in United States history. On January 1, 2011, the 2001/2003 tax relief will expire. All Americans who earn income will see their taxes go up as a result (even those who work but don’t pay any federal income taxes) unless Congress acts soon to prevent this massive tax hike.
The constant refrain from those who oppose the tax relief is that they benefited only the rich. If the tax cuts expire as scheduled, this myth will be proven untrue once and for all. But taxpayers don't have to wait until next year to see how much bigger a bite Uncle Sam will take. The Tax Foundation recently created a tax calculator that will show them how much more they will pay in taxes next year....
You see what the right-wingers' plan is? They want to make the public believe that it's impossible to separate the cuts for the rich and the cuts for everyone else. They want us to believe that there's one entity: the entire Bush tax cut package -- and, if it expires, we'll all get socked.
Watch: in the near future, that line of argument will catch on. It will show up in attack ads targeting vulnerable Democrats. The public will lose sight of the notion that it's even possible to allow part of the tax cut package to lapse.
And when it comes time to vote in Congress, I think Republicans absolutely will vote against an extension of the Bush cuts that's limited to the non-rich. What?! Republicans not vote to cut taxes? Well, sure. They'll say it's a tax increase -- yes, on the rich only, but they won't say that -- and that they're honor-bound not to vote for any tax increase. They'll say Democrats support this big, bad tax increase -- and never say that it falls on the well-to-do only. And their noise really might drown out the truth.
But Chait says Republicans are in political trouble if they block a middle-class-only extension of tax cuts:
Democrats can blame them for raising taxes on middle-class Americans. It would let Democrats out of their pledge. (Hey, they tried to keep the middle-class tax cuts.) Then nothing would pass, and we'd instantly revert to Clinton-era rates across the board.
Does Chait really think that would "let Democrats out of their pledge" not to raise middle-class taxes? Give me a break. If Democrats then refuse to sign on to the notion of renewing the entire tax cut package, Republicans will be able to say, "DEMOCRATS RAISED YOUR TAXES!!!!"
They're going to describe the package as indivisible. And then they're going to try to make it so.