Wednesday, February 26, 2014


So you think Republicans are corporatists and relentless partisans? Silly you! Politico wants you to know that's not true at all anymore!
Republicans take on Wall Street

Republicans are proposing what was once unimaginable: raising taxes on big Wall Street banks.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's Republican tax reform draft -- slated to be released Wednesday afternoon -- looks like it will reverse more than a decade of GOP orthodoxy on taxes by socking big banks with higher levies.

To call this development a sea change would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.
Not that Politico is trying to be hyperbolic or anything.

And if that's not persuasive enough, here's another Politico story about how radical a change this is for the Republicans:
Republican tax writer borrows some Democratic ideas for revamp

House Republicans' top tax writer is set to offer something unthinkable in virtually any other context: a big new tax on the wealthy.

A proposal slated to be released this week by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp will include a special surcharge on the wealthy, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. The surtax and a new bank tax that lobbyists are widely expecting both sound like proposals Democrats have repeatedly offered in recent years....
Wowie zowie! This sure isn't the sort of thing I associate with the Republican Party! Maybe I ought to give the GOP a fresh look!

Except that, um, nobody in the Republican Party actually likes this bill -- which I learn from, er, yet another Politico story:
Republicans are remarkably consistent in their reaction to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's tax reform bill: they're glad he put something together, but are not interested in diving into the controversial details....

Asked if this bill was reflective of the House Republican position on tax reform, [Speaker John] Boehner said "you're getting a little ahead of yourself."

.. When pressed specifically on changes to the financial services industry, Boehner replied by saying "bla, bla, bla, bla."
(I imagine this was one of those walking-and-talking interviews in the halls of Congress, and "bla, bla, bla, bla" is the ambulatory version of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, "La la la, I can't hear you.")

Many Republicans on the Financial Services Committee lashed out at the tax on banks, saying it's punitive and runs counter to GOP principles....

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said this bill has "a long way to go before it gets to the floor."

"Being a Northeast member...anything that impacts our financial services segment I'm concerned about and I want to make sure we get the policy right," he told POLITICO.
And even that "Republicans Take On Wall Street" story makes clear that the vast majority of the party actually has no intention whatsoever of "taking on Wall Street":
Financial Services Committee members like Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) have been working behind the scenes, trying to stop what they dub a wrong-headed policy.

"I've got enormous respect for Dave Camp but I just disagree with taxing lending and that’s what this is," McHenry told POLITICO Tuesday evening. "Functionally, a tax on bank assets is a tax on lending. That's all there is to it. And if you're going to have an assessment quarterly, at a time when the American people are starved for capital, you’re taxing lending capital. So it runs counter to our economic needs."

Bachus, the former Financial Services Committee chairman, along with fellow Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, went as far as to pen a private letter Tuesday to Camp saying their "view is that taxes such as the special bank tax once proposed by President Obama are highly detrimental to lending and capital formation and as such we oppose them."

The immediate impact for Wall Street is limited, since this tax plan is certain to go nowhere fast.
Ahhh, but we're assured that this plan that nearly everyone in the party hates is still a big deal:
Even if this efforts falls by the wayside, a new tax on big financial institutions will be a permanent fixture when the government is looking for fresh sources of revenue.

... it's now forever on the menu of options....

"This will be an eternal item that's always on the shelf for members that are trying to raise revenue for any one thing," said one D.C.-based banking lobbyist. "Because once it's in there, it's in there. It'll be used by both Republicans and Democrats going forward as a way to raise revenue regardless of what the offsets might be."
Nonsense. Republicans have no qualms about abandoning ideas they've proposed -- and not just abandoning them, but attacking anyone who proposes them in the future. Cap-and-trade? The basics of Romneycare/Obamacare? Right-wing concepts, now heresy on the right. This will be the same.

This is a phony bill -- a Potemkin piece of legislation. The whole point of the exercise was to put something -- anything -- out there in an election year so Republicans could say, "See? We're not just the Party of No. We proposed a budget that simplifies the tax code and reduces rates" and so on, thus reaching at least a few swing voters. The additional benefit is that friendly news outlets will say, "Look how non-plutocratic and bipartisan the Republicans are being!" Politico was only too happy to oblige.

1 comment:

Victor said...

When the Republicans want to do Kabuki Theatre, Politico provides the music.