Welcome back to our daily clip highlight reel – brought to you every day by the digital and communications staff from ATF. Today the LA Times calls out conservative lawmakers on their brinksmanship, The Desert Sun takes a look back at the past 10 years of tax breaks for the wealthiest, and Rob Bynum from the Examiner helps us define the word “insanity”.
Congressional Republicans threw a fit this week after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Democrats should let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for everyone, at least temporarily, if the GOP doesn’t agree to end them just for upper-income Americans. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) even suggested that Democrats were willing to “hurt jobs and tank our economy” over the dispute. Boehner has some experience with that — his House Republicans pushed the country to the brink of default last year rather than strike a deal with Democrats on a debt-ceiling increase. Perhaps the public has heard enough hyperventilating by Washington pols to know better than to take it seriously. But the trouble with the current set of House Republicans is that, given the choice between compromising and hurting the economy, they’ve been choosing the latter (emphasis mine).
Since the beginning of the recent Republican – fueled recession, many American workers have lost their jobs or been forced to take pay cuts. They must either find more money or cut expenses. Taking on additional debt is typically not an option. Not so for the U.S. government. Politicians are in a position to spend money in whatever way will make them popular with their constituents, then hand the bill to their successors.
That’s exactly what happened in 2001 and 2003 when Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the “Bush tax cuts.” These cuts, designed to expire in 2010, lowered the effective tax rates on the very wealthiest Americans to 33 percent and pushed the capital gains rate down to 15 percent, the lowest since the Great Depression.
These dramatic cuts at the top were said to be necessary to spur economic growth. They did not. The architects of the Bush tax cuts reasoned that if millionaires and billionaires had a few extra bucks they would invest in new growth industries and fuel job growth. That didn’t happen either. They said the mega-rich would expand existing enterprises and hire more workers. Nope. They didn’t. Instead, the wealthy stashed cash in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and went yachting.
It is often impossible to understand why politicians propose ideas that they know are destined to fail, but one of the world’s greatest minds had a fairly certain explanation. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results,” and he may as well have been describing the Republican Party in 2012. At issue is extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and the GOP is using the same tired argument that giving rich people more money will boost the economy and spur outrageous job creation. The problem is that in 2001 and 2003, Republicans gave the wealthy tax cuts and they have not created any jobs or helped economic growth.
There is no rhyme or reason to the GOP’s adherence to giving the rich more wealth, and especially when the country needs additional revenue to pay down the debt. Last year when S&P downgraded America’s once stellar credit rating, they cited Republican intransigence in letting the Bush tax cuts expire as part of a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Still, Republicans are back again with their weary refrain that the American people are duty-bound to absorb Draconian spending cuts so the wealthy can continue receiving their lower tax rates. They are clearly insane, as Einstein noted, because the wealthy did not, have not now, or will not begin hiring because they continue getting their Bush tax cuts. In fact, the American people overwhelmingly approve of raising taxes on the richest 1% of Americans to reduce the deficit and fund critical infrastructure projects and put the people back to work.
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