Let Me Guess, You’ll Cut Taxes

House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a speech in Cleveland this week highlighting the GOP plan for the economy. In a move reminiscent of Paul Ryan’s not as triumphant as he hoped release of the “GOP budget” in 2009, Boehner’s speech was long on talking points and promises and short on details and arithmetic. If anyone is surprised by this fact, then they haven’t been paying attention to the GOP or conservatives for the last several years. The movement that gave America thinkers like Abe Lincoln, Barry Goldwater, and Teddy Roosevelt has entered a period of profound intellectual atrophy, and it is our democracy that is paying for the weakness.

The script, friends, is simple; cut taxes for high wage-earners and high revenue business, cut domestic programs that target the working class, cut military spending that is directed towards personnel, and then grab a fiddle and watch Rome burn. This is a group of people still committed to a pair of ideals that are diametrically opposed to the best interests of our democracy; the thoroughly debunked notion that any market can police itself, and the thoroughly undemocratic notion that the people of the United States should play second fiddle to corporate interests. Beyond those ideals is an intellectual apathy that stands in stark contrast to the standards set by conservative movers and shakers of the past.

Boehner’s speech is just a collection of tired conservative talking points, repackaged with some exceptional truth-stretching decorations.

“Unless Congress acts, virtually every American will see their taxes go up on January 1, 2011.”

The Bush tax cuts were pushed through Congress via the use of budget reconciliation (remember the Republican crying about Democrats shoving health care down the GOP’s throat…same tactic). In a bit of creative accounting, Republicans had to put an expiration date on the tax cuts in order to use reconciliation. The tax increase on January 1 is, quite literally, part of the GOP plan.

“According to an analysis by the non-partisan Joint Tax Committee, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, half of small business income in America – half – would face higher taxes under the president’s plan.”

Half of small business income…not half of small businesses. This is a centerpiece of Republican subterfuge; wealthier individuals and high revenue businesses skew averages towards the top, and away from the working class. Small business income is no different than any other major demographic statistic; some number close to 80% of that income is going to be generated by some number above 20% of the total business that are classified as small. That is the simple reason why President Obama has suggested altering the original GOP tax plan by only allowing the tax increase on earners above $200,000 in taxable revenue. Folks, we are talking about 2% on that marginal income over the limit; a business earning $300,000 in net taxable income will pay an additional $40 per week in taxes.

“Of course, as if on cue, the same Washington politicians who have spent the last 18 months borrowing and spending our economy into the ground are now fretting over whether we can afford the ‘cost’ of stopping job-killing tax hikes.”

This sentence is fantastic in its complete departure from reality. We can presume that the “Washington politicians” the Minority Leader speaks off are the Democrats who passed the $787 billion stimulus law. Clearly, Mr. Boehner is either a liar or else functionally illiterate. The economy was in the ground, by every conventional measure, by September of 2008. We can remind Mr. Boehner that the grounding of the economy was the reason for the Republican’s $700 billion bank bailout. We can also point to the real GDP measures that show the economy moving from recession to recovery after the stimulus was passed. If I was cruel, I could also point out that one third of the stimulus law was tax cuts, but Boehner discounts those cuts because they were focused on the working class.

“The national energy tax has the capacity to wipe out many of the manufacturers and family farms here in the Rust Belt that are just barely hanging on.”

A national energy tax that has the capacity to cost households between $40 and $345 annually if they don’t modify their usage patterns, has the capacity wipe out manufacturers and family farms? The tired notion that the sustainability movement, a movement based on efficiency, is bad for business fails when forced to stand on its merits. One would hope the man who would be Speaker has some basis for his claims, all evidence to the contrary.

“When Congress returns, we should force Washington to cut non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels – before the ‘stimulus’ was put into place.  This would show Washington is ready to get serious about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy.”

President Obama, as Mr. Boehner knows all to well, called for a freeze in non-defense discretionary spending paired with a gradual reduction to pre-2008 levels by 2013. But it is humorous that Mr. Boehner thinks that getting serious about deficits means getting back to the budget patterns that doubled the nation’s deficit under George W. Bush.

Conservatives had the run off the house for 6 full legislative terms, and steering and veto power for a further two. The results are clear; the greatest economic downturn in 70 years. Conservatives had a clearly defined strategy at the beginning of the century; reduce taxes, make it easier for high-earners to off-shore their pre-tax wealth, and gut regulations. The results are clear; budget deficit, shortfalls in infrastructure and educational investment, and calamitous market failures in finance, mining, and the oil industry. John Boehner’s plan is no different now then it was 10 years ago; how many times do we have to try something before we recognize failure?

Reader Feedback

One Response to “Let Me Guess, You’ll Cut Taxes”

  • Ahab says:

    It’s sad that conservatives are blaming the expanding deficit solely on the Obama administration’s stimulus and bailouts, rather than on poor Republican decisions from the Bush years.

    Boehner is spouting rhetoric, as usual. He has no working plan for strengthening the economy or dampening the deficit.

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