Finally, a tax cut Republicans hate

Nobody has accused the Republican Party of being the “tax-and-spend” party, at least since Saint Ronald of Reaganworld rode off into the sunset. The GOP mantra for at least the past 25 years has been “Hear no taxes; see no taxes; raise no taxes,” and the vaguely ideological underpinning for the party’s objection has been codified into law—political canon law. The eleventh commandment for the party of self-aggrandizement used to be, “Thou shalt speak no ill of another Republican”; but since Grover Norquist came on the scene, it has been, “Thou shalt not raise taxes…ever…on anyone…for any reason.”

Grover Norquist is the chief executive officer of Americans for Tax Reform, an outfit funded by some of the richest men and corporations in America for the sole purpose of keeping their taxes as low as possible. At their behest, Grover has turned the anti-tax mantra into a literal pledge that must be signed by every Republican candidate for any office anywhere if he or she hopes to have the support of the party’s bigwigs and moneybags. The threat is so restrictive, and so real, that even formerly moderate Republicans have signed it for fear of being “primaried”—opposed in a primary election by a candidate more right-wing than they are.

Few knew about this pledge and Norquist’s role in it until the past few years, for he is a behind-the-scenes player who managed to elude the limelight for twenty years as he developed his unchecked power; now that he has come out of his closet, he has emerged as the quiet counterpart to Rush Limbaugh, who enforces the rest of the right’s big-money, corporatocratic agenda.

That agenda has fluctuated as “family values,” “guns, gays, and God,” “right-to-life,” “intelligent design,” and “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and has moved and motivated the party over the past decades. But no matter what social or cultural issues have risen to the surface, anti-taxism has always been the driving force of the modern Republican party. That’s why it’s such a shock that this December, for the first time in a generation—or at least since George H. W. (George the Hapless) Bush broke his own “Read my lips: No New Taxes” pledge—the Republican party has decided to oppose a tax reduction. They actually have voted numerous times in the past few weeks to raise taxes!

This should, of course, be a remarkable turn of events in American political history. But alas, it’s only the long-delayed exposure of the underbelly of the party’s Tea-Party identity: the Republican party will oppose any tax increase, ever, of any sort, for any reason, on rich people; but they are willing and even eager to raise taxes on 150,000,000—that’s right, one hundred fifty million—working Americans in order to protect their wealthy masters from any tax increase, despite the fact that those masters are already enjoying the lowest tax rates since World War II.

The Social Security tax of 6.2 percent on employee wages and employer payrolls guarantees that both workers and their bosses pay into the nation’s retirement system. A year ago President Obama convinced the lame-duck Congress to lower the employee portion by two percent, putting approximately $1,000 in the hands of middle class Americans earning $50,000 a year. In exchange, he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for TWO years. Those tax cuts, passed by George W. Bush and a Republican Congress in 2001 and 2003, were designed to expire in 2010, but that year Republicans declared that allowing them to do so would be “a tax increase,” and therefore anathema, treason, a grave and serious sin, a crime against nature, and an eternal curse upon Reagan’s shining city on the hill (never mind that St. Ronald signed off on dozens of tax increases during his term; who cares about facts when you’re dealing with God’s younger brother?!)

That $1,000-per family tax break is set to expire December 31, and President Obama wants to extend it, even increase it by another $500, while also giving small businesses a break by offering them a reduction in what they are required to pay into the system. Just think: one hundred-fifty million Americans having an extra $1,500 each to spend would pour more than two hundred BILLION dollars into the economy next year—because the vast majority of working people have to spend everything they earn just to get by. Obama would pay for the lost revenue by requiring the few thousand families at the very top of the income pyramid to pay an extra 3.6 percent on the top of their incomes: nothing extra on the first million dollars, mind you, just on the amount they earn above that.

In response, the Republicans have done a 180-degree about-face and declared that the nation can’t afford to give working people a continued tax break. After all, if Obama is right, those shiftless, useless employees might spend it; and that would lead to an improved economy; and that would improve President Obama’s chances of being reelected in 2012; and that would go against Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s avowed “number one priority”: to make sure that Obama is a one-term president. So they have voted, in lockstep as always, to let the economy collapse rather than grow, solely in order to be able to blame President Obama next November.

Finally, a tax cut the Republicans don’t like? Of course—if the money goes to you and me!

0 Responses

  1. Great writing Doctor . Heres one thing I don’t get or stated more accuratly refuse to get , when those in the know state that a congressional district is safe I’m speaking about NC 10th congressional district , how can they make that statement with congress at a 9% approval rating ? Sorry I’m calling BS on this one .
    When they say this to me it sounds smug , like you might as well not even try , we got this , just stay at home .

  2. I read that Democrats once again are caving and will not raise taxes on the mega rich.  Is it worth the payroll tax cut?  Maybe, if as this suggests it will help him get reelected over the clowns the GOP is running.  But it still makes me ill.

  3. Of course they are. It is in their nature. The Democrats are desperate to show the American people that they’re doing something, anything. In my opinion, sometimes is better to do nothing than to do something that is completely wrong. It seems to me that there are enough conservative Democrats that truly support this pipeline to make a “compromise” not only possible but probable. There simply aren’t enough Democrats who are advocates of clean energy or Democrats who are opposed to our continued addiction to fossil fuels to oppose this compromise.

    I’m not sure that you can categorize this as a cave-in. Since many conservative Democrats (blue dog Democrats) support the continued use and exploration of fossil fuels, they aren’t caving. They’re simply following what they believe is right. It is an excellent example of how we have to work harder to elect Democrats who actually represent what we believe. Stated another way, we need to elect Democrats who are truly progressive.

    As usual, thanks for your comments.

  4. think of the Republicans as the Borg. Everyone who has joined the party no matter what their background seems to adopt their extremist agenda. Basically, anything that helps business is good. Free markets are good. Military spending is good. Government spending except on the military is bad. Foreign policy – agree with us and Israel or you’ll face nuclear annihilation. That’s it. Those are the core beliefs of the modern Republican Party. There is no compromise on those core beliefs. Anyone who compromises on those core beliefs will be drummed out of office. In the 1960s and 1970s moderate and liberal Republicans existed. They have gone the way of the dinosaur. Now, the party speaks with one voice – resistance is futile.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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