Instead of trying to pander to a small segment of voters, Democrats should do what they think is right regarding the extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.
President Barack Obama has clearly signaled that he intends to extend the Bush tax cuts that affect the middle class but not continue the cuts for those who make more than $250,000 a year.
Apparently, Democrats in tough re-election fights are afraid that raising taxes on anyone during a recession will upset voters.
"Don't raise taxes in a recession," Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.Dak.) told the AP.
Arguments from representatives like Pomeroy are causing confusion. The AP writes:
Democratic leaders refused to say whether they were open to changing Obama's plan, or even commit to a vote before the balloting seven weeks off. Instead, they called House Democrats together Tuesday night to discuss a poll showing that extending tax cuts for middle-income earners was a winning strategy for the party.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the case that Obama's plan was "good policy and good politics," her spokesman said. Not everyone was convinced. A group of moderate and conservative House Democrats was collecting signatures on a letter calling for Democratic leaders to offer a bill extending tax cuts for all Americans. Broad tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration are due to expire at the end of the year. "We are in listening mode," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who heads the House Democrats' campaign committee.
Democrats are on the right side of this issue, which has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with economics and common sense.
First, a CBS News poll shows that most Americans, 56 percent, are in favor of letting the tax cuts for those making $250,000 and more expire. In a sign that the issue is beyond politics for regular Americans, even 48 percent of Republicans, traditionally against increasing taxes for the wealthy, are against extending tax cuts to the wealthy.
In addition, the tax cuts will not likely have a big effect on the U.S. economy:
"There is a great deal of data showing that upper-income people spend a relatively small share of their tax cuts. Therefore, the tax increase will have very little effect on their consumption," Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told The Hill.
Baker said the argument about the tax cut hurting small businesses does not make sense. He called it a "loon tune" argument:
"First of all, 98 percent of small businesses are not affected at all by the repeal. So we are only talking about a tax increase that will affect 2 percent of small businesses. Furthermore, most of the small businesses who are affected will only be affected in a trivial way. The tax hit on families with an income between $250,000 and $500,000 will average $700 according to Congressional Joint Tax Committee," Baker said.
"A tax hit of $700 is not going to devastate a well-run business. In fact, in almost no cases will it affect the decision to hire even a single worker. So, the small business story is a joke," he added.
We are talking about providing tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of people as a means of stimulating the economy for the other 98 percent. That makes no sense. It sounds like Reagan-era trickle-down economics.
President Obama is right; this country simply cannot afford continued tax breaks for the wealthy.
"For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn't to punish folks who are better off -- God bless them. It is because we can't afford the $700-billion price tag," he said.
It's irresponsible to continue tax breaks for those with abundance when the country is struggling. No one wants anyone to pay more taxes than they should, but the amount you pay should be commensurate with your income.
What Democrats, Republicans and Americans wealthy, middle class and poor should be fighting for is to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely.
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