Liberals stumping for tax cuts are as rare as three-dollar bills and hardcover digital books, and for good reason. Devoid of any other organizing principle, the only job of progressivism today is to grow government, and taxation is the blood stream of government. It is thus with the same healthy does of skepticism that we would greet a talking turtle that we should approach claims by the Obama White House that it really, really wants to cut taxes, dang it, but conservatives won’t let them.
The issue at hand is, obviously, the extension of the payroll tax holiday. The Obama Administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress—and all their attendant enablers in the media, the academy, the unions, etc—say they want to extend this tax cut one more year to give millions of Americans a break, but that Republicans on the Hill are blocking them to protect the rich.
As White House senior advisor David Plouffe told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Nov. 30, “we can cut taxes on 160 million Americans, 98% of the small business, and we can responsibly pay for that by asking 300,000 people who make over $1 million a year to pay their fair share.”
Or as the President—the supposed leader of all Americans—himself taunted his opponents yesterday, “What happened? Republicans said they’re the party of tax cuts. How is it they can break an oath when it comes to raising your taxes but not when it comes to wealthy people?”
So let’s be done with all this right away. Conservatives are for tax cuts—period. We believe Americans are currently overtaxed and that workers should be able to keep more of their money.
The Heritage Foundation believes that we should pass real comprehensive tax reform as called for in our plan, Saving the American Dream. Failing that, however, we support continuing relief on the American family. Congress should prevent a tax hike on employees next year by extending the payroll tax.
But let’s understand, too, that when it comes to jobs creation and economic stimulation, this tax cut is political gimmickry at its finest. Yes, it will leave more money in people’s pockets to extend the tax cut, which is always good, but no this is not a tax cut that will generate any jobs.
And President Obama may cynically believe that “paying” for the extension by raising taxes on productive people may make good politics—we don’t agree with him on that score, incidentally. This is blessedly not a country where people turn on each other—but we should all agree that if jobs creation is the goal, then making life hard on jobs creators make no sense.
And also that piece-meal one-year extensions do precious little to stimulate economic activity. Businesses don’t adjust long-term behavior because of a 12-month change.
So conservatives should not let themselves get flatfooted with in this tax cutting debate, and let preening liberals pretend they have suddenly seen the light on taxes. After all, if someone were to tell you that it’s raining soup, would you rush outside with a spoon?
Follow Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus.