Talk about a one hit wonder. Faced with ominous signs of impending recession, a situation virtually every expert agrees calls for short term stimulus, what’s the GOP’s response? Yup, tax cuts for the rich, the elixir that — to the right wing mind — cures every ailment.
The Republicans plan to take advantage of the fear of recession as an excuse for taking another run at making the Bush tax cuts permanent. You might ask what a tax cut extension that won’t even go into effect for several years can possibly have to do with providing short term stimulus to the economy. Fools! The answer, of course, is the exact same one that explains why attacking Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks, was the proper response to 9-11.
Because they so say, that’s why.
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi met on Monday with the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, to discuss potential action by Congress, the White House and the central bank to jump-start the economy and try to shorten the slowdown that many economists say has already begun to take hold.
But even as Ms. Pelosi renewed a call by Democratic leaders for cooperation with President Bush and Republicans in Congress, lawmakers in both parties said that efforts to develop a short-term stimulus plan could easily fall prey to partisan disputes like whether to extend Mr. Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which expire after 2010.
The Democrats are insisting that Republicans not inject their desire to extend the tax cuts into negotiations of a short-term rescue package intended to dampen the impact of a recession. But in interviews, several Republican lawmakers said they could not imagine a debate not involving long-term tax policy.
“The planning for 2010 in a business sense is happening now,” said Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan. “So it isn’t too soon to talk about making permanent the Bush tax cuts.”
What this means, of course, as Paul Krugman notes on his blog, is that “Republicans will hold any attempt to help the economy now hostage to yet another try at making the Bush tax cuts permanent — thereby, among other things, crippling future possibilities for health care reform.”
So much for stimulus legislation — unless, of course, the Democrats in Congress cave again.
But don’t do it guys, please, not this time. Wholesale extension of the Bush tax cuts would be a disaster for the country, driving up the national debt while starving the treasury of funds desperately needed for domestic priorities — things like healthcare and education reform. Besides, the politics on this is 100 percent on the Democrats’ side.
The Democratic response to this latest example of Republican extortion should be, to borrow the words of that great former Republican mayor of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood, to tell the GOP: “Go ahead, make our day.”
Come on Democrats, call their bluff. Let the Republicans squirrel a stimulus package made up of popular middle class spending and tax relief because they want to score a little more manna for their corporate overlords. Then go to the voters in November and let them decide where the blame for inaction lies.