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Extending the Bush tax cuts for all Americans is unpopular

Here's a statement that isn't true: The American people want Congress to extend all the Bush tax cuts. The political system acts like it's true. The media often does the same. But here's Gallup:


Even Republicans are divided:


If anything, I think the White House's current position actually goes too far: Extending the middle-class cuts indefinitely locks in a budget with insufficient revenue. Extend the middle-class cuts for three years and, if the economy is back, reevaluate then. The key is keeping them time-limited: Eventually, we're going to need to let them go, and it'll be a lot easier to do that if letting them expire requires only 34 votes to uphold a presidential veto. If you need to get 60 votes to write a new law, it'll be a lot harder.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 10, 2010; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  Taxes  
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Next: The business lobby thinks forward


Ezra, can you weigh in on the discussion between Megan McArdle and Brad DeLong re CBPP's comparison of the Bush tax cuts and Social Security? I think you posted a reference to that CBPP info.

Posted by: jduptonma | September 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

It's important to remember that these are middle-BRACKET tax cuts; in the U.S. marginal income tax rates mean that middle-class and upper-class taxpayers will both get cuts under the Obama tax cut plan.

Posted by: westofthedc | September 10, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

As long as our government continues the reckless spending and unprecedented meddling with businesses, we cannot expect real long term growth.

The Congress and current Administration have put the country on a course of reckless government spending that has mortgaged the future of all Americans especially future generations. The only way to fix this long term structural problem is to create a pro-growth atmosphere for business. To do this we must reduce taxes NOW. How many different taxes does a business or individual pay on a regular basis? We must eliminate number and complexity of all these taxes and reduce the tax burden.

We also need to end the micro-management of business and the economy. Until we GREATLY reduce the tax burden on business and consumers and remove the senseless regulations that accomplish little in relation to the cost they impose, our future is bleak.


Posted by: AngryMobVoter | September 10, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Punk kid types a lot

Know-nothing Journolist hack

The Fall is coming

Posted by: susangorgo | September 10, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Look, we can quibble about the term "reckless", but surely this Administration can only be criticized for keeping us on the path begun under the Bush Administration. I'm sure we could debate whether the spending proposed by the White House was good policy or not, but that's beside the point.

Posted by: MosBen | September 10, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I hope that if any of these tax cuts are extended they will be re-labeled the Obama tax cuts. Up until now it has been difficult for any liberal to mention the deficit without also mentioning "because of the Bush tax cuts" in the same sentence. I am sure to get a lot of laughs at how the Journolist crowd will spin legislation that Obama signs that extends any of the tax cuts that they have demonized in the past.

Posted by: cummije5 | September 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"If anything, I think the White House's current position actually goes too far: . . ."

Hey Ezra. Shut up, man. Going "too far" was what we wanted him to do at the beginning of the negotiations on healthcare and FinReg. But he didn't, and we wound up with less than we could have because he started from the wrong point.

So now he's learned, and is starting from a point that is beyond expectation, and when it's all negotiated, we might end up with something descent for a change.

So ix-nay on the "oo-far-tay," OK?

Posted by: Rick00 | September 10, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

For a long time to come, President Obama has caught the 'wave' right here - exactly locating that majority of Americans who would back a policy like extending tax cuts for all under $250K and above that to let them expire.

People are undermining the criticality of this getting right and how huge it can be for Obama and Dems who back him; to get an appropriate handle on this issue.

Sen. Reid for now is with Pres. Obama. As usual permanent morons like Sen. Nelson are crowing for 'tax cuts' for rich too.

It is really amazing that how ineptitude political instincts of these Democrats can be - here is an issue which is crying to be taken up with huge majority backing it with potential electoral windfall; and these Dem politicians are chicken in not following President here.

President Obama - keep on chipping, keep on fighting. That is the only way eventually all these recalcitrant Dems will come around as public starts coming back to him.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It's been fun watching McConnell and Boehner squirm when asked how the extension of the Bush tax cuts would be paid for. Strange how $80B in unemployment benefits is unfathomable but $800B in tax cuts with no reduction in government spending is okay.

It's also interesting to see that only 11% of republicans want the tax cuts to expire in their entirety vs. 19% of democrats. Real deficit hawks, those republicans.

Posted by: fakedude1 | September 10, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

While I'm in the minority that believes all of the tax cuts ought to be allowed to expire, I do agree absolutely with Ezra (for the first time ever, probably) that any extension has got to be time limited or we are screwed. As hard as it is for politicians to let tax cuts expire (even politicians who excoriated said tax cuts for years), it's even harder to get them to vote for tax increases on anybody they can't simultaneously demonize.

Posted by: bgmma50 | September 10, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

So now the author of this site cares about polls. I wonder where that sense of caring was when every single poll showed a majority of Americans were opposed to Obamacare, the most disastrous piece of legislation(that ain't all it's a piece of) was rammed down the throats of the American public?

Posted by: Bob65 | September 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

We are witnessing the greatest intrusion into the private lives of individuals and business in history. It is time to take our government and Country back.


Posted by: AngryMobVoter | September 10, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The point brought by 'Bob65' - I was exactly waiting for.

Clearly polling was ignored in case of Obama Care because the policy was good whereas 'tax cuts for rich' are rejected because polling is not supporting.

Now question to Bob65 - go find any credible research which tells you that 'increasing deficit' to give tax cuts to rich pay is a GOOD Economic Policy.

Bob65 you are unlikely to find any such evidence. GOP does not find. Search your soul and of GOP folks - it is 'pure' class warfare here. You are talking 'robbing poor' to make 'rich' further 'rich'.

That is disguising. So really the issue was whether for this good policy (taxing rich reasonably) there was any public support. Point of Ezra's argument is there is a public support so these 'sucker' Dems do not have to carry water for rich people.

I hate these Dems when they care more for 'rich' than rest of Americans. GOP - they are already clear (there are shameless in this case, politicians with no cloths...) where there loyalties lie.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 10, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

" I think the White House's current position actually goes too far: Extending the middle-class cuts indefinitely locks in a budget with insufficient revenue"
= - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I have long ago ceased taking Ezra's journolist for anything but claptrap. He is the representative of the I don't know anything, haven't done anything and don't have a real job group :-)
His followers live in their Mother.Father/Family basements.
He treats the quote above ...'with insuffient revenues"? Like a notice from his Father/Mother that his allowance had been reduced!!
He MISSES the point!! We have to cut spending!! We have to live within our REVENUES!!!
Ifg our allowancve is cut we have tp shift to Mickey "Ds" instead of "Hells Burgers": !

Posted by: thornegp2626 | September 10, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Procedural note... it only takes 51 votes (or 50 + VP) to raise taxes in the future -- not 60 votes. Raising taxes to reduce the deficit is the primary purpose of the budget reconciliation process... the primary recent example is Clinton's economic package in 1993 w/ Al Gore breaking the tie.

Moreover, a tax increase passed in that manner could be permanent. While the Byrd Rule prevents the reconciliation process from being used to raise deficits beyond 10 years (which is why Bush couldn't make his cuts permanent), it doesn't place any such restriction on legislation that would CUT the deficit. In face, that was the whole purpose of reconciliation -- a procedural tool to make it easier for the Senate to pass politically difficult measures that would cut deficits, i.e. tax increases or spending cuts.

Posted by: dss16 | September 11, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm a conservative who agrees wih you, like, never.

However, I'm a fiscally sane conservative who believes we need to balance the budget; who believes that this issue is about how to fairly split the bill, not about 'spreading the wealth around'; who believes that middle-class Americans spent basically the entirety of the Bush years getting shafted; who believes that Republican pols are overplaying their hand on this issue, and that they're undermining all that the Tea Party has done to restore their justifiably tarnished reputation.

So here for your reading pleasure is some economic data. Scroll to the bottom to see the graph and chart showing real GDP growth rates from 1980-2009. Over the last 3 decades the maximum cap gains rate has varied from 15% to 29.2%. Can you by looking at the graph guess what the rate was at any given time? Neither can I.

Needless to say it was higher at every point in the 80s and 90s than it's been since 2001. But guess which decade saw the slowest growth?

Posted by: wjalden | September 14, 2010 5:42 AM | Report abuse

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