Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 10:27 AM ET, 11/19/2010

The Democrats have picked the wrong strategy on the Bush tax cuts

By Ezra Klein

The Democrats are converging around a strategy on the Bush tax cuts that, if it works, would potentially eliminate the tax cuts for the rich. The votes in the Senate are such that legislators on both sides say the strategy won't work, but leave that aside for a second. The "win" here -- eliminating the tax cuts for the rich -- is the wrong one.

The tax cuts for the rich are bad for the deficit, but that's about it. And if they're only extended for a few years, they're not that bad for the deficit, and they do have some (minor) stimulative impact.

Comparatively, unemployment insurance is going to expire for 2 million Americans in a matter of weeks. That will kick out whatever meager financial security they've been able to cobble together, not to mention depriving the economy of some of the most stimulative spending we've got going. Unemployment insurance can't be allowed to expire, and the extension should be for longer than a few months. It should be until unemployment comes down to 7 or 6 percent.

In February, Congress will have to vote to lift the debt ceiling. Eventually, it will do this. It always does, because if it doesn't, it creates a fiscal crisis. But Republicans, despite wanting to increase the debt by extending the Bush tax cuts, don't want to vote to raise the debt ceiling. They're already planning to hold the vote hostage until they get substantial concessions on health-care repeal and spending cuts. And Democrats, at that point, will have little choice but to accede to their demands. The politics of the debt ceiling are tough, and since Democrats both lost the last election and control most of the government, they'll get blamed.

Getting rid of the tax cuts for the rich is not as important as extending unemployment benefits or protecting the Affordable Care Act. Right now, Democrats have settled on a strategy that focuses on those tax cuts and leaves unemployment insurance and the debt ceiling alone. That's a bad strategy. If we're extending economic relief, we should be extending it to for the jobless. Giving someone making $195,000 a year a tax cut but cutting off the unemployment benefits for an unemployed machinist in Ohio is cruel and counterproductive. And if both parties want to add trillions to the deficit by extending these tax cuts, then both parties need to raise the debt ceiling at the same time.

The right outcome here is not the end of the tax cuts for the rich, though that might be nice. It's an extension of unemployment insurance and an increase in the debt ceiling. Democrats shouldn't vote with Republicans to extend the tax cuts -- which is, of course, the only way the tax cuts can be extended -- unless Republicans will simultaneously vote with them to extend UI and lift the debt ceiling.

By Ezra Klein  | November 19, 2010; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Taxes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tom Toles is worth a thousand words
Next: START here

Comments

The debt service will happen anyway. So too should the unemployment extension, since it got way more than a majority in the House. You want to give away the store for nothing.

Extend the Bush tax cuts in return for ending the filibuster. That would be a deal worth making.


Posted by: Hopeful9 | November 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Liberals lost the argument when they opened their mouths. Why did they say they wanted to punish the rich because they are rich and the government needs their money? That only confirmed the class warfare status of liberals.

The more effective argument would have been, Americans are in danger of higher taxes and they could only save the middle class. Sorry that the "rich" could not be saved.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 19, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

It seems you are advocating a "one or the other" approach, perhaps based on the fact that Democrats are out talking about the tax cuts, but not the unemployment benefits.

Is it not possible to do both? It might be that Democrats are so fearful that they feel they cannot possibly get out in front of both measures in equal full-throated fashion. And that might be right.

But it seems like both issues are intimately related, such that concerted, forceful messaging about both would be useful. We can't be afraid of our own shadows, we have to start fighting for liberal values, and stop letting conservatives defined our values for us by cowering and refusing to take them on.

It has been demonstrated many, many times that doing that just doesn't work----unless that is what you are counting on. A thought that seems increasingly to be on the mark, alas.

Posted by: terraformer5 | November 19, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, you're joking, right? You think that this is how negotiating with Republicans works? You think that the Democrats can strike some kind of deal with the Republicans to extend unemployment benefits in exchange for keeping the tax cuts for the rich?

My most charitable interpretation of this is that you're hopelessly naive about this issue. But I fear that you've been assimilated into the inside-the-beltway Borg, and soon we'll be reading Broderesque calls for bipartisanship here.

Posted by: LostLeftCoaster | November 19, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

You don't really think the Repugs are going to negotiate with anyone in good faith do you? The debt ceiling is going to be raised because there is no choice. Let the Repugs hold it hostage. Make sure you trumpet all the really nasty things that are going to happen when they do. And make sure everyone knows it is the Repugs that are to blame. For crying out loud, why should the Dems once again give away the store before the bargaining even starts? By the way, kitchendragon50, why is it class warfare when arguing against unnecessary tax cuts for billionaires, but it's "fiscal prudence" when talking about cutting off unemployment benefits, the only income available to many families, for the working poor and middle class? Why isn't trying to starve out families whose jobs have gone away "class warfare" too?

Posted by: Beej1 | November 19, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Geez, talk about pie in the sky. Thinking the republicans will agree with anything--including extending tax cuts for the rich--in exchange for not waging a battle over raising the debt ceiling is naivete in the max.

Don't forget many of those republicans promised a fight over the debt ceiling and and for extending all tax cuts to their constituents in the election. You expect them to go back to their districts and tell their supporters they caved on the one because they got the other?

Better they have to go back to their constituents and get beaten up for not extending unemployment. At some point the sticker shock of unnecessary pain on the average person is going to set in, now that the election hoopla is over--and republicans are going to have to do something that is more than just promising that returning them to power will solve all problems.

Get real Ezra. Republicans are licking their chops over political sidelining like yours. It gives them a way to pull yet another trick play.

What was it the Rachel Maddow called it last night? Oh yeah: "Spinefulness." You might want to watch the rerun and learn something.

Posted by: jc263field | November 19, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Could it be that it has occurred to Democrats that in the give-and-take of the legislative process it is better to take the most extreme position -- in this case, ending the tax cuts for the rich and advocating a UI extension -- then work toward a compromise by giving in on the tax cuts and getting the UI extension? You know, rather than starting from the compromise position, so the Rs "get nothing" if the tax cuts are extended, like the Dems have done with everything over the last two years? Of course there is no evidence this would work, since the Rs have no interest in compromise, but at least the Dems don't start the debate already bent over the couch.

Posted by: dollarwatcher | November 19, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I do not agree your logic here Ezra.

1. As others have said, GOP is not going to trade anything for their attempts to kill Affordable Health Care Act. (Dems will have to squarely face that issue rather than hiding behind one piece or the other.)

2. Unemployment - I do not think Americans have anymore appetite for continuing unemployment benefits more than the standard period. Not only Economy is showing some signs where people can find some work; there is a limit how much 'moral' argument is acceptable here for Americans. Economic benefits of paying unemployment allowance - granted those are there, but psychological and political benefits of not accumulating deficit for that amount are good too. In other words, there does not seem to be seriously compelling reason other than humanitarian grounds to extend further unemployment allowance.

3. Debt ceiling - let GOP House worry about that, why should Dem waste their political capital to handle it? If it means closing of Congress, so what? Didn't earlier experience show that if Obama is as smart as Clinton (and there are serious doubts there); he can turn this into an opportunity? If this unsettles Market, Americans will see one more time how GOP risks our economic well being for their ideology. What is wrong politically in that? Will it not benefit Dems there?

Guys, we need to stop behaving as if the weigh of the whole world is on Dems and hence Dems have to always play 'good'. Let GOP lawmakers earn their salaries and let them do what they are elected for.

Focusing on Tax they way Dems are doing; I think that is a right way. Read J. Chait at TNR and you see fallacy in Ezra's logic too.

Posted by: umesh409 | November 19, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Clap louder, Ezra. Clap louder. Jesus, dude. You live there! You must have noticed by now that the GOP is interested in one thing and one thing only. Winning in 2012. Poor people can't get help? They don't vote for the GOP anyway. Sick kids? Too young to vote. Their parents? They won't vote for them either. If you can't see the demogogurey that is on display right in your own city, when I can see it from Kansas without a telescope, you're missing the big picture that is right in your own backyard. The GOP isn't interested in cooperation, or making deals or debating any issue where the outcome will make Demcrats look good. Their interested in allowing our society's suffering to continue without interruption, while counting on their practiced, parroted talking points on talk radio, the paper you work for, dozens of other right wing rags and Fox News to carry the day. And that strategy will work. Look, it's working right now. They've been injecting their bullshit into the nation's bloodstream for decades and since they are immune to their poison's side-effects (no thanks to you and the people you work for) and because our discourse is so slanted and the conventional wisdom is such a given, this nation will dive further down the rabbit hole of forgotten accomplishments shared, and spin further towards the glibertarian paradise envisioned by plutocrats and their descendants. People that have hated and despised, nurtured and passed down that hatred for generations for all things FDR and The New Deal. This is a generational affair. It will never end until this fantasy of the GOP and the Democratic Party "working together" is forever shattered. The GOP was done. They were dead in the water as a party in '08 and they knew it. So they merely invented a new brand: The Tea Party, and you people lapped it up.

John Cole had the perfect analogy about trying to compromise when one party is batshit insane. He said: Imagine going on a blind date and the two of you are trying to decide what to have for dinner. You suggest Italian and your insane date suggests a dinner of anthrax and tire rims. Well, if you can find a compromise there in a meal you'll both enjoy, that's what bipartisanship looks like in America.

I think you're smart enough to know who the crazy party is here.

I also think you're smart enough to know that the GOP has no interest whatsoever in helping this country. Because if they do that, they help the Democrats and worse, they help the man they want to defeat most: President Obama.

So, in the interest of at least my sanity, if not your own, stop with this nonsense that there are issues and votes to be traded with the GOP. They have no interest in anything but winning and rewarding their plutocratic owners.

And you know it.

Posted by: thad1 | November 19, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Most of the time, I think Ezra Klein is very insightful. But on this, I think he is just wrong.

The Republicans are not going to be able to extract any concessions for extending the debt ceiling. They do not dare not extend it, because if they failed to extend it, they would be responsible for a financial crisis. Obama, if he had any core convictions whatsoever, could simply veto any bill that does not cleanly extend the debt ceiling without adding controversial provisions.

Basically, if Klein's analysis were correct and Obama were a complete weakling (as Klein implicitly implies when he suggests that Republicans are going to be able to extract major concessions in exchange for extending the debt ceiling) then the Affordable Care Act is pretty much over. Why? Because, even if the debt ceiling issue were off the table, the Republicans are still necessary to pass appropriations. Obama is going to have to be willing to veto Republican appropriations that defund the Affordable Care Act at the cost of causing a government shut down, otherwise the Republicans will simply win.

The idea that Republicans do not have a duty to be responsible (avoiding the consequences of failures to extend the debt ceiling or the consequences of a government shutdown later) is a ridiculous concession to make to Republicans. Here, Ezra Klein is advocating making trades to the Republicans in exchange for nothing.

Let Republicans cut off unemployment insurance. Let them fail to extend the debt ceiling. Let them shut down the government. Democrats should do precisely nothing in exchange for Republicans doing the "right thing" on any of these issues. If Republicans are dumb enough to be irresponsible on any of the above, I think it will be very revealing to voters, who will find that they deeply regret voting Republicans into power.

The problem with Ezra Klein, I think, is at the end of the day he does not know how to negotiate from a position of strength. A Republican President would never let Democrats attach controversial policies that he or she did not agree with to the extension of funding for our military. Why should a Democratic President allow Republicans to attach controversial policies to an unemployment insurance extension, to extending the debt ceiling, or in exchange for not shutting down the government?

Posted by: David-Welker | November 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"unless Republicans will simultaneously vote with them to extend UI and lift the debt ceiling."

But they won't do that, because they won't accept a decoupling. and the dems won't accept making the >250,000 cuts permanent.

Posted by: andrewlong | November 19, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I have to laugh at the utter stupidity of the liberals.


First you liberals claim that the 'rich' won't spend their tax cuts. Then sore losers like Alan Grayson start rambling about how the rich can buy Mercedes Benzes and 20000 jars of mustard.

Guess what, genius, that's consumption, not saving.

Posted by: krazen1211 | November 19, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

But the odds are pretty good that unemployed mechanic in Ohio voted Republican. Most of the state did.

Who are we to tell them they can't have the outcome they voted for?

/snark

Posted by: DubiousAdvocate | November 19, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Regarding unemployment insurance extension, all the Democrats have to do to get that passed is agree to offset the cost with unspent stimulus money.

Given the election results for the next Congress and the fact that their own Keynesian analysis indicates that unemployment insurance has a higher "multiplier" than most other forms of stimulus spending, they should take this deal as the best they are likely to get.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/06/research_desk_whats_a_dollar_o.html

Posted by: jnc4p | November 19, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, does this debate even matter when we're simultaneously talking about balancing the budget? Won't these "permanent" tax cuts only survive until some deficit reduction deal passes, at which point they'll either be reversed or balanced with new, different tax hikes?

I say put off the debate till next year, then let John Boehner justify why he simultaneously wants to put money in his donors' pockets while also making all the cuts they'll need to suggest as an alternative to raising the debt ceiling.

And if they can't get it done, big deal. The "do nothing" position here is ironically the best one for the deficit.

Posted by: NS12345 | November 19, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Clueless Democrats keep comparing Bill Clinton increasing taxes and how it helped the economy.
What these clueless Democrats don't realize is that the economy was Completely
Different at that Time!
We're now in a Global Economy, thanks to Bill Clinton, who signed-off on NAFTA and got the outsourcing ball rolling.
As a result, we're living in a much, much
different economy!
there's no comparison.
Don't raise anyone's taxes in this economy!

Posted by: ohioan | November 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse


Why would a progressive columnist encourage the bartering of our constitutional system of governance for the convenience of the moment, thereby ensuring we never return to the main issues at hand? We have perhaps two years to re-educate the people who used our money to run expensive campaigns based upon who can yell, “Liar!”, loudest and longest.

We are practicing the economic equivalent of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy by extending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. This is our 'Czechoslovakia' and health care won't be spared for long. The flaws were purposely put into the bill in order to justify later repeal rather than repair. Increasing illness and disability (already 30%), is a much greater threat to small business and to any concept of full employment. When you look at it carefully, isn't productivity inversely related to any rise in the need for health care spending?

With all due respects, Mr. Klein, settle for helping your readership to recognize how the government is being hijacked instead of proposing ways in which to collude with the hijackers. Any compromise on taxes will just fuel further resistance to improving health care reform. A single period of extending unemployment insurance won't matter since high unemployment also benefits the wealthiest Americans. There is an endless pool of potential employees to 'recycle' as early disability and the senseless terminations of good workers end notions of job security and worker advancement in a 'free enterprise' system. Nothing is ever 'free'. Why do you think that bankrupting the government isn't the ultimate goal? It guarantees an end to all entitlements and supports for HHS systems producing healthy, educated citizens to enter and safeguard the labor market from abuses.

Instead, end the illegal system of super-majority rule in Congress has to be urged. Urge citizens to punish legislators who participate in filibusters and claim they will not allow the business of government to continue unless their (personal) goals are met. That is sedition, not government. End the electoral college which removes the value of the individual voter to politicians. If paying down the debt and financing the military are required, one must have a viable tax structure that doesn't impoverish the population. The wealthy benefit most from our economic system and taxes are another means for corporations to protect their supply of human labor. When citizens are sick and broke with no discretionary income to spend, they pay no taxes or prove useful as consumers.

But all business wants is Czechoslovakia. Come to think of it, they do: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1120774/

Barbara Rubin
www.armchairactivist.us

Posted by: agasaya1 | November 19, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse


Why would a progressive columnist encourage the bartering of our constitutional system of governance for the convenience of the moment, thereby ensuring we never return to the main issues at hand? We have perhaps two years to re-educate the people who used our money to run expensive campaigns based upon who can yell, “Liar!”, loudest and longest.

We are practicing the economic equivalent of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy by extending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. This is our 'Czechoslovakia' and health care won't be spared for long. The flaws were purposely put into the bill in order to justify later repeal rather than repair. Increasing illness and disability (already 30%), is a much greater threat to small business and to any concept of full employment. When you look at it carefully, isn't productivity inversely related to any rise in the need for health care spending?

With all due respects, Mr. Klein, settle for helping your readership to recognize how the government is being hijacked instead of proposing ways in which to collude with the hijackers. Any compromise on taxes will just fuel further resistance to improving health care reform. A single period of extending unemployment insurance won't matter since high unemployment also benefits the wealthiest Americans. There is an endless pool of potential employees to 'recycle' as early disability and the senseless terminations of good workers end notions of job security and worker advancement in a 'free enterprise' system. Nothing is ever 'free'. Why do you think that bankrupting the government isn't the ultimate goal? It guarantees an end to all entitlements and supports for HHS systems producing healthy, educated citizens to enter and safeguard the labor market from abuses.

Instead, end the illegal system of super-majority rule in Congress has to be urged. Urge citizens to punish legislators who participate in filibusters and claim they will not allow the business of government to continue unless their (personal) goals are met. That is sedition, not government. End the electoral college which removes the value of the individual voter to politicians. If paying down the debt and financing the military are required, one must have a viable tax structure that doesn't impoverish the population. The wealthy benefit most from our economic system and taxes are another means for corporations to protect their supply of human labor. When citizens are sick and broke with no discretionary income to spend, they pay no taxes or prove useful as consumers.

But all business wants is Czechoslovakia. Come to think of it, they do:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1120774/

Barbara Rubin
www.armchairactivist.us

Posted by: agasaya1 | November 19, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Democrats get in trouble when they play chess with Republicans - Republicans are playing checkers - one move at a time Ezra -

Posted by: JimHines362 | November 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra?

I don't often say this to someone on my side of the divide.

You're an idiot.

I say that as someone who's worth more than you and earns more than you dream of.

The Bush tax cuts provided NOTHING in terms of job or GDP growth. Period.

http://simplyleftbehind.blogspot.com/2010/11/tax-cuts-are-for-nothing.html

Now take it back and say you're sorry.

Posted by: actor212 | November 19, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

What happens to the entitlement programs if the U.S. does default on its debt?

Posted by: justin84 | November 19, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

If they could broker a deal to extend UI for at least a year, leave HCR untouched in exchange for extending tax cuts for millionaires for two years, it MIGHT be acceptable to progressives who are tired of the pouting Repbulicans(particularly in the Senate)holding the the American people hostage in order to score a few points about how government doesn't work. If they actually think that the 25% of the voters that created a majority in the House is some kind of mandates to continue to screw everyone but the very rich, they are sadly mistaken.

Posted by: wd1214 | November 19, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

wow do such simplistic strawman arguments work in your world?

Hey, if it's not *that* bad, let's do it.

Look the bottom line is that the current tax structure is an fffing joke. The $250k ceiling on taxable income is an outrageous joke, not to mention combining that with the AMT.

You get rid of that ceiling and leave the tax levels as they are right now and the debt problem is solved.

No, instead we have hundreds of these ultrawealthy people running around DONATING THEIR MONEY.

And the GOP says that taxes are bad for business. Really? So why don't we get rid of ALL taxes?

You can't have it both ways. It's WRONG for everyone who makes less than $250k to pay taxes on ALL THEIR EARNINGS and the wealthy only pay tax on a FRACTION of their earnings and then complain that government spending is a problem and that taxation is a problem. How many ways do you want to screw this country over and then blame what happens on the Democrats?

Anyone who falls for that argument is an utter fool.

Posted by: chucklebuck | November 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line is that this country's main problem is that it has far, far too many wealthy people who are bullsh****ers and con-artists and are happy to see things just the way they are now. Even better if they make even more money and everyone else earns less.

As long as they have so much wealth how can things get better for the average guy?

Every 2 years you get to vote for your local congressman. In that time the wealthy earn millions, even billions while the average person is lucky to earn $50k before taxes. Guess which one counts more? Everything beyond that is a slow slide into a financial oligarchy. You can complain about socialism all you want but that's the only thing keeping this country from turning into a feudal state with the worst characteristics of a kingdom and communism. If the wealthy did not have to actually worry about taxes and regulations they would simply buy everything in sight and charge everyone else a fortune just to eat and put a roof over their heads. If it wasn't *for* "socialism" this country would be 18th-century England with 21st century technology.

Posted by: chucklebuck | November 19, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

If Congress doesn't kill the Bush tax cuts for the rich now, they never will. Extending them now will only give the GOP better odds of making them permanent. That's the political reality. The GOP will NEVER agree to a temporary extension. The 10-year sunset proves this. They never intended them to sunset, but always assumed the GOP would stay in power and make them permanent.

So the real choice is kill or make permanent. And that's an easy choice.

The Dems should let the GOP shut down the government. The GOP would never pass up such an opportunity to show America they really care only about the rich. They did it in 1995 and they'll do it again.

And any harm from such a shutdown would be far less than the harm from GOP policies. They got us into the Great Supply-Side Recession, and next time it'll be the Great Supply-Side Depression.

Posted by: Garak | November 19, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
What you fail to mention is that the republicans are 100% in support of the tax cuts, perks for the wealthy and 100% against the extension of unemployment benefits.
Yes, unemployment continuation is very important for people who have lost their jobs, but, it is equally important that the injustice of the wealthy, Wall st, big business being allowed a free ride.
We all know with all their loopholes, etc they do not pay anything near what the rate is, and for some, pay no taxes at all.
How can anyone not be up in arms about the republicans once again raping the American people?
Do not think you gave these topics the attention they deserve.

Posted by: kathlenec | November 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I wondered how long it would be before Ezra drank the DC water and become just another WP conventional wisdom useless blatherer.

It wasn't that long.

Right now Ezra proposes giving up the biggest bargaining chip the Democrats have with the GOP, tax cuts for their masters.

No deal, not now.

Posted by: elemming | November 19, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty obvious Republicans are afraid of a straight up-or-down vote on extending middle-income tax cuts. But they had an opportunity to work out a deal by meeting with President Obama and congressional Democrats at the White House yesterday. And instead of sitting down at the table, they turned their backs. Now they're going to have to explain why they oppose extending tax cuts on all income below $250,000. And the only explanation that they can offer is that they're hostage-takers who will shut down everyones unemployment benefits if they don't get their way.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:

How did this come to pass? Did you advertise in the other columns that it was let a wacko in free day in yours, or is it purple prose day on the calendar?

If I had known that this was all about the end of the world, truthfully I would have spent less of my last few months reading your column!

Posted by: 54465446 | November 19, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Let the tax cuts expire to cover the cost of the unemployment benefits. Then go with the tax reforms recommended by the commission recently who recommended a flat tax across the board for all.

DO NOT raise the debt level. Reduce the size of government. Get rid of TSA, Homeland security and most of IRS. Rework Health Care so either we have Government funded non-profit health care system or, make health care more competitive in the marketplace.

Posted by: C4LCNCPLS | November 19, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

When facing bankruptcy, they MUST increase income and reduce debt.

So, get ready for the increase in taxes.
They are going to let them expire.

Posted by: C4LCNCPLS | November 19, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Washington State, which is liberal, just voted to not raise taxes on the rich. Doing that during a recession is plan stupid. Once the country begins to dig itself out of the hole we created, then you can address this probllem. By the way $250,000 is not rich. Try living in New York or New Jersey and paying their taxes. When the time comes, the figure should be around $750,000.

Posted by: farmsnorton | November 19, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, here's a little clue for you. The sequence of top bracket tax cuts over the last 30 years are the exact and precise reason why the top 1% takes 24% of all income now, while they only took 8.46% in 1980. The top 1% makes the decisions regarding not just their own, but everyone else's salaries, stock options, etc. When the top 1% gets a nice personal income tax cut, they don't stop and think, "nice, now I don't have to give myself a 50% raise." No, they think,"nice, now when I lay off 100 employees and pay myself another $5,000,000 per year, I'll be getting a lot more of it after taxes." Those tax cuts have created an ethical cancer among those sitting at the top of the pyramid. They now focus entirely on enriching themselves instead of concentrating on the top line success of their business enterprises. And the nation rots.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Adding $70 billion to the tax bill of the already wealthy will NOT take money out of the GDP. They aren't going to feel it at all. Oh, they'll KNOW it; they just won't FEEL it. They already do not spend what they take because they don't HAVE to spend it. That's why giving them more just slows down the economy. Giving them less won't stimulate the economy in the short term (it would in the longer term) but it won't depress the economy either.

The rich do NOT 'provide' jobs. BUYERS provide jobs. The rich are merely the gatekeepers for those jobs, and then only if they're focused on the business enterprise instead of on how much cash they can rake off the top line of the business enterprise to put in their personal accounts.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

In what enchanted forest occupied by magical woodland fairies does Ezra think this deal is going to come to pass? The Republicans are going to accept Ezra's gracious capitulation on taxes, then fight UI extension and the debt issue. This is like every controversial issue that Ezra has written about the last two years, with financial regulation and health care being the prime examples. The logic is always give up something tangible now in exchange for something we hope we might get later. Well, no. The other side will just do what it always does, eat our lunch and then ask for dessert. I really wish Ezra would not see his role as rationalizing surrender. It's pretty sick-making and cowardly, not to mention moronic about how the other side actually does business.

Posted by: redscott1904 | November 19, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, wrong paper, you meant to publish this on the Washington TIMES! What a baffoon...

Posted by: beenthere3 | November 19, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

If you want to save the forest first you need to figure out how to save a tree. Multi-faceted, multi-year, multi-issue strategies are for bad chess players, bad politicians, and bad losers.

Want a simple and effective strategy to save the country and the Democratic Party? Here it is:

Pick a fight and fight it to the bitter end, taking no prisoners, giving no quarter, holding no rhetorical weapon unused, no bold idea uncultivated, no deserved insult unsaid, no tough vote untaken. Hit hard, hit fast, and show your opponents for the shameful, incompetent liars that they are.

I think fighting for a middle class tax cut is just the issue to kick off this strategy. Win this one and the rest will follow like shooting ducks from the rear of a tight aerial formation.

Posted by: RoyFan | November 19, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats should refuse to negotiate on the Debt Ceiling and force the Republicans to extend the Debt Ceiling without a single Democratic vote -- and attack the Republicans for increasing the deficit -- or if the Republicans can't muster enough votes, force the United States into default, and repeatedly blame the subsequent disaster on the Republicans for the next two years.

Posted by: AlanJ33 | November 19, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

So...
(1) Ezra states that tax cuts are only mildly stimulative, despite the fact U.S. tax revenues have been highest ever following business and/or investor tax rate cuts.
(2) He thinks extending unemployment benefits is good, because not to do so would be inhumane, exhibiting selfish hoarding of wealth. (We're making unemployment look more like welfare every day. Is that what he wants?)

Ergo, Ezra, I reckon, is a flaming liberal. And most of the comments above seem to me to be left of middle. Excuse me, I must have gotten lost somewhere on my way to this forum.

Posted by: LongmontGene | November 19, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

there aren't enough votes, and not enough public opinion support for a strategy of proposing only permanent cuts for the middle class and threatening to let them all expire or expose Republicans for wanting to extend them to all. that's too close a call on what the public thinks is in the best interests of the economy.

but if they propose permanent cuts for the middle class and agree to an extension of the cuts for the rich, say four more years, then the republicans would look pretty foolish letting them all expire by holding out for permanent cuts for all. that's the only strategy I see that makes any sense. that's where both parties should meet.

republicans fear that if they go for that, they will be made to look bad down the road proposing to make the extension for just the rich permanent. I suppose that makes sense, but heck, there's no free lunch in politics either. You can't sell permanent cuts now, try again later.

Posted by: JoeT1 | November 19, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

BTW, those top bracket individuals who choose to do business without incorporating their business enterprises do so because they are NOT hiring employees and, for the most part, are NOT spending capital on plant and equipment.

They simply want to pay tax on the bottom line of their business enterprise and put the rest in their pockets instead of paying a corporate tax BEFORE paying personal income tax and then putting the remainder in their pockets. There's nothing wrong with that, but to falsely assume that they might create jobs is clearly ridiculous.

Paying jobs are what the economy needs and, failing that, unemployment insurance - ESPECIALLY if that unemployment insurance is deficit financed - is the fallback position. Why? Because that's the ONLY way the economy will grow NOW instead of down the road sometime after a magical stimulus from the people who don't spend half of what they are currently getting in the first place, and who won't stop spending what they've been spending over the last few years even if they have to pay - OMG - another 4-5% of their income in taxes (which won't happen anyway because they average about a 21% REAL tax rate (money they actually pay) on their 34% official bracket rate.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Yip. wrong. Every dollar of income over $1 million gets taxed at 50 percent.

Let Wall St. give those $140 billion in bonus, and tax every dollar of earnings over $1 million at 50 percent. What you get up to that point is taxed at the current rates up to that $1 million.

It shouldn't matter how you get it .. stock gains, inheritance, work.. over $1 million of total income tax at 50 percent.

Posted by: morenews1 | November 19, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra states that tax cuts are only mildly stimulative, despite the fact U.S. tax revenues have been highest ever following business and/or investor tax rate cuts."

____________________________________

I know you believe that because it's been drummed into your head by your favorite propagandists for many, many years. There's just one problem with that. It has yet to happen. Even once. In fact, the exact opposite is always true in an EMPIRICAL sense, if not in a propaganda sense.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Let's stop paying taxes, social security, etc., shut down the government, close police depts, close schools, close fire depts, let the roads revert back to trees and grass and weeds, shut down the military, let people rely on corporations and insurance companies to provide medical coverage.

Yea, to back to do tit yourself for everything.

Moms can get back in the kitchen and stay at home; dad can carrying guns to protect the family from all the varmits, and the world will be as one.

Posted by: morenews1 | November 19, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I really like and respect you, but in this case you are dead wrong. You don't negotiate with the devil, and you don't compromise when you have a lead pipe cinch winning hand. On all three of these issues the Republic Party hasn't got a leg to stand on. If they block the tax cuts for the middle and lower classes based on their insistence that the upper levels also get a cut, they lose. It wouldn't hurt that bad if all the tax cuts expired, the actual effect on the lower and middle class would be minimal and the Republic Party would get blamed anyway.

They also can't win on unemployment extensions. Even in my own state of Nevada one of the worst toadies of the Republic Party, Dean Heller, realized he had to vote for the extension. Hold firm and the Republic Party will have to come around if they don't want to get lynched in their own states.

And the debt ceiling is a non-issue. To vote against extending it would be the death knell of the Republic Party. Even those Tea Partiers will come around to realize that the shut down of the federal government will cut off all the benefits they take for granted.

Posted by: denisob | November 19, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I believe it because the U.S. Treasury reports the highest revenue from income taxes occurred in 2007. Do you know of a better source?

Posted by: LongmontGene | November 19, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Even Laffer never said that tax cuts raise money, only that they don't lose as much as the nominal cut. and vice versa.

Posted by: JoeT1 | November 19, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"there aren't enough votes, and not enough public opinion support for a strategy of proposing only permanent cuts for the middle class"

________________________________

False. There is only a small majority in favor of eliminating the top bracket tax cuts...according to polling done on people who just voted. Polling all registered voters or polling all adults, however, yields strongly different results and those results show at least a 62% majority in favor of eliminating the tax cuts for the top brackets.

Now, I'm sure that if the American people were to have some non-stop propaganda devoid of any actual facts drummed into their heads from the echo chamber for 6 months or so, they would change their minds. Such an outcome, however, would be damaging to the COUNTRY. On the other hand, fact-free lies seem to be very important to nearly a majority of Americans, so I suppose the economic destruction of America which has been going on for the last 30 years is a good thing in most people's minds.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The Voters have spoken, the economic policies of The Obama administration are not working,. The Obama and the Bush adminstartion with the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have increased domestic spending 86 % in the last 4 years. Over 10 years that would be about 4.4 trillion in additional spending. Government spending has soared to 24.2 % of GDP, This is clearly unsupportable. We must revert back to the baseline in spending of about 19 % of GDP. The Republicans will only negotiate Pro-Growth strategies’ So Ezra’s right but for the wrong reasons, until Obama admits his Big Government policies are wrong, we will have war.

Posted by: tomkat2 | November 19, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"I believe it because the U.S. Treasury reports the highest revenue from income taxes occurred in 2007. Do you know of a better source?"

_______________________________

Yes, the Treasury is correct. So? Your point is still obtusely false.

Reality:

Fiscal year 2000 saw a paydown of the national debt to the tune of $114 billion.

Fiscal years 2001 through 2005 revenues were lower than in 2000. During that time, $2.4 TRILLION was ADDED to the national debt due to tax receipts lower than those of 2000 by $705 billion, additional reduced receipts due to lower taxes on increased income totals, wars, $100 billion corporate giveaways, etc., etc., etc.

In the intervening years since 2005, only $329 billion of that lost revenue has been made up, so the government is still in the hole from 2001 because of the tax cuts, even as inflation has appeared to make the economy grow and even as the collapse of the entire financial system (40% of the economy, which would have taken us back to something on the order of a much poorer 1932) has required massive government spending of money that isn't there because we were in the middle of a party, thank you very much, and we aren't interested in paying for the booze.

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"We must revert back to the baseline in spending of about 19 % of GDP"

________________________________

Why can't right-wingers do arithmetic? The baseline number is actually 21%. Aside from that, it's utterly idiotic to cut spending in the face of ANY recession, much less one which STILL has the capacity to become the only Great Depression worthy of remembrance.

The time for spending cuts is during a BOOMING economy. When will the phony 'business geniuses' EVER buy a clue?

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

it's utterly idiotic to cut spending in the face of ANY recession, much less one which STILL has the capacity to become the only Great

But we can raise taxes on the job creators?

Posted by: tomkat2 | November 19, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"But we can raise taxes on the job creators?"
______________________________

Once again, the richest Americans do not 'create' jobs. BUYERS of products and services create jobs. When the middle class is buying at increasing rates, the rich hire more employees to meet demand. Only a fool would hire employees in the face of static or declining demand. In addition to that, there has been a built-in bias against hiring employees since the 80s, when American business 'leaders' generally came to the view that more employees means lower bottom line profits (ignoring the possibility for larger numbers on the top line which would be the more rational way to increase the bottom line).

Posted by: Martel1 | November 19, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

So, Ezra, you've bought into the rationale that in order to keep the Republicans from destroying the country, we've got to take an axe to it, too.

Posted by: pmcgann | November 19, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

It is ILLEGAL, AGAINST THE LAW, for rethugs to use the reconciliation process to pass the original tax cuts for more than 10 years. The BUSH TAX CUTS were created to sunset now, exactly as the law required.

Cramming your tax cuts down out throats cost jobs during the BUSH economy (which went into the toilet). Stop losing jobs, by killing the tax cuts that lost jobs.

They want CERTAINTY? Give them CERTAINTY! You taxes go back to Clintonian tax rates because that's what created jobs and grew the economy while shrinking the deficit. NOW that you are certain, invest your money in America, and stop being economic terrorists threatening America if the poor stop subsidizing the rich.

Posted by: Liann | November 19, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Wake up, Ezra. You're having a (bad) dream.

Posted by: BlueSquareState | November 19, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Martel,
___________________________________________

So now your argument is demand, consumption based economy, which is what we have had for the past 25 years. I argue we need CAPITAL, to innovate, create, and develop new and better products that we can sell to the world. Therefore TAX rates are extremely important to compete globally for the limited capital available.

Posted by: tomkat2 | November 19, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Perhaps most of the writers here are just too young to remember what the Reagan tax cuts were SUPPOSED to be, when the Gipper then LIED to America.

As one who was one of the five political directors for the national GOP who created the tax cut program in 1977, HERE is what it was SUPPOSED to do and what Mr. Reagan had agreed to do while running for President:

It was to cut tax rates by 10% per year for 3 years with an EQUAL spending reduction, so that there would be no deficit created; leaving more money in the hands of citizens who would spend it and would create jobs for fellow Americans. THAT is what Mr. Reagan promised.

He was elected, pushed for a 3-year tax rate reduction of 5% the first year, then 10% for the next 2 years....then rather than CUT government spending, he SPENT HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of deficit dollars that went to his Defense Industrialist buddies on Wall Street!

THAT is what has caused THIS economic mess as the GOP keeps TALKING about "balancing the budget," when it keeps SPENDING the taxpayers' money into huge Trillion dollar deficits, and taking out huge loans that today have created a $14 TRILLION national debt.

The Democrats did NOT do that. The Republicans, commencing with Reagan, did!

Many of us "conservatives" quit the GOP in '84 over it as the "Gipper" had become the "Geezer," who did severe harm to the U.S. that today teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

There is only ONE way out of this mess, albeit a simple way. It requires TAX INCREASES to the levels BEFORE Reagan; with an equal CUT in spending to balance the budget.

Couple that with the abolition of GATT, WTO, NAFTA, CENTA, to bring back U.S. manufacturing plants here on U.S. Soil, and the imposition of Glass-Steagle, and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to bring the Rule of Law to bear against the corporatists who sold the U.S. future to COMMUNIST CHINA.

Americans deserve to be told the truth. Reagan through Obama wouldn't tell you.

I just did.

Posted by: gglenc | November 19, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Ezra never found a tax he couldn't support, especially if someone else is paying it.

Posted by: robrosenq | November 19, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I see now. We're all going to die.

Posted by: RandomAnon | November 19, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Why did they say they wanted to punish the rich because they are rich and the government needs their money? That only confirmed the class warfare status of liberals.
===
I guess the ever-growing chasm of wealth disparity means nothing to this conversation...

Perhaps it'll become appealing when 5% owns 80% of the economy instead of 50%...

Posted by: RandomAnon | November 19, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

There is only ONE way out of this mess, albeit a simple way. It requires TAX INCREASES to the levels BEFORE Reagan; with an equal CUT in spending to balance the budget.
______________________________________________________

Ok, That would be a 70 % top Tax rate and a 70 % cut in spending

Posted by: tomkat2 | November 19, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

There is only ONE way out of this mess, albeit a simple way. It requires TAX INCREASES to the levels BEFORE Reagan; with an equal CUT in spending to balance the budget.
______________________________________________________

Ok, That would be a 70 % top Tax rate and a 70 % cut in spending
Posted by: tomkat2
===
There are quite a few ways to do it.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html

Posted by: RandomAnon | November 19, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, Ezra Klein believes in Government of The Vicious Rich, By The Vicious Rich, For the Vicious Rich. I agree with Thomas Jefferson, because I believe in We, The People.

Posted by: bkohatl | November 19, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The majority of posters here are making a huge assumption, i.e., Republicans will take the blame for "shutting down gov't" or allowing all the tax cuts to expire for the rich.

Republicans already have the Midwest and the South completely hypnotized into thinking that THEY are rich and part of the privileged class for whom Republicans advocate.

Trying to tell people like my middle-class parents that they are not wealthy, never have been, never will be, falls on deaf ears.

The Republicans just keep hammering Big Lie after Big Lie and this will not stop.

Republicans will simply blame Democrats for shutting down the gov't and failing to extend tax cuts.

The only way Democrats can win this, or any other battle is to meet Big Lie with Big Lie. Simply trying to educate Americans about the benefits of their policies will always lose to the Republican Big Lie.

Posted by: sandawg | November 19, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Nobody came winging to my rescue with extended unemployment when I was unemployed from 2001-2004, and the government was happy to slice off a 10% penalty while I withdrew my retirement savings down to zero to put my kids though college and keep up payments on my mortgage.

Unemployment should end at 56 weeks, as it always has. I'm uninterested in being taxed now to extend a benefit I can't have so liberals can have a feel-good.

Posted by: MaggieLeber | November 19, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I meant of course 26 weeks, not 56.

Posted by: MaggieLeber | November 19, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, "allowing the extension of any tax cuts given the current debt and deficit is a bad idea". It will be over $3 trillion to extend them for 98% of taxpayers. We cannot afford to do that now. The effect of not extending them for the poor, lower and middle class will mean "minimal increases in the amount they owe if only the marginal/effective tax rate is left to expire. The small savings can't be expected to have any real impact on the economy since it is currently having little effect.

The only reason the President and the Majority want to extend the cuts for the supposed "middle class", is because he and they promised not to raise their taxes. Unfortunately, the situation now requires that the government take in more revenue. But I say that the increase in revenue should be used only to decrease the debt/deficit and that should be put in "writing" by passing legislation that would require it.

We all know that the Fed. Gov. has always spent more than they take in through income taxes. You give them more they spend more. This can't happen. It will be a great sacrifice for "all" taxpayers" to see their marginal/effective tax rates increase and we expect the Government not to waste the increased revenue but to use it to paydown our debt.

So if the Federal Government were run as any well managed business, it would let all tax cuts expire.

To do otherwise is poor management and only an indication that both parties are more interested in "playing politics" then what is best for the Country and sound fiscal management.

I say all or none. And, I vote for no extension of any of the tax cuts.

Also, everyone needs to know that the Health Reform Bill also increased taxes by 5% on sole-proprietors and those that earn over $250k. So this also will increase revenue but I would like to see this 5% tax to also be used to reduce the debt.

They must stop creating moSome argue that everyone should pay some income
taxre costly programs and spend what they receive in revenue; if only for a few years.

Posted by: fedupwithgovernment | November 19, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Given the Debt and Deficit, a responsible Government would let all tax cuts expire.
Extending them for the middle class will mean a loss of 3 trillion over 10 years. Extending them just means keeping the status quo. Given the current economy, extending them won't increase economic growth, it will simply remain the same if we are lucky.

But, Obama and the Democrats promised not to raise taxes on the supposed "middle class" so instead of doing what is economically sound, they will lose the $3 trillion in additional revenue to save face and make those families who have also been negatively effected by the poor economy, through no fault of theirs, see their taxes increase to compensate for this loss in revenue.

Nevermind that a significant majority of those "he is helping" by not letting their tax cuts expire, don't owe/pay income tax anyway and a good majority of those households will still get a refund due to credits.

The responsible thing for both Democrats, Republicans and the President to do, is to let them all expire, with the expception of the child tax credits and the provision that taxes married couples filing jointly more fairly in relation to single payers.

Posted by: fedupwithgovernment | November 19, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Everyday I hear it is going to cost between $700B and $800B to extend upper class tax cuts to those making more than $250,000. How did we stop talking and go deaf in regards to the cost of extending middle class tax cuts or for all making less than $250,000? How did we dismiss $3 TRILLION from the deficit? If we adopted all of the Tax Cut Commission's proposals and allowed the Bush Tax Cuts to die; that's $7 TRILLION in savings or half the total national debt. I fail to understand how what we're debating is not all the tax cuts not what may be the easiest; when in fact none of this is easy or will be easy and it's time we come to grips with reality and what is truly really, really hard. We don't do it now, when?

Posted by: berrywr | November 19, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

The writer actually thinks we should give people that have been on unemployment for 99 weeks even more vacation paid by the tax payers? We need to shut down the departments of education and energy to help balance the budget and to get rid of two unneeded departments. I suspect that is at least 25,000 people's pay and benefits off of the federal budget. Sell all the buildings and property those two departments occupy and make some more money to reduce the deficit. Bring government pay and pensions down to that of the average American worker in private business. Require all federal workers to work until age 65 for full retirement. Stop giving congressmen a pension for serving one term. There are many ways to reduce the federal debt without hurting Medicare and Social Security. These are just a few.

Posted by: good_angel | November 19, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Even equal tax rates cause those in higher tax brackets to pay more. Bring everyone to the same rate, then you can start talking about raising it. If you don't we just get you idiots coming up with ever more expensive transfer payments. Is it democracy if 51% of the people vote to take the money of 49%? Democracy without principles of fairness is a hopeless endeavor.

Unemployment benefits do increase unemployment. They should fade out over time. The unemployment insurance tax should be raised to cover any differences, but the real money should be to getting these people back to work, getting them to accept the paycuts that need to happen because we have fallen into the Chines trap and can't inflate our currency as easily as we should be able to.

Greece, now Ireland, next Spain point to the dangers of the deficit- both the government deficit and the insane amount of housing debt we subsidize. We've made a huge bet. It's going to take a government that is willing to take tons of arrows in the back to make this work. I only think one with a strong, principled conviction to save the nation's finances can succeed in this task, because they have the cover of being elected to make the necessary painful cuts.

At some point, the people must tire of being lied to. The "richest" country in the world doesn't mean you can have it all. Even rich people spend themselves into bankruptcy. We have the printing press at our disposal, and seem to have no fear about making more money, but it is a dangerous game, and when China has pushed us to the point of losing our status as the international reserve currency, we will begin our freefall and reach a breaking point.

Posted by: staticvars | November 19, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I say let the tax cuts expire for all, and take the money we will save and put Americans back to work. I have to travel outside to another state to find a job, and to pay my bills. This country of ours has only two class left (poor and rich) thanks to the idiots who ruined our economy and made the fat cats richer not only on wall street but many in Washington. Tax breaks did not put people back to work it just made people go out and buy homes they could not afford.

Posted by: sidearmkills | November 19, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

lets see $100,000 a month dividends $1,200,000 a year... federal tax roughly $175,000 14.7% effective rate... come on Ezra put some real numbers up and call out these selfish people...remember the 10% surtax in Vietnam era... a real American doesn't whine about taxes while we are at war

Posted by: robertp163 | November 20, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

"Tax cuts for the rich"... DNCs & MSMs buzzword de jour crafted to fester class envy/warfare. Pathetic. When did it become fashionable for Americans to aspire to be average? Why should there be a financial penalty associated with one's abilities to achieve financial success? A flat, fair tax, where everyone pays their share is the liberals worse nightmare. Look for the building blocks to begin in earnest over the next 4 years. This "tax the rich BS" has got to stop! The progressive "rich" lobbying for the tax increase should make a stand and send donations to the US Treasury and contribute to the collective.

And since when employment is a protected constitutional right? Look, I know what it feels to be unemployed and completely destitute. More than most, I empathize with the unemployed's plight, but this is another back door attempt by the liberals (supported by Mr. Klein's piece) to build constituency via another entitlement program - unlimited unemployment benefits set to the national employment rate. Social Security was designed to be a "safety net", to augment one's individual efforts to secure comfort in their golden years - now bloated with goodies, betraying its original mission and its reserves plundered, it teeters on the verge of disaster.

Most of our problems are the result of a liberal social engineering experiment gone afoul - at the expense of millions of citizens that were duped into these entitlement shell games. My immigrant parents - who patiently stood in line for the right to enter this great land, instilled in me the values of self reliance, hard work - the cornerstones of the "American Dream". Their mentoring did not include any lessons on how to become a ward of the state. I too have been unemployed in the past, I know the feeling all too well, but I felt a sense of guilt accepting a government check, even though I had contributed to the fund and used it only as a temporary stop-gap until I landed my new "under-employed" job. Armed with a Master's degree, I mowed lawns during the day and waited tables at night for almost a year and used only 3 weeks of eligibility while waiting to be gainfully employed again. Our nations moral and social fabric is in desperate need of repair. We need only to look inward for leadership - not Washington.

Posted by: Csinaco | November 20, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

You are correct about pairing tax cut legislation with extension of unemployment benefits. However, appeasement looks like the strategy going forward.

Put on a sweater, give a malaise speech and we're back to the 70's. Feels about right. With Pelosi cut off at the knees, Democrats are rudderless. You wondered why the GOP targeted her more? She got stuff done. In the Senate, it's deja vu all over again.

“Yet Mr. Durbin, the party’s vote counter, said he was skeptical that anything of substance could get done in the lame-duck session given the need to overcome procedural hurdles.

'As the whip, it has been my sad duty to count to 60, and I have missed that number many times,' he said. 'This is going to require bipartisan effort. Is it frustrating? Yes. But that’s the reality we have to deal with in the Congress.'”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/us/politics/20cong.html

Do people really want to hear the majority party complain about procedural hurdles? Trying to shift blame on to Republicans for blocking legislation when Democrats controlled Congress and the WH didn't work too well in the last election. Guess that wasn't something they gleaned from the 2010 election results.

In a sense, the GOP is getting stuff done, stuff that their base wants done like blocking the Democratic agenda. Unless they make a major mistake, their base will become even more energized with the continued success of the stall tactics. And you know if the economy improves, they'll even claim the policy of No was responsible.

Posted by: tuber | November 20, 2010 3:18 AM | Report abuse

Liberals lost the argument when Chuck Schumer offered the first one million dollars income as tax exempt.

Posted by: glasater | November 20, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Tax cuts under Bush were poorly conceived in the first place. Blanket percentages are inherently unfair. The middle class should have been given, say, a 10% tax cut and the upper class a 2% tax cut. That way, both benefit, and the US remains more of a community than a gang fight. As it stands, income inequality will continue, and the US will become a two-tiered society, just like the European aristocracies of centuries ago.

Posted by: marik7 | November 20, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

This writer doesn't get it. It was the unnecessary tax cuts for the rich that angered the Democratic base. It even made me, a Republican, stop voting Republican. These cuts represent unpatriotic greed by the powerful, and a betrayal of our social contract. They are a mechanism whereby the national wealth has been shifted to those who need it least. They impair our nation's ability to pay for its defense. It's time the Republicans showed they were as patriotic as they are politically skillful, and started to figure out how to have a rational discussion about who will pay for America to survive to the end of this century.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | November 20, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the most clueless article ever written.

Posted by: nyctuber | November 20, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

I retract my statement, he makes some good points. However, Dems should have been able to both kill tax cuts for the rich and extend unemployment. Obama's legacy is one of incomprehensible squandering of opportunity.

Posted by: nyctuber | November 20, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

"punish the rich because they are rich and the government needs their money? That only confirmed the class warfare status of liberals."

Perhaps this uninformed person has not been studying the many charts recently showing the vast income increase of the top few percent of the wealthy and their rapidly increasing share of all wealth. If there is any class warfare it is the rich, with the rabid enablement of the Republicans, who are redistributing income UP to themselves!

Posted by: bystander3 | November 20, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Flat Tax Now!

Posted by: wxyz6200 | November 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Is this your most commented on article, ever?

I agree that you are way off base here. Pairing tax cuts with anything allows the GOP to hide behind the cover of "We didn't vote against tax cuts, we voted against policies that raise spending"

We should not provide the cover.

Posted by: will12 | November 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

My, oh my, oh my!! Democrats want Republicans to cooperate? When did this new spirit of cooperation begin...............the Democrats didn't give a flying fig what Republicans thought when they had all the marbles. I'm sure they still don't but they are still obsessed with class warfare, playing the race card and bashing every conservative in sight. The name calling is most interesting as well. Keep it up, it's evidently all you have left in you bag of goodies (oops, that would be baddies).

You ain't seen nothing yet, the conservatives in this country aren't finished yet............we are most anxious for 2012 when there will be another potful of DemoNrat Senators up for re-election and that person in the White House as well.

Posted by: OregonStorm | November 20, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

No one, I mean no one, is currently writing about the abrupt change in the 2011 Inheritance Tax Code. While the 2010 "Nothing" year was idiotic, it was a gift to the heirs of those wealthy who passed in 2010. The old "Death Tax" beginning in 2011 will have the effect of disinheriting tens of thousands of family businesses, farms, and ranches with crushing taxation. A reasonable deduction should be on the table now for families to plan around. Please don't worry about the ultra-wealthy. They have already paid thousands to tax attorneys to plan shelters around this tax for "trust babies".

Posted by: TexasCynic1 | November 20, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The wealthiest , greedy Americans that continue to dupe poor Americans into using American military to fight for and protect their foreign investments , deserve to be taxed heavier . They should put back into the system that allows them to rape and pillage around the world , without paying any consequences . When the rich multi-national REpublican puts profit before the long-term interests of their nation , they should pay more taxes . . . . Period !

Posted by: beenliedto | November 20, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

You say "class warfare" like it's a bad thing ... It's been too long since the lower classes recognized the war never ended, and they're losing, badly. It's in their interest to stand and fight! Too bad they have no champion in the Democrats, a party of cowardice designed to drain the aspirations of the working class under the false banners of "hope" and "change." My recommendation: vote Green.

Posted by: malkavai | November 20, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

You say "class warfare" like it's a bad thing ... It's been too long since the lower classes recognized the war never ended, and they're losing, badly. It's in their interest to stand and fight! Too bad they have no champion in the Democrats, a party of cowardice designed to drain the aspirations of the working class under the false banners of "hope" and "change." My recommendation: vote Green.

Posted by: malkavai | November 20, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

You say "class warfare" like it's a bad thing ... It's been too long since the lower classes recognized the war never ended, and they're losing, badly. It's in their interest to stand and fight! Too bad they have no champion in the Democrats, a party of cowardice designed to drain the aspirations of the working class under the false banners of "hope" and "change." My recommendation: vote Green.

Posted by: malkavai | November 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

You say "class warfare" like it's a bad thing ... It's been too long since the lower classes recognized the war never ended, and they're losing, badly. It's in their interest to stand and fight! Too bad they have no champion in the Democrats, a party of cowardice designed to drain the aspirations of the working class under the false banners of "hope" and "change." My recommendation: vote Green.

Posted by: malkavai | November 20, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the quadruple posting, Im a noob. I'd delete the repeats if I knew how.

Posted by: malkavai | November 20, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Democrats are not going FULL FORCE towards their ideas and rather are trying to compromise....is laughable and shows what little backbone they have

STOP TALKING to Republicans and getting NOWHERE while giving up ground

Have you not learned already?

If Republicans get in the way, MAKE IT PUBLIC.

You will win the PR battle if the Republicans stop a middle class tax cut for the rich

Posted by: Bious | November 20, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey why don't you Libs just extend unemployment benefits forever. If only money grew on trees then maybe we could have Democrats run things.

Posted by: bocadrew | November 20, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

You are wrong, Ezra. Putting President Clinton's tax structure back in place by increasing taxes on the top 2% of the richest Americans will work because it will decrease our deficit by 700 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

I believe taxes on the rich would increase by only 3 percent if their taxes are raised, but without that revenue our deficits will increase by 700 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

Why should we keep President Bush's tax structure in place, the same tax structure that helped create record setting budget deficits? Why should we keep in place the same economic policies that helped create the worst economic recession since the great depression?

If the Democrats want to compromise they should make the higher tax rate kick in at 500,000 instead of 250,000 per year. To keep the same Bush economic policies that created the worst economic recession since the great depression defies all common sense.

President Obama and the Democrats have created 1.1 million jobs in 2010, and our deficit decreased in 2010. 2010 was President Obama's first budget. Bush created the budget for 2009. All Presidents create the budget for the upcoming year.

When Bush was our President in 2008 our country lost 4.6 million jobs. President Obama and the Democrats economic policies are working, and the economic stimulus has worked!

Posted by: Dan1967wewon | November 20, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

You are probably right, Ezra, but I would posit that the Republicans feet can be held to the fire of their own deficit rhetoric on this issue by way of a proposed compromise, one upping the expiration level to those making over a million a year or so.

"Tax cuts for millionaires" has such a nice ring to it, don't you think? They might not want to hear it repeated a lot.

Posted by: confusedponderer | November 20, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

If Mr. Klein can be taken at face value, it is clear that not only does he not have a clue, he doesn't even suspect anything. Extending unemployment benefits extends unemployment. Quit extending unemployment benefits, and people that have gone fishing for the past few years will have to get back to work. And work is what will get the economy back on track, not throwing money around.

Posted by: nelly_bly | November 21, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I find all of the above comments worthless. I belong to that group of people that voted this year for a government that will get their hands out of my billfold. I think we will do the same thing in 2012. So, I hope you Liberals and Conservatives keep on fighting while we attempt to put people in office that will do what is best for America.

Posted by: NSBCuda | November 21, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company