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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/ 5/2010

The tax-cut vote and political realignment

By Jennifer Rubin

The Senate didn't come close to 60 votes needed for cloture on two Democratic gambits put forth on Saturday for only a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts. Five Democrats and all 42 Republicans voted against proposals by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to exclude top earners and small businesses from the extension. Baucus wanted to draw the line at $250,000, while Schumer put forth $1 million as the cutoff. The Democrats voting against the $250,000 cutoff were Sens. Russ Feingold, Joe Lieberman, Joe Manchin, Ben Nelson and Jim Webb. On the $1 million proposal, the alignment was a bit different. The Democrats joining all 42 Republicans were Sens. Dick Durbin, Feingold, Tom Harkin, Lieberman and Jay Rockefeller.

This was supposed to be a "show 'em where we stand" moment for liberal Democrats. But in actuality, it demonstrates that the left has lost the argument that we should soak the rich while the economy is still in the dumps. Even more interesting is the intellectual incoherence. Why would Durbin, Harkin and Rockefeller vote for the $250,000 limit but against the $1-million limit?

This vote brings smiles to the faces of many conservatives, still warmed by the debt commission's work. An aide to a key Republican senator observed: "It's refreshing to see that even Democrats as liberal as Dick Durbin acknowledge that Social Security faces a crisis in the near future and serious entitlement reform is needed to get our nation's fiscal house in order." We have, after decades, an emerging consensus in favor of tax cuts to spur growth (or more precisely, recognition that tax hikes stunt growth) and limits on entitlement spending.

The final vote on the debt commission proposal is, frankly, entirely irrelevant. What it did was isolate and discredit those on the left who deny the magnitude of the debt problem or who contend that the issue is insufficient revenue. Coupled with the Senate votes, we now have not only a path forward on taxes but, a mere two years after Obama's election, a political realignment of immense importance. Conservative policy wonks will marvel at the intellectual failure of the left. But we should all rejoice that, at least for a moment, common sense and center-right policies (I'd argue that these are coterminous) are in ascendency.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 5, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Democrats, Senate GOP, economy  
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"It's refreshing to see that even Democrats as liberal as Dick Durbin acknowledge that Social Security faces a crisis in the near future and serious entitlement reform is needed to get our nation's fiscal house in order."

Social Security, by itself, does NOT face a crisis in the near future. A few minor adjustments at best will keep it fiscally sound for the next 50 years or more. However SS is a stalking horse for those who want to tear down the whole "entitlement" system en masse. The real problem is Medicare/Medicaid, which unlike SS are already running a deficit and have for many years.

When someone talks about SS, put your hand in your pocket on your wallet, because they are trying to steal something for sure.

Because I think everyone has a hidden agenda somewhere I want to let you know that I'm not even a member of SS and will never collect from it. I just believe in fact based argument.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 5, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), David Camp (R-Mich.), all who against the bill did so because it failed to go far enough and include health care reform. It is ludicrous for Senator Harry Reid to quote the CBO saving from his plan and ignore the doctor fix he is recommending. That doctor fix wipes out any CBO projected savings; savings which realists,who have read the bill,doubted would ever be seen. Let us hope that the change in the new congress will see the need for solutions and not just sound bite answers.

Posted by: ablesugar | December 5, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Until we fix our currency problem,the debt problem will have to wait. Debt is a result,the currency is the cause. To demonstrate this,I will ask Jennifer a simple question,What is a dollar worth? She would have to answer,in what currency,because the Dollar is valuated in terms of other currencies,she would also have to ask the time frame,because the value of the dollar changes every minute/literally,there is no "absolute" value of the Dollar.
This would be like if Jennifer bought a 5000 Sq Foot house from me,and upon closing it was a 4000 Sq foot house,and I would explain that the Sq Foot is a floating measurment tied to the Sq meter. The sq meter has been very strong lately,so that reflects in sq foot Inflation.If the Sq foot gets stronger later in the year,you will get your 1000 Sq Feet back.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 5, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

So when senators with two left feet, whol'll never admit you were right, vote with their feet and vote right, does that mean they're dysleftic?

Posted by: johnnyramone | December 5, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh and Jennifer,don't ask your buddy John Steele Gordon to help you on this,he can't,he knews I'm right. His problem is all his hedge fund buddies are making a fortune on the Fiat money scam. The way they do that is they get Zero interest loans from the Government;then they buy Government Debt and pocket the spread. With a racket like that,why would anybody invest in a business that hires people?

Posted by: rcaruth | December 5, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse


Try as you might, you will never see a return to a metal standard currency in your lifetime!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 5, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Try as you might, you will never see a return to a metal standard currency in your lifetime!
Posted by: 54465446

I agree,take a good look at the people that we have put in charge of our economy,
but I will live to see a major default or a war whose purpose is to get us some assets to neutralize the debt. And,you're right,we have chosen the path of least resistance,but I notice your not picking apart my argumentation,you're just saying that we're too far gone to correct our course.I agree

Posted by: rcaruth | December 5, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

This is so Virginia we started the return to sanity with across the board Republican sweeps of statewide offices and the House of Delgates. Followed by huge gains this November. In 2011 we will finish the purge of Democrats at the state and county level. Then, one last push in 2012. I hope we have seen the last of liberal Democrats for a generation and then some.

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | December 5, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse


Wow, that's way too big an argument for here, bringing in historical factors, internationla debt ratios, current gold purchases, trade imbalances. Not on a sunday afternoon.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 5, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's way too big an argument for here,

It's a really small,teeny tiny argument,our currency's purchasing power needs to be consistent over time,it's the core of our prosperity.
Small is Beautiful.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 5, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Where is the evidence that tax cuts spur growth and create jobs?

The EVIDENCE is the opposite from 1976-2006. The lower marginal tax rates on top 1% the slower growth and higher unemployment.

Posted by: boscobobb | December 5, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

This column is typical of rightwing commentary. Statements without any discussion of the particulars, actually, any discussion of all. Extending the tax cuts for the rich costs the Treasury 700 billion dollars. That we all know. What we do not know, from any Republican nor any conservative columnist that I have read or seen, is where in the budget they will cut to make up for that 700 billion dollar shortfall. The National Parks System? The FDA? Where? And where is the honesty of approving the extension while pushing for a balanced budget without specifying these cuts?

And, Jennifer, how about a column juxtiposing the Republicans holding the extension of jobless benefits to the extension of tax cuts for the rich?

The truth is that modern conservative thinking is so intellectually dishonest that printing their musings does not add to the intellectual discourse at all. Ms. Rubin is just a Glenn Beck in fancy clothing and if you think there is nothing wrong with that, well, you have bigger problems than celebrating tax cuts that will never benefit you.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | December 5, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

As for tax cuts, none other than the research of Christine Romer supports the conservative position. On spending: take us back to 2008 discretionary spending limits, implement the Ryan-Rivlin plan, and repeal ObamaCare.

Posted by: Jennifer Rubin | December 6, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Would nyrunner consider for a moment the possibility that $700 billion or whatever it is in the hands of 'the rich' (many small businesses in there you know) might just possibly lead to some job growth? I know when I am left with more money in my pocket, I buy stuff. In 2008 I was one of those 'evil rich' and I can give you a very long list of the stuff I bought for my family - tvs, a car, finished my basement and so on. Doing that created work for people you know.

Leftists seem to have a pretty good share of intellectual dishonesty as well. They never acknowledge that letting people, even the evil rich, keep more of their own money can stimulate the economy. I know for a fact I did precisely that in 2008 when I had the money.

Posted by: jmpickett | December 6, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

ny runner is rather typical of the leftist mindset - people on the other side couldn't POSSIBLY have a valid argument. We're just stupid, racist, and greedy right? Sigh.

Posted by: jmpickett | December 6, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Many of us conservative/libertarian types believe in our hearts that allowing people to keep more of their own money is better for the economy. Rather than the government seizing 30-40% of my paycheck, skimming off a few points for gov overhead and redistributing, why not let me keep it? Let me go out and buy a new tv, or DVR, or a boat or whatever. That does stimulate the economy, obviously. I realize we all need to pay a certain amt of taxes for basic gov services. But I think some people on the left want to take people's money out of jealousy. This is rather un-American IMHO, and I don't think it's very good for the economy.

Now maybe I'm wrong. But I'm not 'selfish' or 'greedy' or a bad person for believing what I believe. I just see people on my side accused of that so often.

Posted by: jmpickett | December 6, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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