by Deacon Blues
Among the outrageous acts by the GOP of late are two related items: the Senate GOP's continuing opposition to any extension of unemployment benefits unless those benefits are paid for with budget cuts; and the assertion by these same GOP senators that tax cuts pay for themselves and unlike safety-net spending, do not need to be paid for. A far-too-timid President Obama and his White House finally started taking the gloves off today, weeks too late, and pointed to the GOP's willingness to engage in deficit spending when it comes to upper-income tax cuts, but not do the same when it comes to assistance for Main Street at a fraction of that cost.
At a time when the public supports the unemployment benefit extension by a 26-point margin (62%-36%) even if it means deficit spending, the president still walked too lightly for my tastes today, but at least he went there.
For a long time, there’s been a tradition – under both Democratic and Republican presidents – to offer relief to the unemployed. That was certainly the case under my predecessor, when Republican Senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits.
But right now, these benefits – benefits that are often a person’s sole source of income while they’re out of work – are in jeopardy. After years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle class Americans . . . . who really do need help.
Over the past few weeks, a majority of Senators have tried – not once, not twice, but three times – to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis. And each time, a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief. Republican leaders in the Senate are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job.
The rhetoric could be stronger and more pointed at the basic GOP premise: that spending on rich people is OK, but spending on the rabble is not. But I also want Obama to force this debate now for not only political reasons, but because I want him to call their bluff.
1. If targeted tax cuts don’t need to be paid for, because they allegedly create jobs, then why does targeted stimulus spending need to be paid for if it also is specifically aimed at certain job creation?
2. If you are so certain that targeted tax cuts aimed at those with wealth and assets will generate the jobs supply-siders claim they will, and if you really believe in targeted tax cuts producing jobs, then you certainly would also support requiring results for these tax cuts, right? In other words, in order to get a tax cut, and under your dogma, shouldn’t the recipients of those tax cuts have to prove how many jobs they actually created, just like we require certain deliverables out of welfare recipients?
If the GOP really wants to have a debate about not paying for upper-income tax cuts while demanding that UI be paid for, then Obama should make that the centerpiece of the fall campaign. He won't, but he should.