The House Budget Committee this past week rejected legislation that would have prevented future tax cuts unless they are “paid for” by spending cuts or increases in other taxes. If the proposal had passed, it would have made it almost impossible to extend or make permanent the modest tax cuts the administration pushed through Congress early in President Bush’s term.
The Senate has already voted to require that any new tax cuts get 60 votes unless the “lost” revenue is made up elsewhere, so a House-Senate confrontation over tax policy may be in the works.
The fact that this is even an issue shows what priorities many politicians have. Exaggerated concern about protection of government revenue, which translates into hostility to any tax cut, shows that they believe the government’s welfare is more important than yours.
It’s odd a significant number of politicians think this is a winning issue. To be sure, there are large echo chambers in most of the media. But just on the face of it, it seems strange that “I don’t ever want to cut your taxes, and I’d really like to raise them; I’m a populist, I’m on the side of the little people” gets any traction at all.
It is especially hypocritical to see the no-tax-cut fundamentalists using the current federal deficit to justify their attitude (this time). As budget analyst Dan Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation pointed out, the current deficit is not due to the Bush tax cuts (most of which haven’t even kicked in yet) but to increased federal spending. Federal spending was 18.4 percent of GDP in 2000, but is slated to be 20 percent of GDP in 2004.
The tax advocates, of course, claim they only oppose tax cuts for “the rich,” but the tax cuts they’re seeking to prevent this time were not given exclusively to the rich. The evidence is that they always prefer higher taxes. Will the American people ever figure this out?