It appears the White House and the Democratic National Committee can’t agree on the effect of Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class, and this will prove to be an even bigger problem as November is only five months away.
Today, American Crossroads released a video of President Obama, emphasizing the president’s “blame Bush” mantra and his insistence that the Bush-era tax cuts are responsible for America’s economic stumbling. But that’s a far cry from what a DNC spokesman said about them just three days ago.
AC points out that Obama continues to politically cash in on criticizing the Bush tax cuts, blaming economic conditions even today on the former president.
“Look, I think that, broadly speaking, Republicans and Democrats… don’t want to see, especially at a time when the economy needs all the fuel it can get, don’t want to see us raising taxes on the middle class. So, for example, some of the Bush tax cuts did some good things for the middle class, and [we] certainly don’t want to see, especially at this time, tax increases on the middle class.”
The Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire on January 1, 2013. Under those tax rates, according to the Wall Street Journal, though income taxes are on a sliding scale from 10 percent to 35 percent (the sliding scale pre-Bush tax cuts started at 15 percent and went up to 39.6 percent), most ordinary people pay a marginal tax rate of 15 percent or 25 percent. If the tax cuts expire, that might rise to 28 percent. That means these ordinary people would absorb a tax increase of anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.
This isn’t the first time a prominent Democrat has conceded that tax cuts, and the Bush-era tax cuts no less, might actually contribute to the economic recovery.
Even former President Bill Clinton admitted last week that the United States is in “a recession” and told CNBC that Congress would be best off extending all the tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, including the Bush tax cuts.
“What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what’s necessary in the long-term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election,” Clinton said.
Of course, Clinton later tried to undo the damage by issuing a statement clarifying that “he supported extending all of the cuts in 2010 as part of the budget agreement, but does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again.”
Charles Krauthammer humorously translated Clinton’s backtrack as, “I’m under duress. Don’t pay any attention to what I’m saying.”
But people are paying attention. And there’s the rub: Obama simply cannot let the tax cuts expire because of the effect that would have on the income tax rate of the middle class—and his popularity. He wants to continue his campaign against “millionaires and billionaires” when in reality he begins his tax hikes on families making $250,000.
Obama needs the Bush tax cuts for policy and he needs his talking points for politics. But it takes a lot of endurance and single-mindedness to maintain that intellectually inconsistent balance with a straight face. Some Democrats, Woodhouse and Clinton included, and the American people, are tired of playing that game.