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Thursday, April 19, 2012

For GOP, Blocking Buffett Rule as Easy as Taking Lunch from a Baby

A few days ago, this happened:

New York Times:

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a move to open debate on the so-called Buffett Rule, ensuring that a measure pressed for months by President Obama and Senate Democrats to ensure that the superrich pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent will not come to a decisive vote.

But the fierce debate preceding the 51-45 vote — the Democrats were nine votes short of the 60 they needed — set off a week of political wrangling over taxes that both parties insist they are already winning.

It seems the GOP believes that the Buffet Rule is a gimmick. It's would account for a fraction of the federal deficit -- so why even bother? They argue President Obama and Democrats are just engaging in more class warfare for cheap political points.

So how much would the Buffet Rule bring in? According to the Ezra Klein, "The Joint Committee on Taxation says the proposal will bring in $47 billion over 10 years. Chuck Schumer, assuming the extension of the Bush tax cuts, says it will bring in $160 billion." Call it $47 bil. to be safe. That's the conservative estimate.

"The White House’s opponents... have largely attacked the Buffett Rule for being too small," Klein says. "The Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso tweets, 'I’m sorry, but if the Buffett Rule is your solution to the deficit problem, you’re not even on the same continent as serious.' His colleague, Phil Klein, produced a chart comparing the Buffett Rule to 'Obama’s deficits': As you might expect, the Buffett Rule is considerably smaller. Tiny, even."

And now we come to all the hypocrisy and evil. When you're dealing with Republican arguments, you can always count on hypocrisy and evil.


Associated Press:

The White House weighed in sharply Wednesday against a House GOP move to break last summer's budget pact by cutting the annual budgets for nondefense programs funded through annual appropriations bills.

Republicans are cutting such programs $28 billion below levels agreed to last summer in the bipartisan budget and debt deal, prompting acting White House budget chief Jeffrey Zients to warn lawmakers in a letter that President Barack Obama will not sign any appropriations bills until GOP leaders promise to abide by last summer's budget pact.

The budget deal last summer set caps for the annual spending bills but House Republicans rewrote them when passing a new budget last month. That set the stage for the annual appropriations process to get under way this week, but a situation is emerging in which House bills funding Obama priorities like education and transportation are likely to bear a disproportionate share of the new cuts.

First off, this proves that House Republicans are nothing bt a pack of liars. As part of a budget deal, they promised not to make cuts this deep. And now here they are. John Boehner's word ain't worth spit.

But that's not the evil part. That's just the dishonorable part. Here's the evil part:

A measure approved Wednesday by the Agriculture panel would reduce the food stamp monthly benefit for a family of four by almost $60, repealing increases that were enacted three years ago as part of Obama's economic stimulus. The changes would also force up to 3 million people out of the program by tightening eligibility rules, the administration estimates.

The food stamp cuts would total $8 billion over the coming year and $34 billion over a decade. The program has been expanded greatly over the past few years — enrollment tops 46 million nationwide, up from about 33 million in 2009 — and now costs about $80 billion a year. The average monthly benefit for a family of four is about $500, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and advocacy group.

That's right, the food stamp cuts would actually save less than the so-measly-it's-not-even-worth-it Buffet Rule. Just in case you're still missing the evil here; Republicans would rather literally take the food out of families' mouths than see to it that a bazillionaire pays more in taxes than his secretary.

Now that's evil. Yes, one is a tax and the other is a spending cut. But remember your Benjamin Franklin: a penny saved is a penny earned. In terms of deficit reduction, that's absolutely true. It doesn't make any difference how you do it.

But it terms of economics, it makes a big difference. Contrary to what Republicans argue, no one's going broke with the being-rich business. The idea that billionaires can't afford to hire people is as stupid as it is wrong. They are, after all, billionaires.

On the other hand, if you cut food stamps for families, those families will spend less money. And it's spending that spurs employment, not the size of the pot of money the employer's sitting on. People hire because of demand. Want to slow growth in employment? Start bleeding off demand by cutting things like food stamps.

And even worse -- at least from the GOP standpoint -- you undercut your efforts to shrink the deficit. High unemployment and increased homelessness (if your choice is food or rent, food's going to win) reduce tax revenues. If you want to reduce the deficit, you don't undercut consumer demand.

But how brainless and hypocritical and evil is all this? We can't touch the income of the 1% -- who've never missed a meal in their lives -- so we have to cut aid to struggling Americans. The poor can go hungry, so the rich can continue to pay insanely low tax rates.

As is so often the case, we can plainly see who the Republican Party really is. They'd rather hurt the economy and America than slip the leash of the 1%. You Republicans can knock off all that flag waving now. It's never been so obviously phony.


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