Tax Cuts and Lame Ducks

Well, looks like the campaigns for the White House and Congress in 2012 really have started. The lame-duck members of Congress have apparently agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years regardless of income. And they threw in an extension of unemployment benefits and a “tax holiday” throughout 2011 on 2 percent of Social Security payroll taxes.

Woot.

Hard to be against any of this in principle. I glanced at a chart yesterday that estimated the amount of additional taxes next year if the tax cuts weren’t extended. And gulp: I would have been forking over about $3,000 more to Uncle Sam. Hey.  I’m just a poor pensioner on a fixed income. Well, not entirely — but close. You get the picture.

But here’s the point. We’re getting a preview now of the next election campaign. People are less concerned about the government deficit than they are about the economy — and jobs. And right now I don’t see anyone — not even the formerly optimistic blowhard economists in the administration — opining that unemployment is going to be much below 9 percent anytime soon, or maybe ever.

Voters outside the beltway want to see elected officials actually do something — and have the courage of their convictions. And I know this is becoming the biggest cliche in American politics, but that is going to require some degree of bipartisanship — and civility. We’ll see.

So during a jobless economic recovery — and that’s what it is — it doesn’t make sense to impose higher taxes. And the Republicans had Prez O and the Dems over the barrel when it came time to extending the tax cuts to the so-called wealthy Americans.

If the Dems had really wanted to do something they should have done it before the elections. But maybe the reality of the Inside the Beltway crowd these days is that it takes lame ducks to get anything done. Sigh.

And speaking of which — Ohio’s senior senator — the retiring George Voinovich — said yesterday that he would vote against extending tax cuts to all Americans. From The Huffington Post:

Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) has broken ground in the Senate by becoming the first to announce that he won’t support any extension of the Bush tax cuts — for middle-class families or the wealthy — on the grounds that it fails to address serious tax reform or take any real steps toward fiscal austerity.

Spoken like a true lame duck.

George, where you been all these years?

And be careful what you wish for. You’re about to become a pensioner on a fixed income.

 

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