Now that Republican leaders agree that we shouldn't raise payroll taxes at the end of the month, everyone's now worried about how we're going to pay for them. Democrats have proposed a surtax on those earning over a million dollars a year. Reported Republican plans include adding three more years to the current 2-year federal pay freeze.
But here's a question-- if Republicans insist that tax cuts are always good for the economy and always pay for themselves through the inevitable economic growth that will result once people have more money to spend and invest, why do we have to "pay" for this continued tax break at all? This point was recently made by former congressman Joe Scarborough. Noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unwilling to increase taxes on working Americans unless congress could found savings elsewhere, Scarborough points out:
“Mitch McConnell... would appear to be the first Republican in the history of Washington D.C. to say they don’t want a tax cut unless it is ‘paid for,’ because we Republicans generally believe that tax cuts pay for themselves. The economy grows; daisies bloom in the backyard; male-pattern baldness is reversed.”
My interpretation of what McConnell and Republicans like him believe is "We support tax cuts for the wealthy NO MATTER WHAT. Although we support tax cuts for everyone else in theory, in practice it has to be under the right circumstances."
Now that we've broken the ice on this whole "are tax cuts always good for the economy" debate, the floodgates seem to be opening. Today, John Boehner was asked whether he thought raising payroll taxes would hurt the economy. His answer? "I'm not an economist."
Since when are Republicans unsure of whether tax cuts are good or bad? I never thought I would see the day when these guys would stop believing that all tax cuts were cure-alls to every national ailment.