Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unemployment Extension versus Bush Tax Cuts

Can the Republican position on tax cuts be any more cynical? Compare their argument for extension with their refusal to extend unemployment insurance unless it is paid for. Here is Representative John Shadegg of Arizona speaking with Mike Barnicle on MSNBC (from Slate):

He's fine with unemployment benefits as long as they do not add to the deficit. Then Barnicle questioned the validity of the position, given that Shadegg supports giving a $700 billion tax break to the wealthiest Americans without paying for it. Barnicle also argued that unemployment insurance provides an "immediate benefit" to the economy, unlike tax cuts for the rich.

"No!" Shadegg said. "Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn't know that." He continued: "The truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can."

Any argument, no matter how stupid, is acceptable to make sure that the very rich get their tax cut.

Meanwhile, Diane Rogers makes the sensible wish:
So I make one open wish today, regardless of how politically-unrealistic I’m told this wish is: that policymakers could consider doing at least the “non-crazy” thing with the Bush tax cuts and stop proposing that any of them be permanently extended. Instead of frantically trying to “decouple” the high-end Bush tax cuts from the “middle-class” ones, we should be thinking about the best way to eventually “decouple” ourselves from all of them.
Unfortunately, I do not think our politics will allow this to happen. We suffer from a simple basic problem. Old people vote, young people do not. So the political system, responsive as it is, transfers wealth from the future to the present. It is not just budgets. Think about climate policy. We pollute now to maintain high consumption at the expense of the future climate. Politicians refuse to impose a carbon tax. Why? Because the beneficiaries of saving the earth, younger people, don't vote (I know that future generations cannot vote, but if young people voted at even half the rate of old people, we would have climate legislation).

I doubt we can fix any of our problems until young people vote.

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