Bush Tax Cuts On The Table In December, Public Backs Democratic Position

Congress will vote on extending the Bush Tax Cuts in December, and new polling shows that the public agrees with Democrats that the cuts should be limited to the "middle class."

It looks like House and Senate Democrats are planning to vote on extending the Bush Tax Cuts for those earning less than $ 250,000/year sometime after Thanksgiving:

Washington (CNN) – Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate have decided to move ahead with votes after Thanksgiving to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less.

These decisions come hours after Democratic leaders met at the White House with President Obama, where several sources say they talked extensively about the tax cuts. Until now, how or whether Democrats would proceed on the thorny issue of extending the Bush era tax cuts was unresolved.

In the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN that Democratic leaders have scheduled a vote. “At least that will be available for members to have a vote on,” Hoyer said.

What is still unclear is if that House vote would extend so-called middle class tax cuts permanently, or just on a temporary basis.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to vote on the middle class tax cut extension most Democrats want, but he will also allow Republicans to hold a vote on what they are demanding: a permanent extension of all Bush-era tax cuts.

On the Republican side of the aisle, plans have been announced to introduce legislation to make all of the tax cuts permanent:

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., left little room for compromise on the issue of extending the expiring income tax cuts, suggesting that if they are not made permanent by the end of the year, Republicans should redouble their efforts to do so in the new Congress.

Pence said on Thursday that he was backing up that pledge with legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to permanently extend the cuts for both the middle class and wealthy Americans.

“I really believe that the last thing we should do in the worst economy in 25 years is allow a tax increase on any American,” Pence told ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on “Top Line.” “And we shouldn’t do it in 6 weeks, we should do it in 24 months or 36 months, we ought to start the road to recovery by saying to the American people all the current tax rates are the tax rates going forward, permanently. And then we can go to work on putting our fiscal house in order and pursuing the kind of pro-growth policy that’ll really create growth.”

Judging from the opinion polls, it would seem that the Democrats have the public behind them on this one. A new CNN poll for example, shows that only 1/3 of those polled support extending the Bush Tax Cuts for those making over $ 250,000/year and a new NBC poll shows that support for full extension of the tax cuts is even lower than that:

Congress will soon decide whether to keep in place the existing tax cuts enacted during President Bush’s time in office, or allow them to expire. Which one of the following options would be your preference for what they should do?

Eliminate all the tax cuts permanently: 10

Eliminate the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year, but keep them for those earning less than that: 39

Keep in place all the tax cuts for everyone for another year to three years: 23

Keep in place the tax cuts for everyone permanently: 23

Based on these polls, which have been fairly consistent over the time that extending the tax cuts has been an issue, the Democrats would seem to have the upper hand and, if they stay united, the votes to pass a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the “middle class” (as if someone earning between $ 100,000 and $ 249,999 per year is really “middle class), thus leaving the question of extending the rest of the cuts for the new Republican majority in the House to deal with.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Taxes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    Public Backs Democratic Position

    Have we heard from the Real Americans yet?

    (Somebody get Joe the Plumber on the horn!)

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Not one person I know. No economist or anyone with a whit of sense believes that. Raising taxes on those who make over 250k will hurt small businesses. During a resession it is one of the worst things to do. Are you an idiot?

  3. Tano says:

    The framing of this is inaccurate – and I do admit it seems that the Dems were largely at fault for their rhetoric.

    The cuts the Dems propose do not exclude those who make more than 250K. They exclude _income_ over 250K. Those who make over that amount still benefit from all the lower rates applied against their first 250K.

    Its really dumb for the Dems to phrase it in such a way as to give the impression that richer people are somehow excluded. And it is inaccurate for everyone else to frame it that way as well.

  4. MarkJ says:

    Doug Mataconis in 1938:

    Czechoslovakia Independence On The Table, Public Backs Hitler’s Position

  5. Contracts says:

    Wow. That’s the fastest I’ve seen a tax thread get Godwinned. Well done, MarkJ.

  6. john personna says:

    Not one person I know. No economist or anyone with a whit of sense believes that. Raising taxes on those who make over 250k will hurt small businesses. During a resession it is one of the worst things to do. Are you an idiot?

    Right Z, it’s much better to tax no one, because taxing anyone hurts them.

    Of course, that would lead to government insolvency and an end of the Republic.

    Ah well, let’s say it all together “As long as my tax is cut, I don’t care.”

    (The thing about your argument is that you say “hurts” without saying how much, or how much more or less the alternatives would “hurt.” I think the debt and deficit will hurt, time, and so I say try taxing people who have money to fix it. You could try taxing people who don’t have money, but that might “hurt” more.)

  7. Trumwill says:

    Ah well, let’s say it all together “As long as my tax is cut, I don’t care.”

    Quite. Since I don’t know how much we’re going to be making annual (the salary structure for doctors is… complex) I don’t have an opinion as of yet on the issue.

    (Okay, I do. I don’t think any of the tax cuts should be extended and I think that the excess should go towards the deficit. But if our taxes don’t go up, a part of me will at least be happy about that. Particularly since I am skeptical that the excess will go to the deficit – though it could go towards helping Medicare/Medicaid payouts, so there’s that.)

  8. Rock says:

    I read somewhere a few weeks ago that 50% of Americans don’t pay taxes at all. That’s just wrong. I guess those who don’t pay taxes are the middle class? Who else are they going to raise taxes on except the rich? I also read that if the government confiscated all the money from the rich that the money would only fund the government for a few days.

    I also read that the White House staff and assorted flunkies owe 850K in back taxes. Then there was the news that government employees, including employees of the IRS owe something like 1.5bn in back taxes. That’s just wrong. No telling how much our congressional critters owe. Shouldn’t those folks be forced to pay their back taxes before taxes are raised on a single citizen?

  9. John Personna says:

    You’ve been fooled, Rock.

    What they told you was that half don’t pay a specific kind of Federal tax, but they wanted you to interpret that as any Federal tax.

  10. Rock says:

    What FICA taxes or Income taxes? It all goes directly into the same pile of pillaged loot in the treasury where it’s raped by our politicians. I suspect that the 50% who don’t pay a dime are those who demand that the Government do more and more.

  11. John Personna says:

    Google is your friend, Rock.

    (I believe that stat is that half of all adults pay no income tax. That would include students at the young end, and low income seniors at the other.

    It’s not a great stat because we assume it really means able bodied people in their prime working years.)

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Is it any wonder that so many people have such a low opinion of, say, the government, or the poor, when we have completely ignorant lies being spread that 50% of people in this country “don’t pay a dime” in taxes? Meanwhile, many of the people who believe this fantasy also whine abou how taxes can’t be raised on those making over $250K because that will somehow “hurt” small businesses? Please…

  13. wr says:

    Rock — It’s great that you do so much reading. But do you really accept everything you read as absolute truth without questioning it or wondering why someone wrote it? And then do you immediately base your political choices on something you read “somewhere:? Because this is exactly the kind of behavior that crooks depend on from the people they’re about to fleece.

  14. Rock says:

    @ An Interested Party

    I count myself among the poor and have a fair opinion of myself. I am retired on a fixed income and have not paid taxes in the last three years because the tax laws let me get away with it . . . and that’s just so wrong. After standard deductions my tax liability is zero.

    @ WR

    I believe every damn thing the government tells me . . . and everything I read on Outside the Beltway.

  15. Trumwill says:

    What FICA taxes or Income taxes? It all goes directly into the same pile of pillaged loot in the treasury where it’s raped by our politicians.

    Then by that definition, Rock, the number of people who pay taxes is well in excess of 50% so there is no reason to be upset by that figure. The 50% number comes from the assumption that FICA doesn’t count.

  16. Franklin says:

    Raising taxes on those who make over 250k will hurt small businesses.

    Not according to any small business owners I know.

    /of course, none of them are making 250k a year

  17. Ben says:

    If a “small business” owner is pulling in over $250k profit per year, then all that would happen to him under the democrat plan is that his income up to $250K will be included in the tax cut, and his income over that will go back up a while 4% to what it was in the 90’s. Good heavens, TEH SOSHALISM!!!

  18. Ben says:

    that should say “a whole 4%”

  19. Rick DeMent says:

    Raising taxes on those who make over 250k will hurt small businesses. During a recession it is one of the worst things to do.

    Yeah, well cutting spending is worse during a recession then a modest tax increase on the +250K club, but you don’t get all worked up about that. Besides, the Congressional Republicans won’t even propose an over all cut to the budget in the next two years, let alone get it out of conference committee. They don’t have the balls.

  20. Pug says:

    It’s not a great stat because we assume it really means able bodied people in their prime working years.

    The widely held belief that “half the people pay no taxes” is widely held because it is a favorite conservative talking point. It might not be true, but if you repeat it often enough on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc., it will be widely believed.

    Anybody with a lick of sense knows that if the budget is to be balanced there will need to be cuts in spending, including entitlements and the military, and some taxes will have to be raised.

    It is about time for people to get over the also widely held belief that all the “out of control spending” goes to welfare bums and illegal aliens. Most of it goes to your parents or grandparents and the armed forces.

  21. Rick Almeida says:

    I count myself among the poor and have a fair opinion of myself. I am retired on a fixed income and have not paid taxes in the last three years because the tax laws let me get away with it . . . and that’s just so wrong. After standard deductions my tax liability is zero.

    Wait, so you think it’s unfair that you’re retired, poor, and don’t pay income taxes? If you do feel that way, I encourage you to estimate what you think you “should” pay and donate it to a worthy cause in your community.

    Did you pay income taxes and FICA when you worked? Do you pay sales and property taxes now? Capital gains? Then you’re a taxpayer.

    For whatever it’s worth, I’m a middle-income taxpayer and I don’t resent your lack of tax liability at all.

  22. Marianne says:

    The problem is there are always businesses that are on the margin of making it or not.

    If taxes are raised, the marginal businesses die and their jobs die with them.

  23. Gerry W. says:

    ***If taxes are raised, the marginal businesses die and their jobs die with them.***

    The small businesses died a long time ago in my town. We had the tax cuts, but the factories closed and small businesses are closing as people have no jobs. Businesses have to have traffic, and when factories are closed, there is no traffic. We had years of tax cuts and it is spent money. It does us little good for today. Every time Bush came to Ohio and said “free trade is good,” factories would close. The problem is, is that we have done nothing in our country to fix our problems and deal with globalization. We did not invest in our country, in our people, and in the future. Our country is being run on ideologies and those ideologies have failed. Like, trickle down and voodoo economics. And we are becoming more of an oligarchy.

    So after years of the Bush tax cuts-all borrowed and all spent, we are finding that the republicans want more tax cuts to create jobs, and the fed wants to print more money to create jobs. And yet our jobs are still going overseas. It doesn’t add up in my book.

  24. Marianne says:

    Is it better for the private citizen to decide how to spend the money he earns, or should the bureaucrats do that for him?

  25. Gerry W. says:

    The problem today is that with globalization, if people spend their money, they are not helping the economy that much as half the goods are foreign made. So what we see is that the “old” economics has changed.

    As far as the government, there is no question that they have done a terrible job. However, there are areas we need to do to fix our economy and move our country forward in which we have not done in two or three decades.

    We can invest in our country, like energy independence, high speed rail, high speed internet in which we rank 15th in the world, and a new air traffic control system that will reduce the use of fuel by 12%.

    We can invest in the people as the world demands a more educated workforce and as we have sent our jobs overseas. So we need massive spending on vocational training.

    And we can invest in the future, like more research grants to universities for new technologies. You can also stop urban sprawl and invest in the cities, instead of abandoning them and leaving stores empty. I figure with all the Bush tax cuts, which is all spent money, we could have redeveloped our inner cities and more stores would have survived. We are also some 2 trillion dollars behind in our infrastructure. While democrats have spent money in the wrong areas (republicans too), republicans still stick with old ideologies that fail and does not deal with our globalized world. The middle class has seen stagnate wages for over a decade and they have been losing jobs to cheap labor. These issues need to be addressed to preserve the middle class.

    Again, instead of talking ideologies, we need to deal with the problems we have and how we maintain a middle class.

  26. Steve Verdon says:

    The framing of this is inaccurate – and I do admit it seems that the Dems were largely at fault for their rhetoric.

    The cuts the Dems propose do not exclude those who make more than 250K. They exclude _income_ over 250K. Those who make over that amount still benefit from all the lower rates applied against their first 250K.

    Its really dumb for the Dems to phrase it in such a way as to give the impression that richer people are somehow excluded. And it is inaccurate for everyone else to frame it that way as well.

    While this is all true it is sort of irrelevant. It is like saying to a person buying something:

    the first 100 are at 10% off. The next 100 are at 5%, but the last 100 are 30% higher price. There, don’t you feel glad we gave you all those price breaks?

    People don’t care about marginal tax rates on the lower income levels, what they care about is the marginal tax rate on the last dollar they earned and also their effective tax rate–i.e. their taxes paid/taxable income.

    So after years of the Bush tax cuts-all borrowed and all spent, we are finding that the republicans want more tax cuts to create jobs, and the fed wants to print more money to create jobs. And yet our jobs are still going overseas. It doesn’t add up in my book.

    That is because the government’s ability to promote economic growth is severely limited. For several reasons:

    1. The tools are at best clumsy
    2. Rent seeking
    3. Ignorance

    The first one should seem obvious. Sure cutting taxes, one would think, would lead to more economic activity. But we live in a world where lots of different things are going on at once. So even though taxes are cut, something could offset that positive effect.

    Rent seeking is where special interests (firms, labor unions, etc.) look to garner economic gains that they didn’t really earn. This retards economic growth as it often retards competition which is what drives economic growth. We have the President bailing out GM and Chrysler. That is rent seeking. Bailing out and keeping zombie banks is going to retard economic growth (look at Japan). Even if the stimulus spending has a positive multiplier these two other policies work against it. And we have people who support both. WTF?!?!

    As for ignorance, I can give you text book answers on how to get an economy moving, how to structure taxes, deal with externalities, and such. Thing is in the real world nobody has sufficient information to do it like in the text books. Typically it is bumbling and fumbling around at best. Add in the two other problems already noted and you have a right bloody mess.

    So yeah, it doesn’t add up. It doesn’t add up because you are waiting for the government to come and fix things.

  27. Gerry W. says:

    ***But we live in a world where lots of different things are going on at once. So even though taxes are cut, something could offset that positive effect.***

    Agreed. And what is offsetting is that for years, we ignored our infrastructure, for years we have spent money on war-a drain on our economy, for years we ignored being energy independent, for years we have ignored globalization and 2 billion cheap laborers, and or years we ran on ideologies and not on economics.

    The tools were not clumsy when we put men on the moon, or when we built the interstates, or even inventing the internet. Even state capitalism in China is building whole cities, and high speed rail. We lost our way with running on ideologies and not investing in our country and future.

    I don’t have a problem in bailing out GM under the circumstance we are in. Closing down GM and 300 plants makes little sense with high unemployment already. We just got caught with our pants down as we have done nothing for years to correct all the problems we have.

    ***As for ignorance, I can give you text book answers on how to get an economy moving, how to structure taxes, deal with externalities, and such. Thing is in the real world nobody has sufficient information to do it like in the text books. Typically it is bumbling and fumbling around at best. Add in the two other problems already noted and you have a right bloody mess.***

    A lot of ignorance yes. One of the problems I see is that both political parties are controlled by interest groups and the leaders are all bought off and/or appointment are made to the highest donor and they know little in what to do in their job.

    The information we have is that we have globalization and 2 billion cheap laborers that is taking millions of jobs. The information we have is that we should strive for energy independence. The information we have is that we are some 2 trillion dollars behind on our infrastructure. The information is that with 2 billion cheap laborers, with automation, with lean principles, there is less jobs to go around and people will need to be retrained. And the information is, because we have not done anything but failed ideologies, we are bailing out businesses and cities and states, we have extension of unemployment benefits, more welfare, and states have gone to casinos to create jobs while we send our jobs overseas.

    ***Thing is in the real world nobody has sufficient information to do it like in the text books. ***

    Well, I think there is plenty of sufficient information in what to do. We just lost our way over the years.

  28. Gerry W. says:

    To add,

    The thinking in Washington and by many economists and by Obama is that having the dollar low enough, that we can export goods and create jobs. Well, I have a problem with this. First, we are printing the money and trashing the dollar. Second, we have less to export as other countries are making the toasters and irons. And thirdly, why would China or any cheap labor country buy a higher U.S. product? Fourth, we continue to send our jobs overseas.

    Now, the democrats have gone to more “welfare” kind of programs, the republicans say more in tax cuts in which we have had tax cuts all these years and we still lose the jobs and does not address many issues, and the fed is printing the money and lowering the dollar.

    Now, I find all this hilarious. We used to invest in our country and in our infrastructure. We have to find new ways of supporting our country. And I have been saying for years, is to get away from ideology and invest in the country, in the people, and in the future. Now, that is what China, South Korea, Singapore, and other countries are doing. You can call it state funded capitalism or whatever else, but we are ending up doing nothing. And that is where we stand today, doing nothing and having years of doing nothing. We face globalization, and this is far worse than even the deficits. We are losing jobs and we are losing the middle class. And yet, few people, outside of Donald Trump or Intel’s Andy Grove, is addressing this problem.

    Now, I have no problem in restructuring tax policies or whatever else. However, the enormous numbers of cheap labor tells us that any economic policy may not be big enough to match globalization. Again, you need to invest in the country to fight globalization and the loss of jobs. You have to invest in the people to fight globalization and the loss of jobs. And you have to invest in the future to be ahead of globalization. It seems rather simple to me and I am not a smart guy. I just see the world around me.

  29. Marianne says:

    Countries don’t trade with each other; individuals do. A trade doesn’t take place unless both parties gain from it.

    Republicans aren’t saying more tax cuts; they are saying no tax increases. (They should be advocating for growth-oriented tax code revision)

    How important is liberty and self-determination?

  30. Gerry W. says:

    The problem is that we had the tax cuts all these years and we lost the jobs. We are trapped in a corner. The tax cuts is spent money and it did not provide the growth. It was for the here and now and ignored globalization and the problems we have. I don’t know what kind of “freedom” you want. All I saw was our jobs go overseas and that we are losing the middle class. Your party speaks of freedom and we lost the jobs.

    The Bush tax cuts were set to end at the end of the year. That was the policy. And if they go on, they will add to the deficit hundreds of billions of dollars. It is spent money for the “here and now.” We got no return on the Bush tax cuts in the first place. We lost our jobs and you still are saying more tax cuts or no tax increases. Well something has to give. The tax cuts should be growth orientated, however, if your jobs go overseas, then what good are the tax cuts.

    You are only talking about more “voodoo” economics or the trickle down theory and with globalization it is not working.

    Come up with a better answer instead of the same old ideology.