Biggest. Tax Cut. Ever.*

BIGGEST. TAX CUT. EVER…. A few weeks ago, when the House approved the economic stimulus bill without any Republican votes, David Weigel noted that he literally couldn’t remember “a time when the entire Republican conference in either house voted against tax cuts.”

That’s true, but let’s go a little further. The compromise plan announced last night includes $282 billion in tax cuts over two years. With that in mind, Steven Waldman argues, persuasively, that when the vast majority of congressional Republicans oppose the package, they’ll be voting against the biggest tax cut “in history.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush’s first two years of tax cuts amounted to $174 billion. A second batch in 2004 and 2005 cost $231. And those were thought to be bigger than the tax cuts offered by Reagan, Kennedy or others.

Now, perhaps some new analysis will show that the tax cuts end up not quite being the largest in history by this measure or that. But it’s clear they’re massive.

I’m ducking the debate on whether this is economically a good or bad — but surely it ought to be a big story.

True. Waldman also notes that this is also an example of a liberal Democrat delivering early on a tax cut he promised during the campaign, a pledge “few Republican thought he’d keep.”

What’s more, let’s also not forget that Obama’s tax-cut plan in the recovery package is not only arguably bigger than previous cuts, but also better targeted. George W. Bush’s tax cuts were long-term income-tax rate cuts, which amounted to a generous break for those at the top, since the wealthy pay most income taxes. Obama’s tax cuts, meanwhile, are short-term refunds paid directly to working and middle class families (some of which Republicans have denounced as “welfare”).

As such, GOP lawmakers are going to reject one of the largest, if not the largest, tax cut ever proposed by a president — which just so happens to be targeted at the working and middle class families Obama vowed to look out for.

When the economy recovers, I suspect many on the right will argue, “Obama’s policy only worked because he passed a quarter-trillion dollars in tax breaks.” That will surely make them feel better. But how will those same conservatives respond when it’s noted that Republicans stood up to oppose one of the biggest tax-cut plans in American history?