Tax cuts

TAX CUTS…. Following up on an earlier item, there are obviously grumblings from some of the less progressive members of the Senate Democratic caucus about President Obama’s budget blueprint. Specifically, though, there’s apparently one area of unique concern.

Moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are starting to choke over the massive spending and tax increases in President Barack Obama’s budget plans and have begun plotting to increase their influence over the agenda of a president who is turning out to be much more liberal than they are. […]

As for the tax increases on high-income earners called for in Obama’s plan, [Sen. Evan Bayh (R-Ind.)] said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.” […]

Obama has proposed an array of tax hikes that have been greeted with a chilly reception from Republicans and moderate Democrats. […]

“I have major concerns about trying to raise taxes in the midst of a downturn of the economy,” said [Sen. Ben] Nelson, the conservative Nebraska Democrat.

Ezra Klein responds to this by asking the right question: “If the majority of Americans are facing a tax decrease, then are “taxes” going up?”

Well, no, probably not. Obama’s economic stimulus package included one of the largest, if not the very largest, tax cut in American history. His broader economic plan does exactly what was promised during the campaign — it cuts taxes on the middle class, and raises taxes on the wealthy. The tax increase on the wealthy wouldn’t kick in until 2011, and simply returns the top rate to where it was before Bush/Cheney took office.

Many seem to have internalized conservative, conventional thinking on taxes — Obama wants to “raise” them, centrists and Republicans don’t like the idea. But the details matter here, and it’s simply inaccurate to characterize the White House plan as a tax increase when most Americans are getting a tax cut.

Maybe someone should let Sens. Bayh and Nelson know.

Post Script: Ezra also hammers home a point for the Democratic centrists to consider: “Does Ben Nelson think universal health care is more or less important than keeping itemized deductions for filers making $250,000 a year at 35 percent rather than 28 percent? Because that’s the actual question at hand. No one is attempting to ‘raise taxes.’ They’re attempting to ‘raise taxes in order to pay for things.’ The relevant question, then, is not whether Nelson opposes raising taxes, but whether he opposes raising taxes more or less than he opposes not having the thing the new revenues would pay for.”