Making Obama ‘a legitimate tax cutter’

As Republicans continue to line up to criticize House Republicans’ tactics on the payroll tax cut, we can ad GOP lobbyist and former Reagan aide Ed Rogers to the list. (thanks to F.B. for the tip)

We seem to have put President Obama in a win-win position…. The only people House Republicans have over a barrel are other Republicans. We are even about to make Obama a legitimate tax cutter.

I’m glad Rogers is giving his party’s House leadership good advice, and I certainly hope Boehner, Cantor, & Co. follow it, but what does Rogers mean by “about to make Obama a legitimate tax cutter”?

Isn’t he already a legitimate tax cutter?

I’m reminded of this recent item from the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger.

If you had to guess whether President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama cut taxes more in his first term, which one would you choose? Probably President Bush, right? After all, the “the Bush tax cuts” were massive. And President Obama is the one calling for the expiration of some of those tax cuts. He’s also pushing for more revenue as we try to address our long-term fiscal imbalance.

Given all that, you could be forgiven for guessing that President Bush is the bigger tax cutter. But you’d actually be wrong. By the end of his first term, President Obama will have signed into law a series of tax cuts that, taken together, exceed the value of those signed into law by President Bush.

This image captures the point in stark terms:

And yet, this appears to be a well-kept secret. As Ed Rogers suggests, Obama is not yet “a legitimate tax cutter.”

A few weeks before the 2010 midterms, the NYT had a fascinating item, noting voters who received tax cuts, but who were certain Obama had raised their taxes. It wasn’t even close to true, but their perceptions were clouded by nonsense.

In fact, I also remember shortly after Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, the right seemed annoyed that the president noted the tax cuts he and congressional Democrats had approved. National Review ran one piece that said Obama “strained credulity” with the claim about tax cuts. The same magazine ran another item insisting, “If the taxes of 95 percent of Americans actully [sic] had been cut, surely somebody other than Obama would have noticed.”

For the right, this is somehow a subjective question. Whether Obama cut taxes seems to be a matter of opinion. Sure, the president says he cut taxes for millions of Americans, but since people didn’t really notice, the argument goes, then maybe it didn’t happen.

Whether it’s widely realized or not, it did happen. We can debate whether Obama’s tax cuts were wise or effective, but no matter what House Republicans do over the next 9 days and 10 hours, there is no debate as to whether Obama is a “tax cutter.”