Theater Of The Absurd: The Insane Debate Over Taxes On The Rich

Posted by | July 6, 2011 14:23 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

Tomorrow’s Senate debate and vote would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad and dangerous. As Greg Sargent points out:

So it’s come to this. Republican opposition to any kind of revenue increase as part of the deficit deal has grown so implacable that Dems will now hold a Senate vote tomorrow on the basic idea that millionaires and billionaires should help contribute to fixing our deficit.

It’s not a vote on any specific proposal to hike taxes or end tax breaks. Rather, it’s a vote that puts each Senator on record on the general question of whether the rich should sacrifice in sevice of deficit reduction.

At a time of seemingly endless high unemployment; with income inequality in the US at the highest in modern history; and with the federal debt barreling towards a default which can only make all of this much, much worse, the Senate will vote tomorrow on the very idea that millionaires and billionaires should maybe, possibly, you know… have to tighten their belts along with the rest of the country. Maybe.

Of course the vote itself is nothing more than political theatrics on the part of Senate Democrats; it’s an attempt to embarrass Republicans with an on-the-record vote on whether they would protect tax cuts for the wealthy to detriment of everything else. Sadly, I can’t see this playing out the way Democrats hope; nor can I see the final vote being any surprise at all. The vast majority of elected Republicans will have no problem making that vote and then turning around, and with a straight face, claim that it is necessary to help create jobs. (Just like all those jobs we’ve been rolling in through the last decade of Bush tax cuts.)

However the vote turns out, it won’t have any impact on the budget negotiations. The drop-dead date for the debt limit increase is fast approaching and a resolution is further away than ever.  While Democrats have agreed to over $1 trillion in cuts, including millions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Republican demands have only become more stringent. They now not only demand more spending cuts and no revenue increases (even those achieved through closing loopholes), they now are calling for a balanced budget amendment (a requirement which we all know has worked wonders for dozens of state budgets).

One wonders where we would be if the GOP actually listened to economists, of whom not a single credible voice can be found advocating the immediate slashing of the national debt, much less the idea that this could be done solely through spending cuts. But no matter, the GOP clearly gave up on governance long ago in favor of pure politics. Here’s hoping that if the worst case scenario occurs, the silver lining might be that the public finally decides to turn off American Idol and pay attention.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.

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