Voting no on the Bush tax cuts

Jul 27, 2012 Issues: Economy

President Barack Obama's call for an immediate extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle income families has been met with a furious and all-too-familiar cry from Republicans that the proposal threatens America's job creators.

The wealthy, they argue, create the jobs for the rest of Americans and ending the enormous tax cuts that have benefited them for the last decade will lead to slower job growth. It is a claim as hollow as it is insulting to the 98 percent of American families who would see their modest tax cuts extended under Obama's proposal.

For two years, Democrats have called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction, one that includes asking the very wealthy to join in the effort. For two years, Republicans have resisted.

They have continuously relied on the discredited claim that job creation hangs in the balance.

What they fail to acknowledge is that almost every small business owner in America — 97 percent — would see their tax cuts extended under President Obama's plan.In fact, Obama has proposed additional tax credits for businesses that invest or hire.

The misleading attacks about the impact on so-called job creators are illustrative of a broader philosophical disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about what makes for a strong American economy.

Democrats believe it starts with the middle class.

Not only does a strong middle class provide a vital backbone for the American economy, it serves as a foundation for future growth. Indeed, data from the nonprofit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation suggest that seven of 10 American entrepreneurs have come from the middle class, as the National Journal noted in a May cover story.

"The risk-takers of tomorrow are growing up in today's middle-class families," reporter Jim Tankersley wrote.

But today's middle class has eroded under the weight of the severe economic downturn and years of top-down economic policy prescriptions from Republicans who have promised that a rising tide would lift all boats.

Meanwhile, as the top 1 percent of Americans saw their incomes triple in the last three decades, most families' wages barely budged, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Which brings us back to the Bush tax cuts. Extending all of them as Republicans want, rather than just on income up to $250,000 as Obama has proposed, is worth $74,505 in 2013 for the average person making more than $1 million. The price tag for America: $813 billion.

The typical middle-income American working family of four, meanwhile, stands to see their tax cut worth about $2,200 extended under Democrats' proposal. That's who Republicans should be fighting for.