Some news outlets have suggested that Republicans have changed their position on taxes after their resounding defeat on Tuesday. This is not the case. Republicans are still demanding lower tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans, paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
Yesterday, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said that Republicans are “willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions.” But this is the same position Republicans have staked out for more than a year.
The problem is with what constitutes these Republican “conditions.” Speaker Boehner’s first condition is that tax rates have to be cut for the richest 2% of Americans, which would increase the deficit. Preventing Bush tax cuts for the wealthy from expiring at the end of this year would cost about $1 trillion over 10 years, and lowering tax rates below current levels would cost even more.
So where does the “new revenue” come from? Speaker Boehner says it would come from “closing special interest loopholes and deductions.” But this is exactly what Gov. Romney proposed during the campaign, and the math doesn’t add up unless you increase taxes on the middle class.
Speaker Boehner’s other condition is that “entitlement programs” (i.e., Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), which he claims are the “root of the whole problem,” have to be cut.
So Speaker Boehner’s position boils down to lower tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans—paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is the same trade-off that Gov. Romney proposed during the campaign and that President Obama forcefully rejected.
There is no justification for cutting benefits for Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare under any circumstances. And we simply cannot afford to lower tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans.
It is the combination of these two ideas that is even more outrageous. It is indefensible to claim that we have to cut benefits because of the deficit and then turn around and increase the deficit by lowering tax rates for the richest 2%.
There is no question where working families stand on these questions. An overwhelming majority of America's workers oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and support allowing tax rates to rise for the richest 2% of Americans at the end of this year.