With a lame duck session of Congress convening next week, everyone is talking about whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended or allowed to expire at the end of this year.
Republicans argue that if the cuts are allowed to expire, that amounts to a tax increase. Democrats want to continue the cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year and let expire the cuts for those making more than that.
Once again, Democrats are proving why they are viewed as weak on economic issues. They don’t have the guts to take a principled stand against Republicans. Since the election, the White House and the Democrats in Congress have already begun to back away from their position.
The issue is not about tax cuts, but rather welfare. It’s free money. The federal government is simply printing bogus money to pay for the tax cuts—since there is no corresponding decrease in spending to offset the cuts.
Republicans are masterful with message control and have a demonstrated command of how to define the opposition and their opposing view. What is even more amazing is how the media ends up repeating the mantras coming out of Washington, D.C.
Let me illustrate with an example. You have a son who is paying $100 per month for rent. You tell him that for the next two years you will pay his monthly rent. So, two years later, you tell him that he now has to pay his own rent again to the tune of $100 per month. So, the question is, did your son’s rent increase?
The obvious answer is no. You just gave your son a temporary reprieve from paying his rent and now he must resume being responsible for his own obligations.
Well, the parent in this example is the U.S. government and the son is the voter. Bush got Congress to pass the temporary tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of the year. If the cuts are not made permanent, the rates return to where they were before the reprieve. Again, not a tax increase.
Now, back to my example. Even if at the end of the two-year period the son approaches his father and asks for an extension and is denied, the son can’t argue that his rent has been increased. His rent hasn’t been increased, but rather the person responsible for paying has reverted back to where it was before the reprieve.
This is why voters are so angry with politicians. Nothing makes sense in D.C.; everything is smoke and mirrors. Only in D.C. can an increase in an agency’s budget be sold as a decrease. Here’s how it works. Let’s say the current Department of Defense budget is $100. The president submits a budget request for the next year to Congress for $110. Congress finally approves a budget of $105. So, the president will go to the American people and say Congress cut the budget by $5 (even though the budget was increased by $5 from the previous year’s budget).
Yes, I support lower taxes, but the Bush tax cuts are not about taxes; it’s about getting dad to continue to subsidize paying of the rent. If the Bush tax cuts are continued, how will they be paid for? What programs will be cut to offset the continuation?
One of the messages that should be taken away from last week’s elections is that voters want the truth. No more lies, euphemisms or shell games. We have difficult choices to make and sugarcoating the choices is not the solution.
The voters are fed up with the games and want politicians to solve problems. Voters find the absence of straight talk a very taxing problem.
Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for “ExcellStyle Magazine” (www.excellstyle.com) and “U.S. Africa Magazine” (www.usafricaonline.com).