I’d call it a great Christmas present for the American taxpayer-except that I hate the image of the government as Santa Claus (apt thought it may be!).
Like my colleague Carrie Lukas, who has excellent commentary on the subject, I am thinking this morning about the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts. The president didn’t look like a happy man when he made the announcement of the deal, but, as a result of the midterm elections, he had to make a deal now or be responsible the uncertainty that would be caused by waiting for a resolution until next year.
On the most basic level, if Democrats on the Hill go for the compromise, we’ll be spared huge tax increases on those who pay taxes (40 percent of Americans don’t assume any of this burden). There is also a payroll taxes holiday and the inheritance tax will be restrained, much as many Democrats would like to prevent achievers from passing on the fruit of their labors to the next generation.
As James Capretta points out in National Review, there is something else good that underlies the deal, an emerging attitude about government’s takings from us and the very concept of private property:
More broadly, the president’s agreement to this deal is an implicit admission that voters aren’t buying what the Democrats have been selling on the budget for the past year. The primary argument Democrats pushed throughout 2010 was that the country simply could not afford to “spend” anything more on tax cuts for the wealthy. The president went so far as to say he could find much better uses for the hundreds of billions of dollars that would be “spent” by extending the top Bush tax rate at 35 percent.
But this kind of language only betrayed an attitude toward the private sector that most voters find entirely distasteful. Democrats talk as if private earnings are somehow the property of the federal government and $100 billion not collected in taxes is the same as $100 billion spent on a new government program. Most voters don’t see it that way at all.
To make the deal, Republicans had to agree to something that is a very bad idea: further extension of unemployment benefits for those who’ve already been on them since before Abel killed Cain. What do you get with extended unemployment benefits? You buy more unemployment. People who might take a crummy job are more choosey, and, with benefits bolstering them, they allow skills to atrophy. But that’s the nature of a deal-you have to hold your nose include things you don’t like-and this by and large is good news.