Blue Dogs Threatening To Quash Health Bill Over Surtax Voted For Bush Tax Cuts

bluedogsmallerRep. Mike Ross (D-AR) — a member of the Blue Dog coalition — is reportedly upset about the health care bill that’s come out of the House, and is banding with seven other Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to vote down the bill if some changes aren’t made.

Among other things, Ross reportedly objects to the surtaxes included in the bill. “I don’t like the idea of raising taxes in the worst economic crisis since World War II,” he said.

First, the surtax wouldn’t kick in until 2011, and at that point, if we are still “in the worst economic crisis since World War II,” we’ll have far bigger problems to worry about than a tax increase. But more importantly, the Blue Dogs are waxing poetic about the horrors of the surtax, after having voted for the budget busting Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that constituted a huge gift to the very wealthiest Americans.

Of the seven Blue Dogs on from Energy and Commerce who are causing a fuss, four were around to vote on Bush’s tax cuts. Here’s how that went:

Member 2001 2003
Rep. Mike Ross (AR) Yes No
Rep. Bart Gordon (TN) Yes No
Rep. Jim Matheson (UT) Yes Yes
Rep. Baron Hill (IN) No No

Remember, the surtax would constitute a 1 percent tax on households making between $350,000 and $500,000 per year, a 1.5 percent tax on those making $500,000 to $1 million, and a 5.4 percent tax on those making more than $1 million. It would have no impact on 98.7 percent of Americans.

But there is that one percent that would be affected, so let’s make some comparisons. Over the ten year window from 2001-2010, the Bush tax cuts gave the richest one percent of Americans about $715 billion in tax breaks. This comes out to about $518,000 per household over ten years or about $51,800 per year.

The House bill, meanwhile, would raise $544 billion from those same households over ten years, which is decidedly less than the $715 billion. So we’re not even talking about a level of taxation that would make up for the breaks that Bush handed out. There’s a legitimate debate to have regarding the surtax, but a simple knee-jerk reaction — particularly to an increase only affecting a group that’s done very well in terms of tax policy for eight years — is unproductive.