Today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics paints an ugly picture of lackluster job creation and increasing long-term unemployment. The Federal Reserve — which is taking its own steps to boost employment after dithering for months — has been reduced to pleading with Congress for further fiscal stimulus, in the hopes of averting an even longer jobs slog.
So, naturally, Congress is spending the day debating whether or not the richest two percent of Americans should receive a tax cut (in addition to the tax cut they will receive on their first $250,000 in income if, as everyone in Congress wants, tax rates are extended for the lower- and middle-classes). In fact, many House Republicans are claiming that the richest two percent of Americans desperately need a tax cut because of the bad jobs report:
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): Any sign of job growth in this struggling economy is encouraging, but clearly no match for the uncertainty families and small businesses are facing, which is why we must cut spending and stop all the looming tax hikes.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA): Today’s jobs report marks the 19th consecutive month in which unemployment has exceeded nine percent — an unacceptable result. We must do everything possible to bring that number down and get people back to work by ending the uncertainty that is plaguing the private sector. To start, Congress should reassure job creators and investors by taking the impending tax hikes off the table.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): Today’s heartbreaking unemployment report should be yet another wake-up call to Democrats that raising taxes in the middle of the worst economy in 25 years is a mistake. Higher taxes on America’s small businesses won’t get anyone hired. I call on Washington Democrats to abandon their plan to raise taxes on small businesses and get America back to work.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): Nationwide, the unemployment rate has stayed at 9.4 percent or higher for 19 straight months. Yet instead of sensible policies to encourage private sector job creation, Democrats have pushed one job-killing idea after another…Well, higher taxes don’t hire Americans.
Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) took this line of thinking to the Senate floor today. Watch it:
Of course, there was no attempt on the part of these Republicans to grapple with the fact that the Bush tax cuts ushered in the weakest period of job growth in the post-war period, or that the Congressional Budget Office ranks extending the Bush tax cuts as the least effective tax measure for promoting economic growth.
As former Reagan budget director David Stockman said, today’s GOP has succumbed to the “theology” of tax cuts: “After 1985, the Republican Party adopted the idea that tax cuts can solve the whole problem, and that therefore in the future, deficits didn’t matter and tax cuts would be the solution of first, second, and third resort.”