As part of the much-discussed tax deal between Obama and Congressional Republicans, all of the Bush tax cuts — including those for the richest two percent of Americans — will be extended for two years. But for months now, Republicans have been hollering that the one thing American businesses need to start hiring again is certainty. “America’s employers are afraid to invest in an economy stalled by ‘stimulus’ spending and hamstrung by uncertainty,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).
As Dave Weigel pointed out, Boehner said just one month ago that a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts was not a way to end uncertainty for employers. ” I — I don’t think — that eliminates the uncertainty that’s preventing employers from hiring,” he said. And Boehner was far from alone:
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): To have certainty in what the tax rates will be is much more important than a temporary extension of the current rates. We don’t need a temporary economy.
REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R-NJ): Is 25 months a good period of time for that uncertainty? No.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): Uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity. Saying that there’s going to be a tax increase two years from now…leaves further uncertainty in the system.
In fact, there were plenty of members of the GOP claiming that what businesses really needed to start hiring was tax certainty. Watch a compilation:
But now that a deal has been struck, as National Journal’s Edmund Andrews and Jim Tankersley noted, “the great uncertainty, bemoaned by Republicans and business groups, is if anything greater than ever.” “The deal worsens one of the tax code’s biggest underlying problems: almost every major part of it, from rates to breaks, is literally temporary,” they wrote.
Of course, when it came to tax cuts, Obama’s plan for permanent extension of the middle-class tax cuts and expiration of those cuts for the richest two percent of Americans would have provided certainty. But the GOP was so desperate to extend tax cuts for the rich that “certainty” was thrown under the bus.
As Weigel put it, “By Boehner’s own standard, this compromise doesn’t reduce uncertainty, which during the election and after the election really became the key Republican argument for keeping the rates.” Jonathan Chait added, “For those still clinging to any naive notion that Republicans meant this as anything more than a slogan, the answer is now clear. [Republicans] want low tax rates for the rich. They don’t care about certainty”:
Republicans had a choice. They could accede to certainty with Clinton-era rates on the rich, or uncertainty with Bush-era rates on the rich. They chose uncertainty. The Bush-era rates will live on for two years, after which nobody knows if they’ll be extended or not.