President Obama and congressional Democrats have been pushing to extend a payroll tax holiday that was enacted as part of the December 2010 tax deal and is set to expire in in January. Congressional Republicans, finally discovering a tax hike that they can get behind, have opposed the extension.
The tax holiday benefits every working American, but Republicans have derided it as having no benefit to the economy. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the holiday “sugar high economics,” while Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said that “not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.” A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Cantor “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”
However, the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden and John Griffith note that not only were these GOPers supportive of temporary tax cuts to boost the economy under President Bush — they voted for just such a policy move (plus some additional spending) by approving Bush’s Economic Stimulus Act of 2008:
In January 2008 when the economic picture was far less dire and the unemployment rate was only 4.8 percent, 165 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 33 Republican senators voted to pass a stimulus package with an estimated cost of $152 billion. That package provided tax cuts of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples, plus an additional $300 per child. The bill also contained a number of temporary tax breaks for businesses. And just in case you thought President George W. Bush’s stimulus bill was simply a bunch of tax cuts, it also included $40 billion in direct spending. The legislation was even called the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.
President Bush lauded the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 for providing “a booster shot for our economy … [putting] money back into the hands of American workers and businesses.” Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and John Boehner (R-OH) as well as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all seemed to agree, as did nearly 200 other Republican members of Congress that voted in support of the bill.
In fact, as Linden and Griffith point out, “of the 134 current House Republicans that were also serving in 2008, 85 percent voted in favor of temporary tax cuts and additional spending as economic stimulus,” including Cantor, though he “never believed” in temporary tax measures to boost the economy:
Of course, since President Obama came into office, the GOP has consistently found reasons to oppose ideas that it once supported.