Since taking control of the House, Republicans have pushed to offset the costs of everything from emergency disaster relief to unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class. Their singular goal, they have said, is to cut the deficit and debt, and they’re willing to gut social safety net programs, including Medicare, to do it.
When it comes to the budget-busting Bush Tax Cuts, however, the story changes. Both the 2001 and 2003 versions of the Bush Tax Cuts expire at the end of 2012, and when the House GOP attempts to permanently extend the cuts later this year, they won’t offer a plan to pay for them, The Hill reports:
House Republicans say they have no plans to pay for the extension of the Bush-era tax rates, a move that could erase the deficit reduction they have achieved since winning their majority in the chamber in 2010.
The lawmakers also said that Republicans had always intended for the rates on income and capital gains, enacted during former President George W. Bush’s first term, to be permanent.
“From my perspective, you’re setting tax policy on a permanent basis, long-term basis,” said Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.), a freshman Republican and member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. “It’s not a pay-for situation. It’s just strong policy that needs to be adopted.”
As The Hill notes, “It is Republican Party orthodoxy that tax cuts do not need to be offset because of the additional tax receipts they spur through economic growth.” As history has shown us, the Republican Party orthodoxy is wrong. The Bush tax cuts — at a 10-year cost of $2.5 trillion — did not inspire economic growth and instead blew a massive hole in the federal deficit, adding trillions of dollars to the debt. Without the Bush tax cuts, the dire debt situation Republicans insist is their top concern would actually be sustainable:
Aside from the debt, the economic costs of the Bush Tax Cuts were astronomical. With the money spent, the U.S. could have provided better health care, more student aid, and hired more teachers and public safety officials — thousands of which lost their jobs when federal and state budgets were crunched during the Great Recession. Even top Republicans have admitted that the GOP’s justification for the cuts — that they would create millions of jobs — was wrong.
Far from learning from their mistakes, though, Republicans are doubling down. The House GOP budget, passed last month, contains tax cuts that are even more heavily slanted toward the wealthy and would blow an even bigger hole in the federal budget.