Democratic Leadership Council chairman Harold Ford was on MSNBC this afternoon discussing today’s midterm elections and the implications for Democrats and President Obama should Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress. While Ford said he “loves” all the “wonderful feats” of the past two years, such as health insurance and financial reform, he said that the takeaway for Obama from a GOP victory today would be to extend the Bush tax cuts:
FORD: The reality is the country is worried about jobs, economic growth and our future. And there’s a belief that the President and his team have gone about this in a way that has not only not been pleasing to independents but has not gained the confidence of the country as it relates to their future and as it relates to the country feeling like we can compete and succeed going forward. Extend the Bush tax cuts, be willing to work with Republicans, push the reset button with the business community. I think these are the two or three tone changes. … They’ve got to send a clear message to the country, “We’ve heard the message. We are ready, not to give up on our goals, but to govern in a different way to achieve those goals.”
One of the GOP’s loudest rallying cries during the campaign has been — however disingenuous it may be — its pledge to reduce the deficit. At the same time, Republicans want the rich to continue to receive huge tax breaks without paying for them, something that would drive the deficit even higher. Obama has made it clear that he wants to extend tax cuts for the middle class and end them for the rich — a move that would save $830 billion over ten years. The Joint Committee on Taxation found recently that the average tax cut per household making more than $1 million per year would be nearly $100,000.
And if Ford thinks extending the tax cuts is about creating jobs, he’s flat wrong. The Congressional Budget Office found that extending the Bush tax cuts provides just 10 to 40 cents in economic activity for every dollar spent. “A permanent extension [of the Bush tax cuts] would entail large revenue losses after the recovery is over, so its effects on output and employment in the next few years per dollar of total budgetary cost would be much lower” than other tax and spending policies, CBO said. Moreover, the U.S. “registered the weakest jobs and income growth in the post-war period” after the Bush tax cuts were enacted.
It seems that Ford has been paying more attention to GOP talking points and focusing less on what Republican proposals would actually do.