Yesterday, the White House agreed with Congressional Republicans on a “framework” for extending the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts. In exchange for a two-year extension of all the tax cuts — including those for households making more than $250,000 per year — the deal includes a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits, a two percent cut in the employee side of the payroll tax for one year, and a retention of the some expanded tax credits included in the 2009 Recovery Act. To get Republicans on board, Obama also agreed to a two-year cut in the estate tax.
For comparison’s sake, The Wonk Room has a chart detailing both the number of people (in millions) who benefit from each side’s priorities, as well as the total cost (in billions). Obama’s components of the tax deal (extended unemployment benefits, the payroll tax cut, and the extended credits) will cost $214 billion to aid 156 million people. The Republicans priorities (extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and cutting the estate tax), meanwhile, will cost $133 billion, but only benefit roughly 4.8 million people.
So, in order to get desperately needed help for the long-term unemployed and to provide the middle-class with tax relief in a weak economy, Obama agreed to tax cuts for a small, wealthy portion of the population that the Republicans were willing to go to the mat for, even if it meant that everyone’s taxes went up if the Bush tax cuts expired. Excluded from this analysis is extension of the broad-based Bush tax cuts, on which everyone agreed. The total package will cost about $900 billion over the next two years, entirely financed through deficit spending.
Read more about the tax deal in today’s Progress Report, “Tough Pill To Swallow.”
As CAP’s Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger noted, the various components of the tax deal (outside of the broad Bush tax cuts) will save or create about 2.2 million jobs. If, however, the GOP’s priorities were discarded in favor of further cuts in the payroll tax, that number would increase to 2.7 million, an addition of 500,000 jobs.