So, why *did* @BarackObama agree to permanently extending most of ‘the Bush tax cuts?’

I must admit, Grover Norquist has a point here:

The second great game changer was Obama’s decision to extend and make permanent 85 percent of the Bush tax cuts—the cuts of 2001, 2003, and the AMT patch. This was Obama’s great blunder that stripped him of his political power for his entire second term. Had Obama simply extended 90 percent of the tax cuts for one year or two years, he would have held over the heads of Republicans the ability to raise taxes simply by refusing to allow another extension. But he threw that power away like a child tossing aside a pearl of great but unrecognized value.

Particularly the AMT patch. Background here: suffice it to say that it spawned a budgetary trick that the Democrats particularly enjoyed using, and I have yet to figure out why Barack Obama was so eager to give it up in exchange for… breaking a campaign promise to end the Bush tax cuts.

I wonder if he has figured it out, either.

How cute: the NYT still thinks Obama won the tax cut fight.

Really, this is adorable:

[David Plouffe] rejected the suggestion that Mr. Obama, who forced Republicans to accept higher taxes on the wealthy after re-election, has been too passive.

Not the passive part, which is a) true and b) hopefully not worrisome at all to Democrats.  But here’s a harsh dose of reality for the Times’ mellow: in order to ‘win’ on tax hikes, all Barack Obama had to do was wait.  He campaigned on removing all of the Bush ‘tax cuts.’  All of them.  They were set to expire, and Obama could have had that happen with no fuss, no muss, no drama… and approximately one hundred million or so people screaming at him.  Instead, he made a deal with the GOP where they came in with nothing and walked out with 98% of the tax cuts that they campaigned on to preserve AND Obama taking the blame for the Alternative Minimum Tax fix*.

Oh, yeah.  Twist my arm a little more on that, dude.  And we lost that one so totally, ya, you betcha… Continue reading How cute: the NYT still thinks Obama won the tax cut fight.

Scott Walker (R, Wisconsin) planning state income tax cuts.

He’s also planning to freeze property taxes as much as possible, but Walker is thinking about how to lower Wisconsin’s state income tax rates for upcoming years.

Walker didn’t discuss how much of an income-tax cut he was talking about, other than to say it would be “significant” and would be put in place over a number of years. That means some of the tax cuts wouldn’t take effect until 2016 or later – after the next budget ends in mid-2015.

And here’s the important bit (bolding mine)

For years, such long-term commitments created a massive structural deficit that made budgeting much more difficult for governors and lawmakers. Walker largely eliminated the structural deficit – the imbalance between expected revenue and expected expenses – in his first state budget and has repeatedly touted that.

As well he should tout that; between Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature, Wisconsin’s showing/projecting a budget surplus for the first time in years.  Good thing that that recall nonsense went nowhere, huh?

Via Legal Insurrection.

Jonathan Chait (unintentionally) lays out the case for ending the Hollywood tax cuts.

Is Jonathan Chait not feeling well?  Not so much for writing the below, but for writing the below (as AoSHQ Headlines notes) so baldly.  The topic was the Left’s domination of television/movies; Chait copped pretty much to admitting that the Right’s basic argument is correct, that it also has merit (something that you can’t actually expect the Left to just concede), and ends with:

This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.

…which, by the way, enjoys a set of tax exemptions, loopholes, shelters, and other market-distorting favors that benefit them far more than the dubious benefits that supposed accrue to us. Now, despite what you may be hearing, we are still going to be in a position to pass laws next year, and when we do pass those laws I think that it’ll be long past time to stop allowing the entertainment industry to evade paying its fair share while taking a partisan political side.  Long past time.  Which means that I explicitly echo Glenn Reynolds in calling for a repeal of the Hollywood tax cuts.

And before you tell me that Hollywood is too big to take on, funny: that’s exactly what people told me about the public sector unions.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

Did the White House make Bill Clinton recant opposition to job-killing tax hikes?

As the American Action Forum (AAF) notes, pretty much.  Quick background: it more or less got overlooked, but former President Clinton argued yesterday (June 5th) that it would be advisable for the ‘Bush tax cuts’ (which is Dizzy-City speak for ‘current tax baseline’) to be ‘temporarily’ (read: ‘permanently’) instituted, even if it would benefit the ‘wealthiest Americans’ (translation: it’s probably not a good idea to kick American small businesses in the kidneys again).  That this is contrary to current administration policy is apparently not serving as a warning sign to the White House that maybe they should be changing said policy, despite the fact that Democrats are apparently starting to line up in order to get their new-found distance from the Obama administration.  Instead, the administration apparently twisted some arms, and hey presto! – Bill Clinton is retracting:

…a spokesman for Mr. Clinton issued a statement walking back the comments. It said that Mr. Clinton “doesn’t believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again.”

Two things about this: first, never trust a Democratic politician to stay sensible on fiscal policy.  Second… never trust a Democratic politician to stay sensible on fiscal policy*.  Continue reading Did the White House make Bill Clinton recant opposition to job-killing tax hikes?

Extending tax cuts: rhetoric meets reality.

The basic situation?  The Democratic party is facing a dilemma of more or less its own doing with the looming end of Bush-era tax cuts.  The party generally ran on a program of repealing them for the ‘rich,’ which was rhetorically useful (if not fiscally so); and some Democratic legislators are beginning to worry about the political effects of that.  The problem – which the Right has been saying all along – is that raising taxes on the top two tax brackets will affect an indeterminate number of small businesses.  Democratic legislators apparently plan to solve this problem by demonizing the Republican party’s position on tax relief while simultaneously coming as close to it as they dare. Continue reading Extending tax cuts: rhetoric meets reality.

Perfect storm on killing tax cuts?

This is passing “institutional cowardice” and is rapidly approaching the status of “blackmail threat:”

Democratic leaders are likely to punt the task of renewing Bush-era tax cuts until after the election.

Voters in November’s midterms will thus be left without a clear idea of their future tax rates when they go to the polls.

I can just see the slogan, too.  “Vote Democratic, or we’ll burn the country down.  Giggling.” Continue reading Perfect storm on killing tax cuts?