Politics: John Boehner: Let's raise taxes and pretend we didn't
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday November 23rd, 2012
By DAN CALABRESE - They really do think you're stupid.
This is why the Republican Party has so much trouble winning elections, but more importantly, it's why this nation never solves any serious problems. The people we send to Washington have become very good at pretending to do one thing while actually doing another, and their top priority is to make you think they stayed on the side of a line where you want them.
If the New York Times is to be believed (I know, I know), congressional Republicans are looking for a way to cave on Democrats' demand for a tax increase, but to do so in a way that allows them to claim they did not. The leading idea at the moment is to change the way graduated tax rates are applied to people who make over a certain amount so they will pay the highest rate on every dollar they make.
That's not the way it's done now. To give credit where it's due, the Times explains it pretty clearly here:
Under the existing tax code, the first $17,400 of adjusted gross income for a couple filing jointly is taxed at 10 percent. Above that level, up to $70,700, income is taxed at 15 percent. Income between $70,701 and $142,700 is taxed at 25 percent. Gross incomes up to $217,450 are taxed at 28 percent. The next bracket, 33 percent, ends at $388,350 for couples. The top bracket hits adjusted gross incomes only above $388,350.
All taxpayers get the advantage of the lower tax rates below the top threshold, whether they earn $40,000 or $40 million.
In other words, just because you're in the highest tax bracket doesn't mean you pay that highest rate on every dollar you earn. If you make $500,000 a year, you only pay 33 percent on dollars 388,351 through 500,000.
Democrats want to raise rates. Republicans don't. The potential compromise would tax those above a certain income threshold at the highest rate on dollars 1 through Infinity. That way Republicans can claim they held the line on tax increases, because the highest rate would not be any different than it is now, even though at least some people in the highest tax bracket are actually paying a lot more.
This is the sort of crap that makes me want to smack every member of Congress, but especially the Republicans. I am not in favor of any tax increases, but I understand that sometimes you have to give things up in negotiations. This is not to say it is necessarily the right thing to do to make this concession, but John Boehner has come to believe it is necessary, why does he have to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and pretend he did not do so? What good does that do?
If the House Republicans have to agree to a tax increase to get a deal, why can't Boehner just be straight with the American people and explain that because they elected a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate, the barganing power of House Republicans went only so far? Is he afraid that Grover Norquist is going to send out a massive e-mail attacking him or something?
This whole thing smacks of congressional Republicans wanting to maintain their plausible deniability rather than doing what they have to do to solve the nation's short- and long-term economic and fiscal problems. You can argue about whether they should make a deal or hang tough, but no one benefits from the sort of nonsense in which they make a move but cleverly disguise it to make it look like they did something other than what they really did.
Maybe Republicans would better earn the trust of the American people if they were willing to be straight with them about what they have to do and why, and trust the people to make reasonable judgments about it. This sort of crap just sends the message that Republicans value spinmeistering and accountability dodges over leadership and credibility.
If you think you have no choice but to raise taxes, then raise the damn taxes and explain to us why you did it. If John Boehner doesn't at least have that much respect for the American people, then he should not be Speaker of the House.