Obama strategists say he wants to get 80 or more votes in the 100-member Senate, and the emphasis on tax cuts is a way to defuse conservative criticism and enlist Republican support.
Look, Republicans are not going to come on board. Make 40% of the package tax cuts, they’ll demand 100%. Then they’ll start the thing about how you can’t cut taxes on people who don’t pay taxes (with only income taxes counting, of course) and demand that the plan focus on the affluent. Then they’ll demand cuts in corporate taxes. And Mitch McConnell is already saying that state and local governments should get loans, not aid — which would undermine that part of the plan, too.
For 30+ years, the conservative movement has insisted that tax cuts are always better economic policy than public spending. And despite the fact that such rigid ideology has proven bankrupt over and over and over again, it still confines American politics, as evidenced by a new Democratic president already appearing to embrace the right’s basic tax fallacies.
Sirota provides a chart by Economy.com’s Mark Zandi, a Republican. As Krugman has noted, the fastest way to get stimulus funds spent is to put them into unemployment insurance and food stamps. And those features may well be revealed as future parts of a stimulus plan, but it is sad that the first move here is to appease Republicans whose supply side crackpottery should by now be thoroughly discredited.
Katrina VandenHeuvel writes at The Nation about the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s proposed recovery plan:
It was just three months ago, after all, that Republicans successfully filibustered a stimulus that targeted unemployment insurance, food stamps and "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects–and that was only $56 billion.
The number of people living in extreme poverty increased 26% under Bush as of 2007. Making a commitment to help them is the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue — the Democrats abandoned them the last time around. Appeasing Republicans to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for 80 votes just doesn’t seem quite as imperative.