Boehner Forced to Cancel Tax Vote

Boehner got the votes to maintain defense spending and cut programs that impact the poor.

But the vote on the second part of his plan, the vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone except those making more than $1 million a year, was first delayed and then cancelled.

So he couldn’t get the votes.

An embarrassing moment for the Orange One.  A happy moment for Eric “Lean and Hungry” Cantor.

Paychecks Won’t Change Even Without Fiscal Cliff Deal

We’ve been told that if a fiscal cliff staircase deal doesn’t get done by 1/1/13, whenever it does get done, it will be retroactive to the beginning of 2013 as to middle class taxes, so their taxes really won’t go up.

But Timothy Geithner also has the power to keep payroll withholding the same next year*, so not only won’t taxes go up, but paychecks will stay the same even without a deal.

Keeping consumer spending power the same goes a long way to controlling economic damage from the failure to make a deal.  Hang tough, Mr. President.

See “Geithner Keeps Withholding Freeze as Weapon to Curb Cliff,” Richard Rubin, Bloomberg

Quote of the Day

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) about his never-raise-taxes pledge to Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform.

Norquist wasn’t on the ballot, but he lost big in the election.  His days of getting all the GOP lunch money may finally be over.

If Obama Wins, the Calendar Breaks the Deadlock

If Obama wins, it will be a whole new ballgame with the GOP and their obstructionism, not because they will see the light, but because they will see the calendar.  Those who wonder what will light a fire under the House GOP if he’s re-elected need to recognize the greatly-increased power and bargaining position he will have.

From “November 7th, Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine:

“Obama does have a plan to break the legislative impasse and settle the long-term struggle over the scope of government.

[O]n January 1, 2013, we will all awake to a different, substantially more liberal country.  The Bush tax cuts will have disappeared, restoring Clinton-era tax rates and flooding government coffers with revenue to fund its current operations for years to come.  The military will be facing dire budget cuts that shake the military-industrial complex to its core.

“At that point [Obama] will reside in a political world he finds at most mildly uncomfortable and the Republicans consider a hellish dystopia.  Then he’ll be ready to make a deal.

“Administration officials no longer say that they can cajole Republicans into agreeing to raise tax revenue through negotiation.  Instead, they understand something important…. They no longer have to.

“What really lured Republicans into a trap was the timing of the arrangement.  The beginning of 2013, when the automatic spending cuts take effect, coincides with the expiration of every penny of the Bush tax cuts.  And so, by postponing the fiscal reckoning, Republicans inadvertently scheduled it for the very moment when Obama (should he win reelection) will hold his maximum leverage.  Last summer, Obama was pleading with Boehner to give him $800 billion in additional revenue.  Come January, he’ll have $5 trillion in higher revenue without doing anything.”  Emphasis added.

Happy New Year, GOP!



Slippery Mitt Slides Agan

From “How Romney Is Obscuring His Upper Income Tax Cuts,” Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo:

Seeking to neutralize the Obama campaign’s charge that his tax proposal will disproportionately benefit the wealthy, Mitt Romney has subtly changed the way he talks about his plan, in a way that obscures what its impact would be.

Before the general election, Romney consistently argued that he wanted the wealthy to pay the same share of the overall tax burden as they do today. Now, as often as not, he claims he doesn’t want to reduce their burden at all.

The two descriptions of his plan have wildly different implications — and he’s effectively using their superficial similarities to hide the real impact his proposal would likely have.

“Romney’s official proposal is to cut all marginal rates by 20 percent and to eliminate unspecified tax loopholes for high incomes. When nonpartisan experts analyzed the plan they concluded that under friendly assumptions his rate cuts will either require a higher burden on the middle class or an increase in the deficit.

That conclusion caught Romney’s campaign flatfooted — and so he changed the pitch. Now he promises that the middle class will see a reduced tax burden, the rich will pay the same amount, and the deficit won’t rise. But that describes an entirely new tax reform proposal — one which experts also say would increase the deficit.

“Yet despite this major change, Romney has been able to avoid direct scrutiny about it from the media, even as he bounces back and forth between insisting that high income earners as a group will continue to pay the same share of the taxes as they do now and asserting that individual high earners will pay the same proportion of income as they do now.”  Emphasis added.

Mitt is counting on the American people’s being both bad at math and too lazy to bother.  You’ll see Paul Ryan counting on that tomorrow night.  Short of a blackboard (borrowed from Glenn Beck?), I’m not sure that Biden can shame Ryan successfully.

Hours of Smile Practice

From “Inside the campaign:  Reinventing Romney,” Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, Politico:

“The reinvention effort includes softening the edges of Romney, both stylistically and philosophically.  The more likable version of Romney was no accident — he worked hours on his smile his posture and the delivery of his words.  The more centrist version of Romney was no accident either — he carefully calibrated his message on taxes, spending and Medicare to broaden his appeal.”

I assume “calibrated” is a euphemism for “lied about.”

“Lied Through His Teeth”

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, a little more temperate than I am (!), on the debate:

This is the whole deal. Romney lied through his teeth about his tax policy, which would give huge cuts to high income earners and big increases for most middle class families. He just said it wasn’t so. But it is so. It’s just math. Big tax increases on almost everybody except the wealthiest folks.

He also straight up lied about pre-existing conditions. His top advisor admitted his plan doesn’t cover those people just a few minutes after the debate.

The political question is: Can the Obama team put that reality and Romney’s lying back in the center of the debate. The next few days will tell us.

Ryan — No Time to Explain Math, Plenty of Time to Lie

After Mitt campaigned in Ohio telling middle class people not to get too excited about his proposed across-the-board 20% tax cut because he’ll also be taking away deductions and exemptions, his running mate is now telling people to pay no attention to that stupid guy at the top of the ticket who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Ryan is saying that besides that 20% rate reduction, middle class families will get to keep deductions for their charitable giving, mortgages, and health care.  Have your cake and eat it too!

Look, the whole thing was already shaping up as not deficit neutral, as Mitt had promised it would be, and this just makes the numbers not add up even more dramatically.  At some point, you have to admit that you’re going to raise taxes on the rich (I don’t see Mitt doing that!), you’re going to raise taxes on the middle class (way more likely, but Mitt doesn’t want to say so), or you’re going to increase the deficit (I expect a lot of that too).

They can’t really reassure the middle class without admitting that the deficit will go up.  And if they admit that the deficit will go up, they can’t criticize Obama on his increase in the deficit.

For more, see “Paul Ryan retreats deeper in mathematical fantasy,” Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, WaPo:

“By seeming to take some middle class deduction off the table, Ryan made the math even more hallucinat0ry.  This might be good politics — Ryan is getting more specific in promising not to raise middle class taxes — but it further confirms that Romney and Ryan have completely jettisoned deficit neutrality as a goal of their plan, and that they are selling people a fiscal bill of goods that doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

I hope Obama really sticks it to Mitt on this tomorrow night.  And then Biden can go after Ryan next week.  These two BS artists need to be called out for what they are.

It’s the Time Constraints, Not the Phony Numbers

Asked about charges that the Romney/Ryan tax plan doesn’t add up, Paul Ryan told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday today, “It would take me too long to go through all of the math.”

That’s because when your math is wrong, forever isn’t enough time to explain it.

Ryan and Romney are such a pair of slippery eels.  They really deserve each other, but we don’t deserve them.