If you’re looking for a good example of political contortionism, I suggest you read the full text of the letter sent last week by 31 Democrats to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
What’s their justification for these tax cuts to the richest Americans? It can’t be that they need the money; after all, they’re rich. Besides, while most Americans’ income has been going down, the richest Americans’ income has been going up. The rich are benefiting most from the economic downturn.
No, the #1 justification made by the 31 signatories is that a tax cut to the rich is necessary because it will help the rich plan their spending better.
I’m not kidding. Out of the 154 words they take to explain why America’s very richest need a tax cut, these 31 Democrats spend:
26 words explaining that “up to one-third of high-income tax payers are small business owners” (“up to” is such a useful phrase. The number’s most likely quite lower),
49 words explaining that the rich typically spend a lot of money, so this means that they’ll spend their tax cuts too (not historically true),
and 79 words explaining that if the passed tax package includes tax cuts for the rich, the rich will have a much easier time planning their affairs because matters will be more certain:
We believe in times of economic recovery it makes good sense to maintain things as they are in the short term, to provide families and businesses the certainty required to plan and make sound budget decisions. Providing this certainty will give small businesses, the backbone of our economic recovery, confidence and stability…. We urge quick passage of legislation to end the tax cuts so that American families and businesses have the certainty required to plan and make informed decisions.
This is what’s motivating tax cuts for the rich? Helping the rich to have the certainty required to make “sound budget decisions?” This is the stark national priority?
Besides, the assertion just doesn’t make sense. You see, there’s going to be a bill passed (or not) modifying the tax code (or not) this fall. Until that bill is marked up and then voted upon, no one will know what changes will be made. Once the bill is passed or rejected, then Americans who can afford tax planners will have their certainty about marginal tax rates. Before then, they won’t have certainty, no matter what’s in the bill. The 31 Democrats might as well have written that we must go ahead and quickly pass a bill without tax cuts for the richest Americans so that those rich Americans can prepare for the tax change and have some certainty about it. Or, heck, they might just have written that we must provide each of the richest families in America with a baboon so that these families will have certainty about whether or not they will have to deal with the expense and hassle of a baboon in the house. It’s like Mad Libs: just fill in the blank with the name of the policy you want implemented and add “so that Americans can have certainty required to plan” at the end.
When politicians provide reasons for a policy change and those reasons don’t make sense, should we conclude that these politicians are stupid, or should we conclude that they’re being disingenuous?