Why Senate Democrats Are Afraid of the Bush Tax Cuts

Senate Democrats delayed a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts until after the election. The reason given? Republicans' lack of cooperation. This is what is formerly known as deflecting, and what is commonly known as hooey. Senate Democrats didn't vote on their bill, the Taxpayer Certainty and Relief Act, because they don't want to take a vote they don't know they can win.

The TCRA permanently extends the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and let rates rise on the rich. It is the realization of Obama's original campaign promise, but in this political atmosphere -- with conservatives resurgent, uncertainty surging, and unemployment sticky -- moderate Democrats have discussed peeling away from the caucus, in both the House and Senate.

Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats are leaning toward something more like Sen. Mitch McConnell's bill, which would take the Bush tax rates, freeze them in carbonite, and shrink the estate tax on top of that.

This is, once again, a totally surreal debate. Controlling the deficit with permanent historically low tax rates is basically impossible without draconian cuts to federal programs and Social Security in the next decade. Any vote for permanent extension in November will be a vote for a lot of pain later.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In