Watch Live: The Washington Ideas Forum 2014

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.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

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

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Business

Just In