The GOP wants to permanently extend the $3 trillion Bush tax cuts even though they voted against unemployment benefits for adding comparative pennies -- $34 billion -- to the deficit. It's easy see inconsistency here, and Peter Beinart isn't afraid to use the H-word. But then he writes:
For their part, most Democrats are as adamantly opposed to upper-bracket tax cuts as they were in the Bush years, even though if you really believe in Keynesian economics, as the Democrats supposedly do, raising taxes during a recession makes a lot less sense than raising them when times are good.
This is unfair. The way Beinart writes it, you're a hypocrite if you want to extend the tax cuts, and you don't understand economics if you want let the tax cuts expire. That doesn't leave a lot of room, does it!
What would a smart, non-hypocritical position on the tax cuts look like? Beinart doesn't say (I'd call for a one-year extension and major tax reform in 2011). Instead he recalls Democrats like Truman who "spent lavishly and cut taxes" and Republicans like Eisenhower who "opposed both large new government programs and large tax cuts."
Truman and Eisenhower were capable leaders of their own time, but this isn't the 1950s. The highest income tax rates are in the 30s, not the 90s. Public debt is steadily rising, whereas then it was steadily falling. Who don't need politicians who want to spend lavishly, or cut taxes, or oppose large new government programs. We need politicians who want to spend conservatively, raise taxes and be realistic about the large new government programs we've passed after Truman and Eisenhower retired from public life. I'm sure Beinart would agree.