Editorial: The battle over benefits

<p class="MsoNormal">House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, met with business leaders in the Capitol last Friday and issued this warning to the nation: Until businesses and wealthy individuals know if the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will be allowed to expire or be extended, they won’t invest in new jobs. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">He has a point. Ten other Republicans went a step further by suggesting in a letter to Rep. Max Baucus, D-Montana, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that “until businesses and consumers can be confident that their taxes <em>won’t rise</em><span style="font-style: normal"> next year, they will continue to refrain from investing, job growth will be stagnant and, as a result, consumer spending will remain subdued.”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">House and Senate Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have discussed letting tax cuts expire on Dec. 31 of this year, as mandated by law, for the highest earners — individuals earning more than $200,000 or families earning more than $250,000 — while keeping the tax cuts in place for those earning less than $200,000. But Republicans and business groups argue that such a limit would also include small businesses — the backbone of job creation — and that they would suffer huge losses if the law is allowed to expire. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">And, then, there it was: the GOP strategy for keeping the tax cuts in place. “We could be looking at the biggest <em>tax increase</em><span style="font-style: normal"> in history,” said Bruce Josten, a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, if the </span><em>tax cuts</em><span style="font-style: normal"> are allowed to expire.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Hopefully, the public will respond with outrage and Democrats will fight such fiscal irresponsibility and rhetorical dishonesty.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But, here’s a proposal: Allow the tax cuts to expire at the top (keeping the cuts in place for the vast majority of Americans for the next couple of years if needed to avoid economic stagnation), but pledge that 100 percent of the money collected from reinstating the taxes would be used for deficit reduction — not increased spending on government programs.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Assuring the accounting follows that objective would not be easily monitored, but I’ve heard of worse ideas.</p> <span style="font-size: 8pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"">Angelo S. Lynn</span>

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