Friday, November 19, 2010

Obama Mails Every Taxpayer a $1,000 Check Instead of Tax Cuts

Counterproposal: Obama Mails Every Taxpayer a $1,000 Check Instead of Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Jon Walker
Friday November 12, 2010

I have a counter-proposal to the Republican demand that we must temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts. They want to include tax cuts for those making over one million dollars a year, for the next two years, despite the fact that it will add hundreds of billions to the deficit I suggest President Obama demand that instead of using the money to extend tax cuts for the rich, that it be used to mail every taxpayer a $1,000 check.

Obama’s handling of this debate so far has been pathetic

How President Obama and the Democrats have handled the fight over the extension of the Bush tax cuts has been a horrible political and policy disaster. In the end, they are likely to fully capitulate to Republican demands and only “temporarily” extend all the the Bush tax cuts. Not only will it be a policy failure to fully give into to this deficit-exploding plan with almost no stimulative effect, but Republicans will also be able to spin it as a victory and take all the credit for extending tax cuts to the middle class.

At least win the politics using a counter proposal

Ideally Democrats should have dealt with this months ago, but according to David Dayen it is likely Obama never had the Democratic votes in the House for his preferred policy.

Now that the election is over Obama has a weaker hand, but he can still at least pull out a real political win against the Republicans with my counter proposal of a $1,000 check to every tax payer.

Obama should say that he agrees with the basic premise of the Republican argument for temporarily extending all tax cuts — during an economic downturn you shouldn’t be taking money out of the system to pay down the deficit. But he should point out that giving hundreds of billions of dollars to those already incredibly well off will do very little to help jump start the economy. That is why he is offering a “compromise”: instead of extend the tax cuts for the wealthy for the next two years, he will take that roughly $140 billion and use it to mail every taxpayer in the country a $1,000 special tax rebate check.

Have Obama make this announcement on national TV. Have him actually pull out the $1,000 check that “he will mail you in the next three weeks unless the Republican insist on playing games with the middle class.”

The debate would instantly be reframed

It is no longer “extend tax cuts for the rich or raise taxes on the rich.” It is “give tax breaks to the rich or give regular Americans $1,000 to help jump start the economy.”

In the unlikely event Republicans fold to this counter-proposal, Obama declares victory and finds creative ways at every opportunity to mention that check “he and the Democrats” sent everyone. While an imperfect stimulus, it should help increase demand in the economy much better than tax cuts for the rich.

If Republicans refuse to go along, Obama can say what a shame it is that they have chosen tax cuts for millionaires over help for regular people. Even if Obama “loses” he can clearly position himself on the side of regular Americans and make the Republicans the party of millionaires. Make it clear that it was the Republicans who won’t let him mail that check he held up on TV.

I don’t think my counter-proposal would “win” but even in defeat Obama would be victorious. Making it clear with a very simple fight that Republicans are craven defenders of the rich, who are willing if need be to take money from regular Americans to enrich the wealthy, would be a huge political victory for Democrats.

Note: How I came up with the figure of a $1,000 check every taxpayer: According to the CBO extending the tax cuts for the rich for ten years would cost roughly $700 billion (PDF), which is about $140 billion for two years. According to the IRS there are 138 million tax filers. $140 billion divide by $138 million tax filers is roughly $1,000. The size of the checks can easily be adjust based on CBO score of the cost and defining who would qualify for receiving the check

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