Yesterday morning, John Boehner unexpectedly declared on “Face the Nation” that if push came to shove, he would be willing to drop the demand that Republicans have been holding firm on: that they would allow the expiring Bush tax cuts to be extended for middle class Americans only if they were also extended for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
House Minority Leader John Boehner says he would vote for President Obama‘s plan to extend tax cuts only for middle-class earners, not the wealthy, if that were the only option available to House Republicans.
Boehner, R-Ohio, said it is “bad policy” to exclude the highest-earning Americans from tax relief during the recession, and later Sunday he accused the White House of “class warfare.” But he said he wouldn’t block the breaks for middle-income individuals and families if Democrats won’t support the full package.
Income tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush will expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts and Obama signs the bill. Obama said he would support continuing the lower tax rates for couples earning up to $250,000 or single taxpayers making up to $200,000. But he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refused to back continued lower rates for the fewer than 3 percent of Americans who make more than that.
I can’t imagine that Boehner’s reversal was authorized by his lobbyist masters. I can’t imagine that they were even slightly amused by his performance on “Face the Nation“.
And I’m not sure I understand why Boehner hasn’t already walked this back. Robert Gibbs celebrated Boehner’s statement with:
We welcome John Boehner’s change in position and support for the middle class tax cuts, but time will tell if his actions will be anything but continued support for the failed policies that got us into this mess.
And this was Boehner’s inexplicable response:
Raising taxes on any American, and especially small businesses, in a struggling economy is the exact wrong thing to do, a position shared by not only by my Republican colleagues, and several of my Democratic colleagues, but by a vast number of economists.
If the president is serious about job creation, there’s a clear way forward, and that’s for us to come together and pass legislation immediately that cuts spending to 2008 levels for the next year and stops all of the coming tax hikes by freezing all current tax rates for the next two years. Anything short of that may selfishly check a political box for the president, but it fails the American people.
Instead of resorting to tired old class warfare rhetoric, pitting one working American against another, the president and the Democratic leadership should start working with us this week to ensure a fair and open debate to pass legislation to cut spending and freeze tax rates without any further delay.
That’s neither affirming his statement, nor walking it back. All he does is throw up a cloud of words. It’s almost as if he really doesn’t want to do one or the other (or, at least, not yet).
However, I still think it goes without saying that Boehner will backpedal on this, and pretty soon. He accidentally articulated a perfectly sane position on the Bush tax cuts. But we really can’t expect that sanity to be anything but temporary. This year, the Republican Party just really isn’t into sane at all.