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Progressives Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage for Class Warfare


Remember when President Obama branded Republicans “hostage takers?” Looks like the progressives have decided it is a good political strategy to take tax cuts hostage. That may result in a slow death for the American economy, but it will allow them to extort more money out of the “rich” to pay for bigger and bigger government.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, spoke to the liberal Brookings Institution on July 16, 2012.  Murray showed that she is ready to take the entire 2001 and 2003 tax cuts hostage if she can’t get Republicans to violate the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge and raise taxes.

Murray is willing to use her position in the Senate Democrat leadership structure to kill tax cuts for all, then blame Republicans for the hostage’s incarceration, if she can’t get what she wants. The plan is twofold: (1) get Republicans to get a little bit pregnant on increasing taxes; and, (2) hold all of the tax reductions hostage, let the hostage sit in a dark cell into next year, then blame Republicans when taxes go up on all Americans.

The way that progressives will get Republicans just a little bit pregnant on taxes is to get them to demonize Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Murray said “in the privacy of backrooms and in small gangs, Republicans are far more willing to discuss the need for revenue, and there are some Republicans passionate about national defense and willing to make some tough choices on revenue to protect the Pentagon.”  The Republican and Democrat leadership agreed to a debt ceiling increase that triggered $600 billion in defense cuts in the next year so that Republicans would go wobbly on hiking taxes.

Murray went on to rip Norquist in an effort to demonize the Pledge when she implied that behind closed doors, Republicans are willing to more freely discuss ways to hike taxes on all Americans. Murray said, “in fact, some of the productive conversations that my Republican colleagues have been having have led Grover Norquist to decry their ‘impure thoughts’ when it comes to taxes. Well, I hope these impure thoughts continue.”  This is a fascinating debate tactic to equate a man, Norquist, with the promise politicians made to constituents not to hike taxes.

Murray and other progressives want to start the process of destroying the promise 238 Representatives and 41 Senators have made to the American people not to “increase marginal income tax rate(s) for individuals and businesses” nor eliminate “deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”  The hope is that Republicans get so terrified of defense cuts that they agree to hike taxes to buy off scheduled cuts to defense spending. It seems like it has worked with at least one Republican, Lindsey Graham.

Murray’s pledge to hold tax cuts for all Americans hostage is a threat intended to extort a promise from squishy Republicans to agree to hike taxes.  Murray put her threat to words when telling the crowd at Brookings:  “If we can’t get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013 rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle class families under the bus, and I think my party and the American people will support that.”  In other words, I am willing to block tax cuts for all Americans, if I can’t get Republicans to renounce the promise they made to the taxpayers on taxes. Furthermore, Murray intends on blaming Republicans for not going along with irrational her demands.

Murray will reject any idea that all tax cuts can be extended, even for a short period of time, to negotiate comprehensive tax reform. Murray said “there’s absolutely no reason, not one, that we need to extend tax cuts for the rich as a precondition for reforming the tax code.  And when we do get to work on this, Republicans are going to have to accept that tax reform is not going to be a backdoor way for them to sneak through more tax cuts for the rich and its going to have to raise revenue to help reign in the deficit and debt.”  Murray and other progressives know that they are in a win-win situation.  They either get Republicans to become another party in favor of tax hikes or they get blamed when taxes get hiked in 2013.

The strategy to blame Republicans for progressives taking tax cuts hostage is brilliant.  Murray is fully prepared to blame Republicans for “holding the middle class tax cuts hostage.”  She even set up a false choice in her speech at Brookings when she challenged Republican Senators “to offer an amendment to our middle class tax cut that would simply extend the tax cuts they’re fighting for, the tax cuts for the rich, not a political amendment offered simply to give their members a way out of voting against a middle class tax cut, a real amendment.” No Republican is planning this amendment, because they want to extend all the tax cuts.

We have seen this game played before. At a news conference on December 7, 2010, Chuck Todd of  NBC asked President Obama about extending all the tax cuts as a reward for Republican “obstruction.”  President Obama responded by saying that “I have said before that I felt that the middle class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed."

Using the President’s own logic it looks like Democrats have taken all American’s tax bills hostage and they are prepared to let the hostage languish in captivity until they get some good old fashioned class warfare. Murray might want to listen to what President Obama said to Chuck Todd Obama in 2010. The American people don’t want some big government loving progressives to take tax cuts hostage, just so they can feel better about taxing more to spend more.

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