- Putting aside efforts to control the federal deficit before the elections, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to extend $145 billion worth of tax cuts sought by President Bush without trying to pay for them.
With such universal agreement in Washington, who could question the wisdom of the policy? Well, maybe Brad DeLong, who keeps clinging to the old-fashioned notion that tax cuts resulting in a sustained, structural deficit aren't so much tax cuts as a transfer of the tax burden to children who are now too young to vote on it. Which is, apparently, part of the problem:
- "I wish we could pay for them, but this is a political problem and we have people up for re-election,'' said Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Though the sense of comity between Republicans and Democrats apparently does have its limits:
House Republican conferees ... rejected a proposed amendment by Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, that would expand the number of poor families eligible for a refundable child tax credit. That measure would have cost $7 billion over 10 years.
According to studies by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, four million low-income families will have reduced benefits from the child tax credit if the law is unchanged.
"These are working people we are trying to help," Senator Lincoln said, adding, "The higher-income taxpayers get enormous benefits from the tax code."
Mind you, DeLong's views aren't completely out of style:
- Even as they pushed for the cuts that will add to the federal budget deficit, House Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they hoped to have a vote soon on a constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance the budget by 2010, except if the country is at war.
Which is to say, they're willing to do everything they can to balance the budget, except passing a budget right now which is balanced. (Which would be another difference from the Democrats; we actually did have a balanced budget the last time one of them had a veto).
Good thing they've got that "country at war" exemption there; with the War on Terror projected to last forever, this amendment can stand as a dead letter a good long time.