How Democrats Lost The Tax Wars

Publication: National Journal Magazine

Author: Peter Cohn


09/10/2010 - Between now and November, voters are going to hear a lot about "tax cuts for the rich" from one side and "job-killing tax hikes" from the other.

What they won't hear about is how close the parties really are: The Democratic Party under President Obama is proposing one of the largest tax cuts in American history, seeking to continue almost all of George W. Bush's tax policies enacted in 2001 and 2003 before they expire on December 31.

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The partisan rhetoric reflects an argument over $700 billion in lost revenues from extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of households, defined as individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and joint filers above $250,000. Ending those cuts but extending them for everyone else, as Obama wants, would still cost nearly $2 trillion over the next decade. According to the Pew Economic Policy Group, that's a difference between public debt of 79 percent or 83.5 percent of gross domestic product in 10 years; the debt is already at an unhealthy 62 percent. And assuming Congress will index the alternative minimum tax for inflation to keep it from hitting millions more households, the real cost would be closer to $3 trillion.

Read the article How Democrats Lost The Tax Wars in its entirety on the National Journal Magazine Web site.

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