Saturday, May 14, 2011
Republicans have a problem. The American people are concerned about the budget deficit and know enough basic arithmetic to understand that it can result from higher spending or lower revenues. Republicans, however, insist that taxes must not be increased by a single penny; indeed, they argue that the government doesn’t have a revenue problem, just a spending problem. Therefore, they will only consider spending cuts in the GOP controlled House, which included another $3 trillion worth of tax cuts in the budget they passed on April 15.
Democrats all know that the Bush tax cuts have added some $2 trillion to the national debt and constitute the largest component of projected deficits going forward. These facts are documented in two recent reports from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. They show that simply allowing all the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule next year would be sufficient, by itself, to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio.
Unfortunately, Democrats have been oddly reluctant to explain the truth about the deficit. They seem paralyzed by fear that they will be attacked for being tax increasers. Consequently, the Republican mantra that spending must be slashed, even if it means effectively abolishing Medicare, and any tax increase, no matter how small, will destroy the economy, is just about the only budget option voters ever hear.
Democrats shouldn’t be so timid. Poll data shows that the Americans are not enamored with the Bush tax cuts and are willing to support higher taxes as part of a deficit solution. ... Polls show that Americans support higher taxes as part of a deficit reduction program and that only a small minority of Americans believe that the budget can be balanced with spending cuts alone.