In an oped for the Wall Street Journal this morning, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor took the Congressional Republicans' commitment to holding middle class tax cuts hostage to a new level by pledging to fight any effort to extend them without an extension for the top two percent of the wealthiest Americans.
Here’s what Cantor and the Republicans are holding hostage: a tax cut for all Americans on the first $250,000 of their income. Under the Obama plan, every middle class family would receive the immediate certainty and comfort of knowing their tax cuts were permanently extended. Every American making more than $250,000 per year they would receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income. And for income above that amount, this change would leave their tax rates at or below the rates that existed when President Clinton was in office and when the economy created 23 million jobs.
And here’s what they’re holding middle class tax relief hostage for: having our nation borrow $700 billion that we can’t afford to provide an average tax cut of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires. This tax cut would be, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, just about the worst way to jumpstart our economy and help create jobs. That is why the President remains focused on strengthening the middle class to help grow the economy.
Because these realities are pretty hard to defend, Mr. Cantor is forced to make tired claims about the impact on small businesses that are simply not based in fact. This isn’t about small businesses the way most Americans think about small businesses. By Eric Cantor’s definition half of the wealthiest 400 people in America would qualify as small businessmen.
Let’s be clear—even Eric Cantor’s colleague, John Boehner acknowledged that more than 97% of small businesses will get a permanent tax cut under the Obama plan, and beyond that many of the “businesses” that fall into the top 3% are not small businesses at all. In fact, the individuals the Congressional Republicans are referencing as small businesses include virtually every partner at major corporate law firms and billionaire hedge fund managers -- not exactly mom and pop stores or startup businesses.
If Eric Cantor was really focused on small businesses he would push his Republican colleagues in the House to support the Small Business Jobs Bill that would give eight new tax cuts to small businesses. The bill finally that passed the Senate last week would give essential assistance to small businesses and the President is looking forward to signing it into law as soon as the House passes it.
And let’s just be straight: time after time for the last 20 years that well-funded special interests and Congressional Republicans have fought together to ignore the deficit and keep lower taxes for the very most-well off Americans, they have always disguised their argument as concern for small business and small business jobs.
It’s time for Mr. Cantor and the Congressional Republicans to stop letting partisan games get in the way of giving middle class families the long-term relief they need.
Jen Psaki is Deputy Communications Director