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If you sit back and reflect on the last few years, it's amazing how the Bush tax cuts have defined politics and budget negotiations. Every single thing centers on them. Every one.
David Gregory is his usual mealy-mouthed self, not really asking the hard questions about this supercommittee failure that's about to happen. It should happen. It was designed to happen. It was designed to happen because Democrats and President Obama understood that Republicans would not ever give up the Bush tax cuts. This is why they could actually offer cuts to the social safety nets confidently. As long as they knew Republicans would never budge on the Bush tax cuts, they could offer them the moon and know it would be rejected.
Senator Kerry confirms this on Meet The Press this morning:
There's only one--let me repeat this. I want America to understand this. There's one thing standing between us and avoiding a sequester and doing $1.2 trillion, and that one thing is the Republican unwillingness to not push for the Bush tax cuts to be extended now. We've even talked to them about guaranteeing them a fast track for tax reform. We'll do tax reform before next December. We'll do tax reform for business. We could lower the corporate tax rate. We could wind up with a major initiative that will create jobs and do our country well, avoid the sequester, show that America works...
MR. GREGORY: OK.
SEN. KERRY: ...if they will just back off insisting that the Bush tax cuts be extended now.
But they will never back off of that, and that's why the supercommittee will fail and the safety nets will remain intact. The only tax increase which will take effect will be the expiry of the payroll tax holiday put into effect at the end of 2010, and that will hit workers, not the 1%.
Supercommittee failure is a good thing. It should fail. It was designed to fail. The sequestration will not happen either, because as time goes by, Republicans will feel a great deal of pressure not to take an ax to defense spending. They'll either put together a budget that works for everyone, figure out a tax reform package that works, or the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012, sequestration will take effect, and the deficit will be reduced with an axe rather than a scalpel.
There will be plenty of posturing this week about how Democrats refused to negotiate. The truth is what Kerry said it was: Republicans will not give up the Bush tax cuts. Period. They've sworn an oath to Grover that supercedes their oath to the country and constitution. They should pay for that in 2012.