Far too often I watch or listen to C-SPAN's morning call-in show Washington Journal and just get disgusted with either how severely misinformed some of the callers are, or the guests they have on and whether they're doing a good job of representing progressive policies and not just giving credence to Republican talking points and the lies that are being spread on Fox News and right wing hate talk every day. This was not one of those occasions.
The subject was the potential extension of the Bush tax cuts. The guests were Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak.
There are a few thing I would have pointed out that McMahon did not during this segment, but that said, I think the response of the callers and McMahon to Mackowiak's lies should be taken as an object lesson for anyone that wants to knock down the Republican's ridiculous talking points on tax cuts and job creation. Sadly we can't get anyone in our media to do as good of a job as they did here when Republicans try to lie about tax cuts creating jobs.
So here's how the first call of the segment went.
DEMOCRATIC CALLER TED: Thank you. You’re not entitled to your own facts. You’re entitled to your own opinions. Republicans are wildly inaccurate. 97-98% of small businesses fall below the $250,000 tax limit. But I have two or three quick comments that I wanted to make. There’s no way Republicans are representing their constituents… not representing the people in their districts when it comes to the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
I know some of those people with the millions and billions. They’re not creating jobs. They are investing in the stock market, in properties, all over the country, mountain homes, city homes. When Bush enacted these tax cuts ten years ago it was at a time when it looked like the country would be operating and we were approaching a surplus. You know… god forbid that we have a surplus. I live my life, I operate on a surplus. I know what that is.
There’s no surplus any more. The tax revenues over the ten years from millionaires and billionaires is something to the effect of $700 billion dollars and it’s been shown that, and I wish that Democrats… Republicans need to be more honest, but the Democrats should explain how one dollar nets thirty two cents of every dollar of GDP.
Mackowaik responds by saying that the Democrats didn’t have the votes to get the bill passed which would have extended the tax cuts for the lower incomes. While that’s true, it doesn’t address what the caller said, which is that Republicans have been lying about how many small businesses would be affected by the tax increase if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire for anyone making over $250,000 or taxable income a year. Mackowaik said that “good policy makes for good politics” and noted that the Democrats could have brought this up before the election, which is again true. What he doesn’t bother to mention is the reason that “good policy” isn’t being pushed harder by the Democratic Party is because of the number of “conservative”, a.k.a. corporate or ought to be Republican Blue Dog Democrats. Those vulnerable Democrats he was talking about are just that.
And then we got our next caller.
REPUBLICAN CALLER TERRY: Yes, I understand the Republican’s stance on wanting to write tax cuts for the upper 1% because they provide jobs, but I am wondering why maybe they didn’t make sure, like include language to make sure that the tax cuts would go to businesses that actually provide jobs here in America for Americans as opposed to off shoring overseas or hiring, you know, people with VISAs over American citizens.
And here was my favorite part of watching this whole exchange. Rather than answer her, Mackowaik sits there silently and rolls his eyes over to Steve McMahon as though to say… “Hey, this one’s yours buddy.”
McMahon goes ahead and takes the question but doesn’t let Mackowaik off the hook for having to respond as well. He points out that Sen. Warner proposed a bill that would have done exactly that by offering a payroll holiday to small businesses that do create jobs in the United States and that Republicans voted against it.
Mackowitz responds by saying that of course Republicans care about protecting American jobs and that if there “was a smart way to do that, Republicans would support that” and then goes on to say he can’t find any economists that say you should raise taxes helps to create jobs. He also goes back and attempts to rebut the previous caller by using the Republican talking point that those over the $250,000 threshold represent half of all small business income, which of course we all know means they start counting things like hedge fund managers and other really rich people that don’t employ very many Americans.
McMahon responds by saying that the Democrats didn’t do a very good job of framing the debate, which I agree with completely. He also points out that the opposite of what Mackowitz said is true when it comes to taxes and job creation.
MCMAHON: You know, on the small business thing, I just go back to the fact; if you’re a small business person, you pay taxes on your profits and if you create a job, job creation and every cost associated with that is deductible, which means you don’t pay any taxes on… you pay less taxes in a high tax code… in a high tax environment if you create more jobs and you spend more money on employees. So I think, you know, Matt likes to say you can’t find an economist who says cutting taxes will create jobs. I can’t find an economist who says that giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires will create any jobs and in fact the tax code suggests just the opposite.
Thank you Steve McMahon and thank you Terry. If Republicans want to insist on tax cuts and that those tax cuts create jobs, we need to be holding their feet to the fire to explain how they create AMERICAN jobs. You force them to make that argument and they lose, just as Mackowaik did here. If our leadership and the talking heads on cable television aren't going to hold our politicians responsible for asking the same questions that the callers did here, we need to be doing it.
Write an op-ed. Write to your representatives in the Congress. Write to the media outlets and ask them these same questions. What are you going to do to protect American jobs and if you want tax cuts, how are you going to assure they to towards hiring Americans? I hope Chris Matthews allows McMahon to make these same points the next time he has him on Hardball but he'll have a lot more trouble making his points with Tweety talking over him the whole time than he did here.