Saturday, December 04, 2010

Senate Votes On Bush Tax Cuts…


and I should note that this was the first vote on the measure to extend that extra gift to the wealthy.

   DailyKos    (edited)

Nothing really reflects the absurdity of this debate better than this exchange from the morning's debate between Senators Schumer and Grassley. The Dems argue on facts, the Republicans argue nonsense, and will win the day. On behalf of billionaires. Against the rest of the country.

Mr. Schumer: I thank my colleague. And through the chair, I'd simply like to ask my colleague this. I understand we have a different point of view here. We both care about deficit reduction. Could he please explain to me why it is okay to take $300 billion of tax cuts for those at the highest income levels, above a million, and not pay for it and yet we have to pay for unemployment insurance ex extension?

Mr. Grassley: I thought I made that point very clear, because the taxpayers are smarter than we in Congress are. They know that they give another dollar to us to spend and it's a license to spend $1.15. So it just increases the national debt. And when it comes to paying for unemployment compensation, we can pay for unemployment compensation because the stimulus bill was supposed to stimulate the economy and it's not being spent. And if you put money from stimulus into unemployment, you don't increase the deficit and you'll also have the money spent right away. 

Mr. Schumer: I would just say that the answer doesn't deal with deficit reduction. If you care about deficit reduction, the two should be treated equally. A dollar of tax break for millionaire and a dollar of increased unemployment benefits increases the deficit the same amount. However, every economist -- I saw we had a chart up about economists before -- will tell you that a dollar into unemployment benefits stimulates the economy about four times as much as a dollar into tax decreases for millionaires. That's pretty universal. Mark Zandy, John McCain's economic advisor during his campaign, said that a dollar of tax breaks for millionaires stimulates the economy about 30 cents worth. A dollar of tax -- a dollar of unemployment benefits increases the economy by about $1.62.

The fact that Republicans will be able to obstruct the Dem package today does not change any of the facts that extending the tax cuts for millionaires will continue to cost the country, dearly. Maybe instead of negotiating with the terrorists Senate Republicans, it's time for President Obama to start talking about the veto pen.

The first vote is happening now. For the highlights of the debate, check out the liveblog.

Update: Ok, then. As of now, Senators Feingold, Webb, Ben Nelson, Manchin, and Lieberman vote with the GOP on the first vote. That really helps. Presumably, Feingold did it because he doesn't want any of the cuts to be extended. Fails 53-36.

Update 2: We now know what the definition of "middle class" is for Senators Manchin, Ben Nelson, and Webb--$1 million in income. They all voted yes on the Schumer amendment. There were more no votes among Dems on this one--Feingold, Rockefeller, Harkin, and Durbin voted against it, as did Lieberman. Fails 53-37.

It's not clear at the moment what happens next with the tax cuts. Presumably, negotiations continue.

And in other business. Reid says that there will be cloture votes on DREAM Act, 911 firefighter health, firefighter collective bargaining and $250 cola for seniors on Wednesday.