Only 34 percent of Americans believe that tax cuts ought to be extended for those households making more than $250,000 a year, according to a new CNN poll. A new Gallup poll puts support for an across-the-board extension at 40 percent, and only 37 percent believe the extension should be made permanent.
(Interestingly, the income group least supportive of ending tax cuts for the rich were those making less than $30,000 a year.)
But among Senate Republicans, support for a permanent across-the-board extension is absolute. In fact, unless they get tax cuts for the wealthy, they warned yesterday, they will use procedural tactics to shut down the Senate and allow nothing else to pass for the remainder of the year.
That would mean no vote on tax cuts for Americans making less than $250,000. If the wealthy don’t get their way, the rest of us will have to pay higher taxes too, even if it does wreak havoc on a still-fragile economy. These were the same Republican senators who have been whining incessantly about “uncertainty.”
It would also mean no vote on eliminating the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which has been delayed this long mainly out of deference to Republican senators who said they wanted to wait until release of the Pentagon’s report. That report has now been issued; it’s time for a decision. But Senate Republicans say no.
No vote on ratifying the START treaty either, which is needed to allow U.S. inspectors to regain access to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. The Republican foreign policy establishment is almost unanimous in its agreement that the treaty is necessary, but in effect, Senate Republicans are warning that unless Paris Hilton gets a tax cut, they’re going to put our national security at risk.
Of course, this is only a taste of what awaits us in the next Congress. Senate Republicans may be a minority advocating a minority position, but to these people, compromise means total capitulation to their position. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, for example, has floated a deal that would extend tax cuts for everybody up to an income of $1 million, but the GOP side of the aisle won’t even consider the idea.
“Don’t test us, because you know, we’re crazy enough to actually do all this,” the Republicans seem to be warning. The strategy seems oddly familiar, but at the moment I just can’t figure out why. Who else would be wacky enough to try that kind of negotiating tactic?
It’s so frustrating, it’s right on the tip of my tongue …