Most of the presidentâ€™s radio address this week was devoted to the topic of the 2008 budget. Here is what he had to say about the budget plan the Senate passed this week. â€œOverall, the Democrats would raise taxes by a total of nearly $400 billion over the next five years. To put this in perspective, this would be the largest tax increase in our Nation’s history, even larger than the tax increase the Democrats passed the last time they controlled Congress.â€ Â (The president is being very tricky redefining what is considered a tax increase. Republicans in the White House and the Congress have let it be known that any of the Bush tax cuts that arenâ€™t extended, they are considered to be tax increases. The reality is that the Senate budget does not contain any new taxes or increases).
â€œLet me explain what it will mean for your annual tax bill if the Democrats get their way. If you have children, the Democrats would raise your taxes by $500 for each child. If you’re a family of four making $60,000 a year, the Democrats would raise your taxes by more than $1,800. If you’re a single mother with two children working to make ends meet, the Democrats would raise your taxes by more than $1,000. If you are a small business owner working to meet a payroll, the Democrats would raise your taxes by almost $4,000,” the president said.
Â “And more than five million low-income Americans who currently pay no income taxes because of our tax relief would once again have to pay. Whether you have a family, work for a living, own a business, or are simply struggling to get by on a low income, the Democrats want to raise your taxes.â€ (The numbers here have been fudged a bit. What the White House did was they took the total value of the tax cuts that were not going to be extended and divided it by the total number of Americans in each category. Most Americans are not even currently eligible for the corporate and special interest tax cuts that will not be made permanent).
Here is what the Democratic Senate fact sheet had to say about taxes and the budget. â€œThe revenue levels in the resolution assume that Congress will take steps to counter the effects of the expiration of tax cuts in 2010 in a manner that does not add to the nationâ€™s debt burden. The resulting revenue levels are only 3 percent above revenues in the Presidentâ€™s budget over the next five years. This additional revenue can be achieved without raising taxes by closing the tax gap, shutting down illegal tax shelters, addressing tax havens, and simplifying the tax code.â€
The Democrats plan to make up this revenue by having the IRS be more aggressive going after tax cheats, the closing down of tax shelters, and dealing with offshore tax havens. The Democrats have already approved making the most popular Bush tax cuts permanent. The president seems to be throwing a hissy because not all of his precious tax cuts are going to be made permanent.
Maybe if the president would have been as interested in the planning of the Iraq war as he is in tax cuts, we might have an extra $755 billion to work with, and more of his tax cuts could have been saved. Some of the Bush tax cuts were excellent ideas and long overdue back in 2001, but as a rule of thumb, the idea of making such large tax cuts permanent across the board is not a good one in the long term. I think that all tax issues should come up for review on a regular basis. No politician likes to raise taxes. Tax increases are bad for the business of getting them reelected, but if we as citizens want the government to provide services we have to pay taxes. This current budget battle has less to do with taxes, and more to do with shaping each political parties agenda for the 2008 campaign.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse