Republicans and Democrats, in advance of the fast-approaching November elections, are both struggling to look more proactive on the still-faltering economy. Republicans, in short, are arguing that they need to retake Congress from the Democrats under whose watch the economy has sunk to record lows. Democrats counter that they are rebuilding the damage initiated by the Bush administration, and that a Republican takeover will cut short recovery. This battle is about politics as well as policy, image as well as actual ideas. Which party is looking better on the economy?
Republicans Looking Better
CBO Says Dem Tax Cut Plan Even Worse Than GOP's The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes, "Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, CBO director Doug Elmendorf ... said, the tax cuts will not help the economy in the long-run. In fact, they'll hurt it. The new debt and the spending cuts and tax increases necessary to retire it will reduce future incomes and gross national product. Let the tax cuts expire, and incomes and the economy will be larger down the road. But as much damage as he did to Republican confidence in tax cuts as an economic cure-all, he did yet more to the Obama plan, which he estimated would hurt the economy more than the Republican proposal, despite the fact that it would rack up less debt. There were technical reasons for this estimate, and Democrats will angrily question the CBO's model, but that's what the man said."
- Recession-Fueled Tea Party Drives GOP The Wall Street Journal's Peter Wallsten and Danny Yadron evaluate the increasingly popular Tea Party, which is motivated by fury at the economy. "Republicans retain major advantages, including a fired-up base. Two-thirds of GOP voters say they are intensely interested in the election, compared with about half of Democrats, suggesting that Republican voters are more likely to turn out at the polls. The tea party is a major driver of the so-called enthusiasm gap, with three-quarters of supporters saying they are intensely interested in the election."
- Tax Cuts for Wealthy Can Save Economy John Stossel writes in RealClearPolitics, "What progressives want to do is take money from some -- by force -- and spend it on others. It sounds less noble when plainly stated. That's the moral side of the matter. There's a practical side, too. Taxes discourage wealth creation. That hurts everyone, the lower end of the income scale most of all. An economy that, through freedom, encourages the production of wealth raises the living standards of lower-income people as well as everyone else."
- Dems Dare GOP to Oppose Middle Class Tax Cuts Politico's Simmi Aujla writes that Democrats are hoping to force a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for all but the top two percent of households, daring Republicans to oppose the partial extension and thus appear to favor the rich over the middle class. "The House could vote on keeping current tax rates for those who earn under $250,000 per year under a procedure known as suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds of the House to vote in favor of it to be successful. The vote would give Democratic leadership the chance to dare Republicans to oppose extending middle-class tax cuts, though it seems unlikely it would get the support of two-thirds of the House."
- 'Politically Easy' GOP Plan Won't Cut Deficit The New York Times' David Leonhardt warns, "Republicans have used the old trick of promising specific tax cuts and vague spending cuts. It’s the politically easy approach, and it is likely to be as bad for the budget as when George W. Bush tried it. ... Actual fiscal conservatives acknowledge that these steps do not come anywhere close to solving the long-term deficit. ... But, remember, when politicians tell you that they are opposed to tax increases, Medicare cuts, Social Security cuts and military cuts, they’re really saying that they are in favor of crippling deficits."
- GOP Has No Real Plan The Boston Globe's Scott Lehigh writes, "The GOP’s plan sidesteps, rather than tackles, our thorny fiscal problems. ... The Republican manifesto is considerably worse than the administration’s current policy. Keeping all of the Bush tax cuts, including the breaks for those making more than $250,000, would add $3.7 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. Ending those for higher earners, as Obama hopes to do, would subtract some $700 billion from that sum."