The House reauthorized $95 billion of Bush's tax cuts yesterday. And the New York Times wonders at what happened to the "maverick Republicans" of fiscal responsibility. Here's a hint, they never existed.
Voting 234 to 197, almost purely along party lines, the House approved $56 billion in tax cuts over five years, one day after it passed other tax cuts totaling $39 billion over five years. The biggest provision would extend President Bush's 2001 tax cut for stock dividends and capital gains for two years at a cost of $20 billion.
That was welcome news for a president whose tax plans looked all but dead a few weeks ago. All the maverick Republican conservatives in House, who had pushed party leaders to pass $51 billion in spending cuts, voted enthusiastically for tax cuts costing nearly twice as much.
"The choice is clear, tax relief that goes to people making a million bucks or more and cutting student loans, cutting food support for people who need it and cutting child support," Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said.
This is not hard to comprehend, its hypocritical, but not hard to comprehend. The rush to cut spending after Hurricane Katrina was not about being able to pay for reconstruction, it was about finding an excuse to cut necessary and popular programs that Republicans have been wanting to take an ax to for a long time. Programs that benefit the very people who were hit the hardest by the hurricane. If it was about being able to afford the reconstruction of Nawleans, they would be passing some tax increases, or at the very least letting these tax cuts expire.
The rash of spending that followed Hurricane Katrina two months ago has emboldened conservatives to push for cuts far beyond what Congress could agree to in a budget blueprint in the spring.
"Listen, we're broke. Let's face it," said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which will try today to complete legislation saving $18.1 billion over five years from pension protection and student loan programs.
The Republicans are not the party of fiscal responsibility. Their goal is to destroy the social safety net, they do this by cutting taxes to create a budget crisis so that they can then use the budget crisis as an excuse to cut programs. There aren't "maverick Republicans" concerned with out of control deficits, there are typical Republicans who want to eliminate MediCare, MedicAid, student loans, and much much more. This is just a raw defense of billionaires, there is no other way to rationalize it.