Taxing times for GOP

We’ve all been there — that awful day of reckoning in the summer when one finally has to accept that the bikini purchased in the winter doesn’t fit because you just didn’t lose those “extra” pounds as you’d planned. Given the assumption last fall that the sequester would never actually be allowed to happen, many among the majority of congressional republicans who voted for sequester likely have similar feelings, as we are now just days away from the deadline everyone said would never come to pass.

The GOP has focused its efforts on revising facts surrounding its members’ role and participation in the sequester’s passage — despite Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others praising the deal at the time — working to convince Americans that it’s all President Obama’s fault. Recent polls indicate those efforts haven’t been very successful. 

A Pew study released last week showed that 49 percent of Americans will blame congressional Republicans, while 31 percent would blame the president if the sequester cuts go into effect. A Bloomberg poll from last week also showed that Americans agree both with Obama’s approach to the immediate crisis and to a longer-term balanced approach that would include both cuts and revenues. According to Bloomberg, 54 percent of Americans support a plan to “delay steep cuts to give the economy a chance to continue recovering which would help reduce the deficit.” And, despite the fact that the deficit is actually decreasing, 62 percent also support delaying sequestration, even though they mistakenly believe the deficit is growing. 

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Post-election, we heard a lot from the GOP about the need to show how much they care about people — particularly America’s middle class. But now that they have an opportunity to demonstrate concern for the middle class, congressional Republicans seem willing to go to the mattresses to oppose Obama and defend economic policies designed to protect the extensive tax loopholes and breaks enjoyed by the top 1 percent and multinational corporations, despite evidence contradicting the GOP mantra that either idea is good for the economy or the middle class.

Their arguments in support of a territorial tax system for corporate taxes was recently undermined by report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that “such policies could result in a less efficient allocation of resources among countries by increasing incentives to shift business operations and reported income to countries with lower tax rates.” The report also indicated that the minimum tax on offshore income the president discussed in his State of the Union speech could raise tens of billions of dollars of new revenues over the next decade. Not surprisingly, the GOP tried to block the release of that report, just as they did a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in September 2012, which indicated that again GOP economic orthodoxy was incorrect. According to the CRS report, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans have minimal effect on economic growth saying, “There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”

At some point the GOP needs to recognize that at a point, Americans don’t care who started it, they care who is working for effective solutions — and they know trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and Democratic consultant.