With the economy beginning to improve and the electorate showing no interest in the GOP war on contraception, tax cuts and the deficit are the only issues left for the GOP to fight on. Kos has a great run down of Washington punditry on the looming tax fight.
Unsurprisingly absent from the establishment account is the rather obvious fact that reducing taxes will reduce revenues, the same way tax cuts reduced revenues under Reagan and Bushes I and II, and that further tax cuts will only make the budget problem worse. This is only to be expected from people who seem believe that policies are like neckties: The candidate can change them as often as he likes as they serve no purpose other than decoration.
For an example of the establishment discourse on the budget, this piece by Candy Crowley at CNN is typical. We are told that the $50 billion raised by the Buffett rule will do little to balance the budget, but the fact that the GOP House proposal to lower the corporate tax by 20% would be a budget buster goes without mention.
The current fight over the Buffett rule is being seen as a preliminary skirmish to the real fight over extending the Bush tax cuts. There we can expect the GOP to stage a repeat of their earlier ultimatum: No extension of the tax cuts for the 99% unless the 1% get theirs. The GOP is the party of the 1% and for the 1%. The whole point of the Bush tax cuts was that they were a shell game in which the 1% would take enormous tax cuts, then return the budget to a massive deficit that could only be funded by stealing your pension and your Medicare.
And so we come to the hidden genius of the Buffett rule. With the Buffett rule in place, the Koch Brothers and Mitt Romneys of the world will be paying a tax rate of 30% on their income above $1 million no matter what is done to change the tax code for the not-so wealthy. The only way to deliver tax cuts for the Romney class would be to carve exceptions in the Buffett rule, and that would call the lie to the usual claim that tax cuts for Romney were really intended to help ‘small businesses’.
The Buffett rule does not look like it will pass this year, but there is a very real chance that the Democrats might be able to pass something similar in the next Congress. They would first have to take back control of the US House, of course, but that is pretty much a precondition for anything constructive or worthwhile being achieved. Once passed, the Buffett rule would be very difficult to repeal.