Bush tax cuts have expired, no law has replaced them

Now that the Bush tax cuts have expired, the negotiating ground has radically shifted. Or should have.

Update: You can still try to screw this up in the House if you’re so inclined. Phone numbers here.
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Snarky headline, but I thought you needed to hear that, since apparently no one else on the planet has noticed. No, a handshake between Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell is not a new law, despite what you’re reading in the papers. And yes, the negotiating ground has changed, despite what you’re reading in the papers.

So with the Bush tax cuts already expired and out of the way (I’m going to bold that expression every time it appears, just so you know it actually happened), U.S. citizens are now subject to a tax increase. So starting from here — now that the Bush tax cuts have already expired —  let’s see how we can get a real middle class tax cut passed … you know, like we discussed a thousand times before, almost a thousand years ago. Here’s my pretend-Obama’s letter to the Republicans:

Dear John & Mitch:

You screwed up. I don’t have a bill on my desk, and it’s past midnight. You know what that means … new rules.

So I’m offering you the following bill in the House and Senate, good as of today, January 1. You remember January 1 — that’s the day the Bush tax cuts expired. My bill:

1. We’re going to reinstate the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income for all Americans. You lost your shot at $450,000, which I never should have offered you.

2. We’re going to tax capital gains and “carried interest” at 25%. You lost your shot at 20% by not sending me a bill in time.

3. We’re going to extend the child tax credit and the college tuition credit for five years, individual and business tax for two years, and the Medicare “doc fix” for one year. The Alternative Minimum Tax will be permanently fixed. Just like you agreed to before you blew it by not sending me a bill in time.

4. We’re going to extend unemployment benefits for a year. Just like you agreed to before you blew it by not sending me a bill in time.

5. We’re going to raise the top tax rate on baronial estates to 55 percent, with a $2 million exemption. You lost your shot at 40% when you blew it.

6. We’re going to renew tax breaks for businesses and for renewable energy purposes, just like you agreed to before you blew it.

7. We’re going to delay the sequester for one year, not two months from now when you can play Debt Ceiling games with it. Do you think I’m crazy?

8. AND I’m going to tell the American people every single day, starting this very afternoon, that their tax breaks are in your hands.

Now for the rules. Here’s how we play the game in 2013, now that the Bush tax cuts have expired and no new law has been passed:

poker_wikipedia_320px-Holdem■ If you pass that bill in both houses without amendment and send it to me for signature, I’ll be happy to sign. Props to you.

■ If you don’t pass the bill, I send it back to you with one change — that $250,000 becomes $245,000. And I make sure people know who’s blocking their tax increase.

■ If you don’t pass that bill, I send it back to you with one change — that $245,000 becomes $240,000.

And so on.

Have you figured this out yet? I suggest you pass that first bill. Remember, I’m talking to the American people every day. And the Bush tax cuts have already expired.

Your friend, Barack

P.S. You really did blow it, you know. Try playing these games at Debt Ceiling time and I’ll hang the consequences around your neck like an engine block — totally your fault.

This is how pretend-Barack plays the game after January 1, after the Bush tax cuts have already expired with no new bill. Unless they’ve changed the constitution, or we don’t have rule of law, or something. Or unless Barack had something totally different in mind — and totally different masters to obey (dare you to click).

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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