They haven’t completed a federal budget in three years. But Democrats in the U.S. Senate found the time to make a purely political statement this past week.
“Something amazing happened yesterday: The Senate passed a piece of legislation,” wrote The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.
Of course, we disagree with Mr. Klein as to his next claim that it was “an important piece of legislation.”
It was sheer theater.
Democrats approved a bill 51-48 to increase tax rates on families earning more than $250,000 a year – and extending the so-called Bush tax cuts for those below.
The reasons it was all a political show: 1) such measures, by the Constitution, must originate in the House; 2) Democrats know full well it won’t pass in the House; 3) raising taxes on upper-income Americans would produce enough revenue to run the government for about eight days.
So why would a Senate that can’t even fulfill its constitutional duty and moral obligation to approve a budget press on with a meaningless bill? To try to look good for voters by continuing to wage class warfare.
It’s a fool’s game.
First of all, McClatchy newspapers reported recently that “a majority of Americans want the Bush tax cuts extended for everyone ... including the tax cuts for incomes above $250,000 ...”
In addition, it’s what makes sense. Even President Obama said a few years ago, “The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.”
Leaving aside the hair-splitting of whether we’re technically in a recession or just a horribly anemic low-growth economy, Senate Democrats just voted to do what their president said is “The last thing you want to do.”
But this is an election year, and even the president has turned on himself and touted higher taxes for those earning more than $250,000. He thinks it looks good to voters, many of whom are all-too-happy to have the government confiscate other people’s wealth.
Mr. Klein argues the tax increase would help avoid the nation’s “fiscal cliff.” Really? By slowing our arrival there by eight days?
Arguably, putting more fuel into a car that is careening for a cliff would only tend to accelerate matters. In this case, more money would only help officials in Washington continue in their delusion that they don’t desperately need to cut spending.
One other obvious question is, how would raiding the “rich” aid the economy, or your particular family’s situation? It would not. The greater likelihood is that it would actually hurt rather than help, by siphoning money out of the private sector at the very time it is most needed to create jobs and momentum for the economy.
But somehow, Democrats in Washington have managed to convince their followers that the federal bureaucracy is the same thing as the national economy – that feeding the bureaucratic monster in Washington with higher taxes will be the same as fueling the economy.
It will be interesting to see how many Americans buy that hokum in November.