Tax cut extension debate devolving into class warfare

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 26, 2012

CALL it the lesser-of-two-evils federal income tax cut strategy. This is how the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) view competing plans for extending the so-called Bush tax cuts when they expire at the end of this year.

With rhetoric mirroring Occupy Wall Street mentality and an endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute (which touts an ITEP/CTJ analysis of the rival plans), President Barack Obama's plan is clearly preferred by these liberal groups.

“Both President Obama and congressional Republicans have proposed to extend far too many of these unaffordable tax cuts,” said Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice. “But if we have to choose between the congressional Republicans and President Obama's approach, the president's proposal is fairer and more responsible.”

Key word: “unaffordable.” This is based on the view that government should be structured in such a way as to maximize spending; tax policy should be structured in such a way as to pay for that spending. We prefer structuring government based on keeping expenses at a minimum and keeping taxes only as high as necessary.

Coded words: “fairer and more responsible.” In this view, fairness and responsibility means soaking the rich and releasing millions of Americans from any income tax obligations.

OK Policy's Gene Perry says the Obama plan would let all Americans keep part of the “Bush” tax cuts and that only 1.4 percent of Oklahomans would lose any portion of the cuts. He said the “bottom” 60 percent of Oklahoma taxpayers would get an average cut of $640 in 2012 “while the richest 1 percent” (sound familiar?) would get an average tax cut of $17,140. By contrast, he said, the GOP plan would cut taxes an average of $480 for the bottom 60 percent of Oklahomans and give “the richest 1 percent” an average cut of $62,720.

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