AR-Sen: The New Odd Couple — John Boozman And Reality As Felix And Oscar

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John Boozman is on Twitter.

I know this because I follow him (because I am waiting for him to explain what he actually stands for, as Jeff touched on last week.)

While he hasn’t really offered up much in the way of substance — thus maintaining his position of “exactly like every other Arkansas candidate from the Party of No” — Boozman has come out (surprise!) in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts.

Told ya.  Anyway, WaPo’s “5 Myths” disagrees with Boozman’s little bit of Twisdom

1. Extending the tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy.

As a stimulus measure, a one- or two-year extension has one thing going for it — it would be a big intervention and would provide at least some boost to the economy. But a good stimulus policy can’t just be big; it should also offer a lot of bang for the buck. That is, each dollar of government spending or tax cuts should have the largest possible effect on the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office and other authorities, extending all of the Bush tax cuts would have a small bang for the buck, the equivalent of a 10- to 40-cent increase in GDP for every dollar spent.

Why? As the CBO notes, most Bush tax cut dollars go to higher-income households, and these top earners don’t spend as much of their income as lower earners. In fact, of 11 potential stimulus policies the CBO recently examined, an extension of all of the Bush tax cuts ties for lowest bang for the buck. (The CBO did not examine the high-income tax cuts separately, but the logic it used suggests that extending those cuts alone would have even less value.) The government could more effectively stimulate the economy by letting the high-income tax cuts expire and using the money for aid to the states, extensions of unemployment insurance benefits and tax credits favoring job creation. Dollar for dollar, each of these measures would have about three times the impact on GDP as continuing the Bush tax cuts.

2. Allowing the high-income tax cuts to expire would hurt small businesses.

One of the most common objections to letting the cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets is that it would hurt small businesses. As Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently put it, allowing the cuts to lapse would amount to “a job-killing tax hike on small business during tough economic times.”

This claim is misleading. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets — individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

And just as most small businesses aren’t owned by people in the top income brackets, most people in the top income brackets don’t rely mainly on small-business income: According to the Tax Policy Center, such proceeds make up a majority of income for about 40 percent of households in the top income bracket and a third of households in the second-highest bracket. If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn’t the way to go — it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don’t make most of their money off those businesses.

3. Making the tax cuts permanent will lead to long-term growth.

A main selling point for the cuts was that, by offering lower marginal tax rates on wages, dividends and capital gains, they would encourage investment and therefore boost economic growth. But when it comes to fostering growth, this isn’t the whole story. The tax cuts also raised government debt — and higher government debt leads to higher interest rates. If estimates of this relationship — by former Bush Council of Economic Advisers chair Glenn Hubbard and Federal Reserve economist Eric Engen, and byoutgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and myself — are accurate, then the tax cuts have raised the cost of making new investments. As the economy recovers and private borrowing rises, the upward pressure on interest rates is likely to grow even stronger.

I have used standard growth and investment formulas to calculate that the overall effect of the Bush tax cuts on economic growth has therefore been negative — and it will continue to be negative if the cuts are extended.

Hmm.  Interesting.  Could it be that Boozman (or, more accurately, the @gopconference that Boozman retweeted) is just making stuff up and playing to the fears of the uninformed masses?  Surely not.  I mean, at the very least, extending the tax cuts would lower the deficit that Boozman rails against, right?

At least one member of GOP leadership in Washington is willing to admit that extending the Bush tax cuts will increase deficits.

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor reiterated his support for renewing the Bush-era tax cuts for all income brackets, including high-income earners. But he was also forced to admit, with apparent reluctance, that doing so will balloon the deficit, at a time when deficits are the GOP’s supposed cause du jour.

“[I]f you have less revenues coming into the federal government, and more expenditures, what does that add up to? Certainly you’re gonna dig the hole deeper. But you also have to understand, if the priority is to get people back to work, is to start growing this economy again, uh, then you don’t wanna make it more expensive for job creators.”

Credit where it’s due, Eric Cantor is the first Republican I’ve heard make this absolutely correct statement about the deficit increasing.  (That he follows it up by ignoring the truth about the economic impact of extending the cuts is to be expected.)

I’ll put the over/under on the number of other Republican lawmakers who echo this statement at .5.  And I would still advise betting the under.