Friday, March 30, 2007

The Budget Spin Cycle

Well, with passage yesterday of the House Budget, the spin season officially began. From now until every expenditure bill is passed, we'll have pleanty of spin to point to. Garrett and the entire Republican delegation from New Jersey voted against the budget. At issue is the lack of an extension of the Bush Tax cuts, so let's see what Representative Scott Garrett's website had to say about the budget (underlining his).
So what does this Democrat plan mean for taxpayers in North Jersey? According to the non-partisan taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, the average New Jersey taxpayer will see their taxes skyrocket by an average of $3,780.

Sounds and looks scary. Obviously, Garrett touting a study by the New York Times that I'm really starting to think doesn't exist wasn't scary enough. So, in an effort to ratchet up the fear factor Garrett turned to Americans for Tax Reform. They're about as non-partisan as I am when the Mets play the Braves or my best friend is when the Yankees play the Red Sox. They started the scheme known as the K Street Project and were the middle man for Jack Abramoff's defrauding of Native American tribes. In my completely non-legal yet morally grounded opinion ATR's Executive Director Grover Norquist belongs in jail with his good friend Jack Abramoff. However, these are the folks Garrett looks to for information.

Here's what the AP says about the future of the tax cuts.

As a practical matter, the future of the Bush tax cuts will likely be decided after the 2008 presidential election, with their fate depending on the balance of power after the election and on the fiscal outlook at that time.

Basically, your taxes aren't going up next year or the year after (unless you're pinched by the ever expanding AMT). The question will be what is done before the tax cuts expire after 2010. In an effort to deal with it before then, unlike the last few years, a Republican budget plan was put forward that preserved the tax cut as is. Here's what Garrett's site had to say about that.

In contrast to the Democrat budget, Congressman Garrett supported a budget alternative that would have balanced the budget and stopped the raid on Social Security funds without raising taxes.

Sounds pretty good, especially if you consider Garrett had previously supported the Bush Budget which, as I've pointed out before, would have raided Social Security to balance the budget. Yet here, from the AP once again, is exactly how that proposal balanced the budget.

Republicans countered with an alternative plan cutting $279 billion from federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years — far greater cuts than Bush proposed in February.
So to save Social Security, the alternative budget attacked the elderly and the defenseless more than the original Bush Budget. The vote was actually a Garrett to 12 on this one, with the rest of our fair state's congressional delegation voting against the alternative. Garrett obviously didn't get the memo, but I'm glad to see the rest of our delegation accepts the fact that the budget shouldn't be balanced on the backs of our society's most vulnerable members.

Eventually, some version of the Bush Tax cuts will be enacted with some major revisions. In all likelihood, gone will be the provisions that trap more families with the AMT; gone will be the provisions that give foreign companies an advantage over domestic ones; and gone will be the myriad of loopholes that have those with incomes over $1 million (240,000 filers in 2004) paying a lower tax rate than those making $500,000 - $1 million (433,000 filers in 2004

I realize as a co-sponsor of the 2003 cut, Garrett either isn't allowed to acknowledge or can't see these issues as a problem. He'd have the tax cuts reenacted as they are, and continue indefinitely the errors he and others made with the original round. Fortunately, the majority of Republicans and Democrats largely acknowledge the benefits of the tax cut in certain areas and the problems with it in others. Rhetoric like Garrett's doesn't help fix the problems and further isolates him from the negotiating table when making the tax cut better comes up

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