Struggling to regain political momentum in the face of harsh voter antipathy, Democrats struck back at a top Republican’s economic proposals Tuesday, arguing that they amount to a return to the policies of George W. Bush.
Democrats, particularly, took aim at the deficit spending represented by the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers.
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio slammed policies enacted over the last year-and-a-half by President Obama and congressional Democrats in remarks in Cleveland. Currently House GOP leader, Boehner likely would become speaker if Republicans are successful in recapturing House control in November’s midterm elections.
Democrats this year must defend their congressional majorities in a treacherous political environment driven by deep voter anxiety over pernicious high unemployment and a generally dismal economic picture.
With his speech, Boehner sought to capitalize on disenchantment with Democrats. But Democrats struck back, arguing that the Republican’s proposals don’t mesh with the facts.
“Today, Minority Leader John Boehner did the public a favor by admitting the Republican plan to return to the failed Bush economic policies that produced a deep recession, record deficits, a loss of 8 million jobs and an unprecedented financial crisis. Democrats will not let that stand. America must continue to move forward in a New Direction, not back to the ‘exact same agenda’ of the Bush years,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says in a statement released after Boehner’s remarks.
Boehner repeated the conservative call to extend tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration that are set to expire at the end of this year. Democrats oppose such an extension for those tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers. Boehner characterizes that opposition as being in favor of a “tax hike.”
The Obama administration favors extending the tax cuts for middle-income Americans.
The Republican plan to provide for tax breaks to the wealthy would add $680 billion to the deficit, Democrats say in a fact sheet following the Boehner speech.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the arm of the party charged with electing Democrats to the House, cites the independent Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, as saying, “Extending the high-income tax cuts would increase deficits by even larger amounts in subsequent decades. Thus, if Congress extends these tax cuts, the nation’s fiscal trajectory will be even worse, and the risks to future economic growth consequently will increase.”
The DCCC also quotes from a recent television interview with Alan Greenspan in which the Republican former Federal Reserve chairman says that extending the Bush tax cuts without offsetting the costs elsewhere could end up being “disastrous” for the economy.
“I’m very much in favor of tax cuts but not with borrowed money and the problem that we have gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money,” Greenspan says in the interview on the NBC program Meet The Press.
In his speech, Boehner denounces new federal regulations put forward by Democrats, but Pelosi notes that would include stronger food-safety rules needed in light of the massive recent recall of tainted eggs.
“Democrats will not allow the scare tactics and empty rhetoric of Leader Boehner and his Republican colleagues to go unanswered,” Pelosi says. “Republican policies created massive unemployment and recession, and they have refused to help dig us out of the hole their policies put us in. That isn’t leadership, and now they’re asking the American people to trust them again. We must keep moving America forward, not back to failed Bush economic policies, which is all Mr. Boehner proposed this morning.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.