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Wall Street Journal Obscures Republican Middle-Class Tax Votes

I had wondered why so many people vote with Republicans when it is directly against their interests. The only rational conclusion is that many are unaware on what kind of policies it is they are supporting in doing so. Normally it would be the job of the press to explain what is happening, who is doing what, and why.

This is where the system breaks down in 21st Century America.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would have kept the Bush Tax Cuts in place for the first $250,000 earned by each and every American citizen. Money earned above this amount would then be taxed at the pre-Bush levels (up by 3 to 3.9% on income over $250K). This was already passed in the House and then went to the Senate for a vote.

This is how the WSJ characterized it.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Saturday defeated two attempts by Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class permanently.

O.k. That’s technically accurate. What were the votes?

In rare weekend votes that likely had little effect on wider negotiations to reach a compromise about extending the tax cuts, the Senate voted 53-36 to reject an attempt to initiate debate in the chamber on a measure that would have extended lower tax rates for individuals who earn less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000.

Note that vote and result. 53-36. That seems like a huge majority, right? Well, it was the 53 that lost to the 36. The measure failed. With 53 votes, a clear majority. Note also the part I italicized. This is the WSJ adding their spin (“Haha Democrats, it didn’t work.”)

You know how many votes the Bush Tax Cuts got when they originally passed? 50. (BTW, and just to be clear, that was for the 2003 cuts, the ones done after we were already at war. They are the ones that cut the capital-gains tax to a level where billionaires pay a lower rate than their secretaries).

So that was one vote. How about the other?

Senate lawmakers then defeated a separate attempt by a vote of 53-37 to raise the threshold for middle-class tax cuts to $1 million and then extend that tax level permanently.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

So we had another vote fail, by a majority of 53 for and 37 against. Both bills got more support than the original tax cut law.

And here we have the WSJ placing blame on the full Senate when it’s very clear, after you get waaaaay down into the article, who is BLOCKING TAX CUTS FOR 98% of the country.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

One would think, what with all the talk from Republicans about how they love the cut taxes, being fiscally responsible, and want to end the “uncertainty” in the market’, they would have just voted to get 98% of what they want. But, no, instead they filibuster and hold out for that extra $700,000,000,000 giveaway to their donors, the wealthiest of Americans.

BTW, this “uncertainty” talking point is the most empty piece of crap I’ve ever heard, and I keep hearing it. It goes like this…

His counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that he didn’t think American people wanted to head into 2011 with continuing uncertainty about what their tax rates would be, implying that a deal would be reached by the end of the year.

Really?! So you filibuster a vote on making tax cuts permanent becasue you want to end the “uncertainty” about tax rates? You could have ended the uncertainty, didn’t, hell, you didn’t even allow a vote on ending the “uncertainty”, and now are claiming we need to end the “uncertainty”. You are a lying, duplicitious douchebag, Mr. McConnell. There’s no other way to call it.

The only reason they can continue to get away with what really is just naked political payback to campaign contributors is that one of their biggest campaign contributors (in kind and $) happens to own a TV network and a major national newspaper that run political cover for them. The WSJ then makes it “clear” that when it is Republicans dragging their feet, voting against tax cuts, and extending the “uncertianty” of the market, it’s really the whole Senate’s fault (if not the fault of of the 3 or 4 Democrats that cross over the aisle).

It is absolutely essential for the Republicans to have a media arm like this. When your two main talking points so obviously contradict each other…

Republicans argue tax cuts must be made permanent for everyone to avoid sapping spending while the economy is still weak. They also say Congress should have a plan to pay for the estimated $65 billion cost of extending jobless aid, in order to avoid adding to the country’s high and rising debts.

…you really do need someone acting as a message-man, making sure the base doesn’t realize the dupe.

UPDATE: Here’s a more “fair and balanced” take on the events of last week. Note how straightforward and simple it is to explain when you aren’t trying to obfuscate what happened.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved Obama’s proposal to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts only for people earning up to $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 a year for families, with income above those levels increasing to levels from the 1990s.

In the Senate, Republicans on Saturday successfully blocked debate on the proposal, as well as a similar one that set the income threshold for higher tax rates at anything over $1 million.

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