Today, Senator Chuck Schumer delivered remarks in Washington along with two other senators, urging the House to pass a Senate bill that extends only the Bush tax rates just for Americans making under $250,000 a year. In support of his resolution, Schumer said, “we have Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard . . . David Brooks . . . the National Review . . .’”
But it should be no surprise to Schumer that he doesn’t have “the National Review”’s support for his bill.
On November 15, the editors wrote the following, making it clear that we support extending the Bush tax cuts for all earners:
Republicans who are inclined to give more ground to Obama [on taxes] make two arguments. They fear that failing to reach a deal, and thus letting taxes rise across the board, will throw the economy into recession. Maybe so. But the most economically damaging tax increases that are scheduled are the ones on high earners, and they’re the very ones that Obama wants to make worse. That’s not an argument for acquiescing to his demands.
Second, they worry that if no deal is cut to avoid tax increases for everyone, Democrats will succeed in blaming Republicans for middle-class tax hikes. House Republicans can avoid that trap, however, by passing a bill that extends the current tax rates for everyone.
Republican sources tell us that the Politico outline is what the Democrats are trying for, not the likely shape of a deal. We certainly hope so. If that deal were the only one on the table, we would oppose it and urge conservatives in Congress to oppose it too. It would be better to pass legislation extending the middle-class tax cuts and to allow the top rates to rise as scheduled than to enact such a deal, which would put Republicans on record behind a tax-heavy solution to our long-term debt problem.
Of course, that deal has not materialized and thus the editors’ contingent support for a bill like Schumer’s is irrelevant.
Senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru noted on the Corner that:
The low-risk [option for Republicans on taxes] is to pass an extension of the middle-class tax cuts, which presumably the Democrats would have to pass, and watch taxes for high earners rise. That way at least Republicans wouldn’t get blamed for middle-class tax increases.
That second option isn’t great. But it’s better than some of the possible deals I’ve been reading and hearing about.
But he recommended the “high-risk option,” just as the editors suggested on November 15, passing a bill which extends all the tax cuts and letting Senate Democrats block it.
Senator Schumer is thus unequivocally wrong to suggest that National Review or any of its editors have supported the bill he stumped for today, except as a last-resort tactical option in a situation which has yet to arise. National Review’s preference for a bill which extends all current tax rates is and has been clear, and Schumer has characteristically decided to ignore that fact.