1. While it is criminal that Tom Coburn's amendments couldn't pass -- and that any new spending was added to the tax cut package in the first place -- the number one priority at the moment should be keeping the tax rates from going up. A new, more Republican Congress can deal with the spending in January, but it will be harder to cope with the effects of letting taxes go up across the board even temporarily and screwing with people's witholding tables.
2. There is little in the Republican leadership's track record to instill confidence that they will do anything about the deficit spending once they have the tax cuts in any form. And a more Republican Congress could pass better, more stable tax cuts. I can't really argue with the first point, and both points tend to favor punting to January. But on the second point, I'd only note that Barack Obama will still be in office come January and Harry Reid will still be Senate majority leader.
3. One of the dumbest Democratic arguments I've heard during this debate came from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), as quoted by Dave Weigel: "I've had a good business career and I don't give a damn about tax cuts," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, who entered politics after making a fortune in data processing. "I'd rather have a strong country."
People made money -- and we had a strong country -- back when the top tax rate was still 91 percent. That doesn't mean such tax rates are good for the economy. Why giving people even slightly less of a marginal incentive to work, save, invest or produce is a good idea in this weak economy is beyond me.
In any event, Lautenberg was one of the Democrats who voted against the budget imposing these precious Clinton tax rates in 1993 though he was a no vote on the tax deal today. Listen, I've had two good careers -- one in IT, one in journalism -- and I don't give a damn about liberal senators.
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