Green Room

Changing the definition of middle-class AKA Republicans are winning the tax debate

posted at 8:28 am on May 24, 2012 by

In a letter to House Speaker Boehner sent yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for the following:

Without further delay, the Majority Leadership should schedule a vote on extension of the middle-income tax cuts, as early as next week, to increase certainty for millions of American taxpayers and for the economy.  We should not delay passing this legislation that will help afford all Americans the opportunity to reach their goals and realize the promise of the American Dream.

We must ask the very wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.  Democrats believe that tax cuts for those earning over a million dollars a year should expire and that we should use the resulting revenues to pay down the deficit.

There are a myriad of ways for conservatives to respond to this letter (it goes on for much longer than what I posted above), but here are three:

1. In 2010 House Democrats – then the Majority Party – pushed voting on the Bush tax cuts until after the November elections for political strategy reasons. Tell me again why Pelosi has any moral authority on timeliness of tax policy extensions.

2. As noted at the liberal blog Fire Dog Lake yesterday, Pelosi has changed the goalposts on what is “middle-class.” It used to be those making less than $250,000 annually. Now it’s someone who makes less than $1 million.

3. The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) static analyses of the Bush tax policies said extension of the policies for those making over $250,000 would “cost” the federal government somewhere around $700 to $800 billion over ten years. While I don’t know how much “deficit reduction” would come from raising the marginal rates for millionaires, it can’t be much – in 2008 Fact Check found 1 in 50 taxpayers made $250,000 or more, but recent IRS data shows only 1 in 1,000 taxpayers makes one million dollars or more per year.

To put #3 another way, the Politico article summarizing the aforementioned IRS data notes millionaires made a combined $726.9 billion in 2009. Taking every single dollar from millionaires, never mind merely a few percentage points on the top income bracket of their annual income, would cut last year’s deficit by a bit more than half. Raising taxes by a small fraction of that amount for the explicit goal of paying down the deficit is therefore a laughable concept, especially when by Democratic logic (and CBO analysis) taxes extending the Bush policies for non-millionaires would “cost” over $300 billion per year.

I can only guess as to what Pelosi’s goal was in releasing this letter (if Fire Dog Lake is already hammering her, this means she may not be able to get support for the idea from her left flank for higher taxes, never mind centrists and conservatives in her party), but I have to think it was to put media pressure on Boehner to raise taxes on higher earners. Given her willingness to shift the goalposts on who is “wealthy” and who is “middle-class,” however, I say Boehner ought to stick to his press secretary’s one-line response: “Speaker Boehner has already announced that the House will act to stop the tax hike on every American taxpayer.”

Recently in the Green Room:



Trackback URL


And what is always left out of this discussion is WHERE a person earns their particular level of income. The cost of living wherever they are makes a bi difference.
Someone making $250K / year in western Kansas (for example), is very well-off; whereas $250K / year in LA or Manhatten don’t have nearly the same standard of living.
For me to move from Colorado (not Denver/Boulder) to LA, NY, Boston, or many other cities, and keep the same size house and overall standard of living, I would need easily double or triple my current salary.

dentarthurdent on May 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM

This post has been promoted to

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Ed Morrissey on May 24, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Until we get a definition of “Fair” it has no value.

It becomes really at what income level do you quit working because the government is taking too large a slice.

And/or how do you shelter income from taxes.

The “rich” will find ways. And as always, “taxing the rich” will result in less tax to the Feds.

/sigh Class warfare is classless warfare. But then, we already knew that about Proggies/Libbies .

ProfShadow on May 24, 2012 at 9:14 PM

HotAir — Politics, Culture, Media, 2017, Breaking News from a conservative viewpoint
Top Pick

“I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility…”

“I ain’t serving no police”

“I think a lot of Trump’s voters have as one of their primary objectives just stopping the cultural corruption that’s taking place.”

“Don’t take away my health care or you die.”

“We must all do our best to get rid of this tyrant.”

Rosenstein: Comey broke with DoJ norms on memo leak.

“Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them.”

“Fourteen people had stab wounds, cuts and bruises, with two of the injured surviving critical stab wounds.”

Okay… you first.

“We should repeal it and replace, and we shouldn’t leave town until this is complete.”

“He feels like he is being thrown under the bus …”

“McCain has always been a fighter”

Ed Morrissey Jul 20, 2017 8:41 AM

“Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against.”

They may be on to something

How capitalism averted the bee-pocalypse

John Sexton Jul 19, 2017 9:31 PM

“there are more honeybee colonies in the country today than in nearly 25 years.”

CBO releases estimate on Obamacare repeal

John Sexton Jul 19, 2017 8:31 PM

“The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 17 million in 2018, compared with the number under current law.”

Kasich: Fix Obamacare with more spending

Jason Hart Jul 19, 2017 8:01 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants Congress to “fix” Obamacare’s insurance exchanges with more federal spending

“This is a momentous decision.”

“One was told that she—her skin was too light and that she needed to listen to people of darker colored skin…”


Time off without pay for play

The new DOJ guidelines on asset forfeiture are obscene

Taylor Millard Jul 19, 2017 5:01 PM

Guilty until proven innocent.

“We’re just wondering what happened there.”

“This is an attempt at a political intervention.”

The blame game

“Inaction is not an option.”

“You have no feelings. You Christians are all racists.”