WASHINGTON -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is arguing once again that all the Bush-era tax cuts, including those on the first $250,000 in annual income, should be allowed to expire at the end of 2012.
Bloomberg said it was folly to argue that the economy was in too fragile a state to absorb such a hike. In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, he also made the case that voters would reward President Barack Obama with a landslide victory in November if he called the Republicans' bluff on the matter.
"What Obama should do is say he’s going to veto any change to the end of the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts for everybody, and I feel very strongly about the everybody because you don’t want to split the country -- that’s not what America is all about," said Bloomberg.
"Obama would win this election going away if he’d stand up and say, 'I’m gonna do this,' and then turn to Republicans and say, 'You know, you didn’t want any more revenues ... I just outfoxed you. Now work with me on cutting expenses, and we’ll actually balance the budget in 10 years, and we’ll do it responsibly.'"
Bloomberg first made the case for a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in the summer of 2010. But for the past year or so, his position has been that the rates should revert to Clinton-era levels for incomes across the board, and that the savings could be used to offset a cut in business taxes.
"If you look at taxes versus other countries around the world, our business taxes are higher than average," Bloomberg said, "but our personal income taxes are lower."
The comments were the first Bloomberg has made since the Senate passed a bill to keep the Bush-era rates in place only on income below $250,000 and the House passed a bill that would have extended rates for all income brackets. Both bills would only last for one year, in hopes that Congress could pass more comprehensive tax policy reform in the interim. A top Democratic Senate aide said that there are currently "a number of different venues" in which the two chambers could find agreement, but movement wasn't likely to happen until the closing months of the calendar year.
Few share the mayor's sentiment that all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire. While former Obama budget chief Peter Orszag has made a similar argument, the president himself has argued that tax cuts should only expire for those in the top two percent of income brackets. Other Democrats have said the tax cuts should begin for those earning $1 million in income.
As a political matter, Bloomberg argued that Obama would be better off pushing for a full repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts because it would be the easiest type of bill to pass.
"He's just got to sustain the veto of any law that ends the tax cuts. That's the great thing. And then he has really stuck it to the Republicans," Bloomberg said. "If you say, 'Well, we're not going to do that, we're going to fix the tax law' -- let's get serious."
"I still think that it's the right thing to do, and this argument that the economy is too fragile — the economy's fragile because no one's willing to change jobs, take a new job, buy a house, expand the plants, all of those kinds of things," Bloomberg said. "Not because of the small amount of money that would come out of the economy."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
Commenting on Occupy Wall Street and the redistribution of wealth on ABC's "This Week" recently, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/week-transcript-speaker-john-boehner/story?id=14892830&page=5#.TswHj3NPkqV" target="_hplink">House Speaker John Boehner said</a>: <blockquote>Come on. The top 1 percent pay 38 percent of the income taxes in America. You know, how much more do you want them to pay? Well, I'll tell you what: Let's take all the money that the rich have, all of it. It won't even put a dent in our current budget deficit, much less our debt.</blockquote>
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.)
Rep. Larry Bucshon <a href="http://gcdailyworld.com/story/1786079.html" target="_hplink">said in an interview</a> with a local Indiana paper that the tax code needs to be simplified, and he invoked the Republican party line that the wealthiest Americans are creating jobs: <blockquote>I'm not for raising taxes on one sector of the economy. I think right now when you have a high unemployment and you raise taxes on the higher income earners, and they are not going to create any jobs. Arguing right now that the higher income earners aren't paying their fair share is not true. The data shows that. The top 1 percent of income earners are paying about 38 percent of the taxes. The top 10 percent are paying about 70 percent of the taxes.</blockquote>
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)
During an House Education and the Workforce Committee markup, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEArFmRDtrw&feature=youtu.be" target="_hplink">Rep. Mike Kelly made a plea</a> to "stop railing against the really wealthy": <blockquote>I've got to tell you something. As a guy who has had to pay his own way his whole life, I am greatly offended by the idea that somehow somebody in Washington knows how to spend my money better than I do. That somebody in Washington knows how to regulate me to the point where I can't even borrow money anymore. You want to talk about people who are afraid? The small banks. They're scared to death to do anything. Why? Because their government has such onerous regulations on them anymore that they don't know about the rules and the regulations that have been put through or haven't even been written. So when you want to sit back and talk about these wealthy, evil people ... you want them to spend money? Make their future certain.</blockquote>
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
Commenting on President Barack Obama's proposed jobs bill in September, Rep. Scott DesJarlais also <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uHUJCTcKdokJ:www.wbir.com/rss/article/183289/2/TN-lawmakers-reaction-mixed-on-Obama-speech-+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a " target="_hplink">used the "job creators" line</a>. The congressman argued that wealthy Americans are "shouldering the burden" by "already paying the lion's share of taxes, and taxing them more is going to hurt jobs."
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)
Two months ago, a handful of local Democrats protested outside Rep. Blake Farenthold's office in opposition to the proposed Buffett Rule Act, which would allow taxpayers to make donations with their income tax returns to help pay down the federal public debt. The bill was named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has said he should be paying more in taxes. GOP lawmakers responded by suggesting wealthy Americans voluntarily donate extra money when they file their tax returns. "I think everybody is paying their fair share," <a href="http://www.kiiitv.com/story/15591779/local-democrats-stage-protest-on-congressman-farenthold" target="_hplink">Farenthold said</a>, adding, "And before we look at raising taxes on anybody, we've got to get the government spending under control. There's no point in pouring more money into something when it's hemorrhaging out the other end."
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)
In March, months before the Occupy Wall Street movement arose, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/03/half_applaud_half_jeer_at_rep.html" target="_hplink">expressed sadness</a> at the class warfare in America. "The middle class is being screwed," said the congresswoman at a town hall meeting, but added that the wealthy aren't to blame. "Why do we have class warfare?" she said. "Why do we want to punish the rich? They worked hard for their money."
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.)
Rep. John Fleming made more than $6 million last year, according to the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. In September on MSNBC, he <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/09/tea-party-rep-only-400000-left-after-i-feed-my-family/" target="_hplink">used himself as an example</a> of why he opposes raising taxes on millionaires: <blockquote>The amount that I have to reinvest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million. And so by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment.</blockquote> MSNBC's Chris Jansing responded that the average American makes more like $40,000, $50,000 or $60,000 a year, to which Fleming responded: <blockquote>Again, class warfare never created a job. That's people that will not get jobs. This is all about creating jobs. It's not about attacking people who make certain incomes. You know, in this country most people feel that being successful in their businesses is a virtue, not a vice. And once we begin to identify it as a vice, this country is going down.</blockquote>
Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.)
In August amidst the heated debate over raising the debt ceiling, Rep. Dan Benishek <a href="http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/pnr-benishek-delves-into-debt-ceiling-vote-federal-budget-during-forum-20110824,0,4643945.story" target="_hplink">addressed federal spending</a> at a public forum in Michigan. The congressman said that he would like to ease up on taxing corporations' foreign earnings and that he disagrees with raising taxes on oil companies. <blockquote>I think oil companies pay their fair share. I can understand where the oil company wants to deduct the cost of drilling a well. That's one of the tax breaks for oil companies, the subsidies. They get to deduct the cost of the well the year you drill.</blockquote>