Republican leaders are finding increasingly creative ways to justify their support for extending the Bush tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 per year. The latest tack is to claim that their opposition to allowing the tax cuts to expire at the end of the year is all in the name of supporting small businesses.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that letting the Bush tax cuts lapse would be "devastating" because it "would capture 50 percent of small business income and up to 25 percent of the workforce."
Those numbers don't seem right, but it isn't the first time he's made the claim.
In an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg News, the Kentucky Republican cited the same numbers. "What they propose to do is raise taxes on the top two rates, which would capture about 50 percent of small business income and affect about 25 percent of the American workforce in the middle of a recession. We think it's a terrible idea."
Less than two percent of the small businesses in the country make enough money to file in either of the top two tax brackets McConnell mentions. But that hasn't stopped House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) from piling on.
The statistics comes from a Joint Committee on Taxation report which states that 50 percent of business income is in the top two tax brackets. But the report does not suggest these numbers implicate small businesses. As Think Progress reports, the study explicitly says that "these figures for net positive business income do not imply that all of the income is from entities that might be considered 'small'" and that only three percent of people with any business income whatsoever will be affected if the Bush tax cuts expire.
In a press conference at the Capitol, GOP senators paraded out a handful of business owners to decry the proposal. "If pumping money into people's pockets stimulates the economy," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), "vacuuming money from their pockets should depress the economy -- and these small business folks who you're going to hear from today can certainly validate that."
The Bush tax cuts would add $678 billion to the deficit over a ten-year period, according to the office of Management and Budget. But Kyl had a ready response: Raising taxes is a bailout for the government.
"Raising taxes to cut the deficit is a bailout for the spenders," Kyl told reporters Wednesday. "And the opposite is not to bail out the spenders, but to encourage those of us who create jobs in America to grow. They are the people behind us here... and I'm anxious for you to hear their real life stories."
Watch McConnell present the stats: