GOP's self-serving talk on taxes

September 06, 2010

Drew Greenblatt's column in Monday's Baltimore Sun ("Revive economy through tax policy, trade agreements and technology," Sept. 6) is a typical example of the self-serving, myopic perspective of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Republican Party. Although it talks about improved education, international trade agreements and reducing uncertainty, the "job growth action plan" is all about making them richer by reducing their taxes.

•Mr. Greenblatt talks about jobs and improving education, but four of his six "action plan" elements are tax cuts for business and the already rich — two are investment tax cuts to allow him to buy his robots more cheaply; the other two are simply reductions in taxes on business and the top 2 percent of taxpayers.

•Mr. Greenblatt says his company is hiring, but he doesn't say how many or how the tax cuts would create more jobs. He doesn't even say he would buy more robots if his taxes were reduced. Serious economists tell us that tax cuts for the rich are the least effective mechanism for reviving the economy, but the NAM and the GOP don't accept that fact because it doesn't fit their ideology.

•Improving education takes money. When businesses advocate enormous compensation for CEOs, they say "it takes money to attract the best talent." So if we want the best talent to run our schools and teach our children, we need to offer more pay to attract better administrators and better teachers, and to provide state-of-the-art facilities. That takes money, but Mr. Greenblatt never even mentions funding, because he really wants the tax cuts. Those cuts will undermine our present education funding levels and make improved education unaffordable.

•Ratification of trade pacts with Panama, South Korea and Columbia is a good idea, and the Obama Administration has supported those agreements. But the GOP's obstructionist, take-no-prisoners policy in the Senate, refusing to allow anything to come to a vote with less than 60 votes, has made bipartisan action on such matters impossible. Anyway, even significantly increasing trade with these three countries will hardly make a difference to the US economy — it would affect only a fraction of a percent of U.S. production.

•Uncertainty is a problem, but neither he nor the NAM have rallied around the President's proposals to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone except those with a taxable income of more than $250,000/year; instead the Republicans, with business backing, are insisting on extending all of the tax cuts, creating a Senate stalemate, increasing the very uncertainty they claim to oppose, and dramatically increasing the national debt they claim is so threatening. The public needs to know that the GOP position provides an average $3 million annual tax saving to the richest 120,000 US taxpayers — that's who the GOP and NAM are fighting for.

In short, Mr. Greenblatt and the NAM are all for cutting their own taxes. All the rest — reviving the economy, job creation, improved education, increased trade and technology — is just window dressing. The one-sentence summary of his column would be "I think it would be good if you cut my taxes."

I hope the voters will reject that policy in November.

Sam Bleicher

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