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Blue Views of Kentucky: Who's the Idiot?
In Aug. 28 Issue
Russell County News
By Kathy Foley, Columnist

Mitch McConnell must think we are all idiots. Okay, to be fair, he may be justified in this belief to an extent because, after all, he has been elected to the Senate five times now (although only by the thinnest of margins in 3 of the 5 times, including the most recent 2008 election-so we're not all idiots).  I'm speaking of his recent appearance on Meet the Press with David Gregory when he was asked five times (yes, I counted them) how he would pay for making the 2001 Bush tax cuts permanent.  And five times he refused to answer the question.  Worse than that, he actually suggested that they don't need to be paid for because they are already in place.   Huh??

Okay, let me get this straight:  we borrowed $2.4 trillion (that's with a "T") to pay for the Bush tax cuts to date.  That's right-100% of the Bush tax cuts have been paid for with borrowed money, but because they are currently in place, they can be extended and made permanent without having them paid for???  How does that work?  Does this make sense to anyone out there?  Because I'd really like to understand it-maybe I could make that kind of thing work in my own financial life.

Maybe I misunderstood.  Surely that cannot be what Senator McConnell meant.  Let's look at exactly what he said to David Gregory:

Gregory:               "What are you prepared to do to pay for an extension of tax cuts for everybody?"

McConnell:          "This has been tax law in America for almost 10 years now-existing tax law…"

Gregory:               "…but Senator, my question is how do you pay for an extension of tax cuts because if you are concerned as Republicans say they are about cutting spending and the deficit, you have to acknowledge that tax cuts are not paid for."

McConnell:          "What are you talking about?  'Paid for?'  This is existing tax policy.  It's been in place for 10 years…"

Gregory:               "It's still borrowed money.  The CBO [Congressional Budget Office], Senator, this week made it very clear that the long-term picture for the economy, for the deficit, is very dark if you extend the Bush-era tax cuts without paying for them."

McConnell:          "Look, what we're talking about is tax increases in the middle of a recession…"

Gregory:               "But Senator, with respect, you are being unresponsive to the question, which is 'Are tax cuts paid for going forward or is it borrowed money at a time when you and other Republican leaders say we must get serious about the deficit?'  It's a straight forward question."

McConnell:          (Laughing) "Yeah, I know, and I'll give you a straight forward answer:  What we are talking about here is raising taxes in the middle of a recession."  (Is it just me, or did anyone else miss the "straight forward" answer?)

Gregory:               "For a final time, I'll go back to my question, which is, 'the extension of the tax cuts would cost $3.2 Trillion.  That's borrowed money that adds to the deficit.  Do you have a plan to pay for that extension?"

McConnell:          "You are talking about current tax policy.  Why did it all of a sudden become something that quote paid for?"

Nope.  It still sounded like he's trying to say that since this tax law is currently in place, it doesn't need to be paid for.  Never mind the fact that the current tax law was deliberately put in place by the Republicans to expire in 2011.  The reason it was put in place to deliberately expire in 2011 is because it wasn't paid for.  In order for these tax cuts to continue to be "in place," they would have to be legislated into place and if that is done, it would be required under the budget rules to be paid for by cutting other spending.

So why, if Mitch McConnell and other Republicans thought this was such a great idea in 2001, (you know, back when they had control of the White House and the Congress) then why didn't they make these tax laws permanent?  Maybe it was because there were still a few responsible Republicans who realized that this was bad economic policy.

Although Senator McConnell absolutely refused to answer the question because, after all, there is an election coming up and it wouldn't be prudent to say out loud what  we already know because of his vote on a bill earlier this month that would "decrease spending as appropriate to offset such permanent [tax cut] extension."  This means that he would cut from the Finance Committee spending-Social Security and Medicare, the only two things in their jurisdiction that could be cut.  But, because he thinks we are all idiots, we won't be able to figure that out until after the November election.  And certainly by the time he is up for re-election again, he and the Republicans will be able to spin history however it benefits them the most.

If ever there was an argument in favor of term limits, I would submit that Mitch McConnell is one of the best.

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