Deal reached on unemployment extension, tax cuts
President Obama said Monday night that an agreement had been reached with the Republican leadership to extend both the Bush tax cuts and federal unemployment benefits. The Bush tax cuts, including the cuts for the richest taxpayers, would be extended by two years; federal unemployment benefits would be extended until the end of 2011.
The deal also evidently extends some of the tax breaks in last year’s stimulus package.
Democrats reacted to this announcement with mostly disappointment. Rep. Anthony Weiner criticized Obama for “punting on third down” and failing to use his office to lobby for a more progressive package that would have extended the unemployment benefits and all the tax cuts except those for the wealthiest taxpayers.
What continues to be obvious is the internal incoherence of the Republicans’ positions on the subject:
Position 1: We support extending unemployment benefits but only if an extension is offset by budget cuts so it doesn’t increase the deficit.
Position 2: We’ll go along with extending unemployment benefits but only if you agree to extend tax cuts for the rich that will increase the deficit by an additional $700 billion.
There’s an old saying in D.C. and it goes like this: No one cares about the deficit and those who complain about it the most care about it the least. It seems to be coming true before our eyes.