Jeff Sadow yesterday penned a good piece on the wiggling of Rep. Charlie Melancon and Sen. Mary Landrieu on the issue of renewing the Bush tax cuts, and particularly on Melancon’s recent comments justifying his adherence to the president’s opposition to renewing them for the top tax brackets…
Melancon says so because – get this – otherwise the federal budget deficit will increase more. This is the same Melancon who hadn’t cared at all about deficits during Obama’s term, voting for record budget-busting spending throughout, most prominently for the early-term spending bill that has managed to increase unemployment and the number of federal government jobs simultaneously while producing nonexistent economic growth. That bill’s bite looks to be settling in around the $800 billion range; Obama Administration officials predict an extra $35-40 billion would be raised by this tax hike. And if Melancon were a genuine deficit hawk, he’d be against renewing cuts for any income earners.
Melancon’s abandonment of his seat on the House Budget Committee in February stands as further evidence of his lack of seriousness on fiscal matters, but that’s another story.
With a growing number of Democrats expressing a willingness to renew all of the Bush tax cuts, at least for two years, you’d think that “Blue Dog” Melancon, who is taking great pains to style himself a conservative Democrat, would be scrambling to angle for the anti-tax position. As Sadow says, it’s particularly difficult to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility when you’ve voted for the Obama stimulus, so his current position just comes off as good-old class warfare. There was a time when that was a viable political strategy, but – at least in Louisiana – that time has passed.
Frankly, even Obama has recognized the idea of raising taxes on job creators at this point isn’t a good one. Last August, he said…
“We have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect during a recession…the last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.”
Does Melancon – or Landrieu – endorse that sentiment? If so, why is he in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy? And if not, then what does he believe? Is his refusal to endorse the Republican position based on the idea that the government has a better claim on rich people’s money than they do?
Some straight answers would be preferable. They couldn’t hurt Melancon’s chances of beating Sen. David Vitter in this fall’s elections.