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December 15, 2010

Paul Ryan: This Js The Best Deal We Can Get on Tax Cuts

But is it?

Ryan focuses on the unlikelihood of securing a permanent extension of the Bush Tax Cuts and getting the death tax frozen at zero. I will assume that's true, because it seems so -- liberals need a sop.

But what about all the pork?

This raises a question about priorities among conservatives. Let's say that a certain number of conservatives will defect away from voting for the deal due to it being not strong enough as far as keeping current low tax rates permanent. That means that some number of Democrats will have to be lured into voting for the bill in their place, and that, I imagine, means pork.

So the strategic choice I'm seeing here is this:

Conservative defectors can swallow hard and vote for the tax deal as regards tax cuts only (that is, refuse to vote for a porked-out bill, but accept the compromise 2-year extension of the income tax cuts for the wealthy and a reduction, but not elimination, of the death tax) or they can refuse to vote for those aspects, in which case the deal needs to be sweetened with pork to induce Democrats to vote for it.

If they'd vote for a "clean bill" (no pork, but with the compromises in place), then all conservatives can vote against the bill in its current form, rejecting the pork, and forcing a new deal containing no pork.

But if they'd also vote against such a clean bill because it's not a pure victory on tax rates, then Democrats need to be brought along, and that means pork.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that taking a maximalist/pure position on tax rates results in pork.

I'm more against additional spending than I am in favor of pushing for tax cuts permanancy. (Partly because that doesn't seem possible at the moment, with Obama holding the veto pen.) My concern here is that a demand on permanancy results, inevitably, in something else I hate, more pork, more spending, higher deficits.

And to be honest I'm not certain that isn't the kabuki game being played -- that Congress, as a whole, including hold-out "purity" sort of conservatives, actually want one last (???) indulgence in pork, and these claims about needing the pork to get it passed are very convenient for them, as they have their cake (pork) and can eat it too (claim they're against all of this).

Am I wrong here? I'd like to scuttle the bill over the pork (and I think Obama and the Democrats would be in a bad position if we did, as they have made promises about reducing pork too, very recently), but if we did, we'd need the holdouts to agree to vote for the improved, pork-free compromise, which I don't know if they'd do.

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posted by Ace at 12:20 PM

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