President Obama went to Chattanooga yesterday to announce yet another offer on jobs and growing the economy, including a corporate tax cut and all sorts of goodies that would normally sound like something out of a moderate Republican economic seminar, knowing full well that the GOP would reject it.
* Republicans learned about the offer through the media: One of the first responses from Speaker Boehner’s office this morning was that the White House didn’t call them first about the idea. The White House claims they called Boehner last night, but he didn’t respond. But really, I have no idea why anyone would give a darn. What does this have to do with the economic merits?
* Republicans want even more tax cuts: Corporate tax breaks are nice, GOP officials have said, but they’re not interested unless there are also tax breaks for wealthy individuals. The problem, of course, is that tax breaks for the rich don’t create jobs, do make the deficit worse (remember when Republicans occasionally pretended to care about the deficit?), and don’t have anything to do with the offer on the table. Obama is willing to trade lower corporate rates for infrastructure jobs — this is either worthwhile or it’s not. Pointing at some unrelated tax policy is a needless distraction.
* Obama likes corporate tax reform, so this doesn’t count as a concession: It’s true that the president has offered lower corporate rates before, which Republicans now insist means he’s doing what he wants, rather than what they want. The irony of the complaint is overwhelming — the GOP is spending the afternoon arguing that the radical socialist president they hold in contempt is too big a supporter of lower corporate tax rates. This is transparently silly.
* The offer could hurt small businesses: That was the argument from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this morning, and I have no idea what he’s talking about. Why would lower corporate rates hurt small businesses?
* The president’s plan isn’t bipartisan: This is another gem from McConnell, and unless he’s prepared to say cutting taxes on corporations is a Democratic idea, I’m hard pressed to imagine why anyone would take this seriously.
* Corporate tax reform should be revenue neutral: Many Republicans have spent today arguing that if officials agree to lower corporate tax rates, the plan shouldn’t generate any revenue that could be used for anything else. But why hold this position? Why deliberately argue that investing in jobs is a bad idea that Republicans cannot support? It’s just bizarre to see GOP officials take a firm stand in support of higher unemployment just for the sake of higher unemployment, as if they find job creation offensive for some unknown reason.
That’s Steve Benen’s take on it, and it’s hard to argue with any of it. Logic and common sense are pretty much out of the picture when it comes to gauging the response of the Republicans to anything put up by the Obama administration.
What I don’t get is that since both sides know that this is what’s going to happen and since both sides know that they’re going to be talking past one another — I heard Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) respond to Chris Hayes’s question about raising revenue by saying he was opposed to raising taxes, which is not the same thing — why are we doing all of this kabuki? The president flies to the newest Amazon high-tech sweat shop for a rally and the Orcs rally on Capitol Hill to denounce him. Lather, rinse, repeat. Now what?
There must be some people who are cleverer and smarter than the rest of us who know something about how this will all work out so that at the end of September or when the next fiscal cliff comes along everything will work out until the next one comes along. And they’re so much more cleverer and smarter that none of us can figure it out.
Either that, or they’re just doing it to mess with each other and it’s all a big game while the rest of us wait for the next Twitter feed from a creepy celebrity to keep our attention off the fact that the sequester is still in place and the infrastructure is still crumbling beneath our feet.