WASHINGTON — It is hard to find a tax cut that Congressional Republicans dislike. Unless it is a tax cut pushed by President Obama.

In a turning of the tax policy tables, Democrats are increasingly hammering on Republicans who oppose the president’s proposal to extend for a year a payroll tax cut passed last year with bipartisan support.

That tax cut — which reduces workers’ contributions to Social Security this year to 4.2 percent of wages, from 6.2 percent — expires in December. The White House would like to extend it for another year. But Republicans in Congress are balking, arguing that such a cut adds needlessly to the nation’s budget deficit, and should be replaced with an overhaul of tax policy instead.

“All tax relief is not created equal,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader. “If the goal is job creation, Leader Cantor has long believed that there are better ways to grow the economy and create jobs than temporary payroll tax relief.”

Congressional Republicans aren't the only ones balking at extending the temporary payroll tax cut: Michele Bachmann opposes an extension, and both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney won't say where they stand. (Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul both favor the extension.)

If you're a progressive, there's a reasonable debate to be had over temporarily extending the payroll tax, but the Republican objections don't make any sense at all. For example:

Bachmann campaign press secretary Alice Stewart told IowaPolitics.com that like many Republicans in Congress, the Minnesota congresswoman believes that a temporary tax cuts add to the nation’s $14-trillion deficit.

Uh, if she's worried about the deficit, then let the Bush tax cuts expire. That'll save trillions. What we're talking about here is a one-year $120 billion tax cut that will go to every taxpayer, rich, poor and in between. Yes, it will add to next year's deficit, but borrowing costs are low, and the long-term costs of borrowing to pay for the tax cut are outweighed by the economic benefits of that $120 billion.

I'm sure that part of what's going on here is that Republicans aren't that enthusiastic about a tax cut that doesn't go exclusively to job creators really rich people. But it's not like this is a tax cut that goes only to lower- and middle-income people; everybody gets it. So I don't think that's their primary objection.

The real problem they have with the tax cut is that it will help the economy, and they think helping the economy would increase President Obama's chances for reelection. So they're against it, not because they think it's a bad idea, but because they'd rather win the White House in 2012 than do something good for the country they were elected to serve.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 10:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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