Thursday night on Lawrence O'Donnell's new show, O'Donnell pressed GOP Congressman John Mica of Florida about his position on extending Bush tax cuts. Their brief exchange illustrated the exact reason why Democrats should be eager to have a public debate over tax policy.
As you'll see, Mica adopted the GOP position, which is that if the wealthiest people don't get a tax cut on their income over $250,000, then nobody should get a tax cut. When O'Donnell asked him to defend his position, Mica descended into Rand Paul territory and argued that the richest people were most in need of a tax break because they are the ones who make our economy strong.
Here's the video, followed by a transcript:
O'DONNELL: Congressman Mica, if in the lame duck session in the House, the leadership brings up a bill to extend the Bush tax rates for all of the tax brackets except the top tax bracket, and you are allowed to vote yes or no on that bill, how will you vote on that bill?
MICA: I heard your exception. My vote would be no, because I think...
O'DONNELL: So you would be voting against a tax cut for all brackets except the top bracket? You'd vote no on that kind of tax cut.
O'DONNELL: And how would you justify that to your constituents, about 99% of whom live below the $250,000 tax bracket?
MICA: Well, some people just don't seem to get it, but it's the people who actually have the money, the money to invest in getting jobs and expanding the economy, and getting America going again, those are the folks that need some tax certainty, some tax breaks. We should be lowering our corporate rate.
Actually, it's Mica that doesn't get it. His position is that if the top earners don't get a tax cut on their income above $250,000, then nobody should get a tax cut at all. And his defense for that position is to argue that economic growth flows from the top down.
But Mica's got a problem: In the 1990s, we raised taxes on top earners, and the economy boomed -- plus we got our fiscal house in order. Then in 2001, Bush and Republicans cut taxes on top earners, and for the last decade, the economy has tanked. Yet despite that track record, Mica thinks we need more of the same. It makes no sense.
Mica believes that all we need to do in order to have a strong economy is to borrow $700 billion and give it to the wealthiest people in the country. Most Democrats believe there are better things we could do with that money -- like paying down our national debt. It's a position worth fighting for. And it's a fight they can win.