Who among us does not love tax cuts?

The holidays are coming, and Congress is in a giving mood.

By Tim Grieve
Published December 8, 2005 4:33PM (EST)

We were thinking this morning about that Sesame Street song, "One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)." Maybe holiday memories from childhood brought that on. Or maybe it was this Washington Post headline on tax cuts just approved by the House: "Measures for Gulf Coast relief, affluent investors and troops in Iraq outstrip action to cut deficit."

As the Post explains, the House approved $50 billion in spending cuts last month by "imposing new fees on Medicaid recipients, trimming the food stamp rolls, squeezing student lenders and cutting federal child support enforcement." But now it's canceling out -- and then some -- that painful budget-cutting bill with $94.5 billion in proposed tax breaks.

The House approved about $38 billion in tax cuts Wednesday: $31 billion to cut off the creep of the alternative minimum tax, $7 billion to provide tax breaks for business along the Gulf Coast and $153 million in order to let more members of the military claim the earned income credit. What about the other $56 million? That comes up today, when the House considers a Republican package that includes an extension of the capital gains tax cuts the Bush administration pushed through in 2003.

Wednesday's tax cuts sailed through the House with virtually no opposition from either side of the aisle. The tax package up today will be more contentious, but Republicans say it's necessary to keep the economy moving. "Our economic policies have done the trick," Ohio Rep. Deborah Pryce tells the Post. "We are in the middle of one of the strongest economies this country has ever seen."

And indeed, the president is getting some credit for a perceived improvement in the economy. His approval ratings are up five points in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, and the Times says the economy is reason. Can it last? At the risk of being called "pessimists" -- or worse -- we note a new economic forecast from UCLA. It warns of the loss of as many as 800,000 jobs over the next several years as the housing market enters a "sustained decline."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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