Ezra Klein believes that Democrats have raised the white flag on the Bush tax cuts:
To put it differently, Democrats have, for the most part, admitted that Bush was right, and the Clinton-era tax rates were too high on most Americans. For all that Democrats talk about returning to the Clinton-era tax rates, they only ever mean for the top two percent of taxpayers — the folks who are now in the 35% bracket, but whom they would like to see in a 39.6% bracket.
The reality is that, on tax policy, Democrats are now closer to Bush than to Clinton. But neither side much likes to admit that. For Democrats, it means confessing to how far right they’ve moved on taxes. And for Republicans, it means admitting how far right Democrats have moved on taxes.
I don’t think it’s so much that Congressional Democrats have moved to the right on taxes as that, with typical Congressional cowardice, they don’t want to bear the possible electoral consequences of voting to raise everybody’s taxes. There may be little difference in practice between a sincerely held philosophical position and a tactical decision but emotionally there’s all the difference in the world.
However, I wonder if Mr. Klein recognizes the implications if he’s correct. If the Congress, regardless of whether there’s a Democratic majority or a Republican one, will only raise taxes on the highest income earners that kills the Simpson-Bowles plan for broadening the tax base and places a limit on how much additional revenue can be raised. That in turn means that either the budget won’t come into the same timezone as balanced for the foreseeable future unless we either a) make cuts that nobody has the courage to make or b) we continue to borrow and/or simply spend the difference between the revenue the federal government takes and the expenditures that Congress has authorized.