President Obama unveiled a new "grand bargain" on jobs today. The only problem: only one side is willing to bargain.
Hours before the speech was delivered, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the proposal as something that "doesn't exactly qualify as new, it's just a further left version of a widely panned plan he proposed two years ago, this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals." Speaker John Boehner's office joined in, claiming that the still unreleased plan leaves "small businesses and American families behind."
These may sound like standard talking points for Republican leaders, except that the proposal is nearly identical to a plan Republican leaders have been pushing for years. McConnell has been longtime advocate of lower corporate tax rates. In 2011, McConnell sounded hopeful that corporate tax changes were something both parties could agree upon, telling CBS's Bob Schieffer that "there's a pretty strong bipartisan feeling that that would be a very good thing for the country." McConnell reiterated his view last July on Fox News, telling host Greta Van Susteeren, "We ought not raise anybody's taxes and the end of the year and use that year to begin to rationalize the whole tax code, which really needs it." Boehner has made corporate tax reform such a priority that he made it the first bill House Republicans introduced this session of Congress.
Of course, this would not be the first time Republicans reversed their position after President Obama agreed to it. From cap-and-trade to health care reform to disclosing campaign donors, Republicans have spent the past five years opposing policies they once championed as soon as the president supports them.
But as Ezra Klein pointed out today on NOW, by presuming a policy needs bipartisan consensus to be taken seriously, we ignore whether or not the proposal is a good idea in the first place. President Obama's bargain adopts a Republican proposal that would allow U.S. companies to pay no U.S. taxes on profits earned overseas. As the Center for American Progress points out, this would discourage job creation in the U.S and force small businesses and individuals to foot the bill for overseas profits. Contrary to Mitch McConnell's talking points, the effective corporate tax rate (the amount companies pay after deductions) in 2012 was just 12%, the lowest recorded level in 40 years, and well below the tax rate many middle class families pay. Because our corporate tax code is full of loopholes and giveaways, the average corporate tax rate is the second lowest among our competitors in the G8.
Republicans may not have agreed to the President's latest bargain, but they have proven once again that obstruction is the best way to get what they want.