The Republicans' top tax guy in the House threatened in the clearest possible terms today that he and the rest of the GOP would vote to block any tax cut for the middle class during the lame duck session unless tax cuts for the wealthy are extended for the same period of time.
In a policy speech at the business-friendly Tax Council today, incoming Ways and Means Committee chairman David Camp called the Democratic plan for tax cuts -- a permanent tax cut extension for all income up to $200,000, and a temporary extension for income above that level -- "a terrible idea and a total nonstarter."
"We would be foolish to fall for it," Camp said.
Now, everybody knows what's going on here. Republicans have been clear for months that their long term goal is to make sure all of these rates are extended permanently. But that means they don't want to have a fight in two or three years in which they side with the wealthiest two percent of the country against the Democrats. That's a losing fight, and terrible politics.
But they can't really come out and say that. If you ask a Republican member about this "decoupling" idea, the most common response you'll get is that it's a recipe for future tax increases. The implication is clear -- but good luck getting a more candid explanation.