The compromise tax deal passed the Senate today by a vote of 83-15. There were only four votes against the legislation from the right – by Senators DeMint, Coburn, Sessions, and Ensign. The remaining “no” votes came from nine left-wing Democrats, one Socialist, and centrist Senator Voinovich, who said he favors allowing the Bush tax rates to expire.
The lack of conservative Republican opposition reflects the weakness of the arguments against the deal. For example, Rep. Jason Chaffetz characterizes the legislation as “a TARP and stimulus-type vote,” In reality, the legislation bears no apparent relationship to TARP. And to the extent the bill attempts to stimulate the economy, it does to an overwhelming extent by allowing individuals and businesses to keep more of their money than would otherwise by the case, and allowing the government to take less.
There are a few porkish provisions in the deal. But as far as I can tell, they all involve a one-year continuation of existing tax breaks and don’t amount to much money in the scheme of things. The main such subsidy — for ethanol — apparently has a price tag of around $5 billion. That’s $5 billion too much, to be sure. But conservative Senators were correct in viewing the tax deal as, in very large measure, a tax relief bill, not new “stimulus-type” legislation.
The lack of significant conservative criticism also reflects the popularity of the legislation. Polls show that the 69 percent of the public favors it. This renders bizarre the claim of Mitt Romney and others that the Senate has betrayed the will of the voters by passing this legislation.
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