John Boehner may have been speaking yesterday from the principled position that extended tax cuts for some Americans are better than extended tax cuts for no Americans. But it’s a little amusing to see his spokesman describe his position this way:
“Despite what Obama says, Republicans are not holding middle-class tax cuts hostage and we’re not going to let him get away with those types of false claims. Our focus remains on getting bipartisan support for a freeze on all current rates, because that is what is best for the economy and small business job creation. Boehner’s words were calculated to deprive Obama of the ability to continue making those false claims, and as a result we are in a better position rhetorically to pressure more Democrats to support a full freeze.” [emphasis added]
This skirts the line of a “Message: I care” moment. That said, I think Boehner did the only thing he could have done, because middle class tax cuts are simply too popular to oppose in the name of cutting taxes for the wealthy as well. but to a non-political junkie voter may come across as something more than Mr. No. It’s still slightly surprising that Republicans remain so dogged about defending the upper-income tax cuts, given what the polling shows on that score. My guess is that the GOP believes voter opinion can be turned when the question is framed as something critical to economic recovery, a position for which they have some mainstream support.