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It's 'Deranged' to Not Raise Taxes, Washington Post's Marcus Declares on ABC's Roundtable

Despairing that the current income tax rates will be extended for all income levels, on Sunday's This Week, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus declared: "I think that the conversation right now is deranged" and "crazy." In measuring the long-term "cost" of keeping the Bush rates for those below $250,000 versus for all, she argued:

I think that the conversation right now is deranged. We have in one room the deficit commission folks saying look at this huge hole, look at the tax increases and serious spending cuts that we need to do to fill it. And then outside the room, we're having a debate about whether we should add $4 trillion to the deficit long-term or a mere 3.3. This is crazy.

Marcus issued her characterizations after New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had made his case for raising taxes:

The cost of permanently extending just the upper end of Bush tax cuts, as opposed to only extending the middle class tax cuts, the 75-year cost of that is just about identical to the 75-year accounting shortfall in Social Security. So we've got people who are saying "oh, Social Security, we've got to do something about it," but "let's extend those tax cuts for rich people." This is showing how the priorities are all skewed.

Marcus, the Post's deputy national editor from 1999 to 2002, a day earlier had touted President Obama as the best person to educate Americans about budget realities. In her column in Saturday's newspaper, "Debt proposal is an invitation to Professor Obama," Marcus pleaded:

The predictably childish reactions of the left and right to the budget blueprint unveiled by the co-chairs of President Obama's debt commission offer the president a chance to play a role to which he may be uniquely suited: the grown-up in the room....

I propose a weekly seminar, perhaps 15 minutes, made available to the networks in the same way as the president's weekly video address is, and available at any time online, with links to budget documents and proposals and an interactive build-your-own budget feature to illustrate the cost of various trade-offs....

From last Sunday: "Amanpour Presses Paul and Pence to Agree Taxes Must Be Raised, Trumpets Stockman's Crusade."

From September: "Washington Post's Ruth Marcus 'Despondent' Over Castle's Defeat and O'Donnell's 'Scary' Win."


The comments during the roundtable on the Sunday, November 14 This Week with Christiane Amanpour on ABC:

PAUL KRUGMAN: The cost of permanently extending just the upper end of Bush tax cuts, as opposed to only extending the middle class tax cuts, the 75-year cost of that is just about identical to the 75-year accounting shortfall in Social Security. So we've got people who are saying "oh, Social Security, we've got to do something about it," but "let's extend those tax cuts for rich people." This is showing how the priorities are all skewed.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But what is going to happen? I mean, are you clear on where a compromise is going to be? It's got to be discussed before the end of the year, no?

KRUGMAN: No. Some years down the pike we're going to get the real solution which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes. It's going to be that we're actually going to take Medicare under control and we're going to have to get some additional revenue, probably from a VAT.

AMANPOUR: On the tax, for the Bush ones specificly.

RUTH MARCUS: I think we know where this is coming out. It's not where it should come out, but I think because everybody agrees that we're going to extend the tax cuts for 98 percent of the people and because the President does not have the votes to not extend the rest, what we're going to do is have some kind of extension for a few years perhaps, and Senator Warner from Virginia has suggested this, perhaps we could tweak those cuts to actually make them more attractive to business, more stimulative, more intelligent.

This is not my preference. I think that the conversation right now is deranged. We have in one room the deficit commission folks saying look at this huge hole, look at the tax increases and serious spending cuts that we need to do to fill it. And then outside the room, we're having a debate about whether we should add $4 trillion to the deficit long-term or a mere 3.3. This is crazy.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.