The Democratic Party’s 2012 platform calls for future deficit reduction to exclusively come from tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses, implying the party’s willingness to open negotiations with Republicans by agreeing to cut spending on social programs unconditionally is over.
“We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholes and deductions for the largest corporations and the highest-earning taxpayers,” the platform reads. “We are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do.”
The corollary to this message: no more spending cuts.
“President Obama has already signed into law $2 trillion in spending reductions as part of a balanced plan to reduce our deficits by over $4 trillion over the next decade,” the platform adds, referring to the multiple rounds of spending cuts President Obama enacted in 2011.
That means that under Democrats’ vision, forward-looking deficit reduction would come from raising taxes on high incomes to Clinton era levels and from eliminating or limiting tax loopholes and expenditures for wealthy individuals and corporations. It’s a stark contrast from the Romney-Ryan Republican approach, which calls for financing a huge tax cut disproportionately benefiting wealthy Americans with massive cuts to social programs and closing unspecified tax loopholes.
The Democratic platform says the party wants to undo corporate tax credits and deductions for companies that “shift jobs overseas” while lowering rates for businesses that invest in the United States — particularly in manufacturing and research. The White House recently unveiled a similar framework for corporate tax reform that would have raised little revenue.
Ending the top bracket Bush tax cuts would raise some $800 billion over 10 years, according to numerous estimates. The president’s blueprint for undoing corporate tax loopholes is projected to bring in over $500 billion (PDF) in new revenues.
The platform’s language on deficit reduction doesn’t explicitly preclude future legislative deals that involve spending cuts. Democrats have insisted they’re willing to cut more from the federal budget if Republicans drop their opposition to new taxes. But it reflects the exasperation within the party at the GOP’s ideological rigidity on the budget.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.