Yesterday we noted Alex Sink's tricky new TV ad that put distance between her campaign and President Obama. Today on MSNBC, she explicitly sided with Republicans against Obama on the issue of permanently extending all of the "Bush Tax Cuts." She claims they help small businesses, but the fact remains that 98 percent of small business owners do not benefit from the cuts. So is Sink just trying to capitalize on support from moderates, independents, and even some Democrats by jumping on an issue she disagrees with the White House on?
The two bills collectively known as the "Bush Tax Cuts" were signed into law in Bush's first term, and both are set to expire at the end of this year. Most Republicans, and now some conservative-leaning democrats, want the cuts to be extended permanently. Though opponents claim that much of the Bush tax cuts only benefited the wealthy. While the White House wants to extend some of the provisions in the Bush era bills they want to see the portions that gave tremendous tax cuts to the wealthy rolled back.
"We are ready this week, if they want, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less," President Obama said in a speech this week. "That's 98, 97 percent of Americans. Now, for any income over this amount, the tax rates would just go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn't to punish folks who are better off--God bless them--it's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag."
Sink was on MSNBC this morning and opposed Obama's call to eliminate a portion of the Bush tax cuts.
"I think the Bush tax cuts ought to be extended," Sink said. "They impact small business tremendously, and you know that Florida is a state of small business, so those tax cuts need to be extended."
After wavering back and forth on whether the cuts should be extended permanently or temporarily, she declares, "I think they should be most likely permanently extended because they're all about support for small business."
But are they actually all about supporting small business?
William G. Gale, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Brookings Institution and co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center,tackles the claim for The Washington Post:
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This claim is misleading. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets -- individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.
And just as most small businesses aren't owned by people in the top income brackets, most people in the top income brackets don't rely mainly on small-business income: According to the Tax Policy Center, such proceeds make up a majority of income for about 40 percent of households in the top income bracket and a third of households in the second-highest bracket. If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn't the way to go -- it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don't make most of their money off those businesses.
It should also be noted that President Obama is pushing a separate bill of tax cuts and incentivesspecifically designed to help small business and spur job creation. The effects of those proposals, though, are still up for debate.
So, Sink seems to be misinformed about her support for extending the tax cuts. Considering that as CFO of Florida and a candidate for Governor, while we'd expect her to have a better understanding of tax issues, this isn't that concerning as she doesn't have nor will have any power of federal tax laws.
What's more interesting is Sink's continuing attempts to separate herself from the Obama White House, without going too far as to rumple the Democratic base.