Donald Lambro

Two things will likely happen if the Democrats regain control of Congress Tuesday: Federal social welfare spending will go up and the core of the Republican tax cuts will be repealed.

We know this will happen because Democratic leaders have said so numerous times, in their campaign statements and in their election agenda.

Since President Bush's tax cuts were enacted in 2001, the Democrats' have been calling for their repeal, repeatedly ridiculing them as "tax cuts for the rich" when the bulk of the provisions are aimed at those in the middle class and below. "I can't see Democrats opposing the rates that are being paid at the bottom two-thirds of the tax code," said Democrat Robert Reischauer, head of the liberal Urban Institute think tank.

But Congressman Charlie Rangel of Harlem, who would become the Democratic chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told Bloomberg News not too long ago that he could not think of a single tax cut he would want to extend before they are due to expire by law in 2010.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation shows us just what is at stake for middle-income families if the tax cuts were repealed: A family of four (with two children under the age of 17), taking the standard deduction on an income of $50,000 a year pays a federal income tax bill of $1,365.

If the Bush tax cuts were never enacted, or if they were repealed, their tax bill would be $3,320. Not only does this family benefit from the lower income tax rates in Bush's cuts but also from the doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000. A family of four earning $75,000 a year presently has an income tax bill of $5,115. That bill would shoot up to $7,538 if Democrats had their way and the Bush tax cuts were never enacted.

A worried Charlie Rangel late last month, as Republican congressional candidates pounded their opponents on the tax cut issue, put out a hasty statement denying that he had any intention of raising taxes on the middle class. "Democrats have a long history of supporting targeted relief for middle-income families," he said.

Rangel said he would only "close tax shelters and eliminate benefits for companies that move jobs overseas." As for the across-the-board tax rate cuts Bush enacted, he simply dodged the question about what he would do, saying, my gosh, 2010 was "light years away from the debate before us." He hoped he would be able to provide middle-class relief, however, he told reporters.

His evasiveness, following Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's repeated claims that Democrats would raise taxes on upper income Americans, drew suspicion from Republican tax-cutters.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.