If Mitch McConnell (R - KY) is taken at his word, then President Obama is a small business. In the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the senate Republican leader has employed a definition of "small business" that, Bloomberg reports, is fairly broad.
"The tax hike the administration is proposing, according to the IRS, would apply to half of all small business income in this country," McConnell said last week. He added that "small businesses" run by people making more than $250,000 a year have been "hit hardest" in the recession.
To come up with the 50 percent figure, though, McConnell has expanded conventional notions of "small." Former staff director of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation Ed Kleinbard told Bloomberg that the senator's definition includes not just "part-time Web designer[s]" but also "investor[s] in a hedge fund" and "partner[s] in a law firm with a billion dollars of revenue." It also, Bloomberg notes, includes the president, who, according to his tax return, last year took in $5,623,690, most of which came from book sales. McConnell's definition would also include billionaire George Soros, who last week called the U.S. economy "blah."
McConnell, somewhat paradoxically, sees the tax break as the government's way out of debt. "The way to narrow the deficit is to cut spending and get the private sector growing again," he said repeatedly in response to questions on MSNBC last week. The administration says the government can't afford to keep the cuts.
"This isn't to punish folks who are better off -- God bless them," the president said two weeks ago. "It is because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag."