What does it mean to be Republican? Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater established the national party as a force for shrinking government and cutting taxes.
From 1994-2006, the GOP ruled Capitol Hill and actually GREW the federal government. From 1988-1992 and from 2000-2008, both President Bushes worked with Democrats in Congress to increase the size of government. Bush 41 actually agreed to a tax increase, after telling us to read his lips during the 1988 campaign.
Now, we’re being bombarded with talk about a fiscal cliff — the threat of economic collapse thanks to decades of out of control taxing and spending in DC. If Congress and the president don’t come up with a deal by January 1, EVERYONE is going to be hit with massive new tax increases.
Obama and Harry Reid are chomping at the bit to raise taxes. You would THINK that this would be a great opportunity for GOP leaders to stand and fight while educating the American people about the promise of low taxes and limited government.
But, no. John Boehner and the boys have actually PROPOSED increasing taxes by $800 million — half of what President Barry wanted. (Of course, some of our very own Tar Heel state Republicans are ready to throw in the towel on taxes and spending.) So, from 1994-2006, the GOP surrendered on the principle of limited government. Now, in 2012, a surrender on tax cuts and supply-side economics appears to be in the works. Daniel Horowitz at RedState has a great take on this situation:
Here are two things to keep in mind with regards to Boehner’s budget offer. First, when you begin negotiations agreeing to 60% of the demands of the other side and fail to offer a bold contrast on the other 40%, you are headed for an outcome that is 80-90% favorable to your opponent. Second, when you need to outsource your budget plan and entire view of government to Democrat Erskine Bowles, you are relegating yourself and your party to irrelevancy.
John Boehner and other House GOP leaders have offered Obama a plan to raise $800 billion in revenue through “tax reform.” I’m not sure how you raise revenue in a static framework without raising taxes, but let’s put that aside for a moment. The $1.4 trillion in savings from the spending side is the real problem. Once again, they fail to offer a bold contrast concerning their view of the role of government.
When you cut through the illusory narrative generated by the media reports of “trillion in cuts,” you’ll realize that not a single program or agency is eliminated, at least not without the creation of a new one in its place. They have not put on the table a plan to eliminate even a few of the 2,184 assistance programs. They certainly have not demanded repeal of Obamacare as a condition of raising taxes.
And speaking of Obamacare, why are Republicans not demanding that the Obamacare tax hikes, the worst part of the fiscal cliff, be terminated as a part of the compromise? While all the focus is on which tax cuts are slated to expire, Republicans have largely failed to communicate to the public that 5 of the 18 Obamacare tax hikes are expected to go into effect at the beginning of 2013. The new taxes include a cap on the Medical Itemized Deduction, a cap on private flexible savings accounts, a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, a 3.8% surtax on investment income for those earning more than 200k, and a .9% increase in the Medicare payroll tax for the rich. Any willingness of Republicans to deal with Democrats without demanding repeal of the Obamacare taxes is suicidal.
The entire premise behind the negotiations thus far has been 180 degrees antithetical to reality. Instead of putting Democrats on defense for the impending Obamacare tax hikes and for the lack of spending cuts, they have backed themselves into a corner by agreeing to tax increases. Moreover, if they are hell-bent on raising taxes on the top 2%, who already pay almost half the income taxes, why not demand something transformational in return, such as Obamacare repeal or Cut, Cap, and Balance. There are some vague references to a federalist approach to Medicaid reform in Boehner’s plan, as well as a nameless reference to Medicare premium support, there is nothing transformational in this deal that would justify the cave on taxes.
Or…how about the Clinton-era spending rates? Republicans are evidently cowed by the Democrat messaging on returning tax rates to the Clinton-era levels, so why not make a commensurate demand to return to the Clinton-era spending levels? That would necessitate cutting spending from $3.7 trillion to $1.7 trillion. Even adjusting for inflation, the budget would be closer to $2.4 trillion. Instead, the GOP proposal would delay the growth of the federal budget to $4 trillion over the next few years by a year or two.
Why throw your pledge under the bus for mere crumbs? It is clear that Obama will pocket the preemptive surrender on taxes, while pushing for more revenue and jettisoning the spending cuts.
At this point, House Republicans should pass another clean extension of all the Bush tax cuts with two additions. They should permanently repeal the Death Tax and they should extend the payroll tax cut. Let’s face it, Social Security is already bankrupt and the connection between the payroll tax and the program has long been severed. Why not obviate Obama’s class warfare by passing a tax cut that will benefit the very people he is targeting in addition to everyone else?
This is more about smart negotiating than it is about ideology. It’s about the Stupid Party living up to its reputation.
Amen. It would be instructive to examine this situation in the context of American history circa the late 1850s. Slavery was a HUGE issue issue for Americans. Frustration over the inability to get substantial action against slavery by national leaders in Washington led to the formation of the Republican Party and the collapse of The Whig Party.
In 2010, Americans rose up in frustration about taxation and the size of government. Since that election, the lines separating the two national parties on those two issues have really blurred. Just as in the 1850s, are average Americans seeing the debate as middle America vs. the DC political class?
At what point will the GOP leadership say “enough is enough,” take a stand, and FIGHT for something?