Cliffhanger

There hasn’t been a bigger dick-measuring contest in Washington since the raising of the debt ceiling last year when it comes to the fiscal cliff.

The start of 2013 will see an end of the Bush tax cuts for all incomes, a lapse  in the AMT patch and the beginning of spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011, a combination that many believe could put the nation back into a recession unless action is taken now.

The Democrat-controlled Senate passed a tax plan in July that would extend the tax cuts for the bottom 98% of Americans.

Passing this plan would end a large majority of the uncertainty our country is currently facing.

Republican Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole recently voiced support for the Democratic plan, explaining: “In my view, we all agree that we’re not going to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000.  We should just take them out of the discussion right now, continue to fight against any rate increases, continue to work honestly for a much bigger deal.”

Unfortunately, Rep. Cole is in the minority of his own party.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner was quick to disagree with Rep. Cole’s comments and took the moment as an opportunity to use a favorite scare tactic of the GOP:  raising taxes on the top 2% will hurt small business owners (interestingly enough, Rep. Cole never said he was in favor of a tax increase for the top 2% nor does the Senate approved tax plan do that).

This is simply not true.  As we discussed in July, small business owners would not be affected by the tax increase on the top 2% because they do not qualify for those brackets.

Christ, getting the GOP to vote for a Democratic tax plan that protects 98% of the nation’s citizens from a tax increase is like watching Chief Brody attempting to convince Mayor Vaughn to close the beaches to prevent a shark attack.

The argument that allowing the Bush tax cuts to lapse will result in the loss of 700,000 jobs has been re-animated as well.  House Speaker Boehner repeated this number in a press conference and on his Twitter account (these guys love to Tweet) as recently as this month.  We originally covered this claim in July and again in November.   This is about as factual as the claim that drinking soda while eating Pop Rocks will kill you.

One thing that has consistently held a stranglehold on the Republican Party is the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge.  It seems that grip may be loosening.

Republican Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss commented on the pledge he signed years ago: “If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, also known as the Susan Rice velociraptors, have begun distancing themselves from the pledge as well, finally putting revenue on the table in the form of the closing of loopholes and deductions.

The intention is great and should be considered, but there are problems here.  The obvious one is that we don’t know exactly which loopholes and deductions will be closed.  In addition, the majority of GOP representatives that have come out against the tax pledge are Senators.  The Democrats already have the majority in the Senate that we need for the House Republicans to support such a move.  Most importantly, if the GOP agreed to end specific deductions and close loopholes for the wealthiest incomes, and then proceeded to create legislation that would lower the income tax rate in addition to these closures, this would guarantee that they would not be in violation of the anti-tax pledge and make the closures essentially obsolete in the process.

President Obama, in yet another example of compromise, has a plan that saves $340 billion dollars from healthcare through cuts in spending while also seeking $1.6 trillion in revenue over ten years.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s findings show that President Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to lapse for incomes above $250,000 would save nearly $1 trillion dollars in revenue.

We have handled taxation using failed Republican policies for over ten years now.  We know it simply does not work.

A recent CNN/ORC poll shows exactly where Congressional Republicans stand with the American people on this issue:

  • 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the GOP
  • 45% blame the GOP if we go over the fiscal cliff (only 34% blame Obama)

If the fact that the country recently elected President Obama to serve a second term, who heavily campaigned for a tax increase on the wealthiest incomes, isn’t enough of a wake-up call, it may also help the GOP to notice the same CNN/ORC poll shows that 56% of Americans favor a tax increase for the rich.

If the GOP really wants to destroy what is left of their party, go over the cliff.  I can’t wait to watch the C-SPAN coverage of the Obama administration introducing a tax plan that only provides cuts to lower and middle income earners the week after.

This is what the Republican Party doesn’t get.  If you refuse to agree on a deal protecting the 98% of Americans (which includes small business owners) and our nation goes into a recession, your inaction will be blamed for not preventing it.

The American people need a Hooper alongside their Chief Brody, not a Mayor Vaughn.

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