Republicans, Fiscal Cliff, and Spending

We’ve wondered here, there, and elsewhere why the “fiscal cliff” negotiations are occurring in secret.  Is it because the Republicans have been planning on folding all along, and they’re trying to keep that quiet until the last moment?  Is it because they naively think Democrats will negotiate in better faith if they don’t have to be seen as folding to the Republicans until the last moment?

Whatever the excuse, it’s got to stop.  Tried that the last several weeks, it’s failed utterly.  Now it’s time for the Republicans to take overt, public action.  Marc Thiessen, in The Washington Post, has some thoughts on what that overt, public action should look like.  In the main, I agree with him; excerpts below.  RTWT.

…pass legislation extending current tax rates for all Americans.  Let Obama reject it and take us over the “fiscal cliff”—and then be prepared to live under the Clinton tax rates while negotiations on tax reform continue.  In the short term, Americans may blame you.  You can recover from that.  What you will never recover from is surrendering your principles and giving up your brand as the party of low taxes and limited government.

But those Clinton tax rates are wonderful, don’t you know: when Republicans got them cut, across the board, during Bush the Younger’s administration, those tax cuts were, according to our Progressive betters, only good for the rich; the middle class could never benefit from them.  Thus, it’s plain that reverting to those rates can’t possibly harm the middle class since the lower rates never did us any good.   And, of course, those wonderful Clinton tax rates went along with Clinton’s spending rates—some one-third of President Barack Obama’s.  But never mind about that.

Additionally, Obama and his publicity machinethe NLMSM will ensure that Republicans get the blame; there’s no “may” to it.  As Thiessen points out, though, they can recover from this—see below.

Go on the offensive.  Immediately put forward a plan to fundamentally reform the tax code.  You will be able to outbid Obama and the Democrats in any tax-cut fight.  And the intellectual groundwork has already been done.  During the supercommittee negotiations last year, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) put forward a plan to lower rates, raise revenue and limit deductions.  Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has a revenue-neutral corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate to 25 percent and moves to a territorial system.

On the spending side, “soak the rich” by getting rid of the billions of dollars in government benefits, taxpayer subsidies and corporate welfare the wealthy receive each year and don’t need, and by means-testing government programs from unemployment benefits to farm subsidies.

On entitlements, put forward a plan to save Social Security and Medicare through structural reforms and by reducing benefits for well-off retirees and eliminating them entirely for the wealthiest seniors.  Propose a “Buffett Rule” of your own: Warren Buffett does not need taxpayers to subsidize his retirement and health care.

The Romney tax reform proposal is a good place to start: personal income tax rates cut 20% across the board with total deductions capped at $50,000, and business income tax rates cut to a peak rate of 25% (still too high, but it’s a start).  Also, include in the tax reform the Obamacare investment taxes and the medical device tax—these should be withdrawn entirely.  There’s already significant Democratic support for getting rid of these jobs killers.

The corporate welfare cuts should include subsidies to oil and gas companies (chump change) and to “green energy” businesses and dependencies (not at all chump change) alike.

Social Security and Medicare should be privatized altogether; however, that’s…unlikely…this year.  Severe means-testing is a good start, though.

Pass your plans.  If the president refuses to negotiate and no progress is made by February, inform him that you will attach all or part of your plan to legislation raising the debt limit and pass it in the House.  Then do so.

Obama’s failure here will put both serious spending and tax reform, and default, on his plate.  Not even the NLMSM will be able to cover up Obama’s disaster here.  Moreover,

According to Bob Woodward, when Obama told his advisers he intended to veto the debt-limit bill the Republican-controlled House had passed, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told him he couldn’t—that if Republicans didn’t give in, he had no choice but to sign their bill.  “You can’t veto,” Geithner reportedly told Obama, because the consequences “would be indelible, incurable.  It would last for generations.”

Now Republicans know better.

We’ll see if they’ve found any courage.  So far, I’m not sanguine.

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