Saturday, February 6 , 2016, 7:04 am | Fair 42º

David Harsanyi: Republicans Have Already Lost Fight on Fiscal Cliff

By David Harsanyi | @davidharsanyi |

You’ll remember that President Barack Obama was the only candidate with a detailed plan to deal with the impending fiscal unpleasantness. And, as the president explained this week during his first press conference since winning re-election, “more voters agreed” with him, so naturally, it’s time to give the people what they want.

So what do we win? Well, it turns out there’s only one detail worth remembering when dealing with the slew of tax hikes that kick in next year: We must reverse Bush-era tax rates on the rich. According to rosy projections of the Congressional Budget Office, this would amount to around $824 billion in revenue over the next decade, or less than one year of deficit spending by the administration. Democrats also support a millionaire “Buffett” tax, which could raise — maybe — $47 billion over the next decade, or less than $5 billion a year, or around half a workday of the federal government’s budget.

In other words, we get the genuinely unserious government we deserve.

Republicans have already conceded huge swaths of their argument to the president. Both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are now ready to meet with Obama to tackle a nonexistent “revenue” problem rather than an unsustainable spending problem. So elections do have consequences — most notably, surrender.

Meanwhile, as the GOP plots an honorable out, the president is crushing them on the broader political and ideological front. It is the president who lays out the populist parameters of this debate (rich vs. the rest) and the Republicans who are unable to muster a cogent retort or a single enticing reform-minded agenda. Instead, the GOP has cooked up a political strategy that repetitively calls out the president for his lack of “leadership” in hopes of pressuring the White House. Good luck with that!

Obama went on to say that he remains adamant that taxes rates on the rich must rise — though he is flexible on the details of how he gets to raise tax rates to where he wants them, explained White House press secretary Jay Carney this week. In Washington, this is called “compromise.”

Obama explained in his presser that he’s also “very eager” to reform the tax code and claims that entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security need a “serious look,” but gave absolutely no hint on how he would move forward.

The president says he’s open to all “new ideas” as long as those ideas “raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit and encourage growth.” Since the president believes that government spending encourages expansion and that the wealthy should pay for that new spending, where does that leave us on debt?

Gallup claims that 45 percent of Americans favor reducing the federal deficit with an equal balance of tax increases and spending cuts — which is up from 32 percent last year. One assumes that balance means a dollar in tax hikes for a dollar in spending cuts. Does that sound like it’s about to happen?

Fox News’ Bill Kristol recently wondered why the GOP would “fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile.” They shouldn’t. They should fall on their swords — or who knows, even come up with a compelling argument — to institute a modicum of responsible budgeting.

As it stands today, after all, Obama will never have to fall on his sword, because, let’s face it, he doesn’t even have to bring a weapon to this fight.

David Harsanyi is a columnist and senior reporter at Human Events. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him. Follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi.

» on 11.16.12 @ 12:09 PM

Quit whining. Let the stupid democrats do what they want. Raise taxes to 100% on the wealthy, past more free give aways to minorities and run multi trillion dollar deficits, while hawking our future to the Chinese. They own it David, all of it. As for the rich they will do what they always do when some dopy socialists progressive gets power, move their money somewhere else., further eroding our ability to run the economy.

What will be really wonderful is watching all the morons who voted for this scenario choke on the cost, because ultimately all financial decisions float down to the bottom and the bottom always pays no matter what. What does that mean for you dear lefty readers? Well since your Chicago mobster president is raising the safety net on printed and borrowed money, you dopes in the middle class, yes the ones your saint was pandering to while laughing his head off, will pay for it all. In the end you will have your soviet style workers paradise, a poor, subsistence level proletariat and your high and mighty ruling class elite, just like you wanted. Cheers!

» on 11.16.12 @ 02:44 PM

A little early in the morning for a glass of the old Holy Whine, isn’t it, Bishop?

Surely, if our taxes went back to the levels they were at in say 1997, we would not be living in a communist state. That is a certainty.

How about if they went back to 1970 levels?

Our tax rates are at historical lows.

» on 11.16.12 @ 04:33 PM

Once again your ignorance is amazing, Ramjet. Economies that are producing more than they consume can afford higher tax rates. When an economy is anemic and starving the last thing you need to do is let the biggest parasite on the planet loose to start eating.

» on 11.18.12 @ 07:41 PM

If we separate this columnist’s political rhetoric from Washington reality, the truth is that no one has any idea what Obama’s “detailed plan” to fix the giant budget/spending morass is.

Neither the president, nor Mr. Romney, offered more than the vaguest specifics
during the campaign, or in any of the debates.

What will happen is that Congress’ Big Four will wheel and deal, not only with the
White House, but with each other, with their own restive caucuses, and with all the special interests with big financial stakes to protect their federal deductions or privileges.

It’s been interesting that, since the election, no one in authority has spoken
about trying to methodically implement the Simpson-Bowles recommendations
or ramp up the Volcker Rule.

So, there could be a Grand Bargain, which could redefine federal revenue and
spending for the next decade.

Or, there could be a short-term “fix” deal, with Congress and the White House
yet again deciding to kick the can way down the road.

No one is going to fall on their sword, no matter what Harsanyi thinks.

What we can and should expect is that Mitch McConnell’s Party of NO! scorched
earth approach to every White House initiative or feeler the last 26 months will
be replaced by actual communications and negotiations, wherever possible, for
the national good.

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