Fiscal cliff Plan C: Let Democrats find compromise. Huh?(Read article summary)
Fiscal cliff Plan B is dead. But allowing Senate Democrats and President Obama to negotiate a deal is hardly a step forward in finding bipartisan compromise.
All over an unwillingness to convince his colleagues to let tax rates come back up (as scheduled) on (even) the very richest,Â any â€śdealâ€ť between Boehner and Obama is offÂ â€“ at least until after Christmas:
House Speaker John A. Boehner threw efforts to avoid the year-end â€śfiscal cliffâ€ť into chaos late Thursday, as he abruptly shuttered the House for the holidays after failing to win support from his fellow Republicans for a plan to let tax rates rise for millionaires.
The proposal â€” Boehnerâ€™s alternative to negotiating a broader package with President Obama â€” would have protected the vast majority of Americans from significant tax increases set to take effect next year. But because it also would have permitted tax rates to rise for about 400,000 extremely wealthy families, conservatives balked, leaving Boehner (Ohio) humiliated and his negotiating power immeasurably weakened.
The Post article goes on to quote from Boehnerâ€™s issued statement:
â€śThe House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff,â€ť the statement said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
But how will it help to leave the SenateÂ DemocratsÂ to work with the President on a plan?Â The whole problem has been the lack of bipartisanship and the willful disregard for â€ścommon groundâ€ť policies that both sides could not exactly â€śloveâ€ť but at least come to tolerate.
Maybe over the Christmas break the politicians can sit back and ponder what their own personal roles in this impasse have been and the choices theyâ€™ve made about the battles theyâ€™ve fought. Thereâ€™s been much ado about the tax rates on the rich â€“ should the top two brackets (affecting only those with incomes over about $250,000) be allowed to go back to pre-2001 levels, or only the top bracket (affecting those over about $400,000), or only the top rate for millionaires?Â
All those options would produce only a fraction of the deficit reduction required to get us back on an economically sustainable path â€“ at best, a â€śdownpaymentâ€ť on what will have to be a grander bargain eventually (but soon).Â The real money and the real (more) common ground lies in looking at the ways in which the federal government spends money (and â€śsubsidizesâ€ť certain privileged activities) through the tax code.Â
In this weekâ€™s installment of his always excellent New York Times column,Â Bruce Bartlett reiterates the pointÂ that tax expendituresÂ growÂ government (so that Republicans should be in favor of cutting tax expenditures just like they favor cutting direct spending), while he also reminds readers that extending tax cuts and deficit financing them is not cutting taxes at all â€“ itâ€™s raising future taxes.
As if as a society we have not been neglecting our kidsâ€™ well being enough already. All over what seems a silly, way overblown debate over the top income tax rates going from 30-some to 30-some percent.