As we draw ever closer to the dreaded “fiscal cliff” that is nothing of the sort, the GOP is still coming to terms with the fact that they have no leverage whatsoever in these negotiations. They continue to make demands that would be intolerable had they won the election. Here was their first “offer:”
Yes, I can see how the GOP might view this as a compromise. After all, for the last four years, they’ve demanded that Obama give them everything they want or else they’ll tank the economy. That only worked because they had things to hold hostage like the debt ceiling or unemployment insurance. They don’t have any hostages this time and they’re panicking. How do we know they’re panicking? They’re still delivering ultimatums like this:
Washington (CNN) – One of the reasons Tuesday night’s conversation between President Barack Obama and John Boehner did not go well was because the GOP House speaker sent the White House a fiscal cliff proposal calling for a permanent extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, including for incomes in the top 2%, a Democratic source said Wednesday.
Democrats took the GOP counter offer to mean that tax reform cannot result in any marginal rates higher than current law, according to the source, who said Boehner’s proposal was a “sign” to Democrats that “Boehner and the GOP are unwilling or unable to do any sort of deal that can pass the Senate or be signed by the president.”
It’s not like the idea of raising taxes only on the top 2% of earners is some radical idea that came out of left field. Obama campaigned explicitly on increasing those taxes and won an election on it. Even a slim majority of Republican voters support the idea which means an overwhelming majority of the country wants increased taxes on the wealthy.
Yet, the GOP is demanding that the rich continue to receive a tax cut they do not need.
There is exactly one reason the GOP is terrified of tax rates going up: If they do and the economy does not immediately tank or even tank in the next four years, the entire premise of conservative fiscal ideology collapses. They barely squeaked out of this trap during the Clinton years by pretending the boom of the 90s was completely based on the tech bubble and absolutely nothing else. There is no bubble to save their precious narrative this time. Once those tax rates go up and the world doesn’t end, it will take years for the GOP to reverse the public perception that their fiscal policy is a joke.
The same will be true once we go over the “cliff” and find out that nothing dramatic happened. The “cliff” is just another scare tactic by the GOP to frighten people into pressuring Obama to cave. Unfortunately (for the GOP) it didn’t work and a majority of the country will blame Republicans if taxes go up. Even if a deal is signed later in which 98% of the country gets a new round of cuts, people will still remember that the GOP threw them under the bus for the sake of the rich.
After 30+ years of failed Reaganomics, history could mark this as the moment when the right’s “trickle down” theory was finally exposed as the sham it’s always been. And if the GOP continues to be this recalcitrant over tax cuts for the rich in the face of a severe electoral defeat, it could drag them down as well.
What a shame that would be.