Steaming rapidly toward the “fiscal cliff,” the Republican Party has dug in its heels and now fights President Barack Obama on his campaign promise to raise taxes on the rich. Instead of giving the president his due after his Electoral landslide Nov. 6, the grumpy Republican Party continues to throw roadblocks in Obama’s path. Ignoring the results of the election, the GOP acts like it’s still campaigning. Promising to take their case about preserving all of Bush’s tax cuts to the American people, the GOP can’t accept defeat. When voters gave Barack a decisive victory, they voted for his economic program, including his fix for the “fiscal cliff.” Opinion polls show that the public has no problem raising taxes on the rich. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kt.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) all continue to campaign.
Demonstrating that Washington’s divided government is indeed broken, the GOP doesn’t get that the voters view it as obstructionist. Party officials continue to listen to the secular preachers on right wing talk radio, continuing to rant about Obama and his plans to fix the economy. “In other words, rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail, presumably with the same old talking points we’re all familiar with,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. McConnell doesn’t get that the election is over. Voters gave Barack a second term. They rejected the GOP’s platform and political arguments. Because most GOP officials refuse to repudiate Party boss Grover Norquist’s “No Tax Pledge,” the economy is held hostage. Despite signs of cracking, Norquist still holds the GOP in a chokehold.
Whatever the rants-and-raves on right wing radio, GOP elected officials must accept the results of the 2012 elections. Voters clearly voted for Barack’s plan to fix the economy, including his plan to generate more tax revenue by bumping up rates on to Clinton-era levels on taxpayers earning over $250,000. McConnell’s wrong that Obama wont’ compromise. He’s has the green light from a majority of the American people. McConnell and other GOP officials keep talking about what the American people want, completely ignoring the election. “Look, we already know the President is a very good campaigner. What we don’t know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement of big issues like this.” To McConnell and the GOP a bipartisan agreement means no new taxes. Most nonpartisan economists agree that taxes must be raised.
Republicans’ denial about the results of the election stem from a fundamental paradigm shift away from Reaganomics to a new era involving government-private sector partnerships. Voters stamped their approval on Obama’s plans to fix the economy, including raising taxes on the rich. McConnell, Boehner and Ryan are all holding onto Norquist’s tax cutting mantra, roundly discredited and disproven over the last 25 years. Most reputable economists—not GOP propagandists—don’t believe that raising taxes 3% on the wealthy will hurt economic growth. Today’s economic report showing the strongest post-Thanksgiving sales gains and highest consumer confidence in four years shows that Obama’s making progress. Voters spoke clearly on Election Day. GOP politicians need to stop their campaign to cut taxes and let the president execute his economic plan.
Today’s stalemate reflects the destructive effect of ideology on Beltway politics. Only right wing fanatics like Norquist care about proving his obsolete and discredited theory correct. Grover can’t cite any data to prove that raising taxes on the rich would hurt the U.S. economy. “Republicans understand that we must avert the fiscal cliff and have laid out a framework to do that so that is consistent with the “balanced approach” the president says he wants,” said Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Budk. GOP politicians lost the election and argument about slashing entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Democrats want to preserve the current benefit structure and generate more tax revenue from wealth taxpayers. If the GOP wants to exempt small businesses from tax hikes, Democrats should consider their wishes. Republicans still need to accept the will of the people Nov. 6.
Promising to take their case for no new taxes on the road, the GOP totally ignores the Nov. 6 election. Whatever GOP party boss Grover Norquist or Republican elected officials think of Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, the American public spoke clearly on Election Day. If Obama’s plan doesn’t fix the economy, he’ll pay for it two years from now in the midterm elections. Instead of playing obstructionist, the GOP needs to heed the will of the electorate and let the president fix the economy. White House officials need to heed GOP concerns about small businesses, perhaps exempting some self-employed businesses from the president’s proposed tax hikes. Both parties need to dial back the rhetoric, fix the gridlock and give Obama the latitude to implement his economic fix. More right-wing talk show rhetoric about tax cuts doesn’t solve Washington’s paralysis.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.