Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Congressional Republicans Begin Big Tax-Raising Push To The Left

Bush-Romney economic geek, Glenn Hubbard, said in a 2010 interview, “If we reelect [Obama], we will have to raise every tax substantially.” Now he argues that raising taxes on wealthy taxpayers first is the right thing to do.
So much for principles. And Grover Norquist.

After forcing the nation to the brink of economic destruction on numerous occasions, allegedly on account of principles, the Republican Party, looking at pushing the USA over the Fiscal Cliff, has finally decided that it’s bad politics to resist raising taxes on the wealthy.

In a Financial Times opinion piece, Glenn Hubbard, chief economic advisor to George W. Bush (so a big pusher of the Bush tax cuts), and a Romney economic adviser, argues that in order to address the USA’s debt woes from the revenue side of the ledger:
“The first step is to raise average (not marginal) tax rates on upper-income taxpayers. Revenue increases should first come from these individuals. This means closing loopholes. For instance, the Bowles-Simpson commission, which Mr Obama established, has proposed limiting tax preference benefits for upper-income households.”
While this position may sound similar to Romney’s position on tax reform in the election, the focus on increasing revenues from wealthy taxpayers is a change in position, as Romney had always argued that the impact of his tax code reforms, involving cutting marginal rates for all taxpayers while eliminating most tax breaks, would be “revenue neutral” on the wealthiest taxpayers.

In another article, reviewing Hubbard’s comments and comparing them to recent pro-revenue-increasing rhetoric from Speaker Boehner, the Financial Times notes:
“The overtures by Mr Boehner and Mr Hubbard may not be well-received among the Republican rank-and-file who have argued over the past few years that US deficit reduction should be based solely on cuts and denounced Democratic calls for higher taxes on the rich as ‘class warfare’.”
It should be also understood that what Hubbard proposes would be a starting point for negotiations, and it would be reasonable to expect the GOP to compromise further to the left than what Hubbard has suggested in order to reach any debt-reduction agreement with Democrats.

However, the 2012 election drubbing suffered by the GOP, has left the Republican leadership with no choice, apparently, but to begin the big selling-out of its principles and its base, as a means of avoiding the Fiscal Cliff.

The latter, a Congressional debt-reduction backstop, was created to force the factions of the US government to come to terms with debt reduction, via spending cuts and revenue increases. However, Republicans have been religiously opposed in the past to raising taxes, especially on what they call “job creators”, i.e. wealthy taxpayers.

Along with strict opposition to humane immigration reform, opposing tax increases are just two parts of the Republican agenda now clearly being prepared for revision or full-scale betrayal by Congressional Republicans. As Rush Limbaugh has argued, convincingly (if bigotedly) to the GOP base:
"[Latinos are] voting Democrat 'cause the Democrats are the party of free stuff and raising taxes —"progressive taxation"—on the rich to pay for it."
While the Republican base may in fact think that, and other extremist and racist things, in the view of the GOP Congressional leaders, it doesn’t matter any longer, because that base just demonstrated it cannot deliver victory on election night.

And The Republican Party will either move to the left, or cease to exist as a national party. The latter may happen anyway, since the conservative base of the GOP is extremely unlikely to tolerate the GOP abandoning what have been core beliefs of Republicans.

If the GOP leadership supports abandoning those principles in any Fiscal Cliff avoidance compromise, that may signal to the base that the Party no longer represents true conservatism. And that could be the beginning of the unstoppable erosion of the GOP into first a regional party, and then into the political party dustbin.

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