The GOP should negotiate with Obama, not each other.
If any Republicans thought that President Obama would respond with magnanimity in victory, they now know better. He is determined to rout them on taxes, give as a little as possible on spending, and blame them for any economic damage in the bargain. The question for the GOP is how to minimize the harm to the economy, as well as to their chances of a political and policy comeback in 2014 and beyond.
So it’s a shame that Republicans are playing into Mr. Obama’s hands, negotiating in public among themselves, prematurely giving up on the tax issue and undermining House Speaker John Boehner in the process. Mr. Obama isn’t going to blink on the budget if he thinks Republicans are going to blink first, and so far the emerging GOP position seems to be to surrender on taxes first and hope Mr. Obama will have mercy on them later on entitlements.
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker made the case for this strategic retreat on “Fox News Sunday,” arguing that if Republicans raise tax rates as Mr. Obama wants, “the focus then shifts to entitlements and maybe it puts us in a place where we actually can do something that really saves the nation.”
More at the link.
While it hasn’t happened quite yet, it looks like the congressional Republicans are about to repeat the mistakes of Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, to give in on tax increases, now, in exchange for Democratic promises of spending cuts and entitlement reforms later. The Democrats lied to President Reagan and the Democrats lied to President Bush, and there’s no reason at all to believe that President Obama and the Democrats aren’t lying to the congressional Republicans.
If the Republicans cave in and give the Democrats the tax increases they have proposed, it will raise somewhere between $80 and $160 billion in revenue, per year, based on a static analysis.1 With the deficit running at over a trillion dollars a year, the proposed tax increases would still leave the deficit at over $800 billion, even in the rosiest scenario.
Unless federal spending is reduced, that huge deficit will continue to pile up and pile up the debt, and I will tell you, unequivocally, that the Democrats will not agree to any significant spending cuts, nor any significant entitlement changes.2 You may record that as an Official Prediction.
So, after the hard bargaining in which the Republicans reluctantly agreed to raise the debt ceiling, in exchange for the means to force real spending cuts, the Republicans are wobbling on the edge of giving it all away . . . again. Unless the House Republicans grow a spine — the odds of which are slightly greater than the sun rising in the west, but only slightly — we will proceed merrily along the same fiscal and economic path that we have been taking, the same economic and fiscal path which has gotten us into this mess in the first place.
Maybe, in 2016, we’ll be able to elect a conservative Republican President. Of course, by then, it will probably be too fornicating late to fix the problems the Democrats have created, and with which the Republicans have spinelessly gone along.