In spite of the seriousness of the situation…this is actually pretty entertaining.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithener went to the Hill yesterday and delivered the president’s tax and spending proposal to Republican leadership. The proposal includes $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $400 billion in spending cuts and $50 billion in new stimulus spending.
To say that Republicans are less than enthused by president’s proposal would be an understatement. In fact they are apoplectic. The only thing infuriating them more than the proposal is the president leaving Washington today to take his case to the people instead of closeting himself in negotiations with them.
Elections have consequences and the Republicans cannot get their head around the fact that the president won. After four years of being obstructed by Republicans at every turn, President Obama is using his newly elected status to his advantage. He is negotiating from a position of strength. The president might choose to quote his predecessor, George W. Bush (remember him...Republicans are trying to forget…) who once famously said: “I earned political capital in this election…and now I’m going to spend it.”
Republicans are boxed in a corner. If they cave in to the president’s demand for tax increases for the wealthy they risk a Tea Party/Grover Norquist led primary challenge come next election. If they stand firm on their “no new taxes” pledge they risk taking the country over the impending fiscal cliff. And polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans will blame Republicans if the country takes that plunge.
This election brought us so much political brinksmanship and kabuki theatre that it often became difficult to understand where certain candidates stood on the issues at any given time. But one thing was very clear throughout this campaign; the president consistently said he wanted the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. The voters agreed. So it should come as no surprise that the president intends to raise taxes on top earners while maintaining the status quo for the middle class.
Republicans like to point out that they won the House and that they were sent to Washington by their local districts to hold the line on government spending. That may be true. But while Republicans in the House may have carried their local districts by overwhelming margins, the fact is their party lost the in the national election; and in this country the will of a majority of ALL the people rules.
Republicans need to calm down. This is the president’s opening offer. Make a counter offer!
Or after four years of just saying “no” have Republicans simply forgotten how to negotiate.