Having one the election, President Obama is using that political capital to separate 98% taxpayers from the 2%. Never mind that Obamacare taxes increase tax burdens for the middle class. never mind that the Obamacare mandate will hit people earning $50,000 a year very hard. We are talking about a political agenda of feeding the perception of most voters that Obama’s wasteful Big Government schemes are affordable if only we go after the top 1%.
The greatest danger the GOP faces at the large and strategic level is the danger of a splintering of the center-right. With the failure of Plan B, that fracturing that Obama and the left so desire is at hand.
I had hoped that Plan B, though flawed, at least represented a defensible position that mitigated the tax destruction for most Americans, and kept the caucus together. Speaker Boehner certainly hoped it would be a path to greater leverage in a difficult situation, where the President was insisting on the House basically adopting a Democrat tax more and spend more plan. However, the criticism was that a vote for something already panned by Reid and Obama was in effect conceding a negotiation, and doing it in a way that violated some principles. Plan B would have made a nice compromise, but its a bad GOP position to hold when the other side is holding out for a lot more.
We risk now losing worse than that : What we lost in the failure to have a vote is several things. The credibility of having a solution to the tax cliff; a willingness to bend a little to accommodate the other side’s position. Boehner is now stuck. The “extend taxes for all Americans” is a fine position, but a non-starter with the Democrats and Obama. Boehner already negotiated to a position further than he’s got the votes to deliver from his own caucus. So now what?
The ugly conclusion one gets from this is that there is not a unified Republican position that can hold. Obama and Reid will in fact ‘win’ in their goal of splintering the Republican caucus and ironically the conservative movement will be handmaidens in that, encouraging that to happen. If the cliff happens, action will take place in January when the Congress is LESS Republican, and a bipartisan vote is required. Bipartisan will mean the Democrats will write most of it. They will pass something much closer to what Obama wants. Republicans will not be a party to it for the most part, but the governing coalition in Congress will be constituted in a way to completely leave the conservatives out in the cold. This is the opposite of what the conservatives want, but its a consequence of not being part of a majority coalition position.
There needs to be a “Plan C” – A plan for conservatives to salvage their reputation, their pragmatism and their relevance. The liberals and Democrats are eager to destroy that relevance and using fights like this to do it.
OK, brilliant armchair Generals … What is it? Now what?