For President, Politics Trumps Pragmatism
It is obvious that the GOP will get the blame for the sequester happening. It is something the right has to get used to. The President is on a never ending campaign to harangue the right for everything that goes wrong while the media remains complicit in backing him up, no matter how zany it is. But that is to be expected when “professional” journalists care more about covering a golf game than more pertinent issues like Benghazi or the failing economy.
The messaging for the GOP at this point cannot be more optimal. Many Republicans broke with a key principle of their ideology in order to avoid the fiscal cliff when they agreed to raise taxes. Yet the President insists that an avoidance of the sequester requires a more balanced approach. Any objective observer knows what he really means is an equal tradeoff of more taxes and spending.
While it fairly easy to show the perils of raising taxes (including but not limited to higher unemployment, lower consumer spending and investment, and more government waste), the GOP should instead tailor a message about pragmatism. The right was pragmatic when it agreed to raise taxes earlier in January. To expect them to go against their principles again for even higher taxes is wrong. Compromise is a two way street and given the President’s track record, the spending will only get worse.
The strongest hand that the GOP has is the fact that the President does not care about pragmatism, only politics. If this were truly a President who cared about a balanced approach and more revenue, he would have taken Speaker John Boehner’s original deal prior to the fiscal cliff. That deal would have lowered rates for everybody but would have increased revenue by $800 billion.
Instead, the President declined the deal because he wanted the appearance of raising rates on the top tax bracket. That play was all about politics. It was about trying to one-up the GOP. That deal might have won him adoration from the left, but it only brought in $620 billion.
So now the President says its imperative for him to get more tax hikes. Yet when he had the opportunity to get more revenue, he turned it down. It all goes to show that this President is concerned more with politics over pragmatism.