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Boehner’s Not The Problem

I didn’t want a tax hike of any sort. I’ve said before the thinking of higher taxes creating revenue is a fallacy. Though for full disclosure, it’s the spending that’s the issue and this was going to be a tough road for Republicans after the 2012 elections.

Watching the fiscal cliff negotiations was a ‘hope-against-hope’ proposition for me. I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan so it has been a long life, many Superbowl’s and play off chokes to not understand what hope-against-hope feels like.

The bridesmaid thing stinks. That’s what it feels like as a Republican these days.

Yet, watching the fiscal cliff ordeal play itself out, I was feelin’ the bridesmaid deal. No matter how hard my team tried, there was an overwhelming force on the field my team just wasn’t going to overcome. I thought my team was pretty solid but the other team just had more tools at it’s disposal. Like it or not.

Imagine being Speaker Boehner heading in to a negotiation wherein you know you have zero leverage, the opposition just won (Obama) or otherwise had congressional gains in the election and your side wants your blood if you don’t 100% tow the party line.

That would be a drag…and it was.

John Boehner could hardly be considered a RINO but he has not been spared the RINO treatment. Still, Boehner’s ideal position has been stated as part of the House Republican plan, “Increase American competitiveness to spur investment and create more American jobs by streamlining the tax code and lowering the tax rate for businesses and individuals including small business owners to no more than 25%.”

Sounds pretty rock solid, I’d say.

Then why do so many Conservatives want his head on a platter? On Twitter, #fireboehnerwas a trending and popular hash tag. In surfing the Twitterverse, John was not the cats meow this last week.

Red State blog guru Erick Erickson summed up the mood, “The Republican Establishment in Washington, DC should be burned to the ground and salt spread on the remains. Republicans who saw Mitch McConnell and John Boehner destroy the last plank of the Republican Party are going to need to look elsewhere for a savior for their party. Boehner and McConnell have declared they will survive. Their party? They don’t really care.”

Yet McConnell doesn’t ring true as much of a RINO, often he is the voice of the GOP party line, “The only reason Democrats are insisting on raising rates is because raising rates on the so-called rich is the Holy Grail of liberalism, the Holy Grail of liberalism. Their aim isn’t job creation. They’re interested in wealth destruction…We’re insisting on keeping tax rates where they are, first and foremost, to protect jobs and because we don’t think government needs the money in the first place…”

To be clear, I’m not really cheerleading the leadership of Congressmen Boehner and McConnell. I think there were failures in leadership. The greatest failure was framing the argument. Pointedly, the congessional leaders, after falling victim to the inevitability that taxes were going to be raised, started calling tax hikes ‘revenue’…just like the Democrats.

I’m not sure what ‘optics’ this served in the DC world but it did not tell the American people what was really happening. Moreover, when many companies sent out memos to their employees after the final ‘cliff’ vote stating the payroll tax was increasing 2% forthrightly, citizens didn’t know who to blame.

If the debate had been framed well, the kick in the pants the GOP took would be less of a kick and better blame laid on the Democrats. Now it’s just blaming all of the secretive congress.

It wouldn’t have been that hard, stated Thomas Sowell, “Have you yet heard House Speaker John Boehner take the time to spell out why Barack Obama’s argument for taxing “millionaires and billionaires” is wrong?” he further noted, “It is not a complicated argument. Moreover, it is an argument that has been articulated many times in plain English by conservative talk show hosts and by others in print. It has nothing to do with being worried about the fate of millionaires or billionaires, who can undoubtedly take care of themselves…What we all should be worried about are high tax rates driving American investments overseas, when there are millions of Americans who could use the jobs that those investments would create at home.”

Even if the GOP leadership was facing a stinky crap weasel in the fiscal cliff, there was a better message to be had.

The citizens needed to know that it was taxes that were going up and this is what they, the citizens, voted for. With the right message by our Republican leaders, this could have been the most direct and elegant example of electoral action/reaction. That is to say that the citizens could have learned, elect Obama and your middle income taxes are going up in the form of payroll taxes.

We lost that chance.

Still, do the Conservative grass roots need to burn these leaders in effigy for a failing in the message?  Certainly, leaders needed a finger wagging. No doubt. However, the calls for firing them seemed a little much. Particularly when the choices were few.

According to John Podhoretz of the New York Post, “The problem is that conservatives seem to think there were other choices, other ways, other possibilities — when all those choices, ways and possibilities had been exhausted.” Podhoretz further noted, “And so many of them are literally embracing chaos. Though they oppose raising taxes, by voting against the tax bill on Tuesday night they effectively voted to raise taxes on 98 percent of Americans.”

Therein lies the rub; do we stand on principle where the result is that everyone loses or do we deal with the hand we have and get as much as possible given the circumstances?

Sixty-plus million Americans voted for Obama. This means that Republicans had to play ball with the rules such voting provided. We couldn’t take our toys and go home. It wasn’t an option.

I am very much a party line Republican but I also live an a world of other ideologies. This means that I am not afforded the luxury of political absolutes. Having such a luxury would be awfully groovy but it’s not reality.

I’m not rejoicing at the result of this ordeal. Stated by Larry Kudlow, “One cheer out of a potential three is all anyone can logically give the fiscal-cliff deal…The final product was sort of a least-bad tax scenario. The top tax threshold got to $450,000. Capital gains and dividends were capped at 20 percent. And even the estate tax did better than feared, with a 40 percent rate off a $5 million exemption. Plus, all the tax rates were made permanent — including the rate for the alternative minimum tax (AMT)…So it could have been worse. And it probably saved a recession.”

That’s about the way I see it. It could have been worse.

Instead of calling for the figurative heads of McConnell, Boehner and Republican leaders for voting for the stinky deal, give them the one cheer out of three, buy ‘em a beer and tell them to get the message right next time.

Still Boehner’s not the problem, all Republicans seem to miss the boat on the message.

Cross posted at the Rightward Journal

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