The Fiscal Cliff, the Bush Tax Reforms, and Thinking About the Unthinkable
Some weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office- that venerable institution that was used to justify everything from Obamacare to John Boehner’s Pyrrhic victory on the debt ceiling- rolled out a dire prediction for 2013. The CBO addressed the possible consequences of the Hydra that is looming tax increases and mandatory budget cuts. In brief, they predict that if President Bush’s tax cuts are allowed to expire while the budget cuts made mandatory by the debt ceiling deal are put into place, it will drive the economy into a fresh recession, pushing unemployment over nine percent and generally wreaking havoc on an already wounded economy.
The mainstream media pounced on this report faster than a Minnesota Democrat on an underage truck-stop prostitute, with their usual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. The tone of the coverage was predictable, and predictably ridiculous: the big, bad GOP, by kowtowing to “Tea Party extremists” and refusing to have a “real conversation” about taxes and spending, was sending our economy hurtling towards doom. What is interesting about this entire issue isn’t the coverage, but the timing. Rest assured, folks: this is only the beginning. The Democrat Party, and their allies in the media, are attempting to lay the foundation for yet another GOP capitulation on spending in the event of an Obama victory in November.
Indeed, we’ve seen it begin already. The President is already proclaiming that if he wins a second term, the Republicans on the Hill will be forced to “compromise” with him on his big-government, tax-and-spend agenda. Sadly, but not terribly surprisingly, Mitch McConnell doesn’t seem to be holding the line; he has said that if the GOP wins in November, there won’t be much in the way of lame-duck compromising, but if the legislative makeup stays the same, there will be “deal-cutting” with the President.
Folks, we’ve seen what deal cutting tends to mean: it means calling capitulation compromise, and calling surrender a spectacular victory. And when it comes to capitulating on taxes, spending, and piling on more debt, America can’t afford it. America cannot afford to allow the Democrat Party and wobbly Republicans to let Obama, in a lame-duck session, use the threat of the fiscal cliff to press the GOP into giving him free rein on raising taxes and cancelling budget cuts.
So, because America can’t afford to let it happen, we can’t afford to let them get away with it.
Of course, the easiest way to pull the rug out from under the Lefties is to work like heck over the next few weeks, and ensure that Romney/Ryan send the President and his cohorts back to Chicago with their socialist tails between their legs. It’s hard to imagine a path to victory for the GOP Presidential ticket that doesn’t involve winning enough seats to force Harry Reid to switch offices (Romney victories in State’s with close races should have enough of a down-ballot effect to carry us across the Senatorial finish line). Claire McCaskill might slither her way into another term, but if Romney/Ryan carry the day, plenty of her colleagues won’t be so lucky. When Governor Romney becomes President-Elect Romney and the GOP is preparing to assume leadership in the Senate, it’s hard to imagine that even the squishiest of Republicans on the Hill—and boy, are there a lot of squishy ones, but that is a battle to be fought at the 2014 primaries, not today—would bend to the whims of a beaten and outgoing President and Majority Leader. Our petulant President and his lackey’s in Congress might simply refuse to acknowledge the will of the American people and turn their backs on the Bush Tax Reforms and the looming cuts. If they do, there isn’t much anyone can do about it until late January. But then, a refreshed and fired-up Congress with a newly minted GOP Senate Majority would surely assist then-inaugurated President Romney in ensuring that real and workable reforms were put in place long before we’ve reached the bottom of the fiscal cliff.
The Democrat Party knows all this. The Statists filling the airwaves from the Nightly News to MSNBC know it, too. That’s why they are eagerly pulling out each and every trick from the Chicago-style politics playbook to try to scratch out a win over Governor Romney. They are working overtime to ensure that this is an election about fear, anger, and hatred, instead of an election about the struggles this Administration has put the American people through over the last four years. Lacking any sort of record to run on, the President has dedicated himself and his campaign to tearing down Mitt Romney on a scale that has never before been seen in Presidential politics. For Obama, Axelrod, and their legions of SEIU-funded backers, no exaggeration is too broad, no characterization to sweeping, and no falsehood too great. Sadly, the cards they’ve played so far are only the first few tricks in their hand: to paraphrase John Paul Jones, this President has not yet even begun to lie.
But, lie he will, even more than he already has. If the GOP trends up, the President and his campaign will sink further and further down. The great tragedy isn’t the degradation of the Presidency, or the deep-seeded divisions between groups of Americans that this President is stoking. The great tragedy, ultimately, is that it just might work. If the Democrats find themselves the victors on Election Day, the media narrative will be as follows: The American people have rejected the GOP’s vision of the economy, and embraced big-government and the distribution of wealth.
Of course, this will all be entirely false. That the President is in a position where discussing his re-election is within the realm of possibility is due solely to the fact that he done all he can to run far, far away his economic policies, their consequences, and from a discussion of his plans for the future. But, even if Obama wins, the Democrats will have a very narrow window in which to enact their own “reforms” regarding the fiscal cliff, and that means we will have a very narrow window to stop them.
If President Obama is elected, he will be elected with either much-reduced majority in the Senate, or with a House and Senate controlled by the good guys. In either case, his position will be considerably weakened. He knows that. The Democrat Party knows that. They know that if Obama wins the Presidency, in the aftermath of the election they will have only a short time to press forward with their socialist, Statist agenda before the Senate shifts further to the right. Much like they used the stunning and spectacular Republican victories of 2010 as an excuse to push their agenda in a lame-duck session before the new class of legislators took office, if Obama wins he and his cronies will be hoping to force major concessions from the GOP in the immediate aftermath of the November elections.
They will have a much-relieved press corps in their corner. There is no doubt that if the Bush Tax Reforms are allowed to expire, piecemeal or in their entirety, the country will suffer swiftly and directly. But, that will not be the angle taken by the media, or by their minders in the Democrat Party. Following an Obama victory, the media will work itself into a whirlwind about the “looming catastrophe” that will occur if we don’t back away from “the fiscal cliff,” and their focus will be entirely on the GOP. “The American people have chosen Obama and his politics,” they will say. And they will paint any efforts by conservatives to halt his agenda as anti-American, as anti-democratic, and as destructive to the American economy and contrary to the will of the American people. None of this will be true, of course. American’s want to drive our Nation’s account out of the red and into the black, but they want to do it by curtailing waste and cutting spending. This, however, will all be quietly ignored as the President “races to avert disaster,” by calling on the lame-duck Senate to impose what are sure to be crippling tax increases and to gut the mandatory spending cuts. His primary targets, and the primary focus of intense media scrutiny, will be the weak-kneed Senators and Congresscritters who so unfortunately carry an (R-) after their name.
Folks, in the event that Obama lies, cheats, and steals his way to victory, in the two months before the new Congress is sworn in, these weak-kneed and weak-winded “moderates” in the GOP need to be our focus, too. Leo Tolstoy noted that “even in the valley of the Shadow of Death, two and two do not make six.” Well, even in the face of an Obama victory, tax increases and more spending are not good politics. There will be legions of “Very Serious Persons,” inside the Beltway and without, who will be more than willing to join the media chorus in clamoring for the GOP to cave under the pressure of the President’s victory, and to concede to letting certain provisions of the Bush Tax Reforms expire. But, just as the chorus was a harbinger of tragedy in Greek dramas, so too would capitulating. A tragedy not only in terms of policy, but politically.
Among those who take off their Marxist-red coated glasses, the issue of whether higher taxes are a benefit or a burden is largely settled. Raising taxes, especially in a time of economic turbulence, would be the fiscal equivalent of going to work in the morning to build a fence, and starting the day by dropping a nine-pound hammer squarely on your foot. It’s a bad idea, and it’s destructive. So, too, would be brushing aside the meager spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect (almost entirely, it is worth noting, because the Republican Party leadership refused to press for cut, cap, and balance, instead choosing to strike the odorous debt ceiling deal with the President) next year. The answer to less debt is less spending; the answer to creating jobs is to free the job-creators and untie the hands of those who have money to spend. Cutting taxes is the easiest and surest way to do the latter, as surely as slicing the size of government is the best way to do the former.
Politically, even if he wins re-election, there is little reason to give even an inch of ground to the President on this issue. If Obama emerges victorious, it won’t be because the American people bought what he was selling. It will be, instead, because the vicious and dishonest campaign of hate that he and his allies waged was simply too much for Mitt Romney to overcome. Indeed, even by waging their campaign in such a fashion, the President is admitting that he doesn’t intend that anyone will vote for him—rather, he just wants to scare folks into voting against Romney. If it works, it doesn’t mean that the American people are ready for more spending, more taxes, and more government—and we cannot allow the weak-backed moderates in our caucus to be convinced by that they do. Especially when the Democratic Senatorial class of 2008 will be shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing the American people in 2014 without the Obama hate-machine behind them pushing them on.
The day after the election, “the fiscal cliff” will be at the center of a tremendous amount of political coverage. In the face of an Obama victory, the media and the Democrat Party will be pressing, and pressing hard, for a “compromise” that is no compromise at all. The President will attempt to batter and beat the lame-duck Congress into submitting to a solution to the “fiscal cliff” that involves raising taxes, and stopping spending cuts. He’ll have only a few weeks to do it. And we’ll only have a few weeks to stop it.
Their principle targets will be John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Dick Lugar, enjoying his last gasps of power before he is replaced by Mr. Mourdock, will be another fine target, as will Orrin Hatch, who seems to have forgotten his new-found conservatism sometime between the primary and his victory speech. Outgoing Democrats will be more than happy to help the President in winning over moderate Republicans, and there is always the very real possibility that Mitch McConnell will forget where he placed his spine.
Friends, we’ve seen how easy it is for our party to bend over, grab its ankles, and allow Dr. Obama to freely administer his examination. We’ve seen how willing they are to do it, too. Over the next few weeks and months, I predict that we will see a low-intensity campaign designed to lay the foundation for a major capitulation in the event that the President wins re-election. The response of conservatives must be immediate and it must be swift. Republicans in Congress must be made to understand that, even if the unthinkable occurs and Obama cajoles his way into another four years, surrendering to him and his Chicago cronies during the lame-duck will be unacceptable. If our moderates can’t find their spines, we will have to be strong for them. If our leaders look willing to bend and bow like Obama on a world tour, we must make sure they know that if they give up the ghost, it will not be forgotten.
Since 2010, we have seen the GOP Leadership squander opportunity after opportunity in the name of “compromise.” But there is no more important opportunity, and no greater danger of “compromise,” than the coming expiration of the Bush Tax Reforms. We cannot let the threat of toppling off the fiscal cliff hold our party hostage, no matter what happens in November.