Don’t negotiate on the Fiscal Cliff

The Democrats have made three demands.

First, the President and Senate Democrats want the Bush tax cuts to expire.  They are insisting on raising tax rates on the people best equipped to create wealth, to 39%.  They are not negotiating.  They have not made an offer.  They are demanding that taxes go up.  They intend on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire after Christmas so that they can come back in January and cut taxes for those paying the least amount to begin with.  They have drawn a line in the sand.

Second, the President wants to raise the debt ceiling again.  Last time he was given fair warning that we couldn’t keep raising it without a responsible plan to pay down our debts.  It is still yet to be seen whether we are approaching the last raise responsibly.  But this time, the President has refused to make concessions on the largest cause of the debt – entitlement programs. 

Finally, the President does not want to see the Sequestration cuts to defense spending occur, but because he believes this to be the Republican’s sacred cow, he plans to use this as a bargaining chip against Republicans.  He is demanding that R’s make this issue theirs. 

A plan of opposition

Democrats in Washington are giddy and emboldened following their recent victory.  Meanwhile, polls suggest that Republicans would take a beating if there was a shutdown or if we defaulted.  In other words, the polls suggest that the House of Representatives would take the blame for going over the fiscal cliff. 

This leaves many Republicans ready to deal.  This is a miscalculation.  They should negotiate in 2013 from a position of strength, not in December from a position of weakness.

There is blood in the water.  Gingrich gave in twenty years ago and the President won.  Republicans caved a year ago and Obama came out on top.  But what R’s too often miss is that, to the victor goes the spoils.  The person who wins a race is the one who has the stamina to go the longest.  The reason Clinton and Obama beat the House was because their will was stronger than the will of House leadership holding together 435 nervous members. 

But a united leadership could end Obama’s effectiveness early on. 

Democrats aren’t willing to budge on the Bush tax cuts, so why should we?  We hold the House.  The American people voted for divided government.  Every week we should pass the same bill extending the tax cuts for ALL Americans.  The President may have beat Mitt Romney on this front, but he couldn’t dent our House Majority.  And we have a right to have a say in the people’s House. 

Let the Democrats hold out on the Bush tax cuts.  They have more to lose than Republicans do.  We want tax cuts for everyone and if we hold firm, the American people will blame the President.  In 2012, the American people don’t blame one chamber of Congress for a failure of government – they blame our leader, they blame the President of the United States.  Obama beat a paper tiger this month, so what?  The representatives of the people oppose his plan.  Obama is the one that wants to raise taxes, so lay it at his feet.  Long before Super Bowl Sunday in February, Obama will cave.  He’ll have no choice, his legacy will hang in the balance.    

Second, the debt ceiling presents specific risks.  It is irresponsible to say, “let us default on our debt” without understanding what we are talking about. 

The U.S.’s credit downgrade last year was due to a combination of republican recalcitrance combined with the out-of-control debt.  But Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling is not the problem, but rather an extension of the problem.  The issue is that, it is becoming impossible to ever pay our debt down.  Our credit rankings will continue to slide if we go forward and it isn’t hyperbole to ask if we could go the way of Greece. 

So, not raising the debt ceiling by the deadline will likely rock the markets at first, but it will rock the White House even harder.  It won’t be 72 hours before Obama agrees to significant (I’m talking percentage points of the budget) cuts to go into effect DURING his term.  We should leave him no choice.

Pew Research be damned, if anyone thinks the American people will blame a united Republican House for forcing Obama to be an adult — they don’t understand the electorate.

The President takes the blame for economic failure.  And he will, and as soon as he feels the heat, he’ll retreat.  He can use the bully pulpit to blame Congress, but he is the face of government. 

Finally, we should want sequestration cuts to go into effect.  I don’t want it as a Virginian, but the rest of America needs to realize that something is going to have to give.  This is a win-win for Republicans.  If sequestration takes effect, we cut spending but if Obama wants to lead the charge in reversing it, let him.  Lay it at his feet.  Make him own it.

The reality of the election results is that it is now the President’s job to lead and to put forth the first proposal.  The House controls the purse strings and when we are discussing fiscal matters, the will of the House should trump the will of the White House. 

If this was a normal argument, we could be civil.  But this is shaping up to be a knock-down-drag out fight, and you can’t win one of those by being nice.  Obama brought a gun to a knifefight in the 2012 elections.  This guy is serious and we are going to have to get serious too.  Fool us once shame on him, fool us twice shame on us.