An Open Letter to John Boehner

Dear Mr. Speaker,

I am afraid that in negotiating with President Obama on the pending fiscal cliff that you and the Republican leadership have lost your way.  In your desire to strike a “Grand Bargain”, you risk making a “bad bargain” which will cause permanent damage to the Republican Party, alienate conservatives, and have lasting consequences for the American economy.  In a desire to make a deal, you forget that you–not the President, not Harry Reid, not Congressional Democrats, and certainly not the mainstream media–are holding all of the cards.  What you must keep in mind in these final days of 2012 is what the fiscal cliff is really all about and what you still have time to resolve in the new Congress that convenes in January.

Mr. Speaker, you do not have to fix entitlement programs before January 1.  Those programs are exempt from sequestration and delaying entitlement reform for the new year is not “kicking the can” down the road.  It has already been kicked.  The same is true for reforming the tax code.  Simplifying the tax code is a major project that can likewise be postponed.  The same is true of budget cuts–you have a continuing resolution and an increase in the debt ceiling coming up next year in which you can deal with reducing the budget.

So, what should you do, Mr. Speaker?  Why not start with two issues that the Democrats can’t object to–a permanent “doc fix” and a permanent “AMT patch”.  How could President Obama refuse to sign those two pieces of legislation.  Pass them immediately and send them over to Harry Reid in the Senate.

Then, there’s the big one:  The House should pass legislation that makes the Bush tax cuts permanent for everyone except millionaire and billionaires.  Call it an Act to Make the George W. Bush Tax Cuts Permanent for the Middle Class.  Dare the Democrats to vote against it.  Dare President Obama to refuse to sign it.  Dare them to insist that tax rates have to increase on everyone making $250,000 and up or risk making tax rates increase on everyone.  Recognize that even when Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency that you couldn’t pass legislation making these tax cuts permanents.  Accept 99.5% of what Republicans have wanted for ten years and declare that a victory.

The final piece of legislation that you also ought to pass is a permanent reduction in the payroll tax on employees.  This would roll back the payroll tax increase that Ronald Reagan negotiated with Tip O’Neill, money that Congress spent year after year, which helped create the mess we are now in.  Include in this legislation a requirement that all revenue generated from increasing the tax rate on millionaires and billionaires would be placed in the Social Security Trust Fund to replace revenue lost by this permanent payroll tax cut.  This would be fair, because of the cap on income that individuals pay social security taxes.  Also, you will have not voted to increase taxes, if you balance that increase with a tax cut.  Show the middle class that Republicans really do care about putting more of their own money back in their pockets.

Don’t try to fix sequestration.  Not now.  Take the trillion dollars in across the board cuts that have already been enacted and signed into law.  Congess tried and couldn’t come up with an alternative.  The President promised in the debates that sequestration wouldn’t happen.  Tell him to come up with an alternative list of cuts or forget it.  You can fix the problem with the defense budget next year.  Make him sweat on this issue.

And, as for extending unemployment benefits.  Hey, we’re in the middle of a recovery.  The unemployment rate is going down.  We don’t need to extend those benefits any longer.  Let them expire.

Finally, after you have passed the doc fix, the AMT patch, the  Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cuts, adjourn the House.  Tell the other side to take it or leave it.  And act like you don’t really care.