Why John Boehner Must Not Fold on Tax Rate Increases

Often things get lost in the daily grind of politics. The fact that the GOP is willing to raise taxes gets lost by the media because the media wants the GOP to raise rates.


This Politico story makes very clear John Boehner must not raise rates. Better to go off the cliff than raise rates.

In a meeting with leadership staff, [Rob] Nabors reiterated the administration’s hard line that tax rates on top earners must go up, according to Republican sources with knowledge of the meeting. The White House is also insisting that Congress give it power to raise the debt limit on its own.

Furthermore, in a development that could signal a step closer to the fiscal cliff, Nabors said the White House’s offer stands on mandatory spending on entitlement programs, the sources said.

But another source familiar with the discussion offered a conflicting take, saying Nabors repeated that Obama isn’t wedded to every detail of his plan. Nabors also conveyed that, once Republicans move on rates, “they can get a deal very quickly,” the source said.

Why would every other issue move quickly if the Republicans would just agree to raise rates? Because of two issues.

The White House knows that if they cannot get the GOP to vote to increase rates, they will get crushed on the tax issue in the midterms. Their red state Democrats need political cover before they can vote to increase taxes. That cover is a Republican cave.


The White House also knows that if they can get the GOP to vote to increase taxes once, it will be far easier to get them to do it again.

Barack Obama needs the Republicans to raise rates. If they do not get it before January 1, all of the Bush tax cuts will expire and the GOP will not permit any reduction without it being an across the board reduction. Moderate Democrats in the Senate and the few remaining blue dogs in the House will be in a very difficult position.

There is still no evidence that Barack Obama’s 2008 or 2012 coalition is the Democrats’ coalition. It did not turn out to save Democrats in 2010. There is no guarantee it will turn out to save them in 2014. But what the moderate Democrats do know is that both Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi were perfectly willing to throw them under the bus in 2010. Only Harry Reid tried to save his moderate Democrats. That puts Barack Obama in a very tight spot after January 1st.

We must make sure Boehner does not buckle this year. It gets easier after the New Year.


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