As we head toward crunch time in the all-important Debt Ceiling negotiation, the GOP’s Tea Party-inspired hard-line position has already yielded potentially game-changing concessions on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending from President Obama and the Democrats – all without giving up a thing!
The GOP has done this by maintaining a hard line on “no new net revenues.” Faced with this position, the Democrats have continually retreated and agreed to even more cuts in the above-mentioned entitlement programs.
As of today, it is being leaked by the White House that President Obama wants a $4 trillion deal – as opposed to the $2 trillion currently being discussed. The word “big” came out of the President’s mouth yesterday at his White House press availability.
Plus, there was a secret White House meeting last weekend with the Speaker.
Putting all of this together leads us to the following thoughts:
1. There will be a deal of some sort by the end of July; it may also not be a short-term can-kicker. Who wants this to be repeated next year in the middle of an election?
2. The GOP has performed magnificently up until now – with one big but: they have to come off their no-revenue-increase position at the last minute of the deal;
3. Politically it is crazy to be painted as the party that not only cut/eliminated/changed Medicare in the Ryan budget, but now dug in its heals on saving tax breaks and loopholes for uber-rich billionaires and corporations.
4. We on the Right want to be for lower taxes for the middle and working class - not for the super-rich or Big Corporations!
5. We need more populism – and less of this stuck-in-the-mud Grover Norquist tax pledge nonsense.
6. The GOP in the House and Senate helped create this massive National Debt with their ungodly spending spree with G.W. Bush in the 2001-2007 period: two unpaid-for-wars, an un-necessary tax cut, prescription drug entitlements and massive annual deficit spending. So their newfound fiscal conservatism is a joke.
Conclusion: if the GOP doesn’t come off this tax position, they will be painted as “in the tank for the rich,” which along with their previous Medicare vote, will make them untenable in the 2012 elections - especially among the crucial bloc of independent voters.
However, if they do make a deal with new revenues coming from closing loopholes and taxing the very-rich, there can be a real debt-reduction deal that helps revive our moribund economy.
That deal is up to the GOP and Tea Party: squeeze everything they can from the Democrats – and then give in a bit on taxing the rich.
That’s good economics – and great politics.
John LeBoutillier is a former U.S. congressman and a nationally recognized political commentator. LeBoutillier has been a prolific writer and he has contributed to many major newspapers and magazines. In 1980, LeBoutillier was elected to represent New York’s 6th District becoming the youngest member of the 97th Congress. He also has been a frequent commentator, host and guest of many media programs.