Here we go again. The Bush era tax cuts (now a decade old and counting) are set to expire again. They were originally set to expire in 2010, but Congress and the president agreed to extend them for two years because a) the economy wasn’t doing so well then (and, as Peter Suderman noted earlier, it’s not doing so well now either) and b) it would be after the election. And now here we are; President Obama began campaigning for tax hikes soon after being re-elected last week.
What would Mitt Romney have done? Unfortunately it may not be just an idle question. The president’s already claimed “the majority of voters agreed” with him on higher taxes, more voters, even, he said, than actually voted for him. On election night, Obama promised to reach out and try to work with Mitt Romney. Romney probably shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for that opportunity to materialize; nevertheless, if the president got Romney’s endorsement on some specific plan, he could claim he’s got the support of all the voters, even as something like 70 percent of eligible voters did something other than vote for Obama on election day.
The dean of Columbia’s Business School, Glenn Hubbard, a former Romney advisor, did his part to help clear the path to higher taxes for the president, arguing in the op-ed pages of the Financial Times that the first step to negotiating the coming fiscal cliff is to, you guessed it, raise taxes on the rich (“to raise average (not marginal) tax rates on upper-income taxpayers,” as Hubbard put it). He did acknowledge “taxing the rich” can’t fund the entitlement state and that a larger government would necessitate across-the-board tax hikes. How… comforting? The federal budget is at about $3.7 trillion a year and growing. It was half that as recently as 2001. And now the economic advisor for the Republican’s 2012 standard bearer has laid out a way to higher taxes (or “revenue raising” in DC newspeak).
Bonus points: Hubbard also suggested a “universal consumption tax”.
Apropos: The 1988 SNL skit “Dukakis After Dark,” where Lloyd Bentsen (played by Matthew Modine) asks Michael Dukakis (played by Jon Lovitz) “now that it's all over, you can tell me, you were going to raise taxes weren't you?” to which Dukakis responds "Oh you bet I was, through the roof! But now I won't get the chance." George H.W. Bush won the 1988 election, and despite America reading his lips, he raised taxes just like Dukakis would’ve.