Election 2012

Boehner Nudge-Nudges Wink-Winks That GOP Would Allow Higher Taxes to Avert Fiscal Cliff


As the lame duck sessions comes a-courtin', it's time to see what sort of bargains the GOP House under Speaker John Boehner will broker to avert the fiscal cliff looming at year's end.

Here's the first hairball oracle, coughed up by the Wash Post:

Boehner suggested that Republicans would still oppose Obama's plan to take "a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates," he said the party is open to "increased revenue .?.?. as the byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all."

It was not immediately clear whether Boehner meant that Republicans would acquiesce only to fresh revenues generated through economic growth rather than actual tax increases. Republicans have long argued that reforming the tax code would generate revenue by improving the economy, an assertion that budget analysts say is difficult to measure. Democrats have insisted that any deal must include tax code changes that would add to government coffers whether or not they help the economy.

But Boehner hinted that he is open to the latter, citing a Republican offer during the negotiations of the congressional supercommittee last fall, as well as his own negotiations with Obama during the 2011 debt-limit battle. At that time, Boehner had tentatively agreed to support $800 billion in additional revenue over the next decade in exchange for Obama's commitment to let the top tax rate fall below the current 35 percent. Obama and other Democrats have long insisted that the George W. Bush-era tax cuts should be permitted to expire for the nation's top earners, raising the top rate to 39.6 percent.

Whole thing here.

There's some projective fantasies going on up there in the Wash Post, for sure (what does hinted mean really?). But even those with short memories can recall that Boehner—who ran unopposed in his Ohio district—is never steadfast in his opposition to all sorts of things that contravene his supposed limited-government bona fides. And be very afraid if Boehner takes to the podium and gets the wee-wee eyes cranking up, because his tears are like acid to freedom.

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  1. Fist of Etiquette| 11.7.12 @ 6:05PM |#


    I couldn’t be more happy with how this went.

    1. Who the fuck “fires up their computer”? Is the concept of a sleep button that hard to grasp?

      1. If you leave your computer on the NSA can hear your thoughts through it.

  2. the byproduct of a growing economy

    So, we’re doooooooooomed.

  3. Not to get off topic, but all along Boehner has been chomping at the bit to work with the Obama White House. He’s a go along to get along type, and would just love to go all bipartisan to get something done.

  4. Of course now is the time to give in. Let tax increases kick in, knowing full well that spending won’t decrease nearly enough, and then 4 years from now when the economy is still shitty the people may be ready to turn on the Democrats.

  5. Elections do have consequences, and spending is what results in the growth of government. If the spending isn’t paid for in taxes now, it’s paid for in taxes later.

    Therefore, it’s certainly hypothetically possible to achieve a deal that actually cuts spending and is worth doing. If it can be accomplished through reducing loopholes and deductions only, not tax rates, then that’s acceptable.

    In reality, I’m wary of the President’s ability to negotiate fairly, and I would strongly fear that any bargain would feature taxes now, spending cuts later (and thus never). But hypothetically I’d be open to the sort of deal that I’m afraid will never happen.

    1. Why are tax hikes always in the future? Why can’t we pay down our own bills?

      1. The same reason why spending cuts are always in the future.

        I’d take tax hikes (strongly prefer eliminating loopholes) right now if the spending cuts are also right now, Tony.

        But the deal offered is always tax hikes now, spending cuts later (or fake spending cuts now.)

        The GOP has learned from this, and offers tax hikes in the future as well.

        Of course, some of it is the voters, who always prefer dessert today and punishment tomorrow.

        1. I’m just curious why the reason given for the debt being such a huge crisis is because “our children and grandchildren” will be stuck with it. Well, not if our children’s and grandchildren’s congressmen keep signing Grover Norquist’s pledge!

          There is ample room for a deal, and the Dems will probably go with something horrifying on entitlement programs, all Republicans have to do is stop being stupid hardline dogmatists on taxes.

          1. And didn’t the Democrats run ads complaining about the “enormous” deficits under George W. Bush– but only wanted to deal with it by raising taxes (but only on the rich, which wouldn’t be mathematically sufficient to deal with it), not by cutting spending?

            The parties are the mirror image on that. Once the GOP figured out how to copy the Democrats’ “spending cuts later / it’s too soon to cut spending now” with “tax hikes later / it’s too soon to raise taxes now” we were all screwed.

            1. What I’m saying is Democrats have put lots of spending cuts on the table. All that’s needed is Republicans putting a dime of tax hikes on it too. It would also be nice if they would support cutting some military spending.

              1. They have put spending cuts on the table in the future. Not in the present.

                I do agree on military spending. Mulvaney (R-SC) cosponsored a bill to apply the same freeze to military spending as to other domestic programs, rebelling against the House leadership. Over one-third of the House Republicans voted for it, and it passed, with the vast majority of Democrats voting for it.

                And the fiscal cliff hits military spending.

                I agree that I’d like more Republicans to support cutting military spending. But they’re not as a whole going to go farther in cutting military spending now than the Democrats do on addressing other spending now.

                They’re not going to take a deal where all the military spending cuts or tax hikes take place now, but the other spending cuts are in the future. Yet that’s what’s always actually “on the table.”

                1. It’s also unlikely, Tony, that you can easily get Republicans to agree to both military spending and lots of tax hikes. Different groups would agree to one or the other.

                  Which would you prefer, incidentally? I suppose it depends on numbers, but I wonder what your relative preferences are for military spending cuts versus tax hikes in the same dollar amount.

                  1. That’s exactly what they agreed to in the debt deal. The problem is that the Republicans don’t want to follow through on their own rhetoric. They want to repeal the fiscal cliff because they can’t swallow the military spending cuts.

                    1. Well, the Republicans aren’t monolithic on it, and as a result you don’t have consistent preferences. As the Mulvaney-Frank Amendment showed, a good part of the caucus will accept military cuts.

                      Other parts would raise taxes.

                      But, especially when negotiating with Democrats, everybody kicking the can down the road and accepting large deficits might be the compromise, and might be what voters prefer.

                    2. If the Dems were smart, they’d try to peel off Republicans who are willing to cut military spending. Just as if the GOP were smart, they’d try to campaign on closing loopholes and reducing spending for the rich.

      2. Why are tax hikes always in the future? Why can’t we pay down our own bills?

        “Why is increased theft always in the future? Why can’t I, and others like me, use ballots instead of bullets to force others to pay down a criminal gang’s bills?”

        Translated from Tonyspeak for ya.

  6. Aren’t higher taxes PART OF the “fiscal cliff” ?

    I thought that was the whole point. The combination of tax increases and spending cuts is supposed to be so ruinous that we had to not allow them to happen.

    Maybe the American people kept the status quo because they really want tax increases AND sending cuts to happen.

    I wouldn’t mind going off the “fiscal cliff”, personally. it would be a tiny first step towards actually solving the deficit problem.

    1. According to the CBO, around 60-65% of the deficit change would be due to tax increases of some form, whether in new taxes, or expiration of tax cuts.

      1. That’s actually a much better percentage than how these deals usually end up.

        It’s the the percentage that Democrats incorrectly claim about the deals, yes, but it’s better than normal.

        If the fiscal cliff actually means real spending cuts now, I’d be willing to do it.

        1. It does mean real spending cuts now. That’s exactly why everyone is against it.
          They’re freaking out saying that it’ll cause a recession because the government will be spending less.

    2. Maybe the American people kept the status quo because they really want tax increases AND sending cuts to happen.

      Correct, they want everybody else to pay more taxes and everyone else to get less free shit.

  7. Did I imagine seeing Harry Reid proposing to tax income over $1 million by an additional .03%? I started laughing too hard to follow the whole thing.

  8. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but Obama campaigned pretty openly on a higher taxes platform. And apparently that’s what the people wanted. And like it or not, they were able to pin the “obstructionist” label on Republicans in a way that seems to have stuck, given the general crappy performance of the party. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Republicans rolling over on this point.

    Although, personally, I think both parties would benefit from actually doing the things they said they stood for. If the Democrats, for example, actually were better for civil liberties; and the Republicans actually were better for limited government… but I don’t think I’m going to even dare to dream after Tuesday’s fiasco.

    1. He campaigned on a “higher taxes for the 1%” platform.

      As in “more free shit for you. More taxes for someone other than you.”

    2. All the congressmen that just got relected campaigned on not increasing taxes. And all spending bills are supposed to originate there. Too bad they are a bunch of pussies.

  9. If Boehner suddenly grows a spine, a pair of testicles, and a few neurons, he might actually be able to sit Obama out and make him go first, so that all the tax hikes have Obama’s fingerprints on them.

    That’s all he has to do to set this up for the best possible outcome (which still isn’t very good). Just sit there, with his arms crossed, saying “You won, Mr. President, so we’re going to work on your bill. Introduce a bill, not a series of vague talking points, and we will start the negotiations.” You’d think he could manage that, but he never has, and I see no reason to think that will change.

    1. That’s what he’s saying right now, almost exactly “It’s time for the President to lead. You won.”

      I somehow doubt it will work, but it’s a reasonable position, both substantively and optically.

      1. It won’t work, because Boehner will not be able to just sit there, arms folded, looking across the table and waiting for an actual draft bill to land on it, before he starts negotiating.

        The half-wit Repub leadership makes the rookie mistake in negotiations of negotiating against themselves. During one of the debt limit “crises”, Boehner actually kicked off the talks be saying there was absolutely no way they wouldn’t raise the debt limit before it ran out. What an ineffective noob.

        1. Well, he was right that there was no way that the debt limit wouldn’t be raised. It would be disastrous. The problem is that playing hardball any more than he did would have been beaten by the Dems’ hardball, since the crisis would have been blamed on the GOP.

          I agree, and have made the point repeatedly with moderates and liberals, that the Democrats were playing just as serious a game of chicken with the debt limit over tiny, tiny symbolic cuts, and that in the end the GOP caved.

          Buy you and I know that the media didn’t portray it that way, and won’t portray it that way. So I don’t know what he can do.

          1. The crying shame in all of this is that the “fiscal cliff” is all that the Republicans got out of the debt ceiling crisis. And now they are pussies and they don’t want to go through with it.

            They set themselves up for this by pushing the spending cuts back past the election. They should have known this would happen. It was a total cave what they did 1.5 years ago. A total cave.
            They lost way before we got to this point.

            1. They pushed the spending cuts back past the election because they thought that they might win the Presidency. Both sides were okay with making it contingent on the elections after they couldn’t come to a real agreement. All sides also technically only wanted the fiscal cliff to be a fallback encouraging a deal to be struck before then.

              The GOP did try to be clever and arrange it so that the WARN Act layoff notices would have to go out before the election, to be blamed on Obama. Obama got around that by just declaring that “the fiscal cliff wasn’t going to happen” so it was okay to pressure companies not to send them out.

              1. “They pushed the spending cuts back past the election because they thought that they might win the Presidency.”

                You are correct, sir!

    2. Fear not. All of the tax hikes are going to have Obama’s finger prints on them.

  10. So, like I said, Boehner stood firm for all of 20 minutes.

    There will be total capitulation.

    Obama just drank my milkshake.


    Abandon all hope. Obama’s gonna screw us, and there’s nothing we can do about it–for at least another two years. Probably four.

    1. The total capitulation was last year. The Republicans agreed to a deal in which the spending cuts would be pushed back past the election, so the lame duck congress could repeal them. They already capitulated.

      1. I’ll take the fiscal cliff–the deal as it is right now–over whatever Obama wants to do to avoid it.

        1. I should amend that.

          I think it very unlikely that Obama will demand LESS taxes than what the fiscal cliff presents us with.

  11. Boehner is right. The fact of the matter is, we need to be bringing in surpluses when we have debt exceeding 100% of GDP and use the surplus to pay down the principal on the debt. Bickering over a 3% tax increase on the upper class’s income taxes while rejecting any prospect of cuts to their own sacred cows indicates that the Republicans are just as guilty of the debt crisis or more so than the Democrats. “Tax and spend” is more responsible than “put it on the credit card and spend,” which seems to be their policy when you cut through the shallow, manicured rhetoric.

    If we keep electing politicians who want to spend ad nauseam, I’d rather the current voters pay the price today than dump it on the next generation.

    1. “we need to be bringing in surpluses when we have debt exceeding 100% of GDP and use the surplus to pay down the principal on the debt.”

      The purpose of paying down the debt is to avoid high taxation. Raising taxes to pay down debt gets it exactly backwards.

      We’re paying less than 1.5% for ten years right now. If you think paying higher taxes is better for the economy than paying 1.5% interest for ten years, yer otta yer mind.

      1. Isn’t the U.S. Gov’t constantly re-financing the debt though so that it isn’t composed of primarily 10 year notes at 1.5%? Moreover, isn’t our historically low interest rate contingent upon our continued ability to service the debt, something issuing greater and greater debt interferes with?

        Otherwise, I agree with you. 1.5% is a great rate for a debtor, especially when you factor inflation along with it.

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