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GOP: Please Don’t Jump

Better to take the deal on middle class tax cuts now and work for something better later.

by
Robert Zubrin

Bio

December 14, 2012 - 11:25 pm

Dear Republicans: Please wake up. Barack Obama is a welfare state socialist. There is nothing he would like better than a 5 trillion dollar tax increase, an opportunity to gut military spending, and millions of additional destitute people begging for handouts.  But he needs someone else to take the blame for such a catastrophe. This is the role you are volunteering for by refusing to pass the middle class-only tax cut he has put on offer as his bottom line condition for avoiding the Fiscal Cliff.

I am a small business man with a personal income high enough to be affected by the repeal of the Bush tax cut for the upper two percent. Like all other small businessmen in my position, I would certainly prefer not to take the hit. But repealing the Bush tax cuts for all income levels would be far worse. Not only would it increase our own taxes still more, by hitting the portion of our incomes below $250,000, but it would slam our bottom line hard by decreasing the effective wages of our employees and customers and increasing the costs, and thus prices, of our vendors. The same can be said for the repeal of the payroll tax cut. And if you are against the growth of taxation, why on Earth would you want to increase it by $5 trillion, in place of the $850 billion Barack Obama is willing to settle for?

It is perfectly true that raising the rates on the upper two percent will have negligible impact on the deficit, and that Obama’s demand in this respect is obsessive infantile demagoguery. But he has the power to get his way on this, because the 99.5 percent of the American people who have all or a substantial portion of their incomes below $250,000 are not willing to go to the wall to prevent a tax increase on the rest.

So please, face facts, stop trying to invent alternative creative ways to raise taxes — they will only be added to Obama’s core demand — and just pass the middle class income and payroll tax cuts. If you are worried about your pledge to Grover Norquist, you can then vote for another bill to save the Bush tax cuts for the upper two percent. This will almost certainly fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but you will be able to tell Mr. Norquist — and the nation — that you had done your best, and your statement will be one hundred percent true. It’s very simple. You don’t have the votes to get everything you want, so get what you can.

If you think you can gain leverage by holding 98 percent of the American people as hostages, you are out of your minds. You are not gaining leverage, you are gaining enemies — hundreds of millions of them. This is madness. The bottom 98 percent is not a sliver of the electorate you can write off in the hope of making it up with higher turnout among the rest. If you keep this up, you will turn America into a one-party state.

But once you have the tax threat to the middle class off the table, you will no longer have the overwhelming majority of the nation against you, and you may be able to negotiate something meaningful in exchange for allowing Obama to satisfy his obsession on the two percenters’ tax rate. If the problem to be addressed is indeed the deficit, there are two things you need to ask for. The first is a gradual raise in the age required to obtain retirement benefits, for example by increasing it by one month per year for the next 36 years. This is fundamentally necessary to put these programs into balance because of the large increase in American life expectancy that has occurred since they were created in the 1930s. Furthermore, however, by keeping the most skilled and highest paid part of the workforce on the job for additional time, such a measure will significantly increase the tax base, not just for Social Security, but for general revenue.

The other concession you should seek is an agreement to a freeze on new regulations without congressional approval until unemployment drops below five percent. The Obama administration has put into effect a multitude of job destroying, cost increasing, paperwork proliferating regulations, and threatens to do much worse in the near future. They are literally tying the economy up in red tape. Even the operations of the federal government itself have been severally impaired, as massive paperwork requirements have stalled the issuance of contracts to get anything done.  This is why many of the “shovel ready” infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus bill never got their hands on a shovel. Now, new regulations by the EPA threaten to shut down the coal-fired power plants that generate 40 percent of the nation’s power, thereby driving up electricity costs and destroying America’s competitiveness. This war on business needs to stop, or at least be quelled with a temporary truce. Otherwise we will never get the economic recovery we need to generate the new revenues required to really set the nation’s fiscal house in order.

That’s it. Cuts in discretionary programs should not be part of any ten-year grand bargain. Rather they should be dealt with as part of the ordinary legislative process, exactly as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

This brings me to the final subject; preserving the Constitution. Recently, the administration added to its negotiating position the demand that they be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money without the consent of Congress. This cannot be accepted, because it would mean abolishing the republic. So if they stick with that demand, there is no choice but to jump the Cliff. But in that case, Americans will all know that the catastrophe occurred not because Republicans were seeking perks for the rich, but because Obama was seeking dictatorial power.

If he takes that leap, it’s his suicide.  Right now, it’s yours. Choose your stand wisely.

Dr. Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of "Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil". His newest book, "Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism" has just been published by Encounter Books.
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