PHOENIX, November 29, 2012 ― In the heated “fiscal cliff” discussions, Congressional Republicans are failing to use the only card that has been dealt to them: go off the fiscal cliff.
President Obama’s big announcement this week that Congressional Republicans should cave to the Democrats’ demands of letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for top income earners has left few Republicans actually considering the president’s absurd proposal.
If the Republicans in Congress feel that since Barack Obama won reelection, they must cave to all his fiscal demands, they’ve proven themselves stooges. Republicans have agreed to raise revenues, but Democrats have not yet agreed to cut spending and reform entitlements.
If Republicans assume they have nothing to bring to the table, they will cave, thus undermining the entire Grand Old Party platform of being the low tax sympathizers. Caving on taxes will be detrimental to Republicans; many voters have little faith in the current GOP leadership, and caving would likely trigger the loss of all faith.
If the country does go over the fiscal cliff, it will trigger another recession with two million new Americans out of work and unemployment officially above 9 percent. This would severely damage Barack Obama’s legacy as president and doom the Democratic Party in the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections.
Going over the fiscal cliff is the only leverage the Republicans have over Obama and the Congressional Democrats. If it happens, it will raise taxes on all Americans and probably usher in another recession. Republicans should use the threat of that as an advantage in an effort to halt Obama’s demands that taxes be raised without first agreeing to entitlement reform and adequate spending cuts.
Since Obama secured a second term, he doesn’t care who is blamed for the current fiscal fiasco. The result of the fiscal cliff negotiations will probably be a plan that won’t please all. It is now up to the Republicans to decide whether or not Obama comes out on top. If he cashes in on his campaign promise of raising taxes on the top earners, Republicans will have failed.
If Obama begins his second term with the country going off the fiscal cliff, it will ruin his final four years as president and hurt his chances at planned immigration reform, the possible reconsideration of the American Jobs Act, and planned clean energy advancements.
Conversely, another complication we’ve seen with these fiscal cliff discussions is the media and Congress making them primarily about taxes, when as a whole, the problem is much broader than just tax reform.
The Democrats have strategically taken Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid off the negotiation table, despite the fact that they are the biggest drivers by far of our rapidly expanding federal budget. They are also heading rapidly towards insolvency.
Raising taxes isn’t going to solve any fiscal problems facing the country; it’s only a short-term proposition to a long-term problem. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid need to be reevaluated and revamped to make them less costly and more solvent.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, the Democrats have successfully painted any GOP effort to reform entitlements as ‘gutting the program’. We saw this adamantly with the introduction of Rep. Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ proposal that was heavily criticized during the campaign.
If Republicans want to retain any support in the coming elections, they must enter these meetings with no plans to concede to the president. In the looming fiscal battle, entitlement reforms and spending cuts must be on the table or the Republicans have already lost.
However, the idea that the Republicans in Congress are coming to the fiscal cliff discussions empty handed couldn’t be any further away from the truth. Going off the fiscal cliff would end the Democratic Party and Republicans must leverage it, instead of caving to the president.
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