December 13 2012

Does President Obama Really Fear the Fiscal Cliff?

Charlotte Hays

When are the Republicans going to learn to tell it like it is?

If you want to know how ineffective they can be in laying out the dilemma before us, here are the vague words of Speaker of the House John Boehner as quoted today in USA Today:

"The president wants to pretend spending isn't the problem. That's why we don't have an agreement," Boehner said. "Unfortunately, the White House is so unserious about cutting spending that it appears willing to slow-walk our economy right up to -- and over -- the fiscal cliff."  

So you think the president just doesn't quite want to face reality, Mr. Boehner? Gosh, that sounds like a real serious misunderstanding.

Nobody envies Boehner’s lot right now.  It can’t be pleasant to try daily to come to an agreement with a White House that appears to unwilling to give a centimeter. But--let's face it--his words are inadequate. Isn't it high time that the GOP publicly ask if the president is a lot more than merely “willing” to go over the fiscal cliff?

While nobody but Barack Obama knows what is in Barack Obama’s head, it is beginning to look as if he has no fear of the fiscal cliff. Michael Barone has a scary column that addresses the possibility that the president might welcome going over the cliff.

Barone writes:

[D]oesn't this president, like his predecessors, want bounteous economic growth?

Maybe not. First-term presidents want strong economic growth because they think they need it to be re-elected. But Obama has already been re-elected without it.

And economic growth produces things Obama doesn't like. Some people -- and not necessarily those with government subsidies -- get very rich. Obama prefers a more equal income distribution. The Depression of the 1930s did a great job of increasing economic equality.

Obama seeks to direct the economy in certain politically correct channels. He delights in subsidizing "green jobs" making solar panels or electric cars. Not coincidentally, losers like Solyndra and Fisker had backing from Obama political insiders.

The oil and natural gas boom ignited by hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- on private lands does not delight him so much. He sought credit for it on the campaign trail. But his regulators are itching to stamp it out.

It’s time to quit pussy footing around this very serious matter. The GOP must ask publicly: Is this all a charade, Mr. President? Somehow the GOP seems reluctant to challenge the president's narrative in any persuasive way. 

Instead they let Vice President Joe Biden get away with charging, as he does in an op-ed today, that it is the GOP that is holding the tax cuts for the middle class hostage. Is it too much to ask that the GOP inform the public that this is not exactly the case?

Former senator Jim Talent has an excellent “fiscal-cliff” primer over at national review, and one of the things that he urges the GOP to do is “lay out the stakes.”

Here is a snippet from Talent’s primer:

5) Q. What’s the official position of the Democrats?

A. They want to continue the tax cuts on middle-income taxpayers and to raise tax rates on higher-income taxpayers.

6) Q. What’s their real position?

A. They want as much tax revenue as they can get. They also believe that next year they can reinstate any of the tax provisions they decide they like. So they believe that, by allowing the country to go over the cliff, they will collect a huge amount of new revenue that will relieve the pressure on them to cut spending, while still being able to reenact later a few of the smaller tax benefits that actually appeal to them.

Is it too much to ask that Speaker Boehner stop making silly statements to the effect that the other side “wants to pretend” that spending isn’t a problem.  Note to Speaker Boehner: The Democrats are eager to spend us into the poor house. Take a deep breath GOP and start telling us what is really going on.

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