After the election, there appeared to be a thawing of the gridlock in Congress over how to deal with taxes and the deficit. But House Speaker John Boehner met with President Obama on Wednesday and declined to agree to any plan that would increase taxes for the very rich.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), former chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee and a respected strategist, was one of the initial conservatives to hint at moving off the GOP stalemate on tax increases for the top 2 percent. However, Boehner and the GOP-dominated House never agreed with Cole’s suggestion to allow the extension of Bush-era tax rates for incomes up to $250,000 and not extend them for millionaires and billionaires.
Instead, Boehner gravitated back to the previous, completely unfounded position that claimed raising the tax rate by 4.5 percent, putting them back to the Clinton-era levels, would be too hard on small business, although a majority of small businesses make profits under the $250,000 limit and would not be negatively impacted.
“Raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent … half of those people are small-business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income tax filing every year” Boehner told reporters. “We’re not going to grow the economy if we raise tax rates on the top two rates. It’ll hurt small businesses. It’ll hurt our economy. That’s why it’s not the right approach. We’ll be willing to put revenue on the table as long as we’re not raising rates.”
Critics say that House Republicans are ignoring what the American people, who elected them to office, want to see happen under the new GOP reality after being soundly defeated in the election.
What do the voters want?
According to a poll discussed Tuesday on CNN, 61 percent of voters say they support the plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers, while only 36 percent of registered voters oppose the move.
Warren Buffet, a billionaire many times over, agreed this week that rich people, including himself, should pay more in taxes because they can afford it more than middle-class taxpayers. He has made numerous appearances in the past few days to support the president and Democratic plans. He said that it would not hurt the economy or the job creators to do so.
The tired argument that increased tax rates on the rich would prevent them from creating jobs has been demonstrated inaccurate based on simple day-to-day reality. No one has answered the question, if they were going to create jobs, why haven’t they done so by now, since they have enjoyed a lower tax rate and tax-avoidance loopholes throughout the entire recession?
Dogmatic influence has no place in “fiscal cliff” discussions
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson expressed dismay and disappointment in an MSNBC interview from the Hill on Wednesday after hearing the result of the Boehner/Obama meeting:
“Grover Norquist is a zealot who should not be playing this kind of game. His tax pledge was initiated at a different time, when unemployment was low and the economy was doing well, and it has no place in today’s negotiations. We need everything on the table. We can’t cut our way out, spend our way out or grow our way out of this. We need to have all three, and Obama is still willing to consider entitlement reforms. This gridlock by Republicans will impact the markets and the result will punish the little guys.”
The critical consensus is that John Boehner doesn’t have control of a Republican Party that is comprised of ideological demagogues, who are beholden to Wall Street, the oil industry and radically conservative constituents, who are still asking God why they lost the election.
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