Here are two things to keep in mind with regards to Boehner’s budget offer. First, when you begin negotiations agreeing to 60% of the demands of the other side and fail to offer a bold contrast on the other 40%, you are headed for an outcome that is 80-90% favorable to your opponent. Second, when you need to outsource your budget plan and entire view of government to Democrat Erskine Bowles, you are relegating yourself and your party to irrelevancy.
John Boehner and other House GOP leaders have offered Obama a plan to raise $800 billion in revenue through “tax reform.” I’m not sure how you raise revenue in a static framework without raising taxes, but let’s put that aside for a moment. The $1.4 trillion in savings from the spending side is the real problem. Once again, they fail to offer a bold contrast concerning their view of the role of government.
When you cut through the illusory narrative generated by the media reports of “trillion in cuts,” you’ll realize that not a single program or agency is eliminated, at least not without the creation of a new one in its place. They have not put on the table a plan to eliminate even a few of the 2,184 assistance programs. They certainly have not demanded repeal of Obamacare as a condition of raising taxes.
And speaking of Obamacare, why are Republicans not demanding that the Obamacare tax hikes, the worst part of the fiscal cliff, be terminated as a part of the compromise? While all the focus is on which tax cuts are slated to expire, Republicans have largely failed to communicate to the public that 5 of the 18 Obamacare tax hikes are expected to go into effect at the beginning of 2013. The new taxes include a cap on the Medical Itemized Deduction, a cap on private flexible savings accounts, a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, a 3.8% surtax on investment income for those earning more than 200k, and a .9% increase in the Medicare payroll tax for the rich. Any willingness of Republicans to deal with Democrats without demanding repeal of the Obamacare taxes is suicidal.