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Since the Republicans’ opening proposal on the fiscal cliff was rejected immediately by Obama (nobody saw that coming) Forbes advises the GOP to go on offense.
By Steve Forbes
We are losing the cliff war in terms of public opinion, but the tables can be turned. A few days ago you offered tax increases via eliminating or capping deductions. Your generous gesture won no goodwill from Democrats and the mainstream media. Moreover any tax increase now only damages the economy. Concerning deductions, why give stuff away now for no real tax reform or simplification?
Here’s what the GOP should do now:
I. The House passes a bill extending for a year or at least six months all the cliff items – current income tax rates; the Alternative Minimum Tax patch; yes, even those Social Security payroll tax cuts. The whole kit and caboodle. The same with sequestration.
The point to make is that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession. One ill omen is that business investment is faltering. Any tax boost will be particularly perverse. Destroying capital and hurting small businesses will only contract the economy even more. We shouldn’t follow the bad examples of Western Europe and Japan. These countries are all raising taxes and the results are frightening. Japan’s economy is declining. Southern Europe is in a severe recession. France and Germany are about to go into recession. Britain just reported disappointing economic news and experts believe its economy will go into negative territory.
Another point to make – it is ridiculous to try to reform the tax code two weeks before Christmas. Ditto for entitlements.
About “the rich” label, polls show that if the question is rephrased as to whether the economy would be helped if upper-income couples had their tax bills increased substantially, most Americans are opposed to the hikes. We should learn how to phrase these issues instead of employing the Democrat’s vocabulary.
II. Turn the tables on the White House debt ceiling proposal by passing a bill mandating that Social Security trust fund assets – now held in useless, non-negotiable IOUs from the Treasury – be converted to marketable Treasury bonds which should have been done decades ago. That way if there is a debt ceiling impasse early next year Social Security and Medicare payments won’t be jeopardized. The trust funds could just sell on the open market bonds to raise the cash to make payments. Those trust funds are supposed to have more than $2 trillion in reserves. Instead, they are loaded with phony, illiquid assets.
III. Pass a bill mandating that no money can be diverted from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare.
Senate Republicans can have fun with this when Harry Reid blocks a vote.
IV. Pass a resolution that the House of Representatives will not accept any entitlement reform that reduces benefits for those who are on Medicare and Social Security or who are about to go into those programs.
V. Pass a bill suspending all of those ObamaCare levies that hit next year. Again, we don’t need to burden an already wobbly economy.
Let’s stop negotiating with ourselves. Let’s take charge of the terms of debate. By drawing a line on tax increases you will help the economy and you will begin the process of turning around public opinion; that won’t happen overnight but these bills would be an exciting start.
Go on an optimistic offensive!