One bright spot of Barack Obama's re-election was knowing that unemployment rates were about to soar for the precise groups that voted for him -- young people, unskilled workers and single women with degrees in gender studies. But now the Democrats are sullying my silver lining by forcing Republicans to block an utterly pointless tax-raising scheme in order to blame the coming economic Armageddon on them.
Democrats are proposing to reinstate the Bush tax cuts for everyone ... except "the rich." (Why do only tax cuts come with an expiration date? Why not tax increases? Why not Obamacare? How about New York City's "temporary" rent control measures intended for veterans returning from World War II?)
Raising taxes only on the top 2 percent of income earners will do nothing to reduce the deficit. There's not enough money there -- even assuming, contrary to all known history, that the top 2 percent won't find ways to reduce their taxable income or that the imaginary increased government revenue would be applied to deficit reduction, anyway.
Apart from Obamacare, it's difficult to think of a more effective method of destroying jobs than raising taxes on "the rich." This isn't a wealth tax on useless gigolos like John Kerry -- it's an income tax on people who are currently engaged in some profitable enterprise. Their business profits, which could have been used to hire more employees, will instead be used to pay the government.
But Republicans are over a barrel. Unless Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement, the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year. By pushing to extend the tax cuts for everyone except "the rich," Democrats get to look like champions of middle class tax cuts and Republicans can be portrayed as caring only about the rich.
And when the economy tanks, the Non-Fox Media will blame Republicans.
The economy will tank because, as you will recall, Obama is still president. Government rules, regulations, restrictions, forms and inspections are about to drown the productive sector. Obamacare is descending on job creators like a fly swatter on a gnat. Obama has already managed to produce the only "recovery" that is worse than the preceding recession since the Great Depression. And he says, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
The coming economic collapse is written in the stars, but if Republicans "obstruct" the Democrats by blocking tax hikes on top income earners, they're going to take 100 percent of the blame for the Obama economy.
You think not? The Non-Fox Media managed to persuade a majority of voters that the last four years of jobless misery was George W. Bush's fault, having nothing whatsoever to do with Obama.
The media have also managed to brand Republicans as the party of the rich, even as eight of the 10 richest counties voted for Obama. And that doesn't include pockets of vast wealth in cities -- Nob Hill in San Francisco, the North Shore of Chicago, the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the Back Bay of Boston -- whose residents invariably vote like welfare recipients. Seven of the 10 richest senators are Democrats. The very richest is the useless gigolo.
Republicans have a PR problem, not an economic theory problem. That doesn't mean they should cave on everything, but seeming to fight for "tax cuts for the rich" is a little close to the bone, no matter how tremendously counterproductive such taxes are.
Yes, conservatives can try harder to get the truth out, but as UCLA political science professor Tim Groseclose has shown, media bias already costs Republicans about 8 to 10 points in elections. Try arguing a year from now that Republicans' refusal to agree to tax hikes on the top 2 percent of income earners -- resulting in an expiration of all the Bush tax cuts -- had nothing to do with the inevitable economic disaster.
Republicans have got to make Obama own the economy.
They should spend from now until the end of the congressional calendar reading aloud from Thomas Sowell, Richard Epstein, John Lott and Milton Friedman and explaining why Obama's high tax, massive regulation agenda spells doom for the nation.
Then some Republicans can say: We think this is a bad idea, but Obama won the election and the media are poised to blame us for whatever happens next, so let's give his plan a whirl and see how the country likes it.
Republicans need to get absolute, 100 percent intellectual clarity on who bears responsibility for the next big recession. It is more important to win back the Senate in two years than it is to save the Democrats from their own idiotic tax plan. Unless Republicans give them an out, Democrats won't be able to hide from what they've done.
Even Democrats might back away from that deal.