It tells you an awful lot about the dishonest nature of politics in America today.
Republicans -- fiscally conservative Republicans -- have argued since forever that tax increases diminish economic growth. For the past two years, they have argued that increasing taxes on the "wealthy" would wreak havoc on our fragile (at best) economy. In fact, three studies have confirmed that this "millionaires tax," now endorsed by Plan B Boehner, would cost America 700,000 jobs, an unmitigated disaster.
The problem, as has endlessly been trumpeted by this camp, is spending, not taxes, with entitlement reform as the solution. Plan B does nothing of substance here.
A "meaningless" proposal is one that has no reasonable expectation of resolving a conflict. Plan B is that in spades.
So how do Republicans, so desperate to be a party to the resolution of our fiscal crisis, square the hole? They declare that a tax is not a tax, and a lack of spending restraint is spending restraint.
Boehner and Co. have been as politically incoherent as Team Obama has been skillful. The Democrats have co-opted one hallmark GOP issue after another. The final one was taxes. Incredibly, it's the party of McGovern, Carter, Kerry and Kennedy that is now the champion of fiscal responsibility: tax cuts for everyone except the greedy rich who need to pay their fair share.
The Left smells political blood. Boehner has given them the opening to tear the GOP in two. On the one side, there are the reasonable Boehner moderates who recognize the need to increase revenue; on the other are the troglodytes who refuse to leave failed Reaganomics behind.
Take the "PBS NewsHour" on Friday night. Liberal pundit Mark Shields was typically ranting away against anti-tax Reagan Republicans. "It's really become a problem for Republicans," he said. He said the post-1990 Republicans have never voted for a tax increase.
Shields was angry they wouldn't "give up their virginity," even to offer a head-fake to Obama. "They were going to give up their virginity, their political virginity, and risk a primary challenge -- that is how they saw it -- by doing this. What they failed to address is the reality that, when you are the -- part of the governing party in any institution, the House, the Senate, anyplace else, you have a responsibility to make sure that you can govern."
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