In arguing against extending the Bush-era tax cuts for "the wealthy," President Obama claims the government can't afford to "borrow" the estimated $700 billion he says it will "cost government." What about the cost of tax increases for those earning the money? It's funny how the president doesn't mind borrowing money that has put us on a trajectory for a national debt exceeding $13 trillion.
The question ought not be why people making more than $250,000 a year ($125,000 if one is married and filing separately) should be allowed to keep more of the money they earn. The question is: why should people be required to surrender more of the money they earn to dysfunctional government, which misspends so much of it on unnecessary, outdated and failed programs?
If Republicans mistakenly allow themselves to again be suckered into the class warfare of the past, they will lose. If they shift the debate to how the federal government (and many state governments like California, Illinois and New York) have wasted money we entrusted to them, they can prevail.
Where you start determines where you finish. If the argument begins with how much of our money the government will allow us to keep, the successful and those who wish to be successful, lose. If the argument begins with how government has misspent our money and does not deserve any more until it gets its house in order, we all win. And let's not have any of this business about cutting spending and raising taxes at the same time, because that will only ensure that higher taxes will remain while spending will eventually increase.
After what appeared to be a trap set for him on "Face the Nation" last Sunday, during which House Republican Leader John Boehner said he would vote for a bill that allows taxes to be raised on those making more than $250,000 a year while preserving cuts for those making less, if that were his only option, Boehner engaged in damage control in an opinion column for Politico.
Boehner wrote: "Cut nonsecurity government spending for the next year to fiscal 2008 levels -- before all of the bailouts, government takeovers and stimulus spending sprees began" and "Enact a two-year freeze on all current tax rates to stop job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses."
Prominent Democrats, including a growing number in Congress, agree. They include former Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag, who endorsed a two-year tax freeze in a Sept. 6 column for The New York Times.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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