Tim Phillips

As I watched Congressional Republican leaders stumble too often during the fiscal cliff negotiations, I was reminded that a wise mentor often said, "Sound policy is sound politics." This is a lesson Republicans should have learned by now. Instead they’re using flawed logic and telling themselves, “President Obama won the election with a mandate for higher taxes that the public currently supports. A strategic retreat now on tax hikes and cutting government spending will strengthen our political position and keep us relevant in the long run."

So in pursuit of this flawed strategy enough Republicans agreed to a budget deal that includes both a tax increase and spending increase.

Raising taxes at this point is particularly grievous given the enormity of our spending problem. Yet the Left spends a great deal of time blaming the rich for not “paying their fair share.” In reality, the government could take every penny high earners possess and, while it would satiate at least temporarily their envy, it wouldn’t begin to solve our problem. In fact, if the government confiscated 100% of every dollar Americans made over $250,000, it would only be enough to fund the country for a little over four months. And then that wealth would be gone forever. (Hat tip to the great Iowahawk for doing the math).

The narrative that originated with the Left and has been accepted by too many Republicans, is that all reasonable conservatives ought to get busy compromising core principles if they ever want to be relevant again. But looking back through recent history, those who stood firm on good policy – especially when it was difficult – also made the right strategic decision politically.

In 2009, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, and President Obama enjoyed 70% plus favorability ratings with the public. Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill was heralded as a mandate of his election victory and a necessity given the times. Most Democrats and even some Republicans joined in the chorus demanding this stimulus spending. Public opinion polls at the time showed that over 60% of Americans favored giving the popular new president this vast increase in government spending. The "savvy and reasonable” GOP strategists said a tactical retreat from opposing new spending was vital for the Republican party to survive.