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Memo to the Speaker and the GOP Caucus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Many of you are preparing to break your word to your supporters and vote to raise taxes.

You have talked yourselves into believing that there is no choice. You fear the voters’ wrath because the MSM tells you a failure to reach a deal with the president will produce that wrath. This is the MSM we all know is so fair and disinterested on such things.


You are inventing more and more desperate ruses to try and cover your actions. The latest is “Plan B,” which is in your view just a small breaking of your word.

Because “Plan B” is almost certainly doomed, you will have to break the pledge twice: First when you vote for “B,” and then later when you vote for “the deal.”

You will say these decisions were taken for the good of the country and that you had to do so because going over the cliff was the alternative and the cost of doing that was too high.

Your base will not believe you. Very few people living outside the Beltway will believe you. Democrats will mock you. The MSM will taunt you. And your voters will yell at you.

They will not believe your explanations because “the deal” is going to be impossible to explain amidst the roar of the MSM that you broke your word.

“But, but but” you will stutter, “the ATM, the estate tax, the blah blah blah.”

All lost in the MSM drumbeat that you broke your word.

Do you really not see what four networks (and many of the liberal voices on Fox News) will be saying for the next two years? What every major paper and every online hub not to mention every ad run by your primary and general election opponents will say: “Representative X swore to never raise your taxes. But he did. Twice. How can you trust anything he says?”

Again, and again, and again for two years.

Do you think you’ll get a chance to explain, from this media? Do you think the president will credit you for more than one news cycle?


And for what will you be tossing aside your pledge and some will say your honor?

Not the nation’s defenses. You, the party of Reagan, stand ready to slice another $100 billion from Defense in Plan B and “the deal.”

Not for entitlement reform. The day after “the deal” every entitlement will still be desperate for reform. Not one will be fixed, and “the deal” barely contains what can honestly be called a patch.

Will “the deal” put us on a path to fiscal stability? No, of course not. Will it reform the tax code? Not promise to reform the code, but reform it? Of course not.

Will the deal end even one ridiculous federal program, like the NPR subsidy? Of course not. Not even one symbolic victory will be won.

You have a choice. Go over the cliff and, with a new Congress and in the new year, return to the work of crafting a tax cut from the Clinton rates the president insisted upon.

Then he too will be under pressure to bring relief, and both parties will author a tax cut rather than one party breaking its word.

The president promised the sequester to the Pentagon would not happen. On January 1 he becomes the pledge-breaker because he would not deal in good faith in the lame duck.

If you bail out the president and break your pledge, you are going to be trapped, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in an endless cycle of true charges that you broke your word.

On August 18, 1988, then Vice President George H.W. Bush told the GOP Convention: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” He was elected in a walk.


In August of 1990, President Bush agreed to raise taxes, and the New York Post captured the reaction with a headline: “Read my lips…I lied.”

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t nuanced.

It was politically devastating.

And it left a mark. The very same mark Plan B and the eventual “deal” will leave on you.

Or you could wait until the new year and the new Congress. Tell one and all that you’ll be back to negotiate a tax cut and serious spending reforms as the debt limit loom –when the president stops campaigning and starts governing. That last phrase is called messaging. It matters. Try it.

I had thought all along that the Speaker would set up this choice for the president, and that perhaps the president would yield to the good of the nation.

Until “Plan B” surfaced. Then it became obvious that neither the Speaker nor the Caucus understands what the people who voted for them and contributed to their campaigns believe. Once you vote for it, your pledge is undone, your word as good as dust.

Here’s the first question: After you vote for Plan B, what will you promise voters you’ll do next?

Here’s the second question: Why should they believe you?

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