Is It Time to Let Obama Have His Way?

Posted: Dec 11, 2012 11:35 AM

The White House's campaign apparatus is still in high gear.  Below is the email I received yesterday from Stephanie Cutter.  It shows just how easily the left can caricature the GOP's position on the fiscal cliff, especially given the press's ideological sympathy for the President.

Even a casual read make it obvious that the President is planning to blame Republicans -- not just for taking the country over the cliff in order to protect the hated "rich," but for everything that could possibly go wrong in the aftermath (and don't think he won't try to confuse Americans into thinking the new ObamaCare taxes coming in 2013 were part of "the cliff.")  The GOP has been effectively outmaneuvered.  It makes me sick, but is a strategic retreat (not defeat!) in order?  How about this:

(1) Ask for the President's "plan" for avoiding the fiscal cliff in writing as it's already been presented by Geithner (including the part seeking the permanent ability to raise the debt ceiling)

(2) Allow rates to rise to Clinton-era levels on the "rich" for a specified amount of time IN EXCHANGE for (a) a vote on the President's plan in both the House AND the Senate; and (b) as a show of his good faith, require the President to provide at least the outlines of a written plan from the President on how to address the entitlement crisis next year (as he has proposed).  When put to a vote, Democrats will either vote "no" on the President's fiscal cliff "plan" -- illustrating just how extreme it is -- or they will feel free to vote "yes" . . . and it will be interesting to hear them defend that vote come Election Day.

(3) Deal with entitlements as part of the debt ceiling negotiations in the New Year.

No, I don't like making this suggestion, but has anyone got anything better?  The fact is that the GOP isn't going to get what it wants, i.e., a deal without a tax increase.  And yes, they pledged not to support tax increases, but by allowing the country to hurtle over the cliff, isn't that implicitly what they're doing -- for everyone?  And doing it in a way that will inflict maximum political damage on themselves and their ideas?

We should all be thinking creatively here, and I'd welcome any better idea that wouldn't require Republicans to agree to higher tax rates (although they've already effectively agreed to tax increases).  Certainly the GOP should provide only the absolute minimum number of votes required (28) -- perhaps the moderates who routinely refuse to take no-tax pledges? -- counting on the President to bring aboard the Democrats . . . if he can't get his own caucus to agree to what he's asked for, why should the GOP bear that burden?

The advantage is that such an offer would deprive President Obama of the rhetorical cudgel he's using (dishonestly) against Republicans, i.e. that they're willing to hurt everyone in order to benefit the evil "rich."  And allowing the country to go over the cliff just because he won't ask the Senate to vote on his own plan, or put out any outline for entitlement reform, or fails bring his own party on board would highlight the ridiculousness of his post-reelection behavior.

The email below highlights how Obama et al will use the fiscal cliff as a cudgel for beating the GOP for years to come unless we are intelligent about how we proceed:

Friend -- 

 Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days? A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that's who.

 Cutting taxes for the middle class shouldn't be difficult, especially when Republicans claim they agree with the President on the issue. But some Republicans are still holding middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they want to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

 Here's what's going on right now: President Obama is asking Congress to move forward on a plan that would prevent 98 percent of American families from paying higher taxes next year. The Senate has passed that bill, and the President is ready to sign it -- but the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives won't even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. House Democrats have filed a petition that would force a vote if it attracts 218 signatures.

 If a bill has enough votes to pass, Congress should vote on it and pass it. It's a pretty simple proposition. And every Member of Congress who hasn't signed on to keep taxes low for the middle class needs to hear from you. 

Let's get one thing straight: If your taxes go up, Republicans will have made a conscious choice to let that happen. They'll have missed the opportunity to prevent it, just to cut taxes for the wealthy.

 Republicans need to stop using the middle class as a bargaining chip. If they fail to act, a typical middle-class family of four will see a $2,200 tax hike starting in a few short weeks. Middle-class families could face some tough financial decisions simply because Republicans didn't want to ask the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay their fair share.

That's not what President Obama and you campaigned on, and that's not what millions of Americans voted for just one month ago.




Stephanie Cutter

Deputy Campaign Manager

Obama for America