Unlike many Republicans, I’m not tax-aphobic. I accept the need for taxes and I don’t mind raising them when necessary. The problem is that there is a world of difference between what I think is necessary and what Democrats think of as necessary. Especially considering the poor record of deals the Republicans have made with Democrats where we raise taxes now for spending cuts later… only later never comes, and taxes and spending both continue to increase.
That’s why I was in full agreement when during the Fox News Debate last August all of the Republican candidates in response to a debate question, soundly rejected a 10 to 1 spending cut deal for tax increases. Although it caused various MSNBC host’s hair to catch fire, the actual, real world result of any such deal would have been a tax increase and no actual spending cuts.
That being said, the Buffett tax is just a stunt. After promising that the tax would “stabilize our debt,” the Joint tax committee scored the Buffett tax as a replacement for the AMT tax (that tradeoff is in the President’s budget proposal) and found it adds to the deficit, not reduces it.
Only Obama could come up with a tax increase that actually increases the debt.
But even though this is just a stunt, I think the Republicans should fight stunt for stunt. If I were in the Republican House leadership, I would cobble together a bill for the Buffett tax, along with spending cuts, real spending cuts. The problem with all of the phony negotiations on spending cuts is that spending cuts for the next ten years, or any year other than the current fiscal year, are meaningless. They can be changed with the next deal or the next election, which is why all of the hard won spending cuts that Republicans have negotiated over the years have always vanished like wisps of smoke. They were cuts that never were.
So to negotiate real cuts, it has to be from the current 2012 fiscal year. The Buffet rule raises 5 billion a year? Great, then the Democrats should be willing to support 5 billion in spending cuts in the remaining 2012 budget. And if the Republican House leadership wants to throw in Planned Parenthood or NPR funding cuts to sweeten the deal, so much the better.
Oh, and the tax should just be for one year. Let the Democrats come back every single year to renew the tax increase. After the Taxmageddon that’s due to strike on January 1st, 2013, that’s likely to be a harder sell.
- Half Sigma supports the Buffett Rule (halfsigma.com)