A new addition to the Reagan Republican list of non-negotiables.
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Can Obama fool the Republicans into abandoning the political high ground of fighting for less spending? It has happened before.
In 1982, Democrats talked Ronald Reagan into a bipartisan compromise to cut spending three dollars for every dollar of tax increases. Taxes were raised by a total of $215 billion in the following five years. According to the terms of the deal, spending should have been reduced by three times that much: $645 billion. Instead, adjusting for inflation, total spending rose by $177 billion more than it would have without the deficit reduction agreement. In other words, a promised cut of $647 billion turned into a spending hike of $177 billion. (Republicans then lost House seats in the fall election.)
In 1990, Democrats lured George Herbert Walker Bush into an ambush at Andrews Air Force Base where he was promised two (not three) dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases he conceded (he was a cheaper date). Tax rates were hiked. Twenty-six different tax hikes were permanently imposed that increased taxes over the following five years by $137 billion. The Democrats’ promise would suggest spending cuts of $274 billion. Instead, spending rose $23 billion more than the projected baseline (and Bush won only 38 percent of the presidential vote two years later).
Obama has studied under the great political strategist Lucy, who teaches that if Charlie Brown has fallen for the I’ll-hold-the-football trick in the past, he will do so again.
LAST YEAR OBAMA CREATED another deficit commission headed by Clinton operative Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming senator and Reliably Reasonable Republican Alan Simpson. They released a “compromise” to cut spending by four (not three or two) dollars for every dollar of tax increase. They claim their plan cuts spending by 3 trillion dollars and raises taxes by 1 trillion dollars over the next decade. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who served on the commission and voted against the plan, argues that the plan really raises taxes by 2 trillion dollars. The Heritage Foundation calculates at least 3 trillion in higher taxes. And on the spending side? Americans for Tax Reform polled every Democratic congressman and senator, asking if they would support the supposed spending cuts in the proposal. None would.
Yet Charlie Brown lives and learned nothing. Two Republican senators did vote for the Obama commission’s plan to raise taxes by 2 or 3 trillion dollars in return for promises on spending. Neither were in Congress in 1982 or 1990 to watch the “disappearing spending cut” trick performed live.
Tax hikes are not part of a deficit reduction solution. Spending cuts and pro-growth tax cuts reduce the deficit. Tax hikes are what politicians do in place of spending reduction. Tax hikes only enable more spending.
Nor are spending-only plans somehow unattainable. For instance, New Jersey governor Chris Christie removed $2.6 billion dollars from the Democratic legislature’s budget, but only by refusing to consider any tax increases.
There are cheerful signs relating to the current deficit commission. Boehner and McConnell have learned the lessons of 1982 and 1990. After the Tea Party election of November 2010, they led their caucuses to kill the earmark-laden omnibus bill in December, banned future earmarks, and stopped the Democrats’ planned tax hike by extending the lower rates established in 2001 and 2003 under Bush.
But the Washington establishment has great rewards for politicians who “grow in office” — who abandon their written commitments to voters to oppose tax increases and who abandon spending discipline for bipartisan talks on so-called deficit reduction.
The Sirens of bipartisan agreements to reduce the deficit (rather than spending) remain. So do the rocks.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online