November 18, 2012

Make a deal, but make a good one

From New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman to the Daily Kos website to pundit Robert Kuttner, the advice President Barack Obama is getting from the far left is clear: Don’t cut a deal with Republicans to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

Such a deal would avert some $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect in January if Congress doesn’t act.

Many economists say not tackling the issue could hammer a fragile economy. But Krugman and others say that very economic pain would make it easier for the president to conclude a deal next year on terms more to their liking, a deal that would go heavier on tax increases and include fewer, if any, spending cuts.

Meanwhile, the liberal Huffington Post reports that many congressional Democrats are urging the president not to strike a deal for the very same reason.

Politically, they may have a point. Even though the loudest voices calling for the United States to drive over the cliff are found on the left, a Pew Research Center/Washington Post survey released last week found that 53 percent would blame Republicans rather than Obama if no deal is reached.

So what should the GOP do?

Politically, and economically, the best thing to do may be to meet the president’s goal’s on tax increases. House Republican Leader John Boehner has indicated that Republicans may agree to some deal that meets or comes close to the president’s goals, some $1.6 trillion in new taxes, but only if it raises revenue by eliminating deductions rather than raising rates, and only if it is tied to getting spending under control.

Flattening out and simplifying the tax system makes sense, and if that’s the alternative to raising rates it is the better one. But Congress may not have time over the next few weeks to strike such a complex deal.

A better idea may be simply to renew the Bush-era tax cuts except for those making over $250,000 a year, as Obama has suggested in the past. Doing that would raise about $800 billion over 10 years, or less than one year of the deficits Obama has run up on his watch.

But no matter what tax deal the GOP strikes, it must insist on two things. First, Obama must take ownership of the tax increase. Make it clear they were dragged into that unwillingly and give it the minimum of their votes needed to pass it.

Second, they must insist on spending cuts of at least a dollar for each dollar of tax cuts. They must insist on real spending cuts now, during no more than the next two fiscal years, not future spending cuts. They can’t accept the parlor tricks that Obama trots out when asked about his plans to cut spending, such as double-counting “cuts” included in past budget deals or vague promises to cut “wasteful” spending. If they can’t agree on where to cut, then make the cuts across the board, including defense.

Again, this doesn’t have to be a long-term deal to completely rein in federal spending. Congress doesn’t have the time to do that in this lame duck session. But it does have to be a plan that shows Congress is serious about getting debt, deficits and spending under control, a deal that would be a good first step to a larger, comprehensive plan.


Text Only
  • Citizen of the Week: Kacee Smith of the Georgia Rampage

    When the Georgia Rampage became Dalton’s first professional indoor football team last year, it would have been easy for the owner and players to focus only on drawing attention to themselves as they tried to build up the team’s following.

    April 18, 2014

  • Successes continue at Dalton State College

    These are exciting times for our local college, Dalton State, both on campus and off.

    April 16, 2014

  • Mark Millican: The birds hushed their singing

    For the uninitiated, that line is from what many consider the greatest rock song of all time, “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin.

    April 15, 2014

  • Misty Watson: When blood sugar drops, anger rises

    It wouldn’t have taken 107 married couples and 21 days to figure out that being hungry makes people angry.

    April 15, 2014

  • Working for the man

    You may be one of the many Americans who will rush to file their income taxes today. But you may not yet have earned enough money to pay all of the taxes that will be imposed on you this year.

    April 15, 2014

  • Letter: The glib tongue, the fake smile

    A recent Daily Citizen column by Walter Williams will both awaken and frighten any thinking person who claims even a smidgen of knowledge about — or belief in —  either the Bible, world history or current events.

    April 15, 2014

  • College soccer team would bring local talent together

    Dreams of combining the best soccer players from all local high schools into one team finally could come true.

    April 13, 2014

  • Letter: Primaries feature many choices

    Many people are confused this year about the May 20 Election Day. Unfortunately, very few voters in Whitfield County actually go to the polls for a primary election. But this means any increase in participation can have a significant impact.

    April 12, 2014

  • Letter: Hooper for Murray chief magistrate

    Thanks to all the wonderful people and friends who backed me for District 1 Murray County Board of Education. You sure showed a lot of support. Sorry I had to step down due to my and my wife’s health. I am a lot better now.

    April 12, 2014

  • Judicial dispute could have been avoided

    Judicial elections in Whitfield and Murray counties tend to be low key. In fact, we can’t recall the last time an incumbent judge on the Conasauga Superior Court, which cover the two counties, has even faced a challenger.

    April 12, 2014

AP Video