The fiscal cliff draweth nigh. A lame-duck Congress and a triumphant President have six weeks to effect a deal that will keep the country from plunging over it. And right now, while both sides pay lip service to the idea of compromise, it looks like they’ll play chicken right up to the edge.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama met with a bunch of left-wing labor leaders and social activists — all of whom were happy to take credit for his election victory. Afterward, the President doubled his demands for higher taxes. Instead of the $800 billion in additional tax increases that were on the table before the election, Obama now says he wants $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade.
Anyone who hoped we’d see a milder, more moderate occupant of the White House this time around just got a very loud wake-up message: It’s going to be war on the haves on behalf of the have-nots — and the bureaucrats who get to distribute the spoils, of course.
So, yes, we’re facing some pretty serious problems. Meanwhile, although Obama likes to say that he’s willing to compromise and that “all ideas are on the table,” there are a couple that he says absolutely won’t be considered. One is making significant cuts in spending on his favorite programs. The other is giving any sort of tax break to “millionaires and billionaires.”
Meanwhile, a majority of members of the House of Representatives have made a promise to their constituents not to vote for any tax increase. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, which created the no-tax pledge, reminds us that it has been signed by 271 members of the current Congress and 258 members of the one that will take office in January. The pledge promises that signers will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.”
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