An infusion of Tea Party extremism seems to have infected the Republican Party. Even before they took their seats in Congress, Tea Partisans had converted the GOP into a staunch defender of the super-rich — the 1% top earners in the nation.
Perhaps encouraged by last December’s victory — when the GOP successfully blackmailed your Administration into extending the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich — the Republicans are now threatening to shut down the government by refusing to increase the debt ceiling unless your party, the Democrats, agrees to sharp budget cuts for the next decade without any tax increases.
All experts agree that there is no way to reduce the fiscal deficit without a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. The GOP, however, has decided that any tax increase on the super-rich will only pass over the dead body of the entire nation; that is absolutely unconscionable.
Last week (Fourth of July) David Brooks, in his NY Times regular article, blamed the GOP’s position on the influence of members of the Tea Party. He concludes his article with a very serious warning to his own party:
“If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not … They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
“And they will be right.”
The GOP has drawn a line in the sand over the issue of “no increase in government revenues.” If the debt ceiling talks fail, it will not be clear that the GOP was at fault; after all, standing on the principle of “no more taxes” beats “no more spending cuts” by a mile. Your Administration cannot afford the talks to fail over those issues, but neither can it afford the public reaction to the austerity measures that will follow an agreement on the GOP’s terms. Your only chance of winning, now and in November 2012, would be to make crystal-clear what the real issue is:
Does protecting the super-rich from a small tax increase justify bringing the entire nation down?
My advice would be that you take the following three steps:
- Present to Congress a deficit-reduction plan including a gradual increase in taxes on the super-rich.
- Ask for a Supreme Court pronouncement reminding Congress of its obligation to raise the debt ceiling without pre-conditions. [Art. 1, Section 8, “… To make all laws which shall be necessary …”]
- Explain to the nation what the real issue in contention is (a fair tax on the super-rich), and keep doing it until the message gets through to the people.
Your Administration, Mr. President, is facing a terrible danger, but also a great opportunity: depending on how you chose to fight, or not, you will contribute to the GOP’s demise, or to its ascendance.