Last week, The Washington Post reported, “President Obama is prepared to veto legislation to block year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, collectively known as the ‘fiscal cliff,’ unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates for the wealthy, administration officials said. Freed from the political and economic constraints that have tied his hands in the past, Obama is ready to play hardball with Republicans, who have so far successfully resisted a deal to tame the debt that includes higher taxes, Obama’s allies say.”
The Post notes, “[Obama’s] veto threat challenges Republicans to a dangerous game of chicken over a fiscal event that would raise taxes for nearly 90 percent of households, slice deeply into military and domestic budgets, and probably spark a brief recession. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders are already complaining about the president’s “ ‘Thelma and Louise’ economic strategy.” (In the 1991 film, the lead characters drive off a cliff in a 1966 Thunderbird convertible rather than surrender to police.)”
Indeed, the president is joining Senate Democrats in threatening to plunge the country off the fiscal cliff in January unless they get tax hikes. Back in 2010, when President Obama actually signed of an extension of these tax rates he now thinks are unacceptable, he said raising taxes then “would have been a blow to our economy just as we’re climbing out of a devastating recession.” But economic growth continues to be weak. Now is not the time to raise taxes.
Yet Democrats are so insistent on tax increases, they’re willing to hold the economy hostage to get them. President Obama is just the latest example. Over the summer, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) suggested Democrats were “willing to risk racing over the fiscal cliff and into financial chaos in 2013,” and just a couple weeks ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also demanded tax increases, making a deal to avert the fiscal cliff more difficult.
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Senior Democrats are now openly acknowledging their plan to hold the economy hostage to massive, job-killing tax hikes, and espousing the fiscally irresponsible view that says the country should be driven off the fiscal cliff rather than Congress working toward bipartisan solutions to reform and strengthen entitlements without killing jobs. . . . The Speaker and I have called for extending all the income tax rates for a year, ensuring that no one sees an income tax hike in January and preventing the economic harm and massive job loss that will come if Sen. Schumer and Washington Democrats follow through on their threats to drive us off the fiscal cliff.”