As public pressure mounts on Republicans to abandon their obstinate defense of lower tax rates for the top 2% of income earners, GOP House Speaker John Boehner has been forced to coat that stubbornness in the sugary shell of President Obama‘s tax fairness argument. In a press conference on the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations Wednesday, Speaker Boehner explicitly argued that his party’s offer of closing loopholes and ending deductions for “the rich” is, in essence, the same as President Obama’s plan to allow top marginal rates for the top 2% to return to Clinton-era levels. Unfortunately, no one is pressing Boehner on the paradox embedded in his argument, a paradox that reveals the GOP’s real plan.
President Obama has drawn a red line at raising top marginal rates on high income-earners, while Republicans insist they won’t budge either, but as one reporter noted at yesterday’s press conference, the President has more than just reelection in his sails. Poll after poll shows that the public overwhelmingly supports the President’s approach to increasing revenue and entitlement reform, and that Republicans will be blamed if no deal is reached by January 1. Given that terrain, the reporter asked, “How long can you afford politically to have those tax cuts?”