November 6, 2011

Can the GOP compromise on taxes?

Can the GOP compromise on taxes with the Democrats to get some sort of Super Committee deal and avert triggered cuts to spending?  The short answer is 'no', they shouldn't.  But perhaps there's a way to turn this to the advantage of conservatives if supporters play the smart game rather than the knee-jerk anti-tax reaction to GOP maneuvering.

Before you get all panicked, hear me out.  This isn't about raising taxes to solve the deficit problem, it's about adopting the tactics of your adversaries.

When Democrats historically made deals with Republicans, Republicans would end up on the short end of the stick - they would trade tax increases now, for spending cuts later.  The taxes kicked in right away but the spending cuts would never really materialize, as subsequent legislation or accounting tricks would mute the cuts entirely.

So why not work that in reverse?  Have the spending cuts kick in now, and push the tax increases out 3 or 4 years.  Or 7 or 8.  The tactic would negate a lot of the president's charge that the GOP isn't serious about deficit reduction (and even by extension, job).  After the GOP theoretically wins the Senate, holds Congress, and wins the presidency, they can go back and alter the deal to their liking - all cuts, no taxes.  Why not?  Sure, it's underhanded but it's a tactic used against the GOP for decades and this is politics.  You can't bargain in good faith if your opponent isn't bargaining in good faith.  

Now, the Democrats, having used this tactic for years might see through the ploy - but they can't risk calling out the GOP on it for fear of being exposed on Obamacare and other Democrat offerings for the same tactic.  This would be particularly true if the time frames and specific tricks the GOP used mirror those the Democrats have used during this administration.

There's another problem - conservatives don't trust the GOP to be conservative.  That's the real flaw in the plan.  Even if the GOP had a plan to kill all the tax portions of a deal next year when numbers supported it, the problem is they lose supporters and they don't end up with the number of representatives they need to pull it off.  As soon as the GOP tried to use a tactic like this, distrustful conservatives would be up in arms, and rightfully so - the GOP do not have a track record of sticking to conservative principles and they haven't earned conservatives' trust yet.  The situation is unfortunate, because tactically, it would be a brilliant move.  There just doesn't seem to be a way to pull it off.

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