In the extremely unlikely event that I became a Republican consultant, I would warn the party of six things having to do with its no-win strategy on the very modest tax increases on the rich that the President proposes and for which he received a clear electoral endorsement.
One very important point about the current debate over whether America’s high earners should pay more (read: their fair share) in taxes is that, under the President’s proposal to return the top 2 percent of taxpayers to Clinton-era tax rates, they would still receive the same tax treatment on their first $200,000 ($250,000 if married) of taxable income as individuals and couples who earn that amount or less. It is only the money they earn in excess of these very nice incomes that would be taxed at the modestly higher rates that they were subject to pre-Bush.
The White House and the Democrats in Congress have done a poor job of getting this message across, and the mainstream media appears clueless about it. Nevertheless, it is a very important factor in the debate and one that should not go unstated. It means that you can discount a big chunk of the whines and complaints about taxing the rich emanating from Wall Street and the House Republican Caucus.
In the extremely unlikely event that I became a Republican consultant, I would warn the party of six things having to do with its no-win strategy on the very modest tax increases on the rich that the President proposes and for which he received a clear electoral endorsement:
(1) Exit polls told us that voters overwhelmingly favor higher tax rates for those who can afford it — more than 60 percent of all voters said they are for it. That included a great many Romney voters. Obama hammered this point home over and over again. It was the central issue driving his campaign. He won.
(2) Being perceived as protectors of the people in this country who need no protection and as defenders to the death of their modest tax rates is a losing electoral strategy. There are not enough wealthy voters to make a difference.
(3) The argument that paying slightly higher taxes would mean that the rich would invest less and thus create fewer jobs is specious, belied by (a) their lack of significant job creation during the decade-plus Bush tax cut era, and (b) the boom in job creation they generated by their investments during the Clinton presidency, when tax rates were higher (the same level that President Obama proposes). Continuing to stick with this shop-worn, discredited untruth is a losing approach.
(4) Rehashing Romney’s “plan” to cap certain deductions rather than raise rates for the rich does not make enough of a revenue dent to amount to anything significant. Do the math.
(5) Barack Obama does not have to worry about his electoral future because, unlike the congressional Republicans, he does not have one. He can afford to let the congressional lemmings commit mass suicide by going over the cliff. Congressional Republicans cannot. Without a doubt — and every poll confirms this — it is the latter who will be blamed if everyone’s taxes go up in 2013 rather than just the rich.
Page 2 of 2 - (6) Despite the GOP spin that the election somehow was a draw, Republicans have to face the fact that they got pummeled. Obama is only the fourth President since the 19th century to win back-to-back elections with more than 50 percent of the vote. Democrats gained seats in both the Senate and House and got more congressional votes nationally than Republicans. Denying the election results reality is a non-starter and makes Republicans appear even more delusional and Grinchier than they probably are.
It does not help that Speaker of the House John Boehner is the weakest Speaker in modern history, unable to get his own party behind him on key issues. It is always difficult to get anywhere if you have to negotiate with a wimp.
Most folks learn from their mistakes. Congressional Republicans would do well to do likewise.
“Rants” is a series of political and social observations written by part-time Canandaigua resident and Canandaigua Academy graduate Richard Hermann. Email him care of Messenger Post Media at firstname.lastname@example.org.