Republicans didn’t pay attention to the polls that showed the president headed to an electoral college landslide in November, and they’re probably not checking them too often now. If they were, we would be much closer to a deal to avert the austerity-ensuring formula of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts.
Instead, Republicans in the House are only vaguely offering to eliminate deductions, which could hit the middle class. In exchange they want big cuts in domestic spending — Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc. — that they’re unwilling to name. Instead they’re demanding that the president name his cuts specifically.
The one “cut” that has become public is the Republican demand that the Medicare eligibility age be raised to 67, something the president reportedly agreed to during the 2011 debt ceiling “grand bargain” talks. Progressives have pushed back on this idea and it is now reportedly off the table, which is a perfect example of why both sides don’t want to name specific cuts.
But the president has been specific on taxes — he wants all the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $250,000 to end, along with the breaks on investment income that primarily benefit the rich. If the GOP doesn’t give in, he’ll get what he wants anyway on January 1, 2013. Plus the GOP will be blamed for tax increases on the middle class.
And as of now, that’s what seems most likely to happen. Here’s why.
Photo credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite