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December 12, 2012

Republicans Have Another Bad Option Available

If Republicans figure that Obama wants to take us off the cliff -- and if Republicans want to counter that (which they might not) -- the House could pass a bill the Senate previously passed, extending the Bush tax rates except for the richest and patching the ATM.

For a year, anyway.

If you share my policy views but think the President is not bluffing, and if you think that America cannot, under any circumstances, risk a no-bill scenario, then S. 3412 is your Option C. It does exactly what President Obama has been calling on Congress to do, it allows tax rates to increase on the rich. It just doesn’t also do other things that we know he wants to do, but which he has not been making the centerpiece of his kick-Republicans-around PR campaign. S. 3412 does not raise taxes by $1.6 trillion, but instead by $80ish B (not counting the AMT patch). It does not guarantee the President $800B – $1T over the next decade, because it tees the fight up again a year from now when the political and legislative dynamics may be different. And it does not include the debt limit increase the President is demanding in end-of-year legislation, and which if enacted now would deny Republicans a tool to demand future spending cuts.

Even more importantly, S. 3412 has passed the Senate entirely with Democratic votes and is therefore a viable legislative alternative in an endgame take-it-or-leave-it scenario. Messrs. Boehner and McConnell could, later this month, announce, “Negotiations with the President have broken down because he refused to cut spending enough. We are therefore not going to stand in the way of S. 3412 becoming law. We oppose this bill and we will both vote no. We imagine most other Republicans will do the same. But it will be brought up for a House vote, and we expect enough House Republicans will join the Democrats in voting for this policy that we will avoid an end-of-year disaster. We will oppose President Obama’s tax increases, but we will not prevent them from becoming law because we do not want to risk a recession next year. The President will get his tax increases when Democrats [and a handful or two of House Republicans] vote for them now, and we will continue to press for spending cuts and tax reform in 2013.”

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posted by Ace at 11:55 AM

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