"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tax Deal Slides Off the Rails

As originally structured, the deal between GOP leaders in Congress and President Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years to avoid raising taxes as of January 1st was a decent deal, perhaps the best the GOP could expect given that Democrats will still control the Senate and the Presidency next year.   The deal was essentially:  Obama agrees not to raise taxes and the GOP would agree to extend unemployment benefits for 13 more months and to allow at least some tax on large estates at death.   OK, not perfect, and maybe we should have stuck by our guns, but perfect is the enemy of the good in politics.   When it was first announced, I was a supporter.  

Now, however, it sure looks like this thing is becoming something that the GOP should back away from.   Here's John Fund in today's Wall Street Journal:
Since House Democrats rejected the tax compromise that President Obama and GOP leaders negotiated last week, there has been a mad scramble to renegotiate the deal. Liberals are seeking an increase in the death tax rate, and partisans on both sides of the aisle are festooning the bill with "Christmas tree" provisions that look suspiciously like discredited earmarks.

This bill will only survive if, like ObamaCare, it is rushed through quickly enough that its defects don't become apparent. The deal already includes nearly $5 billion in subsidies for corn-based ethanol; grants for wind and solar power; commuter tax breaks; tax preferences for NASCAR operators; and subsidies for Virgin Islands rum.
Eek!   Hugh Hewitt is correct in his recent column, when he talks about the stakes:

Boehner can choose this week to reaffirm what he and the GOP leadership have said over and over again for the past two years: We cannot stay on this path. The new speaker can, with the country's attention fixed on him, use that moment to warn the country that the fiscal cliff is real and that we are at its edge, perilously close to taking a turn marked Greece and Ireland.
This deal has to be stopped, and now. 

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