December 19, 2012

The White House is acting like it had no “plan B” in the “fiscal cliff” fight. Ever since House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would put to a vote a measure to extend all current tax rates except those for households making more than $1 million, the president and his advisers have been apoplectic. How dare he offer something Senate Democrats once approved! Protect all but millionaires?! The Democrats’ ire is as intense as it is nonsensical, and Republicans are openly mocking the White House.

After a White House threat to veto Boehner’s plan, Don Stewart, communications director for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put out a blistering e-mail with the subject line “Treasure trove of the absurd”:

Just yesterday, the White House said they opposed the House proposal “because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle class families.”

But today, [Dan] Pfeiffer says the President would veto even if it passed both the House and the Senate (and therefore met their test of ‘balance’).

Pfeiffer claims that the White House opposes the House proposal, in part, because it has “no spending cuts.”

That’s an odd position since the President (AKA Pfeiffer’s boss), on multiple occasions, has called on the House to pass the Senate tax bill — that has “no spending cuts.” . . . .

And Pfeiffer claims that the House bill “places too big of a burden on the middle class.”

Weird, I didn’t realize that people who make more than a million dollars a year are now “the middle class.” And as those of you who have been here more than a few days will recall, 53 Senate Democrats voted for this very same millionaire threshold. Oddly, Pfeiffer didn’t accuse them of placing “too big of a burden on the middle class.”

 Well, you get the drift.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck was more terse in his reaction: “The White House’s opposition to a backup plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day.  Republicans have always said a broader, ‘balanced’ plan is the ideal solution, and we have put one forward. In the absence of a ‘balanced’ solution from the President, however, we must act to stop taxes from rising across the board in 12 days. If Democrats disapprove of this bill, then there is a simple solution: amend it in the Senate and send it back to the House.”

Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (Bill O’Leary / Washington Post)

Grover Norquist, whom the left-wing media likes to demonize as obstructionist, showed he too can play a tough game of chess. In a statement, he said of course saving all but the top sliver of taxpayers from a tax hike is consistent with the no-tax pledge his group has sponsored. (“Republicans supporting this bill are this week affirming to their constituents in writing that this bill — the sole purpose of which is to prevent tax increases — is consistent with the pledge they made to them. In ATR’s analysis, it is extremely difficult — if not impossible — to fault these Republicans’ assertion. In particular, in this Congress the House has already voted twice to prevent any tax increases on any American.”) Make no mistake, the White House is getting squeezed

Apparently only the feeble all-or-nothing crowd is confused. In a move exemplifying how unreasoned that contingent of the GOP has become, Heritage Action Network screeches that it will take names of all those who vote to protect everyone but millionaires. In an e-mail, its communications director burbles that “a tax increase to hit a certain segment of Americans and small businesses is not a solution; it is a political ploy.” Thunk.  Let’s be clear and we will take it slow: Taxes . . . are . . .  going up . . . anyway. How does Heritage Action suggest the GOP stop that? Why, yell louder! (“Taking money out of the private sector to fund the public sector is not only misguided, it is counterproductive.”) You do wonder how they persuade donors to give them money to support such piffle, especially when the majority of Republicans don’t agree with a no-revenue stance.

At any rate, the House will pass its bills and send them to the Senate. Poor Senate Dems will actually have to vote on something. This should be interesting to see what they come up with.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.