G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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The shorter version of this post: the GOP can appease a bunch of different constituencies in different ways. They appease by throwing at least part of their platform and some of their constituency under the bus. The one group that is not being seriously discussed for under-the-bus status are the elites of the party on the issue of taxes. It seems that if everything is on the table except for specific and direct help for the white working class.
John Boehner isn’t in an easy position. The loss the other day throws several key issues on his plate. He has to balance all of them in order to retain his tenure as House Speaker and leader of the Republican party. So he’s naturally going to play hardball on tax rates in order to have at least some leverage on that issue and others.
“Raising tax rates is unacceptable,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in his first broadcast interview since the election Tuesday.
“Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”
What is strange here though is that Boehner is maintaining conservative principles on tax rates but capitulating on amnesty. Amnesty may end up being the best option available for the GOP, but he’s basically giving it up right off the bat instead of at least trying to pretend that he has power to wield.
In all the discussions over what changes the GOP should make to appeal to voters in the future and what they could have done differently, every sort of appeasement has been offered. But the one thing that has not been put on the table and which could very well have appealed to working class whites are slight tax increases on the rich. I’m as fiscally conservative as anyone, but I have to recognize that the GOP is not operating from a position of strength here. And a marginal tax rate of 35% is not much different than a marginal tax rate just north of 39%. It still offends my libertarian principles, but that is the nature of taxation in general. Boehner assumes – or hopes – that his base is more concerned with tax rates than with an issue like immigration.
On both of these issues the GOP wants enforcement first. They want to secure the border before proceeding on amnesty or any other semi-amnesty measure. And they want to cut spending before caving in on tax increases. If we’re reading Boehner right, he’s dropping the enforcement of border protection and putting all of his eggs in the deficit cut/spending cut basket.
As per Sean Trende’s piece, it is kind of disheartening, even for a fiscal conservative like myself, that the one group that Boehner and the GOP have not even thought about appeasing are working class folks in the middle of the country. I’m trading my princples here for pragmatic politicking. Those groups do have a natural conservative bent, but they are much less fiscally conservative than they are conservative in other ways. Sell them the idea of slight increases in tax rates for the rich and push things like deductions for married people. I feel defeated in saying that this is what must be done. But everything else has been put on the table; it makes me wonder why the working class is the only group not being discussed as potential recipients of appeasement measures.
For more insight, read Heartiste on this matter.