What Republicans Want… I Don’t Know


gop_elephant__question_lgAs the fiscal cliff debate unfolded over these past couple of months, one thing became clear – the Republican position is murkier than ever. I honestly have no idea what the right wants concerning issues like entitlement reform, spending cuts, and the debt.

We know Republicans want tax cuts; specifically for the wealthy. The fiscal cliff became a battle waged solely over the Bush tax cuts for top earners. The small percentage of people affected by those top-tier tax cuts became the most important Americans, and the Republican Party was willing to let taxes increase on everybody in order to make an ideological statement.

The logic of this position is still baffling. Republicans were fighting to keep taxes low for the top 2 percent with the threat of raising taxes on 100 percent of the population. While arguing higher taxes would hinder economic growth, more than half of House Republicans voted to go off the cliff and raise taxes on everyone. It was an illogical position from the start.

We can be sure Republicans want to cut taxes for the rich; however, the same cannot be said for the middleclass and less affluent. Although there was very little discussion over the payroll tax cut, an EPI study concluded extending the payroll tax holiday would provide the greatest benefit to cost ratio of all the taxes that were scheduled to increase on January 1. Disappointingly, Democrats did not fight too hard for an extension, but it shouldn’t have even been a fight. Why would the Party so concerned about cutting taxes for the top 2 percent be against extending tax cuts for everyone else? Possibly because the payroll tax cut largely benefited the middleclass, not campaign donors “Job Creators.”

Delving deeper into convoluted Republican positions, one doesn’t have to listen to John Boehner too long to hear talk of reforming entitlements and getting the debt under control. Both ideas sound very conservative, but without any substantive policies back those ideas, it’s nothing more than base-appeasing rhetoric.

Concerning entitlement reform: throughout all the negations, Republicans proposed no actual entitlement reforms, instead, demanded President Obama lay out his own reforms. Besides being a cowardly political move (fearing reform proposals would be fodder for a future attack), why should that be the President’s responsibility? The President wanted to raise taxes and Republicans wanted to reform entitlements. It would make sense for each side to devise a plan according to their desire. The President did his part, but Republicans did nothing, and then blamed Democrats for inaction.

Furthermore, President Obama actually offered changes to Social Security. He proposed calculating Social Security benefits with a chained CPI method. Fancy talk for a benefit cut that slows growth in Social Security spending. Republicans rejected this offer because it would have meant going against their illogical and ideological position to never raise taxes (on the rich). So what do Republicans mean when they speak about entitlement reform? They offered no ideas of their own and rejected the one put forth by President Obama. To be fair, the Ryan Plan did offer changes to entitlements, but they were not reforms. They fundamentally changed the programs; drastically cutting benefits, with no evidence of actually working in practice.

Beyond entitlement reform, is talk of debt management. But where is the evidence Republicans care about decreasing the debt? Their whole position is to lower taxes and magically increase revenue. It is no coincidence that as tax rates are at all time lows, tax revenues have also been at all time lows. Republicans say closing loopholes will bring in revenue, but have yet to mention a specific loophole they are willing to close. They say they want to rein in entitlement spending, but haven’t offered any reforms to those programs besides simply cutting them. And they say they want to cut wasteful spending, but at the same time favor allocating more money to defense than the next 13 countries combined (and still want more!).

Truly, I am confused about the Republican position. Yes, they want lower taxes, but really only for the rich. Other than that, who knows? They talk big about reforming entitlements and decreasing our debt, but none of their policies reflect those beliefs.

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4 thoughts on “What Republicans Want… I Don’t Know

  1. The short answer is this: Austerity is the only way that large corporations and financial houses can maintain their profits (in the short term), and Republicans are simply channeling the interests of their benefactors. Ditto with their conservative counterparts in other countries. Democrats just want to do it slower because they have internalized the same perspectives but have a different base they don’t wish to completely slap in the face; ditto social democrats elsewhere. Follow the money.

    Incidentally, be careful of what you wish: The two percentage point cut to Social Security was actual a dangerous precedent that if left in place would have undermined it. Undermining Social Security is just what Republicans, and the corporate executives who call their tunes, desire.

  2. What the GOP wants is for Obama to follow through on his own campaign pledge for a balanced approach to solving our debt and deficit problem. Once the election was over all Obama talked about was raising taxes. Now his great Fiscal Cliff deal will bring in $65 billion a year which is less then 10% of our over Trillion dollar deficit. So now it is time for Obama to deliver on the other side of his balanced approach with spending cuts but instead Obama does the opposite and proposed that he alone could raise the Debt Ceiling.

    You say the GOP has no reform ideas to entitlements? Then you said Paul Ryan offered changes to entitlements that were not reforms? Please explain the difference between changes and reforms. This sounds like an attempt by you to ignore the facts to justify your post while dismissing a GOP proposal for some very needed aggressive reforms to entitlements. These entitlements will not be there for you when you retire unless fundamental changes are put in place now.

    Tax revenue is low not because of low rates but because Obama can’t (or doesn’t want to) get people back to work. Get the unemployment rate back to 4% and you will have all the revenue you liberals want without increasing tax rates.

    Also, I am loving the reaction by the low information voters who are opening their pay checks this month to see their take home pay reduced by 2%. It is funny that they didn’t even see it coming. So now people need a 2% raise this year to just catch up to last year. Nice how Obama fought so hard to keep those tax cuts in place for the middle class. First of many campaign promises broken by Obama the King. I thought no new taxes for the 98%?

    He signs a nothing fiscal deal then jets back to Hawaii on our dime to finish his vacation. Wow maybe I could go to Hawaii this year if he didn’t throw us under the bus and increasing our taxes by 2%. Welecome to Obama’s 2nd term. More taxes to come to feed his run away spending. You heard it here first.

  3. First, no one is happy with the debt ceiling. It was much smaller than either party would have wanted. Mostly because neither party actually wants to cut anything, the GOP just hides it better.

    Second, not sure why you brought up the debt ceiling and spending cuts. They are a separate issues. The debt ceiling concerns money that has already been spent, and it needs to be raised in order to pay our bills. The idea that Republicans would hold the country hostage by not raising the debt ceiling is incredibly irresponsible.

    Third, as I said in my post, the Ryan plan is not a reform to Medicare – it fundamentally changes the program. Just because you call something Medicare doesn’t make it Medicare.

    Finally, how are you possibly blaming Obama for ending the pay roll tax cut? His proposal involved extending that tax cut. It was the GOP that was against it. So kind of contradictory to call Obama a King when he can’t get everything he wanted.

  4. Spending cuts has everything to do with the upcoming Debt Ceiling debate. By claiming they are separate issues is just the Lefts talking points that we don’t have a spending problem. If you raise the Debt Ceiling again without spending cuts then we will be having the Debt Ceiling debate more and more often as we burn thru cash fast and faster. Unless our King gets his way and he alone gets to raise the Debt Ceiling without Congressal approval. The Debt Ceiling is the only leverage the GOP has to get some spending cuts.

    Just because you don’t like the Ryan plan doesn’t make it less of a reform. You can’t continue to argue that the GOP doesn’t have a ideas to control entitlements when one was front and center in the last campaign.

    I can blame Obama lack of leadership for my 2% tax hike because he didn’t go to bat for us. I heard him say many times how important it was for taxes to stay the same for us and how the rich needs to pay their fair share. Where were those same talking points on the 2% payroll tax. If he was successful (for now) in saving us from an income tax hike – he should have been able to do the same on the Payroll tax hike. I never heard Obama say even once – the middle class cannot afford a 2% increase in take home pay. By ignoring it he let it happen. Do you think for a minute if he said over and over again that the GOP wants to raise your payroll tax by 2% the GOP wouldn’t have caved and continued the Payroll Tax reduction. Truth is he wants the extra 2% to fund his governerment plans on the backs of the middle class. This is just the beginning of more taxes on the middle class when he finally acknowledges that their are not enough rich people to pay for his grand spending plans.

    Also, I guess you agree his campain of a balance approach was a lie. No spending cuts even being considered by you or others on the Left.

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