If you want a sign of how the GOP Leadership have cornered themselves in the fiscal cliff negotiations, look no further than an e-mail the Obama White House sent today to its supporters. In the message, Obama rallies the public to help him fight Congress and preserve tax cuts for the “middle class.” While GOP lawmakers tour the talk shows talking about different ways the government can raise additional revenue, Obama positions himself as a champion of very specific tax cuts for the vast majority of the voting public.
All of us here in Washington have a little more than a month to find the kind of solution that Lyn describes. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. A typical middle-class family of four would see its taxes rise by $2,200. That means less money to buy groceries or fill a prescription. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition.
So right now, I’m asking you to join Lyn and thousands of other Americans who are speaking out. Add your voice to this debate, and I’ll ask Congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve.
How did the GOP lose the tax cut message? Two years ago, they won the mid-term elections in a landslide, sweeping races across the country. A few weeks ago, they lost a very close Presidential election. Yet today, they have been reduced to a befuddled muddle of mixed messages.
The GOP is treating the “fiscal cliff” negotiations as if they were an inside-baseball parlor game. They are letting the media dictate the terms of negotiation without any concern for how these talks play with the general public. While Obama dangles specific tax cuts in front of the public, the GOP wrings its hands about how the government can raise taxes without lifting rates for the highest-earning taxpayers.
The public looks at this and perceives that the GOP is trying to find higher tax revenues so that tax rates don’t increase for the wealthy. The Obama political operation is wisely exploiting this by implying that the GOP’s higher revenues will come at the expense of the middle class. Moreover, Obama is suggesting that the GOP actually wants taxes to go up for the middle class.
GOP Leadership in Congress has badly failed conservatives. They opened the negotiations by ceding that taxes had to increase. This offering has failed to spark any real discussions about spending cuts. Worse, though, it allowed the GOP to be painted as a party that wants to raise taxes on the middle class to spare the wealthy.
The GOP is acting like a party that simply wants to survive the “fiscal cliff.” It won’t. It has already ceded too much ground with nothing to show for it. Its negotiating position will only deteriorate.