For the GOP, a certain inconsistency
Like little lambs adrift in the wide, weird world—that’s what they are.
It’s all so complicated! It’s all so unpredictable! When all they want—all they need—is: certainty.
Or so they keep telling us.
“They” would be the Republicans, of course, well on their way to major victories this November—and yet, still deeply concerned about the state of things. About the state of one particular thing.
They don’t like ’em. (Who does?) They’ve never liked ’em. But this time around, they’ve found a new reason not to like ’em.
They breed uncertainty.
Or so the Republicans keep telling us. Which is why they’re so eager to see the Bush tax cuts extended.
Businesses—especially small businesses—don’t do well with uncertainty, the GOP insists. When things are uncertain, small businesses don’t know how many people they can hire, how much new equipment they can order. They don’t make decisions, and the economy stagnates.
Uncertainty, bad. Certainty, good.
But what does this have to do with the Bush tax cuts?
The Bush tax cuts—everyone calls them “the Bush tax cuts,” if only because it would be awkward at this point (if just as accurate) to start calling them “the Bush budget busters”—went on the books with an expiration date: Dec. 31, 2010. After Dec. 31, 2010, people would go back to paying the same tax rates they were paying during the Clinton years.
Seems pretty certain to me. Does it seem pretty certain to you?
Only now the Republicans don’t like the expiration date.
The Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts. They want to extend those tax cuts for everyone, the rich and the super-rich alike. (And if the rest of us get a few extra dollars tossed our way, they’re OK with that, too, although you wouldn’t exactly call it a priority.)
In fact, the Republicans are arguing that anyone who favors letting the tax cuts expire, the way the law provides, is really in favor of a “tax hike.”
Tax hike, bad. Tax cut, good. (Exploding deficit? Irrelevant.)
But mostly, they’re arguing—or so they keep telling us—for principle. The principle of certainty.
You want certainty? Here’s certainty: “Follow the law.”
And Republican certainty? “Mess with the law.”
Meanwhile, in another part of town, John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives (and the likely speaker should it all fall the GOP’s way in November) is on “Fox News Sunday,” bobbing and weaving.
He’s being quizzed by Chris Wallace about the Republicans’ “Pledge to America.” (Everyone calls it the “Pledge to America,” if only because calling it the “Plague on America” might seem churlish.) Chris Wallace is looking for details, for specifics beyond the platitudes.
How can Republicans promise to get the deficit down, Chris Wallace wants to know, if the “Pledge to America” doesn’t have “one single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid”?
Boehner says we need to have a “conversation” first. An “adult” conversation. And before that? Before that, they have to “lay out the size of the problem.” Then the conversation. Then the proposals.
“Forgive me, sir,” Wallace interrupts. “I mean, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now, before the election, when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?”
BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in Washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kinds of problems. I know. I’ve been there.
I think we need to do this in a more systemic way and have this conversation first. Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure Americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can begin to talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.
“Let’s not get to the potential solutions.”
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.